Satan had succeeded so well in deceiving the angels of God and in ruining noble Adam that he thought he should be successful in overcoming Christ in His humiliation. He looked with pleased exultation upon the result of his temptations, and the increase of sin in the continued transgression of God's law for more than four thousand years. He had worked the ruin of our first parents, and brought sin and death into the world, and led to ruin multitudes of all ages, countries, and classes. By his power he had controlled cities and nations until their sin provoked the wrath of God to destroy them by fire, water, earthquakes, sword, famine, and pestilence. By his subtility and untiring efforts he had controlled the appetite and excited and strengthened the passions to so fearful a degree that he had defaced and almost obliterated the image of God in man. His physical and moral dignity were in so great a degree destroyed that he bore but a faint resemblance in character and noble perfection of form to the dignified Adam in Eden.
At the first advent of Christ, Satan had brought man down from his original exalted purity and had dimmed that golden character with sin. The man whom God had created a sovereign in Eden, he had transformed into a slave in the earth groaning under the curse of sin. The halo of glory, which God had given holy Adam to cover him as a garment, departed from him after his transgression. The light of God's glory could not cover disobedience and sin. In the place of health and plenitude of blessings, poverty, sickness, and suffering of every type were to be the portion of the children of Adam.
Satan had through his seductive power led men to vain philosophy, to question and finally disbelieve the divine revelation and the existence of God. He looked abroad upon a world of moral wretchedness and a race exposed to the wrath of a sin-avenging God with fiendish triumph that he had been so successful in darkening the pathway of so many, and had led them to transgress the law of God. He clothed sin with pleasing attractions to secure the ruin of many.
But his most successful scheme in deceiving man has been to conceal his real purposes and his true character by representing himself to be man's friend--a benefactor of the race. He flatters men with the pleasing fable that there is no rebellious foe, no deadly enemy that they need to guard against, and that the existence of a personal devil is all a fiction; and while he thus hides his existence, he is gathering thousands under his control. He is deceiving many as he tried to deceive Christ, telling them that he is an angel from heaven, doing a good work for humanity. And the masses are so blinded by sin that they cannot discern the devices of Satan, and they honor him as they would a heavenly angel while he is working their eternal ruin.