The Fall of Man (Humanity) and Slavery to Satan
Incredibly, the Bible teaches that unredeemed humanity is in slavery to Satan. In this article we’re going to look at what this means, how it happened, and what are its ramifications. The good news—the awesome news—is that God has ingeniously provided a way of escape for anyone who wants it, which you can read about here.
So what is the evidence that humanity is in slavery to Satan? Let’s start with John 8 where we observe Christ having a discussion with the Pharisees and likeminded Jews. The Pharisees were the staunchly legalistic religious leaders of Israel at the time. While they were respected conservatives, Jesus frankly told them that they were slaves to sin, which they adamantly denied on the grounds of their Hebrew stock (Abraham being their forefather). The Messiah responded that, if they were truly Abraham’s offspring, they would walk righteously as Abraham did. And if they were God’s children they would love him—Jesus—since he came from God. Instead, they were trying to murder him. Christ went on to candidly tell them that the reason they wanted to kill him was because they were acting in accordance with their father’s desire. He was talking about the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning (verses 33-44). So Jesus was saying that the devil was their spiritual father.
Of course, no one likes to be called a child of Satan—especially respected religious folk—and so they proceeded to call Jesus names and even attempted to stone him to death. But the Mighty Christ miraculously slipped from their clutches, no doubt assisted by angels (verses 48-59).
The reason I bring this particular occasion up is because Christ was talking to conservative religious people whom he said were slaves to sin and children of the devil. These were people who knew the Scriptures like the backs of their hands. This shows that conservativism and religion cannot set us free from sin and make us children of God.
Notice what the Bible point blank says about humanity’s slavery to the devil:
We know that we [believers] are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
1 John 5:19
…the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.
The devil is able to mislead humanity because he’s the legal ruler of this world; the Bible even calls him the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Some translations render this as “the god of this age,” which shows that Satan’s dictatorship is limited to “this present evil age” and is not forever (Galatians 1:4).
Christ testified to humanity’s slavery to Satan when he commissioned Paul “to open [people’s] eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).
But when and how did Satan become humanity’s slave master? Let’s look at…
The Fall of Humanity
After Satan’s plunge from Heaven he possessed a serpent-with-legs for the purpose of tempting Eve in the Garden of Eden and, through Eve, seduced Adam into outright rebellion against the Almighty. Here’s the account:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Let’s start our analysis of this pivotal passage by grasping these four points:
- While Satan could have manifested himself in the physical realm like the “sons of God” later did (Genesis 6:1-4) (see this article for details) he obviously wanted to present his temptation to Eve as a harmless creature in order to be successful. This corresponds to something the New Testament says about him—“Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). So he possessed a serpent, but this reptile was hardly the slithering serpentine creatures with which we’re familiar. This reptile had legs and it did not have the negative connotation that snakes have had ever since (Genesis 3:14). Remember, after God created the Universe and all living things the entire creation was called “very good” and this would include the serpent (Genesis 1:31). So this was a striking, shining animal. It was as threatening to Eve as the GEICO gecko would be to us.
- Someone mocked this event to me on the grounds that Eve was tempted by “a talking snake.” But A. it wasn’t a snake as we know it, as explained above; and B. Adam & Eve were clearly used to communicating with animals in the Garden of Eden before their fall because Eve wasn’t shocked when the serpent spoke to her. She reacted as if conversing with such an animal was a normal thing. If this sounds strange to you, keep in mind that most of us communicate with animals every day. For instance, my cats let me know when they want something to eat, when they want affection, when they want outdoors and when they want in the house; they even give thanks! They may not speak English, but they certainly talk verbally and bodily; and I understand them. Now imagine how heightened such communion would be before the fall of creation when the world was perfect. Then add the fact that the serpent was said to be the smartest of the animals God made (Genesis 3:1). This is where the serpent is called “crafty” or “clever,” which is translated from the Hebrew word arum (aw-ROOM), which means prudent, shrewd or sensible.
- Eve appears to have been alone with the serpent when she was tempted, but this seems to be contradicted by Genesis 3:6 where it says she gave some of the forbidden fruit to Adam “who was with her,” which he ate. This explains the traditional Judaic position that Adam was present with Eve the whole time and he heard the entire conversation of the temptation. However, saying Adam “was with her” could simply mean that he was with her when she offered him the fruit. According to this scenario, Eve had the discussion with the serpent, believed his lies, partook of the fruit, and then went to Adam—who was likely nearby—and offered him some of it once he “was with her.” This interpretation helps make sense of the New Testament’s point that Eve was deceived by the devil while Adam was not; and death came to humankind through Adam’s sin rather than Eve’s (1 Timothy 2:13-14 & Romans 5:14-21). Satan obviously knew that Adam would be more open to embracing his deception if it came via the fairer sex. In other words, he knew that women were men’s weakness.
- Eve’s actions could perhaps be excused on the grounds that she was deceived by the serpent. Not to mention she was clearly confused in light of her embellishing of God’s prohibition against eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil wherein she added “and you must not touch it” (verse 3). God never said this and it reveals Eve’s muddled mental state. For Adam, however, there was no such excuse: He willfully opted to go with Eve, his “hot babe,” rather than continue with God. It was a clear-minded decision. Simply put, he rejected the LORD and chose the way of the “ancient serpent” (Revelation 12:9 & 20:2).
Now let’s consider the bigger picture from Satan’s perspective: After his humiliating expulsion from Heaven he & his minions were utterly defeated and devastated, living meaningless lives separate from God in the “dark heavenlies.” So the purpose of the devil’s diabolic enticement of Adam & Eve was fourfold:
- To get back at God somehow.
