The Doctrine of the Angelic Conflict
The Angelic Conflict refers to the prehistoric creatures in opposition to and revolt against God. The revolt began with arrogance, a system of evil, as well as a combination of sins, Isa 14:12-14. Arrogance comes in many forms of mental attitude sins, and is the natural inclination of fallen creatures, whether they are angelic or human. The first creature to revolt against God was the most perfect creature God ever made. He was called Lucifer, the son of the morning. He was the most beautiful, attractive, and personable of all angelic creatures. He was created as a magnificent and beautiful cherub. He became enamored with his attractiveness. He “took himself too seriously,” because creatures had been admiring him, and because he was the object of adoration by all the angels. As a result, one day he said, “I will be like the Most High; God.” When he said that, a revolt began against God.
The result was the prehistoric Angelic Conflict in which the opposition against God took the form of a revolution led by Satan. It continued for an unknown period of time. Satan led a revolt against the perfect environment of heaven in which he took one third of all angels, Rev 12:4. When all angels had made their decisions for God or for Satan, a trial was convened in heaven. This was the first of two trials of Satan and all fallen angels. As a result of the prehistoric trial, two categories of super-creatures or angels emerged.
There are Two General Categories of Unseen Creatures:
- Saved or elect angels. They are called “holy” in Mark 8:38, and “elect” in 1 Tim 5:21. They are a category of angels who will live with God forever. They are saved, and they will never get thrown into the Lake of Fire.
- Unsaved or fallen angels which have two categories.
1) One category is in prison right now, because they were involved in the Gen 6:1-9 cohabitation with woman, as explained by 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6. They are now in hell, which is called in the Greek “Tartarus,” and there they are going to stay for a long time.
2) The other category is the operative angels, i.e. demons, Mark 5; 1 Cor 10:20-21. Their doctrines are mentioned in 1 Tim 4:1. The fact that fallen angels exist is verified by Psa 8:4-5; Heb 2:6-7; 2 Peter 2:11. They are created beings, Psa 148:2-5.
Therefore, the Angelic Conflict refers to the prehistoric creatures lead by Satan who came under opposition to and revolted against God. The Angelic Conflict began in eternity past, before the restoration of planet earth in Gen 1:2f, with a revolt against God by Satan and his demons. It is sometimes described as a great rebellion that resulted in a trial and conviction of all the angels who rebelled. The revolt began with arrogance, a system of evil, as well as a combination of sins, Isa 14:12-23; Ezek 28:11-19.
The Pattern of Angelic Negative Volition is Expressed in Two Ways.
- Satan’s original sin of negative volition really gives the pattern, Isa 14:12-14.
- The angels who took Satan’s side also rejected God’s plan, whatever God’s plan called for regarding their salvation and pardon, which was most likely the Cross of Jesus Christ, Col 1:20.
As a Result of Their Rebellion, God Sentenced Them to the Lake of Fire. Mat 25:41 tells us that the Lake of Fire was created for them.
Mat 25:41, “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels’.”
Satan, as the Chief of the Unsaved Angels, Appealed the Case, at the time of the sentence to the Lake of Fire, which God granted. We know that Satan is the lawyer for the appeal, because his Greek name is DIABOLOS. It means, “adversary, enemy, false accuser, slanderer, or devil.” It also means, “a lawyer who takes the case.” The same thing is true of SATAN (Hebrew and transliterated into Greek as SATANAS) which means, “devil, enemy, or adversary.” So, devil means a lawyer who has appealed the case. He is the enemy of God.
In objecting to the sentence, Satan made his appeal by impugning the character of God. He said the judge, God, was not fair. He said that the judge was inconsistent, and he also indicated that the judge was supposed to be love, and how can a loving God throw His creatures into the Lake of Fire? So, in every way he impugned the character of God.
