The topic of Satan, the devil, is interesting to me. My interest is not in the sensationalism of Hollywood or middle age gothic paintings. My interest is a little more philosophical. I would like to know how Satan views his role as a fallen angel. Satan must have believed he could overpower the Creator in the beginning. He lost and was cast out of heaven. But now what is his motivation? Does he know the war is already lost or does he still think he has a chance to win when Christ returns?
Clues to an answer of Satan’s place in this world is revealed when he tries to corrupt and temp Jesus. The fascinating exchange occurs with Satan offering Jesus power and authority over all of the kingdoms of earth.
5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Luke 4:5-7 ESV
There are two keys that stand out from this act of Satan that help paint a picture of his current state of mind. First is that Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a “moment of time”. Time is a complicated reality. We know that time is not constant and we know that it is part of the creation. Time does not exist separate from the physical world. Jesus claims to be the beginning and the end meaning that he is not constrained by the limitations of time. The Creator, Jesus, is not subject to the rules of the creation so he can operate outside of time. Before time and space there was God and God exists separate from the physical creation and God exists separate from time. If Satan can show Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time then Satan to some degree is able to operate outside of what is normal time for a mortal man. However, Satan appears to still be constrained to some degree by time. He still needed a “moment”. If that is true then he does not possess eternity apart from God his Creator. Satan cannot claim to be the beginning and the end. While powerful enough to reduce the amount of time needed to show Christ all the kingdoms of the world, he still must operate with limited knowledge of what is to come. It could be that this blind spot leaves him to believe that just maybe his rebellion could be successful. But realistically he must know that he is finite and constrained by this physical creation of heavens and earth just like all other men and angels.
The second key and most interesting is what Satan promises to give to Jesus. He tells Jesus that he will give authority and glory of these kingdoms to Jesus. This is no surprise. Satan is the ruler of this world and the ruler of the power structures that promote evil, pride, and selfishness. This is where people understand that there is evil in an ugly world. Satan offers all this to Jesus if Jesus will worship Satan as if he is god. But in this offer Satan reveals a truth. That truth is that Satan has limited power. Notice in the offer of all the kingdoms Satan acknowledges that those kingdoms are what have been given to him. Satan is not the real owner. Satan has no power or authority that has not been given or granted. Satan is a prince of this world but he is not the King and owner of this world. Satan is nothing more than an evil steward of something that is not his.
Jesus rightfully rejected Satan’s offer because there is only one Creator. There is only one true God who is worthy of worship. Paul clarifies the rightful order of this creation and Satan is deluding himself if he thinks there is anyway for him to own a creation that does not even exist apart from God.
24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:24-26 ESV
When Christ returns as the King of Kings, Satan the ruler of the kingdoms will not be able to keep what he offered to Jesus because every authority and power will be made subject to Christ. The harsh result for Satan is that even his greatest tool, death, will also be destroyed. We have a moment of grace in this life to choose who we will worship. Would you worship self like Satan has done or would you submit to the one true God? Only one of those powers has any true authority as the King and Creator of all.