WHAT IN HEAVEN’S GOING ON? SERMON SERIES
SATAN AND THE ANGELIC REBELLION
MARCH 6, 1994
Why can’t we rally our forces to provide three square meals a day for every man, woman, boy and girl? Why is it that almost a quarter of the world’s population will go to bed hungry tonight? Why is it that nations fight against nations? Why can’t they put down their weapons and develop some peace? Why are law-enforcement officers arresting record numbers of criminals and filling our prisons and jails to the max? Why? Why can most of us remember, clearly and vividly, telling something that was not true to another individual – maybe even this week, or today. Why can every one of us recall taking something that was not ours? Why are some of you mad at me because I brought up those issues? Why do adults molest children, why do people murder one another? Why?
What I’m driving at is this: why is there so much evil in the world? The Bible answers all of the questions by saying that the reason there’s so much evil in the world is because of one being. His name is Satan. Today, as I continue this series entitled “What in Heaven’s Going On?”, as I talk about Lucifer and the angelic rebellion, and we discuss Satan, the Devil, the adversary, I feel like a gymnast walking across a balance beam. When you talk about Satan, people hold extreme views, don’t they? On one hand, we have some individuals who were brought up with backgrounds where you thought of Satan as that pitchfork-toting, smoke-snorting, goatee-sporting, red-suit-wearing, Armored-deviled-ham-looking, diabolical demonic force who sends his demons to ambush you. You think demons can jump in and out of your life as quick as you jump in an out of cars. You’re a demon-duster.
On the other hand we have people from backgrounds where you didn’t really hear that much about Satan or the Devil. You’re wondering if there really is such a thing. You see the problems in the world, but you say, “Hey, it’s just because of a lack of education, a knowledge situation.”
Balance is the key, because I don’t want to lose the ear of either side. I want us to know about Satan, to really understand what this being is all about. Frequently we receive, in our church offices, by mail, resumes. Resumes from all over the country. Men and women, feeling called into the ministry, maybe want to work at the Fellowship of Las Colinas. Or they know we are in contact with a number of churches around the country, and they say, “Could you send us some recommendations, or take my resume and send it off to a particular church, or do you have anything available for me?” Every one of those resumes, as I read them, pretty much have four elements: a background study of the person, their education, their experience – past and what they’re doing presently – and then some goals and objectives. When you look at a resume, it pretty much gives you a thumbnail sketch of that person, what that person is really about.
I thought this week, as I was preparing for this message, wouldn’t it be awesome, wouldn’t it be fascinating, if we could read a resume of Satan, of Lucifer. If we could just read background, education, experience, objectives. Then we would know all about him, and then we could really move around his temptations, and watch out for Satan tripping us up and pushing us over a cliff or falling into a ditch or getting caught out in the rough. Wouldn’t that be great?
I have good news for you. His resume is listed right here in the word of God. Today, over the few moments that remain, we’re going to read and examine and discern Satan’s resume. Let’s jump right in.
His background. Have you ever thought, “What is Satan’s background?” Ezekiel 28 calls Satan “Lucifer.” Originally, he was called Lucifer, and the word Lucifer means “Star of the Morning.” Satan is a created being. I’ll say it one more time: Satan is a created being. In fact, the Bible tells us he was the most beautiful of all the angelic hosts. Satan. Lucifer. He was attractive, and all the angels looked up to him. In fact, he and Michael were the angelic CEOs. As you read this first section, his background, you’re thinking, “Wow. This being; what a future, what potential. He worshipped God, he glorified God. A leader of the angelic hosts.”
How about his education? If there had been a University of Heaven, Lucifer would have graduated at the top of his class. You read the words of Jesus in the New Testament. When Jesus talked about Satan, when He talked about evil in the world, He said, “Evil is being orchestrated in the mind of an intelligent being.” This person blew the top off the SAT. He knew what was going on. Satan is intelligent. He’s intelligent, but he’s not omniscient. He’s powerful, but he’s not omnipotent. He’s smart, he really is. He’s crafty. He’s mobile, but he’s not omnipresent. You see, he’s a far cry from God, but he’s much more intelligent than you are and he’s much more intelligent than I am. His education.
