The Good News of Tomorrow's World
WHAT IS SATAN'S FATE?
The Bible warns of a very real devil and many Satanic cohorts. What is their ultimate fate? Here is the truth about Satan, and the startling proof about his final judgment!
by Garner Ted Armstrong
THIS WORLD is totally deceived. In His very first words to His disciples in the Olivet Prophecy, Jesus sternly warned, "Take heed that no man deceive you. For MANY shall come IN MY NAME, saying, I am Christ; and shall DECEIVE MANY"! (Matt. 24:4-5.)
Most of you are well aware of the false doctrines circulated in modern "Churchianity" about Satan the devil. The familiar tunes of the "preachy-toned" tent-camp evangelist shouting, 'We're sure gonna twist ole Satan's tail tonight!" is just one of many examples.
Some believe he is merely the embodiment of all that is evil, and therefore
not a real BEING, but just a BAD "idea" in the minds of men. Others
believe Satan appears as a red, dancing monster with wings like a bat, horns,
a tail and a pitchfork.
But What Is the Truth?
The Bible reveals that SATAN IS THE GOD OF THIS PRESENT WORLD.
Paul expressly calls him that! "In whom the god of THIS WORLD (Greek "aion", or "age") hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, LEST the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (II Cor. 4:4).
In trying to overthrow Christ, Satan boasted, "All this power will I give thee (all the kingdoms of the world), and the glory of them: for that is DELIVERED UNTO ME; and to whomsoever I will I give it" (Luke 4:6).
Had Satan made this statement falsely, Christ would certainly have refuted it! And yet, Christ said not one word to contradict Satan's presumptuous remarks about the kingdoms of this world. Jesus DID, however, rebuke the devil for TEMPTING Him BY MEANS OF the kingdoms of this world.
Jesus warned His disciples that the MAJORITY would be deceived, and going in the broad, wide, EASY way -- the way of following that which seems RIGHT to a man -- to destruction! (Matt. 7:13.)
The deceiver is called the "prince of the power of the air" in Eph.
2:2. John's vision plainly showed Satan as the deceiver of the WHOLE WORLD,
who was cast down with his angels, who are now called demons (Rev. 12:9).
How It Happened
God reveals HOW Satan became the god of this world -- and why! Perhaps many have falsely assumed the devil is the god of this world AGAINST the will of God! Many, perhaps, have unknowingly followed another DECEPTION of Satan by believing the FALSE idea of this world of some kind of GREAT CONTROVERSY between God and Satan! This doctrine represents the devil as being much more powerful than God! After all -- the world is totally wrapped up in sin, isn't it? Such religious teachings represent just one more example of the thoroughness with which Satan has done his work of deception.
Your Bible reveals Satan as a CREATED being -- created of God. For the
startling proof, read Mr. Armstrong's article "Did God Create a
Devil?" beginning on page 3 of this issue.
Satan began his deception by introducing the doctrine of the "immortality of the soul" to Eve in the Garden of Eden. He told her, "Ye shall not surely die" (Gen. 3:4). Since that time, the devil has succeeded in palming off HIS OWN ASPIRATIONS and HIS ULTIMATE DESTINATION on gullible human beings as their chief religious doctrines -- which are NOT found in the Bible!
Satan (Lucifer) wanted to go to heaven! The churches teach a doctrine of going someday to heaven! Lucifer is a SPIRIT, and is therefore IMMORTAL! The churches believe MAN has an immortal spirit! Christ said an everlasting FIRE awaits Satan and his angels. The churches teach an everlasting fire awaits all "sinners." Satan FELL from his attempt to overthrow God. The pagan misconception is that man FELL!
These are only a FEW of the more prevalent doctrines that Satan has palmed off
as truth to this gullible world.
God shows that fully one third of all the multiplied millions of the angels FOLLOWED Lucifer in his rebellion, and were cast down to the earth with him! (Compare Rev. 12:4 with Rev. 1:20.) These fallen angels, remember, are SPIRITS, not human beings! To accomplish his WORK of deception, with the ultimate goal of DESTROYING human beings, Satan utilizes these millions of disobedient spirits! He is called the PRINCE of demons (Matt. 12:24).
