How is it possible that Satan can appear as an “angel of light?” What do his disguises look like and how can we know we are seeing or hearing from Satan and not a true preacher of the gospel?
Satan’s Original Name
Satan is not his original name. It is Lucifer and in the Hebrew it means “shining one” or “morning star.” The Latin Vulgate refers to is as “the morning star, the planet Venus.” More modern translations refer to his name as “day star”, “morning star” or “shining one” and so it is ironic that Paul says that Satan’s ministers can appear as an angel of light or as 2 Corinthians 11:14 says, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” Satan was created as Lucifer or the morning star and was created in perfection (Ezkiel 28:12). It was only later that this powerful angel fell from grace and was cast down from heaven.
Why Did He Become a Fallen Angel?
Pride is the short answer. Satan was so full of pride about his own beauty and position that he wanted to become ruler of heaven. He said that he “will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars [angels] 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” (Isaiah 14:13-14). Not only did Satan want to rule heaven, he wanted to be “like the Most High” or be in the place of God and to be “above the stars“ which means to be over the angels in authority or rule them. To “sit on the “mount of the congregation” means to be in charge of or rule over. A mount or mountain almost always refers to a dominion. When Jesus said that He saw “Satan fall like lightning” He may have been referring to the time that he was cast down from heaven (Luke 10:18). Apparently Satan has access to God (Job 1, 2) because he is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) but eventually he will be expelled from heaven altogether (Revelation 12:7-9). What a great fall this was. From the one who was once a powerful and glorious covering cherub over the very throne of God to his eventual plunge into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). How the mighty have fallen as Isaiah appears to say in chapter 14 verse 12, “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations” and he will be “brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit” (Isaiah 14:15).
How He Disguises Himself as an Angel of Light
Paul had to deal with false shepherds in his own day and they are still thriving today. How does Satan disguise himself as an “angel of light” or a preacher of the gospel? A close reading of 2 Corinthians chapter 11 reveals how Satan’s ministers (yes, Satan has his own ministers!) disguise themselves as an angel or preacher of light. Paul was “afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, [the Corinthian’s] minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). Paul had reason to be afraid because many were already being deceived as he wrote, “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
What Satan’s Disguises Look Like
Paul is warning the church at Corinth that “anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face” (2 Corinthians 11:20) are false apostles who are “masquerading as apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:14). How are these “angels of light” enslaving Christians today? It could be by legalism or by telling them that they must keep certain holy days, or that they must tithe (some require up to 30% plus), or that they must…(the list can be quite long).How can Christians be exploited today? Any minister, pastor, priest, or preacher that “exploits” can do so through begging or asking for “seeds of faith” in return for a promise of God’s blessing them. They can require church members to donate time, money, talent or even personal resources for the gospel’s sake but the truth is they are exploiting believers for their own personal welfare.How can these false apostles “put on airs” in front of Christians today? They can appear to be highly spiritual, claim a special gift from God to read believer’s minds and point them out in the church, they can prophesy about what a believer has coming or what is about to happen. They can claim that they received a special revelation from God or had a vision or they can claim special revealed knowledge sent to them from God. The truth is that any revelation that comes from outside of the Bible is extra biblical and therefore is unreliable for we have all the revelation we need today from God and it is in His Word, the Bible.Finally, how can these disguised ministers “slap you in the face” today? They can do so by humiliating you in front of others, belittling you in person, making you feel inconsequential compared to themselves, and some times (I have heard reported) actually slapping people in the face trying to “cast out an evil spirit.”
All Christians have the Holy Spirit inside of them. The Holy Spirit can tell us when something is not right or that some teaching or teacher does not line up with Scripture. They can appear to be spiritual giants but inside it is really all about! A true pastor or what I call myself, an under-shepherd of the Great Shepherd (Jesus, since He is the Head of the Church) normally:
- doesn’t masquerade to be something they aren’t.
- doesn’t usually claim special revelation from God,
- doesn’t demand a certain percentage of your income,
- doesn’t take advantage of their congregation,
- rarely enslaves you to the Law (as in the Old Testament, Mosaic Law), and
- doesn’t make God out to be a “pro quid pro” God which says if you give a “seed of faith” God will give you such and such.
Look for pride to be at the root of all false ministers. The same problem that caused Satan’s fall will eventually cause these “angels of light” to fall. If something doesn’t feel right, sound right, or look right, perhaps the Holy Spirit is telling you that it isn’t right. And this is to be expected these days because even Satan himself masquerades as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14) and so it shouldn’t be surprising, then, if his servants also “masquerade as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:15) and may “exploit you or [take] advantage of you” (2 Corinthians 11:20) by teaching a ”different gospel from the one you accepted” (2 Corinthians 11:4). That is exactly how Satan can be disguised as an “angel of light.”
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