Let’s look at his work experience, his past. What did he do? Again, one of the top angels. The book of Isaiah, chapter 14 – you might want to turn there; I’ll begin reading in a couple moments with verse 13 – tells us what happened in glory. Lucifer got together with about a third of the angels, and he attempted – I’ll say attempted – a hostile takeover. He began to read his press clippings. He looked and said, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is reflected back and who is the best of them all? I know what I’ll do. I will elevate myself above God. I will dethrone God.” A war started in heaven, it continues on earth, and it will culminate at Armageddon.
Lucifer said the following words in Isaiah 14:13: “I will ascend to heaven.” Notice the personal pronoun “I”. “I will raise my throne above the stars of God. I will sit enthroned on the Mount Assembly. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds. I will make myself like the most high.” You have the sin of pride entering the picture. If pride can cause the downfall of an intelligent being like Lucifer, I think it could cause a fall in your life and in my life, don’t you?
He tried to take over the throne of God, a war broke out, and God cast Lucifer out of heaven. He took one-third of the angels with him. They are now called the fallen angels. Lucifer is referred to as Satan, which means “the adversary,” and the fallen angels are called the demons. Some of the demons were sent directly to hell; others are Satan’s Secret Agents. They’re his task force and they want to thwart God’s people and God’s purposes throughout the world. The evil one, Satan.
Jude 6 reads, “The angels kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation.” I had to ask myself this question as I studied this passage: why, in a perfect environment, could something like this occur? Heaven is perfect. You have all the angels, they’re giving worship and glory to God. You have Lucifer, beautiful, Star of the Morning. How could a being like that cause pride to assault him and then entertain the thought of elevating himself above God? How? How?
I think the apostle Paul gives us the answer. Jot this scripture verse down: 2 Thessalonians 2:7. The apostle Paul refers to it as the mystery of iniquity. The mystery of iniquity. In other words, in our finiteness, it’s impossible for us to grasp what all happened and why it happened. But I do believe this: the Bible says time and time again, we are creatures. God’s creation has a freedom of choice. We’re not like puppets, we’re not like robots. We choose to love, we choose to obey, we choose to follow or not. The angels also have this option, and Lucifer took another path. His past experience.
What’s he doing now? Where is he presently employed? His agenda: the Bible says, in John 10:10, the agenda of the demonic force is to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to take as many people to hell with him as possible, and he’ll do anything to infiltrate your life. He’ll do anything to take me down. He’ll stop at nothing to trip us up. That’s what he’s doing presently. But I will say this. The pink slip is on its way. Satan is on a leash; he knows it. When the pink slip is given to him one day by God, it’s going to be smoking, and that is when he will be sent to hell. So God has won, but Satan is free to roam right now. His experience.
Some are saying, “Ed, this is fine and good. The background: I had no idea he was called Lucifer and was an angel. His education and his experience. Let’s get practical for a moment. How is this influencing my life? How is he affecting where I live, my relationships, my finances, my emotional equilibrium?”
I’m going to spend the rest of the time talking about his objectives, his goals. Any resume you read has this. What are Satan’s goals, what is he all about? Some are saying, “Whoa, whoa, wait a minute. I saw “The Exorcist,” and I know. He wants to possess people. That’s his goal. He has these demons and they will ambush me at any moment during any part of the day.” Some of us are intrigued by Satan worship, by all the demonic activity worldwide, and we buy any and every book at the Christian bookstores. We read about Satan. We’ll spend 80% of the time giving the Devil a black eye, and learning his philosophy, and his agenda, and about 20% of worship to God. Can Satan use a demon to possess someone? Yes. He sure can. It’s not common, but it happens, and I’ve seen it before. Does it happen all the time? Do I see it every day? No. But I have seen it before.
“How do you know then, Ed, if someone is demon-possessed?” The Greek term is not demon-possession; the word is demonized. “How do you know it?” Let me give you a couple of characteristics if you’re wondering if someone in your life is demon-possessed. First, at some point in time they have opened their lives up to Satanic worship, the occult. Second, they exhibit some multiple personalities. Third, they have a pattern of evil over a long period of time, and they show no remorse or no guilt. Any time you mention the word “Jesus” or “the blood” or “the church” they have a negative reaction. Those are some signs that someone could be demonized. If you know someone who could be demonized, don’t try to handle it alone or by yourself. Great discernment and biblical knowledge is needed. Please call on the pastors of the church here, and we’ll be happy to take a team approach and to deal with this.
