The Devil and Satan
THE WORDS "DEVIL" AND "SATAN" ANALYSED
Devil is used as the translation for two different words: Diabolos
DIABOLOS signifies "false accuser", "calumniator",
It has been rendered "slanderers" in 1 Tim. 3:11, and
"false accusers" in 2 Tim. 3:3, Titus 2:3.
In no place is it used of a superhuman being tempting mankind
It is translated "devil" in the following passages:
Matt. 4:1,5,8,11; 13:39; 25:41. Luke 4:2,3,5,6,13; 8:12;John6:70;
8:44 13:2,Acts 10:38,13:10; Eph. 4:27- 6:11; 1 Tim. 3:6,7; 2 Tim.
2:26; Heb. 2: l0, James 4:7, 1 Pet. 5:8; 1 John 3:8,;0; Jude 9;
Rev. 2:10; 12:9,12; 20:2,10.
In all other places where the words devils or "devils"
appear, the word in the original is daimonion.
DIABOLOS is thus used to describe a person (John 6:70), slanderous
women (I Tim. 3:11); false accusers (2 Tim. 3:3); sin (Heb. 2:14);
the flesh Acts 13:10); the antagonistic world (Eph. 4:27); persecuting
civil authorities Eph. 6:11; Rev. 2:10,13).
DAIMONION was the word used to describe a certain disease. It
was so used because of the ancient superstition that diseases
were attributed to the malignant influence of so-called spirits
of dead heroes taking possession of a person. The Bible accomodates
itself to the language of the times, without endorsing this false
pagan teaching. "Casting out devils" merely signifies
curing a disease.
SATAN is a Hebrew word, signifying "to oppose," "to
be an adversary." The word is translated "adversary,
"resist," "withstand," and is also transliterated
It is translated "adversary" in the following places:
Num. 22:22, I Sam. 29:4; 2 Sam. 19:22- I Kings 5:4,11:14,23,25-
Psalm 38:20; 71:13; 109-4,20,29.
It is translated "withstands" in Numbers 22:32.
It is translated "resist" in Zech. 3:1.
It is translated "Satan" in 1 Chron. 21:1; Job 1:6,7,8,9,12;
2:1,2,3,4,6,7; Psalm 109:6; Zech. 3:1,2; Matt. 4:10; 12:26; 16:23;
Mark 1:13; 3:23,26; 4:15; 8:33; Luke 4:8; 10:18; 11:18; 13:16;
22:3,31; John 13:27; Acts 5:3, 26:18 Rom. 16:20; 1 Cor. 5:5; 7:5;
2 Cor. 2:11; 11:14; 12:7; 1 Thess. 2:18; 2 Thess. 2:9- 1 Tim.
1:20, 5:15, Rev. 2:9,13,24, 3:9,12:9, 20:2,7.
From the above it will be found that the term has been used to
describe God when revealed as an opponent to Israel (I Chron.
21:1), an "angel of the Lord" (Num. 22:22,32), good
and evil men (I Sam. 29:4; 2 Sam. 19:22; Psa. 38:20), an Apostle
(Matt. 16:23; Mark 8:33), adverse religious communities (Rev.
2:9), sickness (Luke 13:16), evil thoughts (Luke 22:3; John 13:27;
Acts 5:3), the flesh (Acts26:18), theworld as adverse to God's
ways (1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:20), governments (Rev. 12:9; Luke 10:18).
The Devil and Satan Defined
"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he
might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8).
The Importance Of The Subject
The above quotation from the Bible, stresses the importance of
a sound understanding of what constitutes the Devil and Satan.
As Christ was manifested to destroy the work of such, it is obvious
that we will not understand God's plan of salvation, unless we
have a clear and proper comprehension of what is meant by these
Unfortunately, current ideas upon the subject are astray from
It is taught that the devil is a superhuman monster, a fallen
angel, who dominates the minds of humanity, inducing mankind to
sin. The teaching induces fear of the devil, and also provides
an excuse for sin by blaming it on to him.
The doctrine is not only unscriptural, but is also a reflection
upon God's love and omnipotence. Would a God of love allow weak,
mortal man to be dominated by a powerful, depraved fallen angel
if He has the strength to destroy him? And as God is omnipotent,
why does He not rid Himself of the devil, if he be a fallen angel
Thus logic would set aside the normal teaching of the devil as
unsound and unscientific.
