Question: "What does it mean that Satan masquerades as an angel of light?"
Answer: Darkness and light are metaphors for evil and good. If anyone sees an angel of light, it will automatically seem to be a good being, for the correlation of evil with darkness, and of good with light, is a powerful archetype in human history. In the Bible, light is a spiritual metaphor for truth and God’s unchanging nature (James 1:17). It is repeatedly used in the Bible to help us understand that God is wholly good and truthful (1 John 1:5). When we are “in the light,” we are with Him (1 Peter 2:9). He exhorts us to join Him in the light (1 John 1:7), for giving us light was His purpose (John 12:46). Light is the place where love dwells and is comfortable (1 John 2:9-10). God has created light (Genesis 1:3), dwells in the light (1 Timothy 6:16) and puts the light in human hearts so that we can see and know Him and understand truth (2 Corinthians 4:6).
So, when 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light,” it means that Satan capitalizes on our love of the light in order to deceive. He wants us to think that he is good, truthful, loving, and powerful – all the things that God is. To portray himself as a dark, devilish being with horns would not be very appealing to the majority of people. Most people are not drawn to darkness, but to light. Therefore, Satan appears as a creature of light to draw us to himself and his lies.
How can we discern which light is of God and which light is of Satan? Our minds and hearts are easily confused by conflicting messages. How can we make sure we are on the right path? Psalm 119 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (verse 105) and “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (verse 130). The words of God have power. Just as God’s voice spoke physical light into existence, it can speak spiritual light into our hearts. Exposure to His voice – in His Word – will help us recognize the difference between the good light of God and that which is counterfeit.
Satan presents sin to us as something pleasing and beautiful to be desired, and he presents false teaching as enlightening and life-changing. Millions follow his deceptions simply because they do not know God’s truth. Isaiah 8:20-22 describes the darkness that results from ignoring the Word. The people of Israel have been seeking truth by consulting mediums, deceived by Satan’s lie. Isaiah says, “To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.”
Darkness is a result of attempting to find truth without the Word of God. Sadly, as Isaiah says, when people do not have the “dawn,” they wander in darkness and often become angry at God, refusing to come to Him for help. This is why Satan’s masquerade as an angel of light is so effective. It turns white to black and black to white and gets us believing that God is the liar, that God is the source of darkness. Then, in our distress, we focus our hatred towards the only One who can save us.