Some people, though – in fact, entire denominations are built on this – they try to tell us, they try to say, that every human disorder is the result of a demon. If someone is angry – “Well, you need the demon of anger cast out of you.” If someone is playing tennis and they trip over the baseline – “Well, that’s the demon of uncoordination.” They say, “Hey, one-two-three, cast a demon out of me, it’s no problem, slam-dunk deal, seeya later, Jack.” You see, we are multi-dimensional people. Every human disorder cannot be directly related to a person being demonized. Does Satan enjoy people having problems with anger? Is he the root cause? Is he behind the fallen world? Yes. But it does not necessarily mean they are possessed.
Jesus dealt with many, many people: adulterers, tax collectors, extortionists, liars, cheaters. He didn’t say every person, every man, woman, boy, and girl, was demon-possessed. He looked at many in the eye and said, “You need to bow and ask me to come into your life. You need to know the truth, and the truth will set you free. You matter to me, but I want you to see how much you matter to God.” On the other hand, He dealt with people who showed signs of demon-possession throughout the scripture. The demons were always subject to His authority, and he cast them out. So call on the pastors on the church, or if you’re involved at another church, call on the leadership to help you in this matter. But, yes, possession can take place.
Satan’s favorite task, though – and this is going to shock you – Satan’s favorite ploy, his favorite trick, is not the possession thing, although he would love to possess you with one of his fallen angels. His favorite thing is to do something called a little bit of TLC. Say it with me: TLC. One more time: TLC. It’s a carefully designed, sequential, three-phase approach he uses over and over and over again. It’s not like we’re wondering, “What are his objectives? What does he want to do?” It’s there for us in the Bible. It’s written for us throughout the pages of scripture. TLC. I’m not talking about Tender Loving Care.
The first phase is the temptation. He tempts you, he tempts me. “How does he do that, Ed?” A year ago, Lisa and I bought a brand-new television. This brand-new television has a contraption, a feature on it, that I don’t really know that much about. If I can’t get it to work, I’ll hand the controls to Lisa. It’s called picture-in-picture. Who all has that on their television set? Hands are going up everywhere. Now, second question: who knows how to work picture-in-picture? Not me. When Lisa has the control she can do picture-in-picture. Think of your mind as a television screen, and think about picture-in-picture. You can be watching one channel and another channel at the same time. The Holy Spirit, throughout the day, as we have options, paints great, wonderful, God-driven Technicolor pictures in our minds. He says, “Follow this, Ed. Follow this. Take this path.”
As he is painting those Technicolor pictures that reflect the authority of scripture, at the same time the Evil One – bing! – pushes the picture-in-picture button, giving you a Technicolor temptation of taking the opposite route. He’s saying, “Ed! Hey, God wants you to go here. Yeah, I see His picture. But just look at my screen, just for a second. I’m not asking you to do it! Just look at it. That’s right, just for a second, just look at it.” The temptation stage. Sound familiar?
I wish Satan stopped there. In fact, if he stopped there, we could all say, “Ed, no problem. I’ll just push the button and the other picture will vanish and I’ll have the Holy Spirit’s picture and no big deal.” Boy, I wish he stopped there. Don’t you, too? He doesn’t, though. He moves into the L phase. He begins to lie to us. In fact, in John 8:44, Satan is referred to as a liar and the father of lies. You’re talking about distortion, you’re talking about false advertising? He then tells us, “See the picture-in-picture? You see my picture? You were thinking about it. Now why don’t you consider doing it? If you’re a real man or a real woman, go ahead. You only go around once. Come on, what’s the big deal? God will wink at it. He grades on a curve anyway. Come on. No problem.”
Satan oftentimes uses areas and temptations that we are vulnerable to. He knows exactly what lies we will listen to most. You see, what lie I will listen to and I will fall into is not the lie he’s going to use for you, and vice versa. He’s crafty, now. You’re talking about target marketing? Direct mail? Telemarketing? This genius, we’re talking an intelligent being, was right up there with Michael. And you see, he uses our senses as inlets. Our senses are inlets, and when Satan sees an inlet caused by our senses, he paddles his craft quietly into the inlet. Then he is ashore, and he steps out on the beach, and he begins to lie. And he lies and he lies and he lies again.
What kind of lies has he told you this week? What kind of lies? “Maybe you can get ahead financially if you kind of look the other way. Maybe you can get involved in that relationship outside the marriage bed.” Maybe you have problems with self-esteem, something we’ll talk about over the next four or five weeks. Satan knows that. “I’ll help you overwork and overindulge.” Maybe power and prestige is your temptation. He knows. He knows.
