Embraced  by  Truth . . .
                                    reflections on theology and life

THEOLOGY > Sin > Reality of Satan > Fall from Heaven


According to the Scriptures two falls are associated with Satan: his initial fall, and his final fall. In his initial fall Satan lost his position in heaven, and in his final fall he will lose access to heaven.

The falls of Satan symbolize the truth that all sin results in a fall. Sin does not elevate, it demotes; it does not lead to a higher level of living, but leads to a lower state of existence; it does not lift the gaze in fulfillment and satisfaction, but thrusts the visage downward in shame and humiliation. Sin does not advance, but damns, for it leads to hell, not heaven.

The Initial Fall – The following passages refer to the original fall of Satan. His position was exalted and prominent; it was the highest in heaven, next to God Himself. But he was cast down to the earth, losing that for which he was created.

But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit (Isa. 14:15);

I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven (Lu. 10:18; some feel Jesus was referring to the temptations in the wilderness when Satan was defeated in his design to cause Jesus to sin; some feel Satan fell in the ministry of the apostles; some feel Jesus saw some sort of spiritual conflict that He did not explain; and some feel this refers to Satan’s initial fall from heaven);

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell (tartarus) and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment (II Pet. 2:4; some attribute this to the incident in Gen. 6 where “sons of God” went into “daughters of men”; others interpret this to be the original sin of Satan and those angels that followed him in his rebellion);

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, He has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day (Jude 6; like the above passage, some apply this to Gen. 6 while others apply it to Satan’s initial fall);

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth (Rev. 12:3-4; if this is a reference to the initial fall, then there is insight as to the number of angels that followed Satan).

The time of this initial fall was between Genesis 1:31, the point when God finished his work of creation and everything that had been made was declared to be “very good,” and Genesis 3:1, the point of temptation for Adam and Eve when all that was good became bad. If this is true, then Satan kept his original position for a very brief period; shortly after his creation he sinned and lost the prominent place that he had been given by God at his creation.

So quickly can sin arise, and so unexpectedly. Surely when Lucifer realized that he had been brought into existence and then contemplated the Source of his existence and the position he was created to occupy, there was no anticipation nor foreboding of the sin that would soon arise within him and through him be introduced to all of creation. His thinking was devoid of such thoughts; in fact, there was no basis for the existence of such thoughts. They were antithetical to his nature. Sin it would seem was an impossibility.

And yet, very shortly after his creation, for some profoundly unknown reason, there arose within him the first sin, a sin that brought about his personal fall from his endowed position and a sin that was destined to blight the new creation and bring depravity to the race. So speedily it happened.

How could it happen and why was it allowed (see: Sin in Heaven and The Problem of Evil)?

The Final Fall – John in the Revelation records the final demise of Satan. His final fall will occur near the end of history, after a battle between the two groups of spiritual beings: the heavenly host of God, and the dragon and his angels.

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him . . . the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God . . . but woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short (Rev. 12:7-12; see Dan. 12:1).

While some interpreters apply this passage to Satan’s defeat through the death and resurrection of Christ, others view this as the final expulsion of Satan from heaven, an expulsion that takes place at the end of days and denies him continued access to heaven. The point of either interpretation is the ultimate defeat of Satan which is assured.

If this passage is a depiction of Satan’s fall at the end-time, then it is proper to note that his fall will be precipitated by spiritual warfare, not by physical or human ability. It should speak to us of our limitations and insufficiencies when dealing with evil; we need a power greater than ourselves.

We are taught that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). In other words, our conflict is spiritual, against supernatural personalities. To be able to stand we need spiritual assistance, supernatural assistance, the assistance of God. Our real enemy is not that which we see but that which we do not see.

The two falls of Satan remind us that he is not independent of God; his capability is not the same as the ability of God. The announcement of Satan’s defeat is reassurance for the believer that Satan is not omnipotent; his power is limited. God alone is the Almighty.

Satan’s being cast down to the earth is prior to his confinement to the pit: “And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit . . . after that he must be released for a little while” (Rev. 20:2; see: Satan’s Destiny).

Return to: Reality of Satan; Next Article: Activity in Eden

For overview of THEOLOGY, see: Site Map - Theology
Copyright © Embraced by Truth
All rights reserved.
Materials may be freely copied for personal and academic use;
appropriate reference must be made to this site.
Links are invited.