Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, who is credited with the discovery of bacteria in 1676, was the first person to recognise that there was an unseen war between good and bad happening right under our noses!
As crazy as it sounds today, there was once a time when people didn’t know, understand or believe that bacteria and viruses existed. They didn’t know these tiny organisms caused disease or that they are important to our overall health. The same thing can be said about the unseen war happening all around us—not between good and bad bacteria, but literally between good and evil.
Did God create evil?
God created Satan. However, when he was first created, his name wasn’t Satan, but Lucifer. Lucifer held a high and important position of leadership and worship of God in heaven and for a long time—eons and eons—there was joy, peace and happiness in heaven and all throughout the universe. The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel described Lucifer in this way: “You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. . . . I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire” (Ezekiel 28:12–14, NLT*).
But, after what may have been hundreds of thousands of years, Lucifer decided to stop worshipping God and instead worship himself: “‘You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you’” (verse 15). The Old Testament prophet Isaiah recounts Lucifer’s reasoning and thought process: “How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! . . . For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High’” (14:12–14).
But Lucifer didn’t stop there. No, he decided to use all his intelligence, cunning and powers of persuasion to begin to sow seeds of discord and doubt about God’s perfect character and perfect Law.
Unfortunately, Lucifer was able to fool one-third of the angels in heaven that he was right and God was wrong. Sadly, when he did this, there was war in heaven and Lucifer began to be called Satan, a Hebrew word that literally means adversary. As much as God hated to do it, He ended up eternally banning Lucifer and the fallen angels from heaven. “Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels” (Revelation 12:7–9).
God’s plan for earth was for all of humanity to be free to choose either God (good) or Satan (evil). God knew that a forced obedience out of fear of death or some other punishment wouldn’t be love—it would be slavery. And so, God, in all His wisdom and mercy, with His Holy Spirit and Jesus, formed a plan—a plan of salvation—in order to redeem all humanity. This plan was created before any humans were ever created. The apostle Paul put it like this:
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:3).
Why the great fight?
Satan is real—and so is the constant battle for your soul! Just as God has an amazing plan for your life, so does Satan . . . but his plan isn’t quite so amazing: he just wants you dead. Satan knows that if he can get you to pay for your own sins, then he won’t have to. Here are some more descriptions of who he is and what his goals are:
- “He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
- “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).
- “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
- “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but . . . against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God knows the plans He has for you, and they are “plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”. If you don’t actively choose God, you automatically choose Satan—and trust me, you don’t want him in charge.
Spiritual warfare in history
Satan and his demons—the angels who follow him—have been working hard all throughout history, battling against both God and His people and trying to destroy God’s plan of salvation for humanity. This spiritual warfare is a “great controversy” that will only end when Satan, his demons and all people who don’t accept God’s salvation will ultimately be totally destroyed.
This great controversy started on our planet with Satan causing Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). It continued through Old Testament history as God’s chosen people of Israel were invaded and oppressed by other nations or infiltrated by pagan worship and corrupt leaders.
In the New Testament, Satan tried to kill Jesus right before, during and several years after His birth (Luke 1, 2; Matthew 1, 2). After failing yet again, Satan tried tempting Jesus in the desert, right after His baptism and right before He began His formal ministry (Matthew 4:1–12; Mark 1:12,13; Luke 4:1–12).
Satan then used the spiritual leaders of the day—the Pharisees and the Sadducees—to try to trip up Jesus, but they were never once able to get Him. On the night before Jesus would die for you and me, Satan, frustrated with all his failures, used one of Jesus’ closest followers, Judas Iscariot, to betray Him into the hands of the religious leaders (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 18).
Satan, seeing his plans fail again as Jesus was resurrected, took out all his anger and vengeance on Jesus’ followers, as is described in the New Testament book of Acts. This persecution continued all through the Dark Ages and the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades, as the pagan Roman empire morphed into the Roman Church.
Even as the Protestant Reformation called Christians back to original Bible truth, Satan never gave up as church leaders, both Catholic and Protestant, formed unholy alliances with political powers and launched wars and persecutions that wracked Europe for centuries.
Satan’s attacks continued through the French Revolution and the people’s rebellion towards God and acceptance and embrace of atheism as the official state religion. And finally, Satan’s persecution of God’s true followers will continue all the way until Jesus returns to this earth (Revelation 12:17, 14:6–12).
Words of comfort
As followers of Jesus, we can have hope and peace and know that God will protect us—even in the scariest times of this earth’s history. The great controversy between good and evil reminds us all that, as followers of Jesus, no matter what is happening in the world—or what will happen in the future—we can have hope and peace in the knowledge that God will indeed protect us. Jesus, after His resurrection, promised His disciples something that we can have as well: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). And again, He reminded His disciple, John, of His soon coming and John, in response, exclaimed: “He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
The ultimate victor
God wants to prove that people will follow Him out of a sense of love and gratitude for the salvation and redemption that Jesus, through His death, has offered them. But Satan wants to kill as many people as possible, because he hates God and all humanity, and ultimately, he knows that if he gets a person to sin and ultimately reject God, they will die eternally for their own sin—and he won’t have to die for it.
The Great Controversy theme—the topic of spiritual warfare and its influence on history is written all throughout the Bible. In fact, the entire Bible is a record documenting the story of rebellious humanity running from God, and God doing what it takes to redeem us all back! In the midst of this, Satan and his demons are working hard to make humanity believe his lies about God’s character and His perfect law of love, but in the end Satan will fail and God will prevail!
Omar Miranda is a healthcare professional and writer. He lives with his family in Plainville, Georgia, USA.
* Bible verses in this article are taken from the New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015, Tyndale House Publishers. Used with permission.