When we fall into the ditch, when we fall into temptation, when we look at a picture, when we believe his lies, does he stop there? No, he doesn’t. He moves into the C phase, which stands for condemning. Satan condemns. He condemns us. We’ve fallen, we’ve sinned. Then he looks down at us. We’re out in the rough, we’re buried in the sand trap, we’re in the weeds, and he says, “Well, ha ha, this is pathetic! You’ve fallen! And you call yourself a Christian? God will never forgive you for that one! You go ahead and just check out of Christianity. It’s over. There’s no way He could ever use you for His purposes.” Here’s what he tells me: “Ed, you think you can stand up before 2,200 people this weekend, and God can use you? Come on, get a life!”
So many Christians I know walk around defeated all day, because they know, “Okay, I believe it. I really can’t be used; I know. No, this is impossible. That was the unforgivable sin.” Satan laughs and he loves that and he lies and lies and lies.
But that’s not the truth. God says you can be used in an awesome, mighty, power-packed way. If you admit the truth about what you did, if you come clean, He will wash the stain, erase the sin. You do that spiritual 180 and repent, and he can use you. Don’t believe that. Call Satan what he is: a liar. You’ve called someone a liar before, haven’t you? Do that in your prayers. If you hear these lies coming, if you see the picture-in-picture in your mind, say, “Hey, you’re a liar. That sin a long time ago has been forgiven; it’s washed clean.” The only person that will bring it up in your life is Satan, it’s not Jesus. It’s not.
Let me conclude by saying two pastoral words. I’m talking to two groups of people here. One group is what I would call the Seekers. You’re investigating Christianity. We’ll have a couple hundred over our three services. You’re thinking about Jesus, you’re thinking about the Bible, you’re thinking about the church and spiritual things, and you’re on the edge of making the best decision you’ve ever made in your life – which is to give control of your life to Jesus. It’s to ask Him to come into your life. It’s to receive what He did for you 2,000 years ago on the cross.
Satan is not going to sit idly by and say, “Oh, no problem. Just go right ahead into the family of God. That’s great; you can be born again into this family. Yeah, don’t worry about it; everything’s fine.” Is Satan going to do that? No. The Bible says he clouds and he blinds the minds of unbelievers. He puts the blindfold on. He does not want you to grasp the essence and the depth of the gospel.
I’m sure some of you have been down on one knee, and you just want to bend the other knee and bow the other knee and say, “Jesus, I ask you to come into my life.” But right before you bow the other knee, Satan resurrects a doubt that’s been settled years ago, or he tells you, “What would your friends think?” He begins to lie and blind, and blind and lie. It’s not going to be, seekers, an easy thing. You have to say, “Jesus, show it to me. Satan, you’re a liar. I open myself up to you, Jesus Christ.”
The second pastoral world will be to those of you who are mature believers. Listen to me: I’m talking about mature believers. Here at this fellowship we have a large group of folks: you have your daily quiet time, you read God’s word, you pray. You’re involved in the life of this church in a phenomenal way. We have over 400 people, laity, that make Sunday mornings happen. They’re not staff members. You might be one of those in the core and you’re really trying to worship God and give your life to God, and Satan knows, in most cases – listen to me – he is not going to involve you in some spectacular sin, although he’ll keep trying. He reverts to plan B.
You know what plan B is? He lines up those Christians, those people in church, those folks called God’s children, and he vaccinates us with a mild form of Christianity because he doesn’t want us to catch the real disease. He is satisfied to do that. “I’ll just give you about 80% of Christianity. About 92.3%. I’ll give you about 71%.” A lot of us are walking around, and with our mouths we say, “God, I worship you. I give you the glory.” But in our worship, it’s about 80%. In our finances – well, we just kind of throw a tip at God now and then. We don’t give the first 10%. Our relationships? Yeah, most of them glorify God. The places we go? Yeah, a lot of them do, but when I’m around that crowd…
You see, anything less than 100% devotion to Jesus makes a mockery of the cross. It’s time for people here to say, “I’m ready for the real disease. I want to catch it.” Do you have it? Do you have it? You see, my prayer as the pastor of this church is that when people see you and they see me, they say, “Whoa, there goes a person who has the real disease.” Understand Satan’s resume. Realize he plays for keeps. The stakes: eternity. Catch the real disease.