LUCIFER. the Author and Perfecter of Pride
NOTE: The name Lucifer has other meanings (morning star, light bearer). For the purposes of this paper, Lucifer will be used as it is applied to Satan, head of the angelic rebellion against God.
noun (in Christian and Jewish belief) the chief evil spirit; Satan
synonyms Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, the Evil One
(Courtesy of Google online Dictionary)
GREEK: diabolos (from diaballein, meaning slanderer or accuser)
In order to sum up the previous four parts of this series on authority and its challengers, we must go to the very beginning of those challengers: Lucifer, aka Satan or the Devil.
Lucifer (Satan) was an angel, but he wasn’t just any angel. He was a cherub angel, and apparently of high rank. In Ezekiel 28:12 (in a parallel comparison of the King of Tyre), we read that he was the ‘seal of resemblance, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty.’ (NAB) Further on at verse 15, ‘Blameless you were in your ways from the day you were created, until evil was found in you.’ (NAB)
Even though much of the passage is likely in literal reference to the king, there is a clear comparison to an angel of heaven ruined by his own evil sin. Lucifer believed that he could be divine. In the beautiful, heavenly realm of God and his angels, there was no previous idea of disaster. There was no fear of a ‘fall’ because all were devoted to God. But when Lucifer’s ego reared its ugly head, a challenge was made to the God who made him. Haughtiness of spirit is a great descriptive. How dare he! How could a creature think he might be wiser than his Creator? Only haughtiness of spirit (pride) might create a disaster that would lead to Lucifer’s fall from grace and ultimate fall from heaven. When God’s authority was challenged by His beautiful and beloved Lucifer, it introduced sin… sin of Pride. That one sin would open the door to all others. After all, if one believes he is superior to the Almighty, all bets are off. The deadliest of sins become mere subjective ponderings.
But to make matters worse, Lucifer was able to convince 1/3 of heaven’s angels to abandon their role in heaven. Not only was Lucifer beautiful, but he apparently was also quite charismatic. He managed to charm the others into believing God was not to be trusted.
On this side of the massive casting out of Lucifer and the other angels, we might have a hard time getting it. Seriously…what kind of lunatic would have challenged the authority of God in such a prideful move, and what weak-minded crazies would follow such a being? But here is where free will comes into play.
God has always offered autonomy to His Creation. Think about it: if we (or the angels) had no real choice, what kind of allegiance and love would we really have for God? Therefore, God, in His infinite wisdom, allowed Lucifer and the angels use of their free will to show by their choice where the hearts were. Unfortunately for those who followed Lucifer, their choice was permanent.
Here on earth we witness a rejection of God that is mind-boggling. Most of us have tried to share Christ with friends and family, watching it morph into a hostile encounter threatening those relationships–probably more times than we wish to count. With that in mind, for God to retain 2/3 of the angels in Heaven is huge!
But Pride was the undoing of God’s most beloved angel and his followers. This is the same pride we are warned of in Proverbs 16:18
“Pride goes before a disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
We all should be familiar with succumbing to pride. It’s that nagging feeling in situations where we believe we are much better equipped to handle than the person in charge. It’s the ego-driven reaction to our own capabilities. And it can separate us both from God and mankind. Here is how it happens:
As we grow in our skills, we can easily be lured into over estimating our inherent worth. It is slow and insidious. It is treacherous and crafty, fashioned after the Being whose Pride set the spiral of sin against God in motion. As we receive adulation for jobs well-done, we can (if not careful) develop such a need for those ‘atta Boy’ affirmations that they become our motivation for performance. As satisfaction for a job well-done is replaced by feelings of entitlement, we forget from whom our talent comes.
Pride morphs into Greed for attention and Gluttony for praise. It is no wonder Pride is considered the Gateway Sin…it opens the door to Satan’s ever-reaching influence in our lives. Once our Pride is under his control, it squeezes out compassion or appreciation for others, and denies God as the giver of these gifts. It inflates the ego to dangerous proportions. Subsequently, our relationship to God and his children both suffer, as we strive for more in a never-satiated hunger.
But this does not happen in a vacuum. And it does not only affect the inherently evil (if there is such a thing). Even those who follow God are susceptible to its lure, and it waits only for the door to be opened ever so slightly. The term of getting a ‘big head’ applies. But it’s much more difficult for one’s head to expand while wearing a well-fit Helmet of Salvation, along with the rest of our armor (Eph 6:17).
Heed the warning in I Peter 5:8-9…
“Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world.”
Like a roaring lion. In a song I wrote years ago (“An Evil Lurkin”), I warn that, “…misery loves company, and the Evil One don’t wanna go down alone so he’s after you and me.”
It is his self-imposed prime directive. He is on the prowl, quietly padding through our lives like that invisible lion lying in wait for the attack.
But St. Peter gives us the solution to the dangers that lurk: being firm in our faith in order to resist Satan’s temptations to follow him down the road to perdition.
As you reflect upon the previous installments in this series on Authority, it is easy to see the progression of the influence of Pride as it stems from Lucifer’s challenge of God’s authority. It was present in Adam and Eve, as they believed the Serpent’s lure that they could know what God did by disobeying Him. We saw it in heretics throughout the history of the Church, as they were duped into believing they could discern more clearly than the Church. It was there in the East-West split, in disputes over who had authority in Constantinople and who was the authority over the wording of the Creed. And finally, in a Grand Slam for Satan, it was at the heart of the Protestant rebellion known as the Reformation. In that victory, Satan was finally able to separate God’s children from each other in prideful abandonment of the sound doctrine that bound them together for 1500 years.
In nearly all areas of life where there is great sin, it always begins with Pride. And, ultimately, Pride comes into play in those who refuse and reject the Authority of God and His Church. May we all pray for hearts always in submission to Him. And may God be Forever Glorified!