- To ruin the only beings created in God’s image destined to be co-heirs with Christ, of whom he was furiously envious. This ruin would, of course, extend to their descendants and therefore all humanity.
- To usurp the authority and power that Adam & Eve had over the Earth and Universe. As such, Satan would attain lawful control of God’s physical creation. We’ll entertain a fourth possible reason next chapter.
- Perhaps the most important reason was to possibly win an acquittal with the LORD, which is explored here. This no doubt is Satan’s ultimate goal.
As far as usurping the authority of our primeval parents goes, what power did Adam & Eve possess that Satan craved? God originally blessed the primordial couple — and, by extension, all humankind — to “be fruitful and multiply,” to “subdue” and “have dominion” over all the Earth:
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:28 (NKJV)
This blessing was equally a directive, showing that the LORD put humanity in charge of the Earth and its animal inhabitants. No stipulations were given on how to govern except that they were not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15-17). In short, Adam & Eve had power-of-attorney to manage physical creation in God’s place. The Creator obviously trusted them because they were created in His likeness and they didn’t have a sin nature (Genesis 1:27).
Power mad, Satan craved this authority and so masqueraded as a harmless creature in order to, first, deceive Eve and, second, convince Adam through her to make a ruinous decision for them and all humanity, which was in their loins.
Satan’s “Power of Suggestion”
Did you notice, by the way, that Satan’s strategy in duping Eve was simply the “power of suggestion”? He didn’t approach her with a blatant denial of God’s Word, which would’ve shocked her and sent her running. Instead, he worked with her natural curiosity. He knew Eve was already curious about the forbidden fruit and so he waited until she “just happened” to be in the area of the tree before conveying his suggestion: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The question was designed to get her focused on the sole thing restricted to her & Adam and thus to doubt God’s goodness. The Enemy insinuated doubt concerning God’s will — His Word — to mislead her to the supposed true interpretation, which was a lie. And she believed it because of the innocuous way Satan approached her, masquerading as a harmless, beautiful creature, which she received as a credible messenger due to the devil’s cunning.
Beware: The kingdom of darkness will use these same tactics today to mislead you away from God and His will. In order for the Enemy to not outwit you, you must be aware of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11).
The Consequences of Sin
The consequence of eating the forbidden fruit was death. God warned Adam “when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). The original text contains the Hebrew word for ‘death’ twice and so it should be rendered “in dying you will die.” * In other words, Adam & Eve would die spiritually when they transgressed, which would eventually lead to physically death and, ultimately, eternal death, unless they were redeemed at some point. As such, they lost their eternal life.
* See Young’s Literal Translation.
The condition of spiritual death, by the way, does not mean that the human spirit is dead, but rather that it’s dead to God because it lacks the eternal life necessary to function properly. In short, spiritual death kills the human capacity to know the Creator. This can be observed in the fact that Adam & Eve hid from the LORD immediately after suffering spiritual death. It robbed humanity of guilt-free access into the presence of God and the precious communion thereof.
Something else devastating happened: Since Adam & Eve willingly believed and obeyed the word of Satan over the Word of God they became slaves to a new master through the acquisition of a sinful nature, which is the satanic nature.
Moreover, they gave their God-given power-of-attorney over to their new spiritual master. In essence, Satan acquired the legal right to govern the Earth & Universe, including the legal control of all people born from Adam’s seed, meaning humanity was now in bondage to the Enemy.
Somehow a lawful transfer of power from Adam to Satan occurred. But why wouldn’t the Sovereign LORD simply take this control back from the devil? Because God is perfectly just and it would be unjust to take away authority that Satan legally obtained. A lawful means of reversing this legal transference would have to be implemented and this is what the gospel of Christ is all about, which is why it’s the “good news.”
All of this explains why the Bible says “the whole world is under the control of the evil one” who “leads the whole world astray” (1 John 5:19 & Revelation 12:9). It’s because Satan possesses legal authority over physical creation. How else would he be able to tempt Christ with the offer of “all the kingdoms of the world” if they weren’t legally his to give? See Matthew 4:8-9.
The English Standard Version translates 1 John 5:19 as “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” The word ‘world’ in the Greek refers to the Earth and Universe but, more literally, “an ordered system, like the universe and creation.” In short, the devil is legally in control of physical creation and therefore calls the shots, which is why God’s Word refers to him as “the god of this world” who is able to blind the minds of those who don’t believe (2 Corinthians 4:4). See Chapter 17 and 18 of my ANGELS book for enlightening details on how exactly the kingdom of darkness blinds people’s minds, also available in this article.
The Ramifications of Satan’s Rule
The fact that Satan is the god of this world can be observed every day all over the planet—war, crime, disease, suffering, immorality, corruption, injustice, abuse, perversion, slander, lies, etc.
One of the favorite arguments of atheists against the idea of an Almighty Creator is that, if there was an all-righteous God, why does He allow all these horrible things to happen? Why doesn’t He stop it? God’s Word tells us precisely why: An evil spiritual being usurped authority from our primeval parents and he’s been running the show ever since, with the assistance of his filthy underlings.
Thankfully, the LORD in his ingeniousness devised a legal way to take control back from Satan. This transfer of power is already in motion and will culminate with “a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). When this takes place, God’s dwelling will be with the redeemed “and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
So, for anyone who’s upset about the world being so messed up, the LORD’s on top of it. His awesome plan of redemption for humanity, and all creation, is in motion. In fact, he foreknew we were going to fall and already had a plan of action (Ephesians 1:4-5).
What is this plan and how can people make sure they’re on board? See this article.
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