That Old Serpent the Devil: The Origin of Evil and the Corruption of Men’s Hearts


In the flashing moment when all was created, one being emerged more elevated and godlike than all the rest. This ancient beast goes by many names long forgotten and unspoken by the tongues of men.

He is known as Baha’i Faith, Yazidi, Angra Mainyu, Azazel, and Sammael. But more commonly this most high being is known today as the Devil, Satan, or Lucifer.

He was created as the most high angel, second only to God in power. Yet with all his vastness of power and knowledge—knowing God more perfectly than any other—he rebelled against God. He sought the corruption of God’s universe and the establishment of his own.

He is the father of evil. The progenitor of pain and vices of many kinds. He is the dark looming figure behind our evil actions.

Or at least that is what some have believed.

But does the Devil make us do it? Is this ancient evil really the source of all pain, suffering, and sin in our world?

Before the old serpent came onto the scene, the world and humanity was perfect. Death and decay were foreign to the first people—Adam and Eve. It was the Devil that tempted Eve to take that bit out of that forbidden fruit.

He who was sinful brought sin to humanity. He was the first. The one to bring forth evil.

But what is evil?

Is it not that which is not God. That which is a distortion or corruption of who and what humanity and the world was created to be?

Indeed. But if God is good and is so because “goodness” is who He is at the core of his being, how can evil and sin come from Him through his creature Satan?

God cannot sin and cannot create something evil. Otherwise God would not be good.

What then is the origin, the birth of evil?

Admittedly this is a difficult topic.

God created Lucifer. But did Lucifer have a freewill to choose to follow God?

If not, then God is the author of evil because he would have made lucifer for that very purpose.

The Devil must have had a freewill.

But to truly have freedom of choice to follow God, there must also be a counterpart. Evil. That which is not God.

Lucifer must have had the option of something other than God to have freewill, to choose something that was not God, that was not good.

But what might this evil be? Nothing. Literally.

Evil exists eternally. But only in potential. Evil was not actualized, made physical, until Lucifer chose to act on this eternal, potential evil.

Put another way.

If God is good and good eternally, then by definition there is also something eternally that is not good. Or perhaps for those inclined toward mathematics can see, God is eternally x (x being all of his attributes). Therefore y (everything else that is not x) is also eternal.

While some may balk at the idea of an eternal evil principle uncreated by God, I think that such a thing is necessary both to have a proper understanding of God and a proper understanding of the evil one.

God is good. He is good in a complete and pristine way without even a hint of trespass. He cannot not be the author of Evil and vice. James is very clear on this in his epistle saying that God does not tempt us to do evil. He is the author of goodness and righteousness. Thus Lucifer must have been created perfect and perfectly good—with a freewill to choose God or not God (an evil that had never been made physical or ever acted upon).

The old serpent, than, is not the true author of evil. He may have been the first to physically do evil—but he is by no means the creator of it. He is not an evil god present throughout the whole earth responsible for all the evils that happen. he is a creature. Just like you and just like me. He chose evil just as you or I choose to do evil. And though he tempts others to embrace his evil ways, just as we do at times, he is not an all-powerful evil force.

And while we may fear this creature, I believe he is also worthy of our pity. He is a fallen creation of God, once beautiful and close to God but has become twisted and pathetic by his sin.

Perhaps this is why Origen, an ancient church father, said that the church should pray for Lucifer and his possible repentance.

I might not go that far. But he is certainly not the great all-powerful evil that many make him out to be. And he certainly should not be feared if we truly believe that God dwelling within us and we are the representatives of Christ on earth. The enemy should be the one on the ropes.


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  • You bring up a great point Jonathan, the question of God and evil and how could, in fact, something evil come from God if God is all good. I heard once in a sermon that evil, things which were wrong, are actually the distortions of creation. As we seen in Genesis God continually creates things and says 'yes, this is good' so what He creates therefore must be good, it is humanities choice, as was Lucifer's to choose not be which was created good. We see this even in our daily lives, sex, procreation, a good thing, but we see its distortions everyday: pedophiles, rape, etc. Plants, a good thing, which can bear fruit and nurture us and the rest of creation, but distorted can make poisons and even narcotics. Evil is real, and it is a distortion of what once was good, an ontological parasite so to speak. A good jab at a controversial topic, and icing on the cake with the reference to Origin's opinion of Satan, cheers!

  • Thomas

    Great article John. I went to christian school from k-12, and now i am 4 years into doing youth ministry stuff in college. Needless to say, I have been in the christian bubble for a long time. I have often heard and still hear "The devil made me do it!" and "The devil is really tempting me!" and much much more. I understand that devil is hear to kill steal and destroy, but is the devil really tempting us, or are we just drawn to make sinful decisions because our sinful appetite is aroused by the sin the in the world?

  • We've already talked about this a bit, so you already know that I disagree with a dualist view of reality. Without rehashing all of the conversation we have already been through, I would like to challenge your view of evil with a question:

    Didn't God create Satan knowing that he would choose evil? If so, then how is God any less responsible?

    In other words, if I train a sniper, knowing that he will use that which I have given him to kill innocent people, haven't I played a direct role in propagating that evil? Most would consider me an accomplice in the evil, which makes me anything but "good."

  • Interesting but I think an inappropriate analogy. God created perfectly. In his creative act he knew that his creatures would choose evil and harm themselves and each other, but he created something perfect that would soil itself nonetheless. But he did not force or create them to be evil. A more appropriate analogue would be that the mother of the sniper, in giving birth to this murder, is culpable (assuming that she knew what he would become). Satan CHOSE evil. That means there must have been something other than God for him to choose for him to have a true freewill. Otherwise, God would have made him for the purpose of evil and thus being responsible for sin.

    Just my conviction.

  • Why didnt adam stop eve? They could eat from any of the trees… even the tree of Life and she still chose the Knowledge of Good an Evil. My question to all who read this is why didnt adam stop eve?

  • roclafamilia

    Helpful blog, bookmarked the website with hopes to read more!

  • Steve Drake

    Could it possibly be that Adam wasn't part of the conversation between Eve and the Serpent?

  • Jonathandkeck

    It would depend on one's interpretation of the passage. When I read it, the passage says "and Adam was with her" while she talked with the snake and ate the fruit.

    It seems to me that Adam went along with this whole business because he wanted the same thing that Eve wanted—to be like God.

  • Steve Drake

    Hi Jonathan,
    Yes, interpretation is key. 'With her' is to be taken in a relational sense, not a spatial sense. Notice the parallel 'with him' in Gen. 3:12.. The Hebrew phrase in both verses (Gen. 3:6 & 12) is the same. Notice also the conversation that God has with both Adam and Eve in verses 11 – 13. Adam blames the woman, and Eve blames the serpent.

    Notice also the Apostle Paul's words in 2 Cor. 11:3, "But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness…". He doesn't mention Adam here.

    Also, 1 Tim. 2:14, "And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression."

    Lest any of your female readers think I'm a misogynist, I am married to a wonderful 'woman', and have three wonderful daughters, all of whom I love and cherish dearly. What I am trying to show is fidelity to the text however. Blessings.

  • Jonathandkeck

    Well said and well researched. Thanks for your scriptural insight!

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