(This interesting study is used by permission from Olan Hicks)
There is a theory, widely held in Christendom, that Satan was once a chief angel of God in heaven and, as one writer put it, “Led the angels in singing praises to God.” (Hal Lindsey) The first thing wrong with that is that Jesus said it is not so. “He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth.” (John 8:44) Some versions read it “did not stand in the truth.” In the Greek text the word is “esteken,” a negative perfect tense verb. This means that he did not ever stand in the truth.
The theory that says the opposite to this is drawn from a careless misuse of some scriptures. In the Bible we first encounter Satan in Genesis 3:1, as a serpent. Note that this is at the very start of creation. The world was not yet populated, only two people existed on earth, but he is already Satan, the devil. Thus it is not right to think of him as becoming the devil at another time, centuries later in human history. Jesus was right in saying that he was totally evil from the beginning. Throughout the Bible he is never pictured any other way. Every appearance he makes is in pursuit of evil purposes.
Notice further that in Revelation 12 when there is “war in heaven” and Satan is cast out, the earth is full of people at the time. So it was many hundreds of years after he tempted Eve in the garden. The text says in verse 12, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth for the devil has come down to you, having great wrath because he knows that he has a short time.” This was not Satan’s origin nor was it his first evil act.
Thus many questions occur. When was Satan “in heaven” and what does that phrase mean? Did Satan start out good and later become totally evil or was he always that way? From whence comes the idea that he was once an angel of God in heaven itself?
The two sections of scripture that get mishandled in the course of drawing that idea are Isaiah chapter 14 and Ezekiel chapter 28. In Isaiah 14 verse 12 says, “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning? How are you cut down to the ground?” But back at verse 4 we find stated exactly who is in view in this section of scripture. “that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon and say…” Then follows the description of the fall of a great and mighty empire. This prophecy is specifically about Babylon, not about Satan. A sinilar thing is said in Revelation 14:8 where an angel says with a loud voice, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city. . .” I do not know why the name “Lucifer” is included here but I do know that nowhere in this chapter is there any indication that it refers to Satan. That is purely human conjecture. In verse 16 this king is referred to as a “man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms.” Again here, the world was populated. There were kingdoms. So this is way forward in time from the garden of Eden, when Satan is already the devil. It certainly is not the time of his origin.
In Ezekiel 28:2 The word of the Lord said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre. ‘Thus says the Lord God. . .’” Here again the message is specifically addressed to a human ruler concerning an earthly kingdom that will be thrown down. In the same verse the Lord says of him, “Yet you are a man and not a god.” At verse 12 Ezekiel is told to “Take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre” and then follows the words that men tend to apply to Satan. “You were the seal of perfection, (Verse 12) You were in Eden, the garden of God, (Verse 13) “You were prefect in your ways til iniquity was found in you.” (Verse 15) This does not mean it is applied to Satan. The context shows this one was a commercial trader.
Theologians recognize that Isaiah 14 was spoken to the king of Babylon and that Ezekiel 28 was spoken to the king of Tyre. But they assume that these have a secondary application to Satan. But this does not fit with the facts of scripture. Many Bible statements show that is not possible.
First, Jesus said that Satan was always evil and never abode in the truth. Second, his appearance in the tempting of Eve is a fact, showing that he was the devil before the earth was populated. Third, every action referred to in Ezekiel and Isaiah are done to humans, with an earthly population. Fourth, when Satan was “cast out of heaven,” (Rev. 12) he was cast down to a populated earth. Fifth, in heaven where the throne of God is there can be no sin, no evil. (Rev. 21:27) Satan, evil personified, was never there.
The fact is the Bible does not tell us about Satan’s origin. Personally I believe he is another god. Paul referred to him as “the god of this world.” (2 Cor. 4:4) I do not believe God would create something totally void of any good, which is how Jesus described Satan. But this is admittedly a guess.
What the Bible does reveal about Satan is exactly what we need to know, that he is evil, that he is a threat to our souls, and that he is very shrewd and constantly seeks to deceive us. When Jesus said, “I saw Satan, as lightening, fall from heaven,” I believe He was talking about his defeat when Jesus over came death. (Heb. 2:14-15) He was “in heaven” in the sense of what power he had, that he could possess a person without that person’s consent. But now Jesus has defeated him and thrown him out of that position. This is why James could say, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Satan now has to depend on being able to deceive you. He cannot take you by force. If we know that Satan is totally evil, if we are aware of his efforts to deceive us, and if we know that by faith we can win against him, then we know what we need to know. This is what God’s word clearly tells us. All else is speculation.