Most Christians, if asked, will tell you that Lucifer is a “fallen angel,” a spirit being that rebelled against God. The specifics of this fall are, sadly, not very well understood. Let’s examine those specifics with the goal in mind to better understand our adversary.
Who Is Lucifer?
The common belief of most Christians is that Lucifer is an angel. However, this may be a case of oversimplification. Scripture speaks of a variety of spirit beings. Among them are angels, Seraphim, Cherubim, and demons. Nowhere do we find Seraphim and Cherubim described as angels, but rather as a seemingly separate species of spirit being fulfilling a specific function.
It is merely tradition that lumps all of these spirit beings into the category of angels. Certainly, Christians are free to believe these are all angels if they wish, as it does not undermine the gospel to do so, but precision should always be preferred to loose theological concepts since they can lead to heresy.
Isaiah 14:12-23 and Ezekiel 28:12-19, speaking of the Kings of Babylon and Tyre respectively, have been accepted as holding a special theological importance to Christians, in that they also reveal some key information about Lucifer, since some of the comments made would make no sense if applied to those rulers.
The Church Fathers Tertullian and Origen held to this position, and it is the majority position of today’s theologians. In Isaiah 14, a ruler is described as the “shining one,” who was prideful and arrogant, desiring to be like God.
Ezekiel describes a ruler who had the “seal of perfection” and was “full of wisdom and beauty,” even dwelling on the “mountain of God.” Scripture goes on to explain that this ruler was created with beautiful gemstones, and even music, as part of his very character. The specifics of these data points cannot be applied to either of the human kings the prophets were speaking to.
As Origen wrote: “We find in the prophet Ezekiel two prophecies written of the king of Tyre. The second is clearly of such a kind that it cannot be at all understood about a man. It must refer to some superior power who had fallen away from a higher position and had been reduced to a lower and worse condition.”
However, the connection of this information to the Genesis account of the serpent (shining one) deceiving Eve, is very clear. Ezekiel gives us an important clue as to who he is referring to when he calls this ruler “the anointed cherub who covers,” and that he “walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones” on the mountain of God.
Isaiah calls this cherub Lucifer (light-bearer), a clear connection to the “shining one.” The picture that emerges of Lucifer is that of an incredibly beautiful spirit being, a covering cherub who served at the very throne of God, who became prideful and arrogant, allowing iniquity to form within himself.
In his pride, he rebelled against God, taking a third of the angelic hosts with him in his attempt to replace the Almighty, usurping the throne of his Creator for himself. He was cast down to earth, along with his co-conspirators, where they all move around the planet, attempting to destroy lives and lead souls to hell (1 Peter 5:8).
Was Pride His Downfall?
Lucifer’s core sin is that of pride. Unfortunately, that sin is very much a part of the fabric of human existence as well. The funny thing about pride is that, rather than shining the spotlight on our virtues, it actually works to emphasize our character defects.
It can distance you from people who might otherwise care for you or seek your counsel. Nobody wants to go to a know-it-all for advice, nor do they want to associate with someone who thinks and acts like they are better than others.
Pride often springs out of jealousy or envy of others, which is also a sin. We should consider the example of John the Baptist, who when he was informed of the works of Jesus, simply accepted that Jesus would now take the spotlight (Mark 1:4-5).
John did not grow jealous, nor in his pride assert his role as a prophet in order to downplay the role of Christ, but simply understood his role in the overall will of the Lord. Martin Hawley, Senior Pastor at South Bay Bible Church writes that any power, prestige, or possessions we have been given to us by God for His glory and benefit.
He explains that power, prestige, and possessions must be understood in the context of stewardship, the temporary nature of these things, and accountability before God and our brothers and sisters,
“The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes. Before every meeting, at every closing, as you walk out of the mall; when you look in the mirror and think you’re something; when you drive up to your house and get out of your car; when you see someone with less; when you see someone who is not as (fill in the blank) as you are … Say it. Pray it. Whisper it. Tell your pride, ‘The Most High is sovereign over all the kingdoms …’ Remind your pride that it’s all a stewardship. It’s all temporary. You’re accountable for what you have received.”
Proverbs 16:18 warns us of the ultimate price paid by the prideful and the dreadful end for those who permit pride to consume them.
Why Does This Matter?
Christ taught us that those who in their pride desire to be first, to be recognized as the best or the greatest, who want a pat on the back, demand a trophy for every performance or win, will be the absolute last in the kingdom of God (Mark 9:35; 10:43).
Rather than take pride in our gifts, we should allow them to humble us, reminding ourselves that as sinners we are deserving of nothing, earned nothing good we possess and must render glory to God through those things and humble ourselves before both God and man.
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J. Davila-Ashcraft is an Anglican priest, Theologian, and Apologist, and holds a B.A. in Biblical Studies and Theology from God’s Bible College in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a recognized authority on the topic of exorcism, and in that capacity has contributed to and/or appeared on programming for The National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, and CNN. He is the host of Expedition Truth, a one-hour apologetics radio talk show.