With the Appeal Granted, an Appeal Trial Began. The way God is going to win the appeal trial is to create something lower than angels, weaker than angels, dumber than angels, and use that to win the trial. Therefore, as a result of the condemned angels appealing their sentencing, God created man, a lower creation to resolve the appeal trial and conflict. During the course of human history, we have the sentence of Satan and the fallen angels under appeal. The case will receive its final decision at the end of human history, Rev 20. So, no angels at the present time are in the Lake of Fire.
To Resolve the Angelic Conflict an Inferior Creature, Mankind, is Placed on One Planet, possessing one thing in common with these superior creatures: free will, the bona fide function of a creature volition, Psa 8:3-5; Heb 2:7. Therefore, creation of man resolves the Angelic Conflict and answers Satan’s appeal.
In Human History, the Sovereignty of God and Free Will of Man Coexist by Divine Decree, because human history is an extension of the prehistoric Angelic Conflict. Satan learned in the prehistoric Angelic Conflict that he cannot attack the sovereignty of God, which is incorruptible, so he attacked the volition of other creatures. He came up with a plan to attack God through His creatures, since he could not attack God. Therefore, since mankind was created in history to resolve the prehistoric Angelic Conflict, Satan attacks at the weak point, the volition of mankind. The greatest attack on human volition occurred during our Lord’s incarnation against the humanity of Christ. Jesus Christ was attacked constantly; He was tempted beyond anything we will ever know, but was victorious as He used His volition to choose for God rather than for Self or Satan.
Human Volition is Tested in Exactly the Same Pattern as Angelic Volition.
- Angels began in innocence; mankind began in innocence.
- Angels sinned, negative volition of Satan and those who followed him; mankind sins, negative volition of Adam.
- God provided salvation or some way for angels to remain intact, so that they did not have to go with Satan. Many did not, which is why there are the elect angels. So, the angels are divided into two categories: elect and fallen; mankind is divided into two categories, saved and unsaved, John 3:16, 18, 36. The ones who believe in Christ are eternally saved. The ones who reject Christ are lost.
Two Tests are Instituted for Man’s Volition, just as the same two types of status existed in angelic history, pre-human history.
Innocence: Existed with free will, but no sin nature. For the free will to be functioning and to have a test, mankind is prohibited the use of one tree. That was the volitional test, Gen 2:17. In the status of innocence, man could only sin in one way, negative volition: eat of the forbidden tree. The penalty for going negative and eating of the forbidden tree was said to be death, but not physical death. In innocence, there is no physical death, only perfect environment. Man understood death as a penalty, as a condemnation, a judgment, and he understood it in its right context, which is separation from God. Adam died immediately when he ate of the forbidden fruit, but he was still alive and still breathing. Obviously, it was not physical death. He died spiritually.
Christ died for our sins, but He did not die physically for our sins, He died spiritually for our sins, Rom 5:12; 6:23; Gen 2:17. These passages speak to spiritual death. The test in the Garden was to parallel the test in the angelic realm. So, we can only conclude that there was a similar test with the angels. Eventually all the angels were divided.
Sinfulness: After the fall, salvation is promised, but you can still have the issue of sin. The devil thought he had won a round when man went negative and ate of the forbidden fruit. But immediately after eating it,Christ comes to the Garden, promises salvation through Himself, and right away volition faces an issue. We see that the first parents went positive and believed in Jesus Christ. Now the issue in the human race, from the time of Adam and Eve right down to the end of the Millennium, is “what do you think of the Christ?” Salvation! Before Christ came historically, He was portrayed in many ways: in animal sacrifices, etc. The issue throughout history is volition, the function of free will with regard to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Man’s Entrance into the Plan of God through Faith in Christ Destroys the Devil’s Appeal, it resolves the Angelic Conflict.
The issue: Will man, inferior to angels, equipped with the same free will as angels, choose for or against the plan of God; operation grace.
The solution: If even one member of the human race in all of human history believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Angelic Conflict is resolved, Heb 1:4-14; 2:1-18; Col 2:13-15.
The Results of the Angelic Conflict:
Phase One: Salvation results; regenerate mankind is positionally higher than angels because of our union with Christ, Heb 1:4-14.
