Summary: It really is a mystery. How could such a gifted and trusted being as Lucifer (whose very name means ‘light bearer’ or ‘son of the morning’) cause the first church split and take a third of the congregation with him?
SermonCentral Editor’s note: J.John, a Greek Cypriot, has been described as "The Billy Graham of Great Britain," speaking to more than 300,000 people in person each year. He has authored 21 books and has more than one million copies in circulation. You may learn more about his ministry at: http://www.philotrust.com/
It really is a mystery. How could such a gifted and trusted being as Lucifer (whose very name means ‘light bearer’ or ‘son of the morning’) cause the first church split and take a third of the congregation with him? The Bible says that he was ‘the perfection of wisdom and beauty’ (Ezekiel 28 verse 12). His clothing was ‘adorned with every precious stone’ (v13), and God said, ‘I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian’ (v14). So what went wrong? Although we may fear and despise Satan in equal measure, there is much we can learn from the story of his fall from grace that is crucial for us as workers in the kingdom of God.
Lucifer might have been wonderful, but he let it go to his head. He began to believe his own hype, as we might say today. He was amazing, beautiful, and glorious… but he wasn’t divine. Twice the Bible says that God created him (verses 13, 15); Lucifer may have been part of God’s wondrous creation, but he was not – and never could be - God. He did not exist before all else; he didn’t have the power to create incredible things – people, animals, plants, mountains, and seas - from nothing. Lucifer was subject to God’s rule and authority, just like anyone else.
It’s too easy for us to dismiss Lucifer either as a cartoon figure, or an icon of evil who has been evil and twisted from the start. Yet if we do so, we create a scapegoat for all the evil in the world. He is so unlike us, we think, that he has no relevance, other than to fight or dismiss him. Yet, like so many people in front-line ministry and worship today, Lucifer had anointing and authority. He found favour with God, and was close to him. He was, by all accounts, something of a heavenly celebrity. And for those of us who like a little attention and adoration as we go about God’s business within the Christian world, Lucifer is a warning to us all.
In this passage, Ezekiel underlines time and again how lovely Lucifer was - he had ‘perfect beauty’ he writes in 27.3, ‘perfected beauty’ (27.4,11) and was ‘perfect in beauty’ (28.12). One of God’s finest works of art. But it’s not always easy being the centre of attention. ‘You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you,’ we read in 28.15. ‘Your great wealth filled you with violence and you sinned. So I banished you from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire’ (v16).
All that stardust went to Lucifer’s head. ‘Your heart was filled with pride,’ writes Ezekiel, ‘because of all your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendour. So I threw you to the earth’ (v17).
7Then there was war in heaven. Michael and the angels under his command fought the dragon and his angels. 8And the dragon lost the battle and was forced out of heaven. 9This great dragon - the ancient serpent called the Devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world - was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Revelation 12: 7-9
It’s a stunning and shocking lesson for us all. Even in the place where you might think no sin could possibly be found – at the epicentre of God’s universe, under the shadow of his wing - Lucifer began to nurture a sense of pride and self-centredness. He took a long, hard look at himself in the mirror, and liked what he saw a little too much; with all of his beauty, wisdom, perfection, power and status, he became captivated with his own ego, and he ‘lifted himself up with pride’.
As the great writer CS Lewis once observed, ‘the surest way to spoil a pleasure is to start examining your satisfaction.’ And we must guard against that. Take worship, for example. It can always help us to focus on God, as it captivates our consciousness and we look outward and upward instead of inward. But if we begin to take our eyes off God, perhaps by enjoying the status that comes with leading others in worship, or overseeing a home group, or discipling needy people, then it’s easy to become introspective and suffer the paralysis of self-analysis. We can only do things in God’s strength and Spirit; but If we take our eyes off God and focus on our own gifts, we can become so self-conscious that we end up self-obsessed. And we then we become self-obsessed, we push God to the side and put ourselves on centre stage. As we’ve seen with Lucifer, it’s the original sin against God.