And the teaching of the Bible is in conformity with this statement.
It reveals that the devil is a more familiar figure than is normally
recognised: not a fallen angel, but a synonym for human nature
in its various forms. It teaches that we are responsible for the
sins we commit; but proclaims the means whereby sin can be forgiven,
and human nature controlled.
This is essential for the salvation of each one.
Obviously, therefore, it is necessary for us to know what constitutes
the devil, if we are to successfully resist its power.
How the Bible Defines the Devil
The mission of Christ is expressed as follows:
"Forasmuch then as the children (i.e. those Christ cone to
save) are partakers of flesh and blood, he (Jesus Christ) also
himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he
might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil;
and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime
subject to bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15).
This important declaration of Scripture teaches that:
1. Christ came to destroy the devil.
2. The devil is that which had the power of death.
3. Christ partook of human nature and died in order to destroy
4. In doing so he delivered others from the power of the devil
and of death.
If we can scripturally define that which Christ came to destroy,
and that which has the power of death. We shall know what constitutes
As far as the Bible is concerned, these two lines of investigation
lead to one answer: SIN!
Consider the evidence:
- (a) -CHRIST CAME TO DESTROY SIN. "He put away sin by
the sacrifice of himself" (Heb. 9:26). "Christ died
for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3). "His own self bare our
sins in his own body on the tree" (1 Pet.2 24). "He
was manifested to take away our sins" (1 John 3:5).
- (b) -SIN WAS THE ORIGINAL CAUSE OF DEATH. "Tbe wages of
sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). "By one man (not a supernatural
devil) sin entered the world and death by sin." (Rom.5:12).
"The sting of death is sin" (1 Cor. 15:56).
From this evidence it is obvious that Christ came to destroy sin,
and also that the power of death is in sin. It logically follows,
therefore, that the devil is a synonym for sin.
The fallacy of the idea that the devil is a fallen angel is clearly
illustrated by the definition of the Apostle in Hebrews 2:14 above.
How could the death of Jesus encompass the destruction of a powerful,
superhuman fallen angel?
It would leave him more powerful than ever!
But once it is recognised that the devil relates to sin, and that
sin comes from within, it will be acknowledged that the atoning
blood of Jesus is a powerful weapon to defeat and destroy it!
It defeats the power of sin by providing the means of forgiveness;
it conquers death through the promise of a resurrection to life
eternal (1 Cor. 15:20-26).
What Is Sin?
Primarily, sin is disobedience (1 John 3:4). The first sin was
punished by man becoming related to death. (Gen. 3:19), so that
mortality became incidental to human nature.
But sin is also used in the Bible with a secondary meaning. Men
are said to have been "made sinners" (Rom. 5:19), Jesus
is described as being "made sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21),
as having "died unto sin" (Rom. 6:10), and as about
to return "without sin" (Heb. 9:28).
This secondary use of the word "sin" implies the state
of physical imperfection that resulted because of actual transgression
in the first instance (Rom. 5:12). Men are not "made"
transgressors of the law; they become so by actual wrong-doing.
Jesus did no sin though he was born into a state of mortality,
with fleshly desires that could lead to sin if he had permitted
them to gain the ascendancy.
Though this state of physical imperfection has been inherited
by all (Rom. 5:17), men are not held responsible for it. It is
not their fault that they possess weak, sinful natures. This is
an inheritance from Adam. Men are only held accountable, if they
recognise what it is but reject the help of God in controlling
and conquering it.
It is weak, human nature to which the Apostle refers when he declares
"The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23) and when he
wrote that the devil is "that which has the power of death"
(Heb. 2:14). Thus human nature is stvled "sinful flesh"
(Rom. 8:3), for servitude to it leads to sin.
It is because human nature is the cause of sin that Jesus "took
part of the same," as taught by Paul, that "through
death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is
the devil" (Heb. 2:14).
He did this by rendering perfect obedience even unto death, and
his spotless righteousness ensured his resurrection unto eternal
life (Phil. 2:8-9; Acts 2:24). Thus both in life and in death
he conquered the devil (weak, human nature). and opened the way
for a similar conquest (through forgiveness of sins) on the part
of those who come unto God through him.
