Short Essay on Angelology and Satanology
Ethical dualism is the belief that there are two opposing forces in the universe. One is good and the source of all good, the other evil and the source of all evil. The two forces are said to be eternal and equally matched; locked in never-ending struggle. Dualism asserts a cosmic balance; like yin and yang or sacred and profane. Most religions are influenced by some form of dualism.1 The Christian world view accepts a “modified moral dualism” recognizing God as good by nature, and Satan as inherently sinful and bent on thwarting and perverting the plans of God in every way.2 The difference between the two is the Christian affirmation of God as eternal and uncreated, and Satan as a created being fallen from grace and destined for destruction.
The Biblical account of the fall of Satan contradicts the popular belief in ethical dualism. If Satan was created, he cannot be eternal or equal to God. Ezekiel tells of the day Satan was created, how he was beautifully adorned and full of wisdom.3 At some point in history, unrighteousness developed in the heart of Satan, and he sinned. Isaiah says he sought to ascend to the throne of God. In his heart he said, “I will make myself like the Most High.”4 At the fall of Satan, his eternal destiny was sealed. Ezekiel tells us that God cast him to the ground, consumed him with fire, and turned him to ashes. Ultimately he “shall be no more forever.”5 This sure eternal destiny exposes the falsehood in the idea that God and Satan are equal, and that their struggle will continue eternally.
Many theologians object to this interpretation of Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14:12-17 because they are addressed to earthly kings. Ezekiel 28 was written to the king of Tyre, Isaiah 14:12-17 to the king of Babylon.6 These passages, however, transcend any earthly being. No earthly creature could ascend to heaven, as Isaiah describes, or approach the throne of God apart from the aid of God himself.7 Ezekiel asserts that the recipient of this prophecy was anointed “guardian cherub” and “placed on the holy mountain of God.”8 The word “cherub” is proof this passage is speaking of an angelic creature, and no man could have been placed on the holy mountain of God. Finally, consideration must be made that both Babylon and Tyre are an integral part of Satan's kingdom on earth, and were monuments of his power.9
Evil originated in Satan, and was not part of God's creation. Satan was created perfect and holy, but with free will. In order for a being to truly worship God, it must have free will.10 The will to choose allowed Satan's heart to turn from The Most High to seek personal gain. Thus, evil came from the heart of Satan. Everything that proceeds from the hand of God is good, as his nature is good. Corruption comes with the choice to turn from God to sin.
Satan has a vast dominion, but he is neither omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent. As a created being, Satan is subservient to God. He cannot operate outside the permissive will of God. Job gives us a picture of Satan appearing before the throne of God and receiving permission to persecute Job.11 Satan cannot truly usurp God's will. Even the evil done by Satan plays a part in God's redemptive plan. Commenting on the treachery of his brothers, Joseph enlightens them on God's sovereignty, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.”12 All of Satan's best efforts serve only to further the ultimate plan of God.
In light of all this, man is still responsible for his or her own sin. Satan is the originator of evil, but man is accountable for his choices. David tells us that it is against God alone that sins are committed, for God is man's judge.13 God has given his creatures free will, and endowed them with the choice to chose obedience or rebellion. This matter, the decision to trust in Christ or reject his saving grace, is a matter strictly between man and God. Sin carries the consequence of death because of God's wrath against sin. Only one can stand in the place of a man, and take God's wrath due sin; He is Yeshua Ha'mashiach...Jesus the Messiah.
1Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2001. pg. 357
3Ezekiel 28:12-13 ESV
4Isaiah 14:12-14 ESV
5Ezekiel 28:17-19 ESV
6Elwell. pg. 1054
7 Isaiah 14:13 ESV
9Elwell. pg. 1054
10Towns, Elmer. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. pg. 366
11Job 1:6-12 ESV
12Genesis 50:20 ESV
13Psalm 51:4 ESV