Satan himself is always concerned with the TOP-LEVEL jobs in his attempt to destroy God's plan. Notice how he began -- by trying to destroy Adam and Eve -- the very FIRST (and therefore a primary aim) humans on the earth. Again, when God sent His own Son, Satan tried by many clever subtleties to cause Christ to SIN against the Law of God. All through Christ's ministry, Satan tried to have Him killed -- to thwart His every purpose! Finally, when it was time according to GOD'S purpose to ALLOW Christ to be killed, Satan the devil was a DIRECT instrument in executing Christ. He entered PERSONALLY into Judas! (John 13:27.)
It is not at all inconceivable that Satan could personally, individually tempt one of God's people! However, many people attribute many insignificant things to the devil -- not realizing that he is concerned with the top-level jobs in his evil plan! Many of these things are nothing more than the pulls of their own human nature!
Since the devil is concerned directly with the PRIMARY TARGETS in trying to upset God's plan, it also follows that the MOST IMPORTANT TARGET ON EARTH IS GOD'S CHURCH!
God thunders a warning at every one of us that the devil IS YET to come down to this earth in GREAT WRATH -- knowing he has but a short time left -- to PERSECUTE God's Church. "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make WAR with the remnant of her seed, which KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ"! (Rev. 12:17.)
Paul said he was not IGNORANT of Satan's devices (II Cor. 2:11).
What About the Everlasting Fire?
The time is rapidly drawing nearer when Satan the devil will no longer be PERMITTED TO deceive the nations! At this present time, God is directly ALLOWING Satan to be used as His instrument in blinding the world, so the lesson of mankind will be so firmly and completely etched in its own blood that there will never again be a society existing in total rebellion against God's government! GOD is the One who has "concluded (shut up) them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all" (Rom. 11:32). He says He is NOT WILLING that ANY should perish, but that ALL should finally come to repentance! (II Peter 3:9.)
At the beginning of Christ's millennial rule over the nations, Satan is to be BOUND, and cast into an abyss (Rev. 20:1-3). This condition of restraint will last during the thousand years, and then the devil will be momentarily allowed freedom to deceive the nations again (verse 3)!
But consider what occurs next!
Jesus said He is going to cast unrepentant, carnal-minded HUMANS into "everlasting fire, PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS" (Matt. 25:41). This parable of the sheep and the goats is another example of a parable of Christ that makes no special reference to the TIME ELEMENT, but is showing a spiritual lesson and principle to be learned! The SEPARATION described in verse 32 takes place over a period of 1,100 years! -- to the end of the 100-year period after the millennium.
Notice, however, that these wicked HUMAN BEINGS are cast into an everlasting FIRE prepared for the devil and his angels.
Fire is a physical, chemical thing! Fire is the combustion of physical objects with oxygen which CHANGES the physical objects into ashes and gaseous vapor!
Notice that the wicked (the SAME ones Christ referred to) are to be ASHES under the feet of the righteous! (Mal. 4:3.)
Therefore, this fire Christ spoke of in Matthew 25 is a fire that CONSUMES human beings! But Satan is a SPIRIT being! AND SPIRIT BEINGS ARE NOT AFFECTED BY FIRE! They are not material.
Yes -- it may be POSSIBLE that Almighty God could create a fire that would perhaps consume a spirit -- since ALL THINGS are possible with God! (Matt. 19:26.) But it is not a question of what God CAN do. It is a question of what God WILLED to do!
The word "everlasting" in Matthew 25:41 is "aionion" in the Greek language. "Aionion" comes from the root "aion" which often means "age"! In this case, the correct translation into the English language should be "AGE-LASTING fire."
Does the Bible bear this up?
Yes, it does!
The "Age-Lasting" Fire
Next, let's notice carefully some significant facts about the fire Christ will use to destroy His enemies!
When Jesus returns to this earth as KING, His first act will be to destroy, NOT ALL the wicked, but that "wicked ONE" who is going to be working miracles and deceiving the world! (II Thes. 2:8.) Together with this great False Prophet, Christ will lay hold of the Beast who is yet to arise, and throw them BOTH into a LAKE OF FIRE, burning with brimstone! (Rev. 19:20.)
These two are human beings -- physical, breathing MEN, who are alive and drawing breath at this instant! The fire WILL CONSUME them. THIS LAKE OF FIRE IS GOING TO BE BURNING ALL DURING THE MILLENNIUM! (Isaiah 66:23-24.)