Sin In Relation To Human Nature
That sin and human nature are closely related is clearly shown
from Romans 7 where Paul discusses these matters at length. There
is not the slightest hint to the existence of a supernatural devil
tempting mankind; instead, he writes of:
"Sin which dwelletn in men (v.17).
"The law of sin which is in my members" (v. 23)
"I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwelletb no good
thing; I can will what is right, bat how to perform it I find
not" (v. 18-R.V.).
Paul found himself constantly exposed to a mental conflict. He
desired to perform the will of God, but this brought him into
conflict with his own desires, and so strong were the latter that
he found himself sometimes succumbing to them. He wrote (v. 19):
"The good that I would I do not; bet the evil which I would
not, that I do".
He blamed his failings on to the weakness of human nature: "O
wretched man that I am!" he exclaimed, "who shall deliver
me from this body of death?" (v.24-RSV).
The Gospel supplied the answer. He thanked God that victory was
assured through Jesus Christ. Through him he could receive forgiveness
of sins, the strength to overcome the flesh (Phil. 4:13), and
an assurance of a resurrection to eternal life at his coming (1
Cor. 15:22-23, 53-54). No longer did he live in bondage to sin
and death. The spirit of Christ in him (2 Cor. 13:5) triumphed
over the devil in him (the "law of sin in his members"
Rom. 7:23), and faith replaced fear.
That can be our experience also.
How Sin Originated
At the epoch of Creation, God looked upon all that He had made,
"and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). Even the
serpent was "good" after its kind, for, at that stage,
it had not tempted Eve to sin.
But if the description of "very good" applied to all
that God had made, where was the devil?
It was non-existent!
Even human nature was then different to what it afterward became.
There is no mention of the devil in the early chapters of Genesis
which record how sin entered the world.
They do reveal, however, that man did not remain in his original
"very good" state, but developed "evil" inclinations
What caused the change? The answer is, Sin.
The simply story of Genesis tells how God placed Adam and Eve
in the Garden of Eden, taught them the principles of righteousness,
placed them under a law, and set before them the hope of life
eternal as the reward of obedience to Him.
But Eve, drawn away by the seductive reasoning of the serpent,
broke the Divine law and sinned (Gen. 3:1-7); and afterwards induced
her husband to do likewise.
Was this caused by a supernatural devil? On the contrary. When all parties were arraigned before the God to answer for
their crime, each blamed the other. Adam blamed his wife; Eve blamed the serpent; but the serpent had nobody to blame (w. 12-14).
It was held solely responsible for the introduction of sin!
If otherwise, why did it not say so? It had a tongue; it possessed
outstanding reasoning powers!
It could have blamed the devil!
But it had no one to blame.
Some who recognise the difficulty that this presents to their
theory of a supernatural devil, claim that he was there in the
form of the serpent.
The fallacy of such a statement, however, is illustrated by the
punishment meted out to the serpent, which proves beyond all doubt
that it was only an animal:
"Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed ABOVE ALL CATTLE,
and shove EVERY BEAST of the field- upon thy belly shalt thou
go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life" (Gen.3:14).
By no stretch of imagination could such language apply to a fallen
Through hearkening to the voice of the serpent, the propensities
were inflamed in Adam and Eve (see Gen. 3:6), and have actively
worked in the flesh of man ever since, leading him to sin. Because
this was caused through the teaching of the serpent, it became
the symbol of sinful flesh (Matt. 23:33); and the atoning death
of Jesus (through which the devil can be destroyed-Heb. 2:14)
proclaimed that flesh must be controlled. It is significant that
the Lord's crucifixion was symbolised by a serpent lifted on a
pole (Num. 21:9; John 3:14), for it prominently displayed what
is figuratively required of his followers; obedience to God's
law, resulting in crucifixion of the affections and lusts of the
flesh (Gal. 5:24).
Christ showed the way. His sinless life was a victory over sin's
flesh (John 6:62), and his death upon the cross silenced its impulses
as far as he was concerned (Rom. 8:3).
In that way he put to death the devil.
Sin Arises From Within
Though originally, sin was induced by temptation from without,
since then its strongest impulses have been stimulated from within.
