This post tells what the Bible says about where Satan came from (if this can be known) and how he became evil.
As noted in other posts, certain modern interpreters of the Bible seem to be embarrassed about Scriptures that talk about Satan and demons. They try to “demythologize” the verses. That is, they try to strip them away or explain them away, to suit modern tastes. They have drunk too deeply of the anti-supernatural biases of the Enlightenment (1600-1800+).
However, Renewalists (Pentecostals, Charismatics, Neo-Charismatics) believe the Bible is infallible and authoritative in these matters. Many of them have had run-ins with the devil that cannot be explained in any other way than what Scripture says.
The Question and Answer format is designed for clarity and conciseness.
Please note that some answers are speculative.
1.. When did Satan become evil?
Now we can speculate, based on Bible-based logic and some hints from Scripture.
He sinned from the beginning (1 John 3:8). This suggests that Satan sinned after God created him with the other angels and before the fall of humanity, when he appears as a serpent in the Garden (Gen. 3:1-16). This implies that he is part of the created order, and he was created good because everything was created good (Gen. 1:31), but now Satan and demons are evil. How did this happen?
2.. What was the sin of Satan that caused his downfall?
Here is a speculative answer, based on Bible-logic and hints from Scripture.
We can get a glimpse at it from a verse in the NT. Paul says that a new convert should not be promoted too soon because he might get puffed up and incur the condemnation of the devil (1 Tim. 3:6). This implies–merely implies or hints–that Satan was also arrogant and puffed up.
And Jude 6 says angels did not maintain their own position, but left their proper dwelling. This signifies that they were part of God’s plan, but did not keep to their position. They left or fell or were thrown out.
One passage is in Is. 14:12-15. It is about the king of Babylon, but it also goes beyond a man and seems to hint at a higher being, much like, in a corollary opposite way, Messianic prophecies can refer to historical figures, but the Scriptures also go higher than that and are ultimately about the Messiah (Christ). The main sin in Is. 14:12-15 is that he will be lifted up with arrogance. “I make myself like the Most High!” (Is. 14:15). This echoes Gen. 3:5, when Satan tempted Eve, saying that she would be like God (Gen. 3:5).
Is. 14:13-14 mentions five “I wills.” This is actually in the future tense, which is expressed in English as “will” (or “shall”). So it is not entirely accurate to say the “I will” verses express Satan’s will. However, even the future tense denotes a strong decision: “I shall make myself like the Most High!” It still speaks of arrogance.
In this passage he is called Lucifer (“light-bearer” or “light carrier”), which indicates his high status and special ministry, reflecting God’s glory.
Similar ideas are expressed in Ezek. 28:1-19, which says that the king of Tyre was also arrogant (vv. 15-17). This poetic passage denouncing him rises above the human level and may refer to a spirit being—Satan.
Thus Satan’s sin was pride and arrogance.
However, if you wish to claim that those verses are not clear about Satan’s origins, then you are certainly entitled. I may agree with you.
3.. But how could Satan be tempted and fall when he had been in the perfect presence of God? What could tempt him?
Angels have a certain measure of free will, because they are persons, and personhood implies that each one has an intellect (mind), emotion (feeling), and will (choice). They can use their will to obey God’s commands and will. But their freewill also implies that they could disobey.
As to what could tempt Satan in God’s holy and pure presence, this is not clear from Scripture, but we can use Bible-based logic. A very powerful being can be tempted in very powerful ways. It is proportional. We humans are tempted by meager things. A created angel has to be tempted in a way that is proportional to him.
One way is self-regard. All it would have taken is one tiny—very tiny—thought entering his mind, which grew. One such thought is that his legitimate exaltation opened the door to self-regard and self-focus, which in turn led to jealousy about God’s status, and then his competing with God. It could even lead to open conflict with the Omnipotent Being called God. All this is reflected in Is. 14:15, quoted above. And all this comes out of pride and arrogance, which leads to any downfall in anyone (Prov. 16:18).
But all of this is Bible-based speculation. We don’t know for sure.
4.. Are you actually saying there was a war in God’s holy and perfect heaven?
Why not? Rev. 12:7 is clear: “Then a war broke out in heaven.” This is why God will create a new heaven and a new earth or overhaul the present one (Rev. 21).
However, some Bible interpreters say this is a mere depiction of a fight that happened at the cross, and it was not a heavenly and literal battle.
Or some interpreters say that this will happen in a future date, during the Great Tribulation. But it still shows that Satan waged war and lost, sometime in the unknown past.
5.. Does Satan live in the air (Eph. 2:2)?
This comes from ancient cosmology (study of the cosmos). Satan and demons are invisible to us. If they live in the literal air, then they cannot be tossed around by storms and pelted by hail, all of which are natural things, not spiritual things. So if he lives in the literal air, then his kingdom is still an invisible realm that manifests in human hearts and ideas. The words “air,” “above,” and “up” speaks of Satan’s authority over humankind. He is not an earthbound creature, and neither is his spirit kingdom.
6.. Aren’t demons evil dead people?
No, because all dead people face judgment (Heb. 9:27); they don’t come back and haunt people. However, sometimes a demon can manifest in the appearance of a dead person—a ghost—but that is not the same as the demon’s true identity, nor the true identity of the deceased.
So the best answer to their identity and origins is Question no. 1..
7.. Aren’t demons the offspring of angels and women (Gen. 6:2)?
No, because angels are asexual (in terms of reproduction) and do not marry (Matt. 22:30), but Gen. 6:20 says the sons of God married women. These men were probably heroes and warriors, or they descended from Seth (Adam and Eve’s third son), the good lineage. Or both heroes and warriors descended from Seth.
See the post Who Were the ‘Sons of God’ in Genesis?
8.. Aren’t demons spirits of the pre-Adamic race?
This depends on the gap theory between Gen. 1:1 and 1:2, which says humans were created during that time. There is no evidence for such a view. This gap theory reads too much into the ancient text, from the overactive imagination of the modern Bible interpreter. Let’s not put ten tons of demands on an ancient text that was intended to carry fifty pounds and offer us clear view of God the Creator in Gen. 1 and humankind being created in his image (Gen. 1:26-27).
How does this post help me grow in Christ and be victorious over Satan?
You always have victory through Christ over Satan and his kingdom. All you have to do is surrender to Christ Jesus and be saved. If you already are a Christ-follower, you too need to surrender to him.
7 Submit to God; resist the devil, and he shall flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he shall draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinner, and purify your hearts, doubleminded. (Jas. 4:7-8)
We can learn these things from those two verses.
First, you have to surrender to God. If you do not, then Satan has access to your mind and body.
Second, the good news immediately following that warning is that when you do submit, Satan flees.
Third, in submitting to God, as you surrender to him, you draw near to him.
Fourth, and the other note of good news is that God guarantees to draw near to you. This means you will have intimacy with him, and he will with you. You will discover that he was never far from you when you were far from him.
Fifth, living a life of purity will go a long way to keep your heart intimate with God and your mind from being doubled or split. If you have one part of your mind in the world and Satan’s kingdom and the other half in God’s kingdom, then you will live a confused life.
So once again, the goal is to submit and surrender completely to God.
This is the best news of all. Remember the wise saying: “When the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future!” He will eventually be thrown in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).
Satan and Demons: Origins