During Christ's time, the Valley of Hinnom, just outside of Jerusalem, was the place where refuse and the bodies of criminals were thrown -- into fires that were kept constantly burning. God uses this as a TYPE of the coming LAKE OF FIRE! My father, mother, brother and I SAW this valley, called "Gehenna" in the Bible -- and thus were actually looking into HELL, believe it or not!
During the millennial reign of Christ and His saints, this valley will once more be kept perpetually burning -- and the incorrigibly wicked ones who WILL to continue in rebellion against God's laws will be THROWN INTO this "lake of fire" as a stern witness to all the rest of the world! (Isa. 66:24.)
Next, turn to Revelation 20:10. "And the devil that deceived them was cast into THE lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet (WERE CAST)." There is NO verb "are" in the original Greek, as the King James revisers have added in italics! See an interlinear or any concordance!
Notice that the devil WILL BE CAST into THE (not just "a," but the definite article "the" is in the Greek) lake of fire where the Beast and the False Prophet WERE CAST!
THIS IS THE SAME FIRE!
It was burning at the precise BEGINNING of the millennium when the Beast and False Prophet were thrown into its flames; it will be burning at the END of the millennium, when Satan is thrown into the same fire!
That's WHY it is called an AGE-LASTING fire in Matthew 25:41 because it does,
literally, LAST for an age -- the millennial age!
What About the Demons?
Christ said the fire was being prepared for the devil AND his angels! So they, TOO, are to be thrown into the lake of fire!
A commonly misunderstood explanation of this is found in I Peter 3:19-20. People have assumed, because they base their religious philosophies on the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, that Christ was busy PREACHING to some supposed "souls" of MEN in hell! What folly! Let's understand what really happened!
Your Bible plainly states the TIME element in these verses. Christ did the preaching, NOT during the three days and nights when He was DEAD in the tomb (I Cor. 15:3 and 20) but "WHEN once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing ..." (I Peter 3:20).
But notice to WHOM Christ witnessed about the flood. "By which also he went and preached unto the SPIRITS IN PRISON"! (Verse 19.)
Who were these "spirits"? Certainly not MEN -- nor the "souls" of men, since MEN DO NOT HAVE immortal souls!
Turn to II Peter 2:4 for the answer! "For if God spared not the angels (spirits) that SINNED, but cast them down to hell (PRISON -- "hell" is a mistranslation from the Greek "tartaroo" which means a "condition or position of RESTRAINT," as an "imprisonment"), and delivered them into CHAINS of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment."
The "spirits in prison" are the sinning angels, or the DEMONS that have perverted their ways and followed Satan, and are BOUND to the earth -- imprisoned here by the power of God until their day of JUDGMENT.
The final enemy of Christians is death itself. When the plan of God is finally
completed, even death is to be completely destroyed! (I Cor. 15:26.) Just
before the establishment of the new heavens and new earth, all that is
corrupt, all that is physically combustible, will be consumed in a vast,
WORLDWIDE lake of fire!
The Lake of Fire
This tremendous conflagration will be so intense, so white-hot, that the surface of the whole earth will literally melt with the fervor of the flames! Peter describes this awesome time as a melting of the very elements, a time when all the works on the earth are burned up -- dissolved! (II Peter 3:10-11.)
Christ shows this time occurs AFTER the final Great White Throne Judgment when God's plan is complete -- and all who have been added to His family are already born of Him. After this final judgment, even death and the grave are destroyed (Rev. 20:13-15).
The surface of the earth will become for a time just as if it were the blazing surface of the sun! This is the great Gehenna fire that Christ talked of, that will destroy the wicked.
It is into this vast, seething lake of fire that Satan and his angels will have been cast.
But remember! This fire is PHYSICAL! It CONSUMES the bodies of the wicked, and is so intense it even melts the rocks and elements of the earth until they are liquefied.
BUT SATAN AND HIS ANGELS ARE SPIRIT BEINGS! Fire is PHYSICAL, and cannot BURN spiritual beings! Spirit IS NOT COMBUSTIBLE!
Now notice an important verse!
The New Heavens and New Earth
In the glorious picture of the new heavens and new earth, John wrote a description of the temple, and the beauty of God's new creation. A key scripture is Revelation 21:27! God expressly shows Satan and his angels will not BE in the new heavens and the new earth! "And there shall IN NO WISE ENTER INTO IT any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." Satan will not be there! And the fire Will BURN UP the wicked, and the works of the earth (Rev. 20:14; 21:8).