The natural thoughts and inclinations of the flesh must be disciplined
if we would please God. They form what Paul describes as "the
law of sin in our members" (Rom. 7:23). In another place,
he explains it thus:
Christ died.... that they which Eve SHOULD NOT HENCEFORTH LIVE UNTO THEMSELVES, but unto him which died for them and rose again". (2 Cor. 5:15).
To 'live unto ourselves' is to live in sin; to be under the power
of the devil! Christ taught:
"Aare ye so without understandin also? Do ye not perceive,
that whatsoever thing come from without entereth into the man,
it cannot defile him... that which comes out of the man, the defileth
the him. For from WITHIN, OUT OF THE HEART OF MEN, proceed evil
thoughts, idolatries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness,
wickedness, deceit, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil
things COME FROM WITHIN and defile the man" (Mark 7:18-23).
If all these failings come from within, it leaves precious little
for any external devil to do! Notice, also, that Christ taught
that mankind are defiled by internal thoughts, not external influences.
Obviously he did not believe in a superhuman devil, but warned
his hearers against the evil propensities within. Paul likewise
"The works of the flesh are hatred, variance, wrath, strife,
seditions, envying, murders, drunkenness, and such like"
These are the "works of the flesh," not the influence
of a fallen angel. They can be aligned with the "works of
the devil" that Christ came to destroy (1 John 3:8).
"Every man is tempted when be is drawn away of his own lust
(not by a fallen angel) and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived,
it bringeth forth sin" (James 1:14-15).
This being the state of man, why blame sin on to the temptations
of a supernatural devil? And that this is the state of man each
one can test for himself by a little sober heartsearching. Why
do we sin? To gratify self! That is the cause of the world's ills
today. Men do evil things because they want to do them,
and not because of the influence of a superhuman monster.
On the other hand, the truth in Christ is designed to transform
believers mentally and morally in preparation for the physical
change that will take place at Christ's return, and which will
perpetuate those characters in a nature of imperishable glory
(Phil. 3:21). Thus victory will be won over human nature with
its "law of sin and death," and the devil will be destroyed.
"If ye live after the nesh ye shall die; but if ye, through
the spirit (the truth -1 John 5:7) do mortify the deeds of the
body ye shall live" IRom. 8:13).
What the Words "Devil" and "Satan" Signify
The word "devil" has been used as a translation for
two entirely different Greek words diabolos and daimonion.
The first word is found in those verses used to prove the existence
of a superhuman devil. As a word, it signifies "adversary,"
"seducer," "false accuser," "slanderer."
Though it has been generally translated "devil," it
has also been rendered "slanderers" (1 Tim. 3:11), and
"false accusers" (2 Tim. 3:3; Titus 2:3).
In no instance does it relate to a fallen angel, as a careful
consideration of the evidence will show.
Daimonion is likewise translated "devil" but signifies
"demon." It is an entirely different word to diabolos,
and is used to describe a person possessed with a disease, as
we shall show.
On the other hand, satan is a Hebrew word, transliterated into
the English language, and meaning "adversary." The word
is often properly translated in that way, in certain Bible passages,
but belief in a supernatural devil caused biased translators to
render it as Satan in other parts of the Bible.
An example of this bias is found in Psalm 109:6 which reads: "Set
thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand."
The bias even extended to turning Satan into a proper noun with
a capital initial.
Yet the same Hebrew word is rendered "adversaries" in
vv. 4,20,29 of the same chapter!
It should be so rendered in v.6. In fact, in the Revised Standard
Version the verse reads: "Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser bring him to trial. "
In that version, "Satan" becomes "accuser."
a word that conforms to the English meaning of the Hebrew expression.
Bible usage of the word "satan" shows that it is used
of both good and evil adversaries, though the translators have
only rendered it as "Satan" where the adversary is obviously
a wicked one.
For example, the word appears in Numbers 22:22,32 in relation
to the angel sent to rebuke the wicked prophet Balaam, but there
it is rendered "adversary" and "withstand."
In 1 Samuel 29:4 and 2 Samuel 19:22 it is translated adversaries.
In 1 Kings 5:4, it occurs in the statement: "There is neither
adversary (Heb. satan) nor evil occurrent. "
The Hebrew word Satan should be rendered consistently as adversary
wherever it occurs; in no instance does it relate to a fallen
When God Was Satan
In one event recorded in the Old Testament, even God appeared
in the role of Satan, or adversary. The incident is described
in two places: 2 Sam. 24:1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1. The former place
"The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and
He moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah."
