The Bible often refers to Satan and the devil. He is portrayed as the source of evil and temptation. Did God create the devil, and if so, why?
There are two passages of scripture that many scholars agree present the history of Satan: Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14. Ezekiel 28 is “a lamentation for the king of Tyre”, but the context shows that it is really describing a heavenly being, not a human. “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God” (Ezekiel 28:12,13). There were only four individuals in Eden: God, Adam, Eve, and “the serpent”. Revelation 12:9 refers to “that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan”. Obviously this is the one being described in Ezekiel 28.
“You were the anointed cherub (angel) who covers” (v. 14). In the Old Testament sanctuary service the Ark of the Covenant which was considered a throne for the visible presence of God had two “covering cherubs” who spread their wings over the “Mercy Seat”. Apparently this symbolized the angels in heaven who were closest to the throne of God. Satan (then called Lucifer) was one of those cherubs.
“You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you” (vs. 14,15). From this verse we see first of all that Satan is not an eternal counterpart to God; he was created. Moreover, he was created as a perfect being; there was no flaw in Satan, but “iniquity was found” in him.
The passage goes on to give some keys to how this happened. “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor” (v. 17). Instead of an outward focus Lucifer began to focus inwardly. “By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within and you sinned” (v. 16). Trading is basically comparing what I have with what you have and making exchanges that benefit me. Again the focus is on self, in contrast to God’s focus which is on serving others.
Isaiah 14:12-14 shows where Lucifer’s self focus led him. “How you are fallen from heaven, o Lucifer, son of the morning… For you have said in your heart:
I will ascend into the heaven
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation, on the farthest sides of the north
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds
I will be like the Most High.
Satan’s ultimate aspiration is to be like God, and even to take His place. This is seen in his interaction with Christ in the wilderness. He tried to get Jesus to buy into his philosophy of exercising spiritual power independently of God (turn these stones to bread) and to get what one desires by manipulating God (cast yourself down, God will send angels to catch you). But in the final temptation he revealed his greatest desire: “All these things (the world and everything in it) I will give you if you will fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:3-10).
Some have wondered why Satan seems so intent on getting people to sin. Of course he wants to cause as much pain to God as he can because God has not given him the exaltation he desires But beyond that, it is possible that this is his survival strategy. He knows that “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4), that he, above all others, is “the lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2:8,9), and that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
He also knows that God wants to save as many people as he can into his eternal kingdom. By tempting people to sin and then accusing them before God, he hopes to prove that there is no difference between them and himself, and that if God saves them, He must save him too.
Moreover, if he can keep everyone on earth under his rule and authority he can continue to be “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31).
His efforts will ultimately be unsuccessful. In Revelation 14, within the context of “the hour of (God’s) judgment”, God presents his witnesses: “Here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:7,12).
Not that these people are perfect, but they are perfectly forgiven, and this is a status that Satan can never achieve, because he will not repent of his rebellion. Revelation 20 and Ezekiel 28 reveal his final fate: “the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone” (Revelation 20: 10). “(God) brought fire from (his) midst; It devoured (him) and turned (him) to ashes upon the earth… (he) shall be no more forever” (Ezekiel 28:18,19). Thank God, Satan will not be anywhere to be found in the eternal kingdom of God.
See also Why Does God Allow Evil?