I heard about a guy once that was really involved in God's work. He was a good looking guy, everybody liked and respected him, he was the choir director at his church, and he basically spent his entire life trying to be like God. In fact, his whole ambition in life was to be like God. And then God shot him out of the sky like a lightning bolt. It's true, a guy I know saw it happen. (Luke 10:18)
I hope I'm not struck down for saying this, but sometimes I feel like I am unfairly judgmental toward Satan. Well, on second thought maybe I'm just unfairly biased toward myself. When we imagine Satan, we think of some totally evil entity that is entirely and eternally bent on being the opposite of anything God is. But when we look at scriptures, we see that that was not always true. For much of his existence, Satan spent his time trying to emulate God. It's not that Satan hates God and thinks that he is worthless. On the contrary, Lucifer loved God, was obsessed with God, and God loved him. The Bible says he was anointed by God as a cherub of God (Ezekiel 28:14).
A ridiculous depiction of our vastly skewed interpretations of Jesus and Satan
Knowing all of this, how did Lucifer become the Satan that we know today? Quite simply put, he wanted to be like God. I've heard this, and have never batted an eyelash at it. Of course, Satan wanted to be like God, therefore he is evil. But let's put it in context. You've probably heard your pastor or someone else in the Church talk about another believer and say something to the effect of, "Johnny is such a Godly man. His whole purpose in life is to be more and more like God." And then of course you respond, "BURN THE BLASPHEMER!" That's how I always respond to adversity.
I give you this example because I think it is important to understand why Lucifer, the anointed cherub of God, became Satan. I've come to realize Satan wasn't always a bad guy. He really, really, really, more than anything else, wanted to be Godly. It actually sounds like Satan used to be closer to what God wants from us than I am. However, at some point, Satan crossed a line. It was a razor thin line, one that he probably had no idea he had crossed. This is not the line of the normal sins we think of. I don't think Satan stole something or told a lie. The line was the line of holiness. Satan started to take pride in his own holiness and cast away the holiness of God. He probably didn't know that's what he was doing at first, but by the time he was cast out he was so totally and utterly obsessed with himself, he could no longer worship God without seeing himself.
This sounds a lot like someone else I know. This guy has been in church his whole life, has lead Bible studies, preached sermons, given Godly wisdom, read countless books on being more like Christ, and even wrote a blog on Christian issues. I think you see where I'm going with this. This person is myself. You see, I have crossed this line. I have crossed it many times. I begin to confuse God's holiness for my holiness. I see the good things I do and forget that they are God working in me. I see the people whose lives I invest in and forget that it is God doing the changing. I see my personal growth in wisdom and knowledge and am blinded to God's benevolence in giving it to me. I find that many times, when I am trying to be like God, I actually end up trying to be like Satan. We know that we are supposed to boast in nothing but God, correct? But we confuse that with boasting in our holiness. What Galatians 6:14 actually says is, "As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world's interest in me has also died." We must come to terms with the fact that Christ is the only good thing, and that no matter how close we are to God, no matter how many ministries we are involved in, no matter how many starving babies we feed, we don't matter. If we are in Christ, the world's interest in us should be dead. We need to get over ourselves and move on.