However, the parallel account in the latter place (1 Chron. 21:1)
"Satan stood up ag Israel, and provoked David to number Israel."
In the first quotation, the action is attributed to God; in the
second, to Satan!
What is correct?
Those who teach that the word Satan signifies a fallen angel tempting
mankind to sin are faced with a contradiction, or the expediency
of teaching that God worked through His arch-enemy!
Both explanations are quite unsatisfactory; and also quite unnecessary.
Let it be understood that the word "Satan" means "adversary,"
and let it be acknowledged that God was adverse to Israel at that
time, and the difficulty is removed.
As an adversary to Israel, God overruled events to bring about
circumstances that made David fear opposition against his regime.
This caused him to set about numbering his fighting men, which
resulted in him placing confidence in them rather than in God.
So he fell into sin.
As this incident shows, the word "Satan" means "adversary"
and the context of each reference determines whether the adversary
in question was good or bad, or whether the term related to a
person, a government, the lust of the flesh, or an adverse experience.
All are represented in the Bible as Satan, but in no instance
does it teach that the term defines a superhuman monster tempting
men to sin.
The difference between "devil" and "Satan"
can be summed up by recognising that whereas the former relates
invariably to an evil adversary, the latter signifies merely adversary,
the context determining whether it is good or bad.
Manifestations of the Devil and Satan
Though the devil basically relates to human nature, or the lusts
of~the flesh, it is manifested in various forms. For instance,
a government can become a political manifestation of the flesh,
if it stands in opposition to the ways of God. Thus Peter wrote:
"Be sober, be vigilant; bees se your adversary the devil,
as a roaring lion, walketb about, seeking whom be may devour"
(1 Pd. 5:8).
In this verse, "devil" is diabolos in the Greek,
and signifies "false accuser," and the word "adversary"
is antidikos, meaning "an opponent at law." The
"opponent at law," a "false accuser" of the
Christians was not a supernatural devil, but the persecuting civil
authorities of the day. They are likened to "a roaring lion"
because of their rapacious fierceness. For a similar reason, Paul
wrote that he was "delivered out of the mouth of the lion"
(2 Tim. 4:17). In other words, he escaped the imprisonment that
was threatened against him.
Christ also referred to civil authorities as "the devil."
He told his followers: "The devil shall cast some of you
into prison; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee
a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).
Certainly this "devil" was not a fallen angel, but those
civil authorities who opposed the spread of Christianity.
Concerning the same false-accusing opponents, Paul wrote:
"We wrestle not agsnd flesh and blood, but against principalities
(or governments), against powers (or autborities),a gainst the
rulers of the darkness of this world (Gr. ages), against spiritual
wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12).
This statement is frequently used to prove the existence of the
devil as a fallen angel, but the greatest adversary and false
accusers of the Christians in those days were the Jewish and Pagan
authorities. They bitterly persecuted believers leading Paul to
warn them to be on their guard against the "wiles of the
devil" (v.11) or false accusers. He had in mind the unscrupulous
strategems of men in authority who were prepared to use any means
to obtain a conviction against them. "We are not ignorant
of his devices," he declared (2 Cor. 2:11). He could well
write thus, for he, himself, once held such a position, falsely
accusing followers of the Lord, "entering into every house,
and hailing men and women committing them to prison" (Acts
8:3). However, his conversion to Christ changed all that.
The pagan world often slandered, or falsely accused the followers
of Christ, and therefore is identified in Scripture as the devil.
The unscrupulous opposition believers received from their pagan
neighbours, could easily have incited them to actions that would
not have reflected credit on the Lord whom they attempted to follow.
The Apostles recognised the danger, and exhorted them not to succumb
to the hostile environment in which they lived. They urged them
to walk circumspectly towards those that "are without,"
and to use discretion even in the appointment of officials in
their congregations. They drew attention to the dangers of setting
up a novice in a position of importance in the community: "lest
being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the
devil" (1 Tim. 3:6-7).
Would the devil of theology "condemn" one lifted up
with pride? By no means. Such a monster would rather induce him
to "stand on his dignity," and would seek to increase
his pride. On the other hand, would not "outsiders"
be disposed to condemn followers of the Lord for acts of inconsistency?