Peter tells us we can look forward to the new heavens and new earth wherein dwells RIGHTEOUSNESS! (II Peter 3:13.) It is evident from God's Word that Satan and his angels will not be anywhere in the new heaven and new earth!
Then where are they to be?
Let's go on -- and see what your Bible actually reveals!
Since fire cannot consume spirits -- then how can they be punished? Many
people fail to realize that MENTAL torment is FAR WORSE than physical torment!
How a Spirit Can Suffer
God created our bodies with a type of "safety device" against too much pain! When the physical human body is subjected to extreme pain, it will reach a certain point and then lapse into unconsciousness! The mind does not continue to register the pain -- even though the body continues to suffer! Mothers recognize the truth of this immediately. The thought of seeing their children suffer -- having to stand the MENTAL agonies of seeing their own children being tortured -- would be far worse than having to suffer physical pain themselves.
A DISEMBODIED spirit -- one that cannot any longer physically manifest itself -- is an UNCOMFORTABLE, MISERABLE spirit! Jesus described this condition of mental torment when He said, "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking REST; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out". (Luke 11:24).
This is further illustrated by the account of Christ's experience with the many demons who had entered the man in the country of the Gadarenes. Jesus commanded the spirits to come out of the man, and they "besought him MUCH that he would not send them away out of the country" (Mark 5:10). "And all the devils (demons) besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may ENTER INTO them" (verse 12).
When Philip was performing miracles at Samaria, he cast out many demons, who came out of people "crying with LOUD VOICE" (Acts 8:7) showing their frustration and anger at being deprived of their dwelling place! (Luke 8:28.)
God says the demons KNOW of His power -- they are aware of the great AUTHORITY of God! We are told that willful sinners are going to be left with a certain FEARFUL looking for of JUDGMENT (Heb. 10:26-27) and that it is a FEARFUL thing to fall into the hands of the living God! (Verse 31.)
James said, "Thou believest that there is one God? Thou doest well: the devils (demons) also believe, and TREMBLE"! (James 2:19.) They FEAR the awesome judgment awaiting them, and are therefore in TORMENT! "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because FEAR HATH TORMENT" (I John 4:18).
When Satan comes down to the earth in great wrath, it is because he knows he has but a SHORT TIME left! (Rev. 12:12.)
His punishment will plainly be MENTAL, SPIRITUAL, NOT PHYSICAL!
Many have misunderstood verse 16 of Ezekiel 28. Notice that God is speaking of the beginning of the creation in this account of Satan's original rebellion. But, just as the Bible so often uses DUAL meanings, so THIS is history and prophecy at the same time! God refers to the "stones of fire" in verse 13. Notice how these same stones are used in the description of the Holy City!
Compare with Revelation 21:18-21. Remember, the "mountain" (nation, or government) of God is ultimately going to be ON THIS EARTH! God CAST LUCIFER OUT of that mountain, throwing him DOWN from his attempt to be above God's throne! God's throne is then to be ON THIS EARTH! God will AGAIN cast Satan out of His presence!
"... Therefore I WILL (both past and FUTURE) cast thee as profane out of
the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, FROM the
midst of the stones of fire" (Ezek. 28:16). The word "destroy"
is explained by the word FROM! God does NOT say Satan is to be DESTROYED! He
DOES say Satan is to be DESTROYED FROM a certain place -- the midst of the
stones of fire, or the location of God's seat of authority.
Satan Will Not Be Destroyed!
Now, let's notice further proof that Satan is NOT to be destroyed. Turn again to Revelation 20, and verse 10.
Notice that the devil is cast into the lake of fire where the Beast and False Prophet WERE CAST, AND Satan and his demons shall be tormented day and night forever and ever!
This expressly states Satan will be tormented for the AGES OF THE AGES! (See "International Critical Commentary", an interlinear or other such Bible helps. ) This expression in the Greek means for all eternity -- for time everlasting!
Notice carefully the verse states Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire AND tormented forever! It does not say that he will REMAIN IN THE FIRE FOREVER! The fire is on this earth! The fire is an AGE-LASTING fire, which will NOT be burning after God's new heaven and new earth are established! Since Satan is to be tormented FOREVER, and the fire is to finally CONSUME the physical objects it is burning until it burns OUT, Satan does NOT remain in this lake of fire forever!
