Habakkuk 1:13a New International Version

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;

Job 1:7

The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it."

Was Satan evil at this point?

John 8:44

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

  • 1
    I think you have answered your own question. 'From the beginning'. The satisfaction of righteousness was necessary (in the sufferings and death of Christ) ere Satan could be, lawfully, thrust out of heaven by Michael and his angels. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 13, 2021 at 16:24
  • @NigelJ I'm not very knowledgeable about the Bible nor religion in general, but I know a tad of philosophy. There is something I don't quite understand from your answer: If Satan himself was evil from the beginning, this would mean he had no choice in the matter. He was born without the potential to be/become good. If he had no choice in the matter, nor the potential, nor the consciousness or guidance of goodness... then how can he be evil? How can someone, without a choice, be evil? Isn't the evil rather the situation they've been put in?
    – mazunki
    Mar 14, 2021 at 14:37
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    @mazunki The created creature has a liability due to being created. hence the necessity of the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden of Eden. Righteousness is of God, humanity believeth. As to angels, the situation is similar, but not identical.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 14, 2021 at 17:54
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    @mazunki Not everyone agrees that Free Will is necessary in order to have Personal Responsibility. Just because something was always destined to be evil, or, is evil by nature, doesn't mean that they aren't evil. In fact, by definition, they still are evil, because they were always destined to be, or because it is in their nature. This is true with or without religion - many atheists believe in determinism, and are still happy to call out this or that world leader as evil and in need of confrontation.
    – Nacht
    Mar 15, 2021 at 0:22

2 Answers 2


Your question had me as perplexed as Habakkuk! Not knowing the answer I found an article on the subject, the essence of which goes something like this:

When Habakkuk says that God’s “eyes are too pure to look on evil” we have to read it in the context of the larger discussion. Habakkuk understands the righteous character of God. He also knows that the nation is full of sin but he can’t understand why the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. It looks like God is tolerating sin and wickedness and Habakkuk wants to know why God was seemingly slow to administer justice.

God informs Habakkuk that he plans to use the Babylonians to conquer Judah and punish the evildoers, but the Babylonians are even more sinful and wicked than God’s people! Does God approve of their sin? That’s why Habakkuk says, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong”.

In this instance, “to look on” equates with “tolerate.” Take the word “countenance” – it can mean “face” or “look” or “to sanction or approve of”. So why is God looking on sin, wickedness, or evil as if he can countenance it?

When we get to chapter 2 God assures Habakkuk that the sins of Babylon will not be tolerated, either. They were being used as God’s instrument to judge the wickedness of Judah, but the evil deeds of the Babylonians will also come under God’s judgment in His own good time. Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/God-look-upon-sin.html

Going back in time to the day that Satan presented himself before God and God asked Satan what he thought of Job, Satan accused Job of honouring God only because God had blessed him. So, God allowed Satan to take away Job’s wealth and his children. God looked upon Satan and God knew Satan was evil. He has been evil “from the beginning” (thanks, Nigel). But God was not condoning or tolerating evil. Like the Babylonians, God used Satan as a means to His own ends and purposes.

There is a powerful lesson from both events – judgment starts with God’s people. We do well to wake up to what’s going on in the world right now and pay heed. Is it okay for me to say that?

  • I'm very happy with your answer :) Read it 3 times. Upvoted and checked.
    – user35953
    Mar 13, 2021 at 17:41
  • Why, thank you, kind sir. I was blessed by looking into it and I've learned something useful today.
    – Lesley
    Mar 13, 2021 at 17:53
  • Indeed, the key is that "look on" is poetic idiom, not that God is literally unable even to see evil. Mar 13, 2021 at 22:39

Satan was ‘doing his duty’, fulfilling his role. That’s why the Lord had no other option but to allow the accuser to ‘probe’ Job. If he had no ‘right’ to test Job, he wouldn’t have been able to ‘touch’ Job.

To suggest that the Lord willingly approved an ‘evil’ entity to ‘attack’ man paints the wrong picture.

And, a point worth considering, even Michael, the Arc Angel wouldn’t dare bring a railing accusation against Satan.

  • +1. So how would you reconcile your answer with John 8:44?
    – user35953
    Mar 13, 2021 at 18:18
  • @Tony Chan John 8 Jesus is telling them they are just like their father. Ha-Satan, the accuser. The Pharisees were always ‘accusing’, always judging. Exactly what Satan was doing in Job 1.
    – Dave
    Mar 13, 2021 at 18:45
  • According to John 8:44, how would Jesus answer this: Was Ha-Satan, the accuser, evil in Job 1:7?
    – user35953
    Mar 13, 2021 at 18:52
  • @Tony Chan John 8 ... and Job 1 are related in that both the Lord, and Jesus could not say ‘no’. Jesus could not, and did not say no, don’t stone her, and the Lord could not' and did not say ‘no’, you can’t ‘probe’ Job. Both Satan and the Pharisees were doing the same thing. And the response was the same in both!
    – Dave
    Mar 14, 2021 at 4:55

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