Of course they would and do. They slander and calumniate those
who attempt to maintain a right course of action, and yet momentarily
fall. And because this gives occasion "to the enemies of
the Lord to blaspheme" (see 2 Sam. 12: 14), Paul warned believers
to be on their guard.
The "devil" against which he warned them constituted
the pagan, social and political world which was ruled by the flesh.
The term "devil" has also been applied to individuals.
Christ called Judas Iscariot a devil (John 6:70), and described
Peter as "Satan" because "he savoured not the things
that be of God, but those that be of men" (Matt. 16:23; Mark
8:33). According to this statement, to savour the things of men
(the flesh) is equivalent to being a "Satan."
When the flesh dominates a person to the exclusion of the things
of God, he will show opposition to all that Christ stands for.
He will be like Judas: a devil, a bitter opponent to ways of righteousness
and truth. He will be justly termed "a child of the devil"
(a product of the flesh-see Acts 13:10). The Jewish leaders in
the days of the Lord, provided an example of this. They claimed
to be the sons of faithful Abraham and to worship God in truth,
but Christ declared: "Ye are of your father the devil, and
the lusts of your father ye do" (John 8:44).
They were men of flesh, being dominated by its lusts, and therefore
the progeny of the devil.
When John wrote: "He that committeth sin is of the devil:
for the devil sinneth from the beginning" (1 John 3:8), he
taught the same truth. It has been the lusts of the flesh that
have driven men to sin from the beginning. Christ came to "destroy
the works of the devil." He came to destroy sin; and did
so by opening a way for forgiveness and salvation. John's comment
should be aligned with the teaching of the Lord Jesus: "From
within, out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts," etc.
The sacrifice of Christ is designed to reveal that the flesh must
be figuratively crucified if mankind would serve God acceptably.
Thus Paul taught:
"They that are Cbnst's have crucified the flesh with the
affections and lusts" (Gal. 5:24).
Such deny themselves that they might serve Christ. In so doing,
the devil is defeated, for it constitutes the unlawful lusts of
the flesh, which war against the requirements of God (Rom. 8:78;
1 John 2:15-16).
The world without is identified as Satan. In 1 Tim. 1:20, Paul
wrote of two heretics: "I have delivered them unto Satan
that they may learn not to blaspheme." Would the "devil"
of popular concept teach one not to blaspheme? Would Paul deliver
anybody up to such? By no means; rather the contrary. Paul was
referring to the discipline of excommunication that he hoped might
teach them a lesson, so that they would learn "not to blaspheme."
Paul's objectives in excommunication were to correct and restore
the erring parties, as well as to protect others from their false
teaching. He hoped that his action would cause them to review
and revise their theories, so that again embracing Tr,uth in its
fulness, they might be restored to the congregation (Cp. 1 Cor.
5:1-5,13; 2 Cor. 5:5-7; 7:8-12).
Again, to believers in Pergamos, Asia, Christ declared:
"I know thy works, and where thee dwellest, even where
Satan's seat is....where Satan dwelleth" (Rev. 2:13).
Satan's seat! Satan's dwelling place! In Pergamos? So Christ taught!
How was that possible? Read the context. Notice how strong were
the forces of error in that city (Rev. 2:14-16). It contained
the headquarters of those who were adverse to the Truth through
their errors. Another city, Smyrna, was noted for the "synagogue
of Satan" found therein (Rev. 2:9). The term defines a religious
community opposed to the truth; but if it is taught that Satan
is a superhuman monster, such expressions would mean that he lived
in Pergamos (Rev. 2:13), conducted a religious meeting in Smyrna,
and also had charge of the prison (w. 8-13).
"Surely the Satan of the book of Job was a superhuman being!"
we are often told. He is represented as "going up and down
in the earth," of presenting himself before the Lord and
being in company with other "sons of God."
"How could he present himself before the Lord if he were
not in heaven?" it is sometimes asked. Or, "Does not
the term 'sons of God' relate to immortal angels?"
In reply, we stress that the book of Job clearly shows that Satan
had no power to afflict Job; his sufferings were inflicted by
God. God declared: "Thou movest Me against him, to destroy
him without cause" (Job 2:3). Job himself recognised that
"the hand of God had touched him" (Job 19:21). The record
clearly states that "the Lord brought this evil upon him"
In fact, there is nothing superhuman associated with the Satan
described in the Book of Job.