Satan is a spirit! Fire cannot consume spirit -- and A SPIRIT CANNOT DIE!
Jesus Christ said so!
For a clinching proof, turn to Luke the twentieth chapter. In verse 34, Christ begins to explain to the hypocritical Sadducees about the resurrection.
"... The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world (age), and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: NEITHER CAN THEY DIE ANY MORE, for they are equal unto the angels ..." (verses 34-36).
Jesus tells us the angels CANNOT DIE! Satan is a fallen angel! Therefore Satan
"Reserved Unto Judgment!"
Remember, Peter and Jude both attest to the fact that the sinning demons are reserved unto a time of JUDGMENT! Without realizing it, many people have assumed the "judgment" is a final SENTENCING that is passed in one instant at Christ's coming!
SUCH IS NOT THE CASE!
A judge must investigate the merits of each case and ARRIVE at a decision based on the facts! God is calling out His children to become kings and PRIESTS with Christ -- and to RULE THIS EARTH! (Rev. 5:10.)
A vital part of the job of each of God's children will be JUDGMENT! Believe it or not, the Creator of all that exists is actually permitting us to have an opportunity to become judges of this world! Many have not understood the scriptures already mentioned in I Peter 3:19-20 and II Peter 2:4, simply because they have not understood an important phase of that judgment!
The Apostle Paul gives us the amazing answer in I Corinthians 6:2-3! "Do ye not know that the saints shall JUDGE THE WORLD? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? KNOW YE NOT THAT WE SHALL JUDGE ANGELS?"
There it is!
WE SHALL JUDGE ANGELS! Remember, the wicked spirits, including Satan, are presently being reserved, being kept in restraint, UNTO JUDGMENT! That judging is yet to be done!
Now do you see?
The Bible plainly reveals Satan will be cast into the lake of fire, but the lake of fire will END when the new heavens and new earth are established, and Satan is to be tormented unto the AGES OF THE AGES! It also shows his torment WHILE in that fire is going to be MENTAL, at seeing all he has strived toward, worked for, plotted for, BURNED UP. Christ preached to the spirits on this earth DURING THE TIME OF THE FLOOD as a WITNESS to them! The flood was a type of the yet future destruction of the earth -- this time by FIRE! Christ was warning them of the impending destruction of all their works -- and their everlasting banishment from this earth! The EXACT NATURE of their ETERNAL punishment is YET TO BE DECIDED!
YOUR BIBLE REVEALS YOU MAY BE INSTRUMENTAL IN DECIDING THAT PUNISHMENT!
Jude gave a slight indication of the possibility of the NATURE of that punishment when he used the demons as a TYPE in warning Christians about false teachers who had crept in unawares. In reading through the book of Jude, you come to verse 6, where the demons are mentioned, to the next few verses, where these "filthy dreamers" are described. Notice how their error is EXACTLY that of the sinning angels in that they too tried to USURP authority! "They ... ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core ..." (verse 11). See Numbers 16, where Korah tried to USURP the position of God's chosen servants.
Jude continues to describe, "Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; WANDERING STARS (see Rev. 1:20, where stars are symbols of ANGELS) TO WHOM IS RESERVED THE BLACKNESS OF DARKNESS FOR EVER"! (Verse 13.)
Notice, in Enoch's prophecy, he spoke of coming JUDGMENT "... Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute JUDGMENT upon all ..." (verses 14-15).
As has already been proved -- the ANGELS (demons) are definitely included
among those to be judged by the saints! Could this be an indication of their
final fate? They are MISERABLE when dis-embodied -- wandering through
"dry places, seeking rest"! Could this statement in Jude give us a
picture of their punishment? "... wandering stars, to whom is reserved
the blackness of darkness for ever"! (Jude 13.)
Part of our awesome responsibility is going to be the judging of angels! Satan's ultimate destination apparently is yet to be decided -- BY THE SAINTS!
Are you preparing yourself for such a job?
Such an overwhelming responsibility demands a tremendous amount of wisdom and knowledge! God Almighty has called you and me to much more than just some inactive, "fluff-fluff" eternity of laziness and ease! We are going to have the responsibility to rule the universe with Christ -- to do what the fallen angels were unwilling to accomplish. So great is that responsibility that God says it has not entered into the HEART of man the things He has prepared for us! (I Cor. 2:9.)