I believe in Satan.
Last week, Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, was lambasted over a speech he gave four years ago to a group of Christians in which he spoke of Satan and evil. He was obviously mocked and hated for what he said. But was he so wrong? If there is one thing the historical record has left behind, it’s the fact that pure evil exists in the heart of the human race. And yet there are those who still look to the human race without Jesus (humanism) as the hope of the world!
But what is the solution to evil? In previous centuries the solution to pure evil was that those who adhered to the gospel would respond with moral force in some cases (as in the Reformation’s response to the Inquistion), or physical force in other cases (as in the Civil War or WWII). It must be very difficult for the atheist to accept this truth. Instead of being the light that holds back darkness and evil, the skeptic would like to paint a picture of Christianity as being the epitome of evil. They even paint God as a tyrant who rules with cruelty, manipulation, and force. But is this true? Is God evil? Is he a tyrant who demands that his will be done, or else? Or is he an understanding God who has done everything he can, even to the point of offering his own blood, as the solution to the problem of evil?
The Bible says that evil entered the world through a being called Satan. He tempted Adam and Eve to doubt God’s word and lured them into rebellion. This was known as the Fall.
In order to understand the Fall, we need to realize that Adam and Eve weren’t the first in the universe to rebel. The Bible tells us of another of God’s creations, the angels, as having been part of a rebellion. They were led by Lucifer (which means “light-bearing one”). He was God’s most beautiful creation. He lived in the presence of God. But Lucifer, impressed by his own beauty and abilities, became arrogant. He wanted to be like God. He convinced one-third of the angels to follow him in rebellion. At this point, sin, rooted in pride, was given place in the universe.
But this left God in a quandary. If there was no consequence for the actions of the fallen angels, sin would spread. Like a virus out of control, it would move across the Cosmos and infect everything. If this happened there would no longer be any heaven, just a Mad Max kind of universe where the strong and evil would run rampant over the weak. The pride and rebellion in Lucifer’s heart would spread and permeate creation, causing war, division, hatred, and injustice.
On the other hand, if God were to destroy the rebellious angels, there would be fear in the universe. God would have a dictatorial relationship with his creation, rather than the love relationship He desired. What could He do? Ignore them and let the universe become infected, or destroy them and make creation live in fear of him? It seemed there was no way out.
Love requires liberty. It can’t be forced. And yet it appeared that the angels were forced to love God . . . or else. Lucifer had forced God’s hand. The corrupt seed of thought had been planted and Lucifer had prevailed. Through the life – or death – of the fallen angel, God would lose.
Or so Lucifer thought. But God wasn’t trapped. He devised another way. It was a beautiful plan that included a display to the universe of His great love. It would show His creation that He was a loving God and not a dictator, revealing His selflessness and humility. It would show them that they could trust His heart and that He was worthy of their allegiance and love. It would even inspire passion for Him, not just lip service and lifeless obedience.
The Scriptures say that God wants a bride, but He isn’t interested in an arranged marriage. He wants love rooted in passion and romance, the kind that produces life and joy. (This is why Christianity doesn’t encourage arranged marriages, but instead recognizes the power and mystery of attraction as the foundation for a strong marriage.) Through this plan God would reveal himself to be a friend, rather than a dictator, and instead of a tyrant, He would be a bridegroom so full of passion that He would even die for His bride.
As with the angels, he had to give his creation a free will or there would be no true love. He created a new race called humans and put them in a perfect environment so that there would only be satisfaction and sufficiency. There would be no excuse for rebellion. He would provide a way for them to have eternal life with Him. All they had to do was eat of the Tree of Life.
But he also had to give them another option. It had to have within it the same temptation as that experienced by the angels – to “be as gods,”– and the same consequence–death. This would allow God to show the justice of his decisions. If the angels could watch this drama unfold and see the consequence of sin, perhaps it would make them long for justice and righteousness and would set their hearts in agreement with God.
Lucifer watched as God set up this new world. He regarded the two trees and probably pondered what God was doing. He knew disobedience and rebellion had left God on the horns of a dilemma in the past and perhaps thought God was banking on the fact that this different type of creation – a creation made in His own image- wouldn’t be as easily tempted.
It’s difficult to say what led Lucifer to creep into the Garden and begin his seduction. (Seduction is an interesting word to use because it implies that there was an intimacy between God and humanity that would be corrupted by a betrayal, an adultery.) Regardless, Lucifer went in for the kill, hoping to have victory over the defeated God again!
But this time, God would put Lucifer on the horns of a dilemma. No matter what choice humanity made, God would have the victory, not Lucifer. If they chose the Tree of Life, they would live in union with God forever, but if they chose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, there would be provision for them to have life also. Lucifer wouldn’t understand this though. It was a “deeper magic” (as C.S. Lewis would characterize it).
It’s the principle of the seed. Inside the outer shell, lies dormant a form of life. Likewise, within the outer shell of the seed of the Jewish religion would lie dormant a glorious form of Life. It was a magnificent plan that would finally conquer Lucifer and his fallen angels and restore a just and righteous peace to the universe.
That magnificent plan was the Cross. 1 Peter 1:19-20 explains, ” . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world . . .” There was a plan – – and that plan included the death of Jesus, the “lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8)
Each of us must judge for ourselves whether God’s desire is to tyrannize us or to redeem us with loving kindness. According to the scriptures, God reveals his love towards us, yet the atheist will cherry pick scriptures from the Old Testament law, and even from Jesus, who lived before the cross and whose purpose was to point to the law as the standard for justice, in order to reveal to humanity that the purpose of his life was to meet those requirements of justice on behalf of us who were helpless and hopeless to do it for ourselves.
It was this great gift of grace which most of the heroes of history were inspired by. Read the lives of Luther, Huss, Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, and on and on. They received this gracious gift of God–and now His life flowed through them — making them the greatest enemies of tyranny and evil the world has ever known.
How does the atheist oppose evil? To them, it is to mock, accuse, and be derisive toward fundamentalist Christianity. But if they oppose fundamentalist Christianity, are they becoming unwitting tools of Satan, even though they don’t believe in him? Are they actually contributing to evil? (As their record in history reveals–i.e. communism and the French Revolution where millions were murdered, sent to prison camps, or beheaded by guillotines.)