This conclusion will be reinforced, when it is recognised that
the term "sons of God" does not relate to angels, but
is frequently used for mortal believers:
"As many as received him (Christ), to thein gave he power
to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his no
ne3' fJobn 1:12). "Behold, what m nner of love the Father
bath bestowed upon us, that we should be ailed the sons of God....Now
are we the sons of God" (I John 3:2).
These references (and others could be cited) clearly reveal that
the term "sons of God" relate to mortal believers.
Further, a person is described as presenting himself before God
when he engages in worship. An example is provided in Deuteronomy
19:17 where such is said to "stand before the Lord"
when he came before the appointed priests and judges set up in
Now when these facts are combined together and considered in the
light of the term Satan as meaning "adversary," the
first chapter of Job presents a picture of an unnamed adversary
of Job, joining with others in worship before God, and accusing
Job of hypocrisy. He appears to have been a much travelled man
(see Job 1 :7) with an inferiority complex! A small-minded, jealous
associate of the righteous Job, maliciously slandering his name.
The drama of Job has been frequently enacted since then. Even
among the company of the Lord's apostles, called "the sons
of God" (1 John 3:2), there was found Satan in the person
of Judas Iscariot. The Lord described him as "a devil"
(John 6:71), because of his impending betrayal of the Lord.
We have carefully examined personally every argument advanced
from the Bible to prove the existence of a superhuman devil, and
have found none of them conclusive. Such passages as Ezekiel 28:13-15;
Isaiah 14:12-15 Revelation 12:7-9, are constantly advanced, but
fail to support the theory when the facts are considered. Ezekiel
28 is "a lamentation upon the king of Tyre" (v.12);
Isaiah 14 is a "proverb against the king of Babylon"
(v.4); Revelation 12 is a prophecy against Rome.
It is true that Revelation 12 describes a "war in heaven"
(v.7) but the same chapter also speaks of a birth of a man-child
"in heaven" (v. 1-2), so that the language is obviously
symbolic. The devil (false accuser) and Satan (adversary) is described
as "a dragon" (v.9), "having seven heads and ten
horns" (v.3), whose tail drew the third of the stars of heaven,
and cast them to the earth!
That this is highly symbolical language, relating to the political
order of Rome, is proved beyond all doubt by the explanation given
in Revelation 17:9-10, which identifies the system with "that
great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth" (Rev.
17:18). The city that ruled the world in the days when the Revelation
was recorded, was the city of Rome.
Obviously the devil and Satan of Revelation 12 relate to the politico-religious
system of Rome.
What About the Demons?
We pointed out previously that there are two Greek words translated
"devil," the second of which is the word daimonion,
Parkhurst, in his Greek Lexicon, states that this word signifies:
"A lesser god, the spint of departed human beings who
had power to possess a person and so afflict him."
The word was born of superstition, a superstition still current
among ignorant people. Some backward people still believe that
certain kinds of illnesses are due to the malignant influence
of the spirit of a departed human being, taking possession of
the afflicted person.
In some eastern countries, the same idea persists, and doctors
find that their use of modern scientific methods is often useless
unless the hypothetical "devil," the creation of imagination
and superstition, is first "destroyed" or "cast
out." It is not unusual for modern medical men in the East
to thus speak, in all seriousness, of "casting out a devil"
when referring to the healing of such an afflicted person. They
accomodate their description to an expression which conveys something
to the mind of the natives.
(NOTE: Norman Lewis in a book on Burma entitled Golden Earth records
that such ideas are common among the Burmese.)
Hippocrates, the physician of ancient Greece, wrote an essay on
epilepsy which was called the "sacred disease" because
people beiieved the priests' teaching, that epileptics were possessed,
and priests, magicians, and imposters derived considerable revenue
from attempting to cure the disease by expiations and charms.
The essay was written to expose this delusion, he seeking to prove
that this disease was neither more divine nor sacred than any
The Bible, therefore, in using such terms as "casting out
devils," merely accommodated its expressions to the current
vernacular. To "cast out a devil" was to cure an illness.
Thus such expressions occur as: "Jesus rebuked the devil....and
the child was cured" (Matt. 17:18).