Phase Two: Glorification results; through suffering, regenerate mankind uses Bible doctrine in Occupation with Christ. The maximum use of the faith-rest technique in suffering produces Occupation with Christ, resulting in maximum glorification of God, Rom 5:2-5; 1 Peter 1:7-17. This also results in blessings for the spiritually mature believer, which brings maximum glory to God. That is why the life of these believers has alternate suffering and blessing.
Phase Three: Eternal results; regenerate mankind is going to be physically superior to angels, because he is going to possess a resurrection body like that of Christ. In the resurrection and ascension, Christ demonstrated the superiority of His resurrection body. We will have one like Him, Phil 3:21; 1 John 3:1-2; 1 Cor 15:51-57.
Through the Fall of Man, Satan Gained Control of the World. Until the Second Advent, Satan will be the ruler of this world, John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2. Even though he is the ruler of this world, does not mean that he controls mankind.
This is because God instituted some Divine Laws. The Laws of Divine Establishment began with human freedom. Human volition or free will makes man a free agent, and as a free agent in the devil’s world, he can choose between the plan of God and the blessings that come from that plan, or the plan of Satan and the things that Satan offers by way of bait. Salvation, through faith in Christ, frees mankind from Satan’s control, Gal 5:1. After salvation, the believer who utilizes the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP) to achieve spiritual adulthood, learns the reality of this freedom.
The Angelic Conflict is Related to the Doctrine of Angelic Observation. In regard to the Angelic Conflict and God utilizing a lower creation called man to resolve that conflict, angels observe the human race. Therefore, angels are watching the human race, and especially believers, 1 Cor 4:9; 6:1-3; 11:10; Eph 3:10; 1 Tim 5:21; 1 Peter 1:12, to learn about and oppose God’s grace plan.
Eph 3:10, “In order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.”
1 Peter 1:12, “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven– things into which angels long to look.”
- Angels observed the incarnate Christ during His incarnation, 1 Tim 3:16.
- Elect angels observe and rejoice over the conversion of any member of the human race, Luke 15:7, 10.
- At the same time, fallen angels are organized under Satan’s command to resist and oppose all believers, Job 1:6; 2:1, 3; Eph 6:12.
Through angelic observation, angels learn through the conversion of members of the human race that the free will of man does not necessarily choose against God as each demon did. The fallen angels, before human history, have already done this, now they see in the unbeliever a repetition of their own negative volition. This also explains the rejoicing of elect angels over one unbeliever who changes his attitude toward Christ.
Except for the Ones Incarcerated, the Demons are All Loose Today, and they are definitely permitted, under God, to make certain attacks upon the human race, because it is the volition of the human race that actually resolves the Angelic Conflict. It shows that Satan’s appeal is not valid.
The Angelic Conflict then Answers Some Basic Questions About Life. If you really want to understand what life is all about, you have to understand why we are here. We are here to resolve the Angelic Conflict. We are here because Satan went to court and appealed the sentence passed upon the fallen angels. The sentence was the Lake of Fire forever and ever.
- Man has volition even as Satan had volition, and the first question that is answered by the Angelic Conflict is, Why is man here? Man is here to glorify God. Inside of man’s soul is volition, and that volition can operate just once, and that resolves the Angelic Conflict. If just one person in the history of the human race has believed in Jesus Christ, that would be all that was necessary to prove God’s point. But over the course of human history, millions and millions of people have believed in Christ. So, the Cross is the beginning of a series of victories, whereby God demonstrates His point to the fallen angels. This reaches its peak when a believer reaches spiritual maturity. God keeps proving and proving, and this glorifies God.
- Another question is, Why sin? Sin resolves the issue of Phase One in the Plan of God. Man’s free will is the source of all sinfulness in the human race. Man was created without any sin. God is not the author of sin, God is not the creator of sin, God does not sponsor sin; but He did create in man something, whereby man could choose to be negative towards God. Man chose that, and therefore man became a sinner by an act of his own free will. Man’s free will created the Old Sin Nature (OSN). God did not create the OSN, man did. At the Cross, all human sin is poured out upon Jesus Christ and judged, this removes the barrier between man and God, and at the same time, resolves the Angelic Conflict. So, the fact that man chose to sin does not in any way deter the Angelic Conflict, it merely shifts gears and goes into a new area; The Cross of Jesus Christ.
