The fall of Satan and his demonic allies is certainly proven by Scripture. Yet their fall differs from the fall of Adam in a number of ways. First, their fall is styled willful. This is not to say that Adam’s sin was not a willful decision. It most certainly was. Yet we distinguish because Satan was not tempted. There were no external enticements that drew them aside.
What’s more, the demonic forces are destined to hell and damnation. Unlike Adam, God designed to leave them in their sinful and miserable state without the possibility of salvation.
It is important to note that Satan’s fall is not outside the providence of God. As a created being he was and is still subject to the rule and reign of God. This is why the Westminster Larger Catechism says,
Q. “What is God’s providence towards the angels?
A. God, by his providence, permitted some of the angels, willfully and irrecoverably, to fall into sin and damnation, limiting and ordering that, and all their sins, to his own glory; and established the rest in holiness and happiness; employing them all at his pleasure, in the administration of his power, mercy, and justice.”
Thus we understand that the fall of demons was permitted and limited by God. In Job we see that Satan cannot act on his own. He must first receive permission for any of his evil deeds from God. All that he does is restrained by God, like the waves of the sea (“hither shall you go and no farther.”). Further, though he attempts to overthrow the Lord, he is unable and he is cast down. Christ expressed that he saw Satan fall like lightening, possibly alluding to a forceful act of God in exiling Satan. The end of Satan is already determined and his life’s work is a desperate flailing attempt to bring down as many as he can until then.
You will also understand my hesitancy to say that the rule of God was “challenged”, when we consider the fact that the evil workings of fallen angels are ordered and overruled by God for His own glorious purposes. Paul said that a messenger of Satan buffeted him. Yet that same incident was to display the fact that God’s “grace was sufficient for him” and that “His power was made perfect in weakness.” As well, the temptations and cruel craft of Satan to kill Jesus was only for the ultimate glory of His redemptive plan. From this we conclude that the bruises of Satan only advance the plan of God.
Though his activity is restrained in a great degree, his work is still ferocious and to be regarded with a due “reverence.” He is compared to a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. His whole strategy is to attack that which is the nearest and dearest to the Lord, and his one quintessential work: humanity, particularly the church. We may also note that his attacks upon Christ would have been vehement and most certainly tantalizing to the greatest degree.
See handout on the names of Satan.
One other item we ought to note about the fall of demons is that their fall occurred all at once, or at least within a very short period. Some in the history of the church have said that Satan fell early on and then the rest fell just before the time of the flood. They understand the passage which says, “The sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose,” as referring to angels leaving their places of honor, becoming corrupt and having sexual relations with humans. This cannot be possible since angels are not sexually oriented beings. In Matthew 22 Jesus says that in glory man will not be married or given in marriage because they will be like the angels.”
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