Usually, the term to be "possessed of a devil" has relation
to mental diseases. For example, when Jesus asked the Jews: "Why
go about to kill me?' They replied: "You have a devil (daimonion),
who goes about to kill you!" The statement, "You have
a devil," is equivalent to the modern expression: "You
Though the disciples used the term daimonion, it does not
mean that they endorsed the pagan idea of the spirits of departed
men inhabiting those on earth, any more than we endorse the literal
meanings of words that have a colloquial significance. For example,
the word "lunatic" signifies "affected by the moon,"
but when we use it we do not have that meaning in mind. We speak
of pandemonium reigning when any disorder takes place, but we
do not endorse the literal meaning of the word which signifies
that the disorder is due to the malignant influence of demons.
We talk of somebody being "bewitched," without believing
in witches. We make reference to "St. Vitus' Dance,"
without heeding the actual meaning of the term.
So with the use of the word daimonion. It is used colloquially
by the Jews to describe one "possessed" by a disease.
Christ used the language of his day, without necessarily accepting
the superstitions involved. He made reference to Beelzebub. the
god of the flies worshipped by the Philistines of Ekron, as though
this god had a living personality (Matt. 12:27), merely to turn
a point of discussion back upon his opponents. He certainly did
not endorse belief in the god as a living being.
How To Conquer the Devil
We have shown that the devil relates to the sinful tendencies
of the flesh. Such are only active in a living body, so that when
Christ died on the cross, this died also. When he rose to life
eternal, sin in the flesh had no place in the incorruptible nature
to which he was changed (Rom. 6:4,7; 1 Cor. 15:54).
His sacrifice illustrates the way in which we can conquer the
devil. We sin and are in need of forgiveness and this is obtainable
in Christ Jesus. Thus Peter exhorted when preaching the gospel:
"Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name
of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...." (Acts 2:38).
By making contact with the Lord Jesus through belief and baptism,
we take the first steps in defeating the devil; for in Christ
only can we receive forgiveness of sins. John wrote:
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive
us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"
(1 John 1:9).
The forgiveness of sins establishes the basis whereby we can build
a life modelled upon that of the Lord Jesus. Through the strength
derived from him, we can, in measure, conquer the flesh (Phil.
4:13). Paul taught:
"Christ died for all, that they which live (i.e. in newness
of life through baptism-Rom. 6:5) should not henceforth live unto
themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again"
(2 Cor. 5:15).
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet
not 1, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live
in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved
me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).
By following the example set by Christ we are led to a higher
way of life, one that is dominated by Divine principles and not
the desires of the flesh. In that way, we build into our lives
Divine characteristics such as were manifested by the Lord Jesus,
and are enabled to live in hope that, at his coming, we will be
granted the divine nature that he now possesses (2 Pet. 1:4).
"We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ (from
heaven); who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned
like unto his glorious body" (Phil. 3:20).
Immortal life in the Kingdom of God to be set up on earth (Dan.
2:44) is the hope set before us. To attain unto it we must conquer
the devil, or sin in the flesh. The first step to that end is
an understanding of the purpose of God in Christ, including his
conquest of the devil. Let us clearly identify the devil and we
will be better fitted to grapple with the problem of sin that
faces us. Let us recognise our own weakness, and learn that we
can conquer the flesh to the glory of God; and by so doing lay
the foundation for eternal rife at the coming of the Lord.
Proclaim that theBible Teaches
God: There is one God, the Father, who is the Sustainer
of all, and who controls all aspects of His Creation by His Power
Jesus Christ: The only begotten Son of God, was a man like
us by being born of a woman. He experienced all of the weaknesses
of human nature, yet he conquered sin within himself, and gave
his life to redeem us from sin. God raised him to immortality
and gave him authority over all Creation.
Man: Was created by God and made subject to his commandments
Because of Adam's sin, all men inherit mortality and a tendency
to sin. When man dies he ceases to exist.
Baptism: Through a complete immersion in water, we are
buried with Christ into his death. We receive the forgiveness
of past sins, renounce our former way of life, and enter into
a new Covenant in Christ. We are committed to do our best to live
like him and are dependent upon his forgiveness when we fail.
The Kingdom: Christ will return soon to raise his people
from the dead and reward them with eternal life. With them, he
will overthrow all political and religious authorities, and establish
a new world-wide government upon this earth.