- Another is, Why suffering? Suffering is another problem in the human race brought about by sin. The answer to the suffering problem is, again, God permits the believer to suffer for the purpose of blessing. Suffering, being the result of sin in the human race, is used by God to lead the believer to spiritual adulthood. When a believer experiences some form of suffering and uses his free will volition to trust and rely upon God to endure and overcome it, the angels see the grace of God in action, God is glorified and the believer receives blessings, including spiritual growth. Therefore, the angels, both fallen and elect, learn from the underserved suffering of the mature believer. See the Book of Job for the example.
- The Church is also another question that often occurs. Why the Church? The Jewish Age was interrupted, and we are now in the Church Age. The key to this is found in one of the Angelic Conflict passages, Eph 1:20-23; Col 2:10. Christ, the head of the Church, is absent from the earth as a part of Operation Footstool, “Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” So, He has representation on the earth in the form of His body. Christ is the head of the Church, we are His body representing Him as ambassadors. We are a kingdom of priests; every believer is in full time Christian service and therefore the personal representative of Christ on the earth. So, Christ appointed the Church as His full time representation.
- Why chaos on the earth? Satan is the ruler of this world, and he cannot improve his own kingdom. Divine Laws of Establishment keep the human race from entering into this chaos. Therefore, Satan is very frustrated trying to improve his kingdom and show God that he has a right to stay out of the Lake of Fire. But he never gets around to improving it. All of the improvements come from God and not from Satan. Therefore, chaos is related to the Angelic Conflict.
The Angelic Conflict Explains the Superiority of Spirituality Over the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law has an objective, i.e. to set up the Laws of Establishment, but spirituality has a higher objective, to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why the Mosaic Law was taught by elect angels in the days of Moses. Elect angels were most anxious for the winning of the Angelic Conflict, and the Mosaic Law is a summary of the Laws of Divine Establishment. So, angels taught the Exodus generation, Acts 7:38, 53; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2; Psa 68:17; Deut 33:2. Christ is superior to angels as He is resurrected and ascended, the believer is in union with Christ, and now we have a difference. Angels were the teachers of doctrine to the Old Testament saints, now angels are servants, Heb 1:13-14.
During the Church Age, Demon Attacks on the Unbeliever & Believer are Limited:
- Demon possession or demon influence, in which demon doctrines enter the soul of the unbeliever.
- During the Church Age, demon attacks on believers are limited to demon influence, in which the doctrine of demons invades the right lobe of the soul.
Satan poses as an angel of light, 2 Cor 11:14, and false teachers are his ministers disguised as servants of righteousness, 2 Cor 11:15, to influence both unbelievers and believers away from a true relationship with God, 1 Tim 4:1-2.
1 Tim 4:1-2, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.”
Negative volition to Bible doctrine creates a vacuum in the soul, which sucks in all the false concepts that Satan has developed for you to be distracted from the plan of God. Demon influence wipes out all of the doctrine you have ever learned. It destroys your doctrinal norms and standards. Cosmic thinking includes the doctrine of demons and involvement in the cosmic system. Therefore, during the Church Age, you are either influenced by God and His Word or the doctrine of demons. Volition is the major issue of the Angelic Conflict.
Satan Uses Three Main Tactics to Deceive and Distract You from Walking Faithfully in God’s Plan for Your Life. He also most likely used these three to influence the angels in rebellion against God. The three tactics are summarized as:
- Ambitious Pride
He used them in the Garden of Eden, Gen 3:6, against our Lord after being in the wilderness for 40-days and nights, Luke 4:3-13, cf. Mat 4:3-11, and we are warned that he uses these same three tactics against you and I today, 1 John 2:15-16, “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.” Cf. Col 2:18, which is in reverse order.