The word "devil" is used by some flippantly and frivolously, and the subject of the devil is regarded as one to excite laughter and derision. While there is some excuse for this because of the absurd theories set forth in the religious world, theories in which there is a strange mixture of the sublime with the ridiculous, yet the subject deserves and demands a most serious consideration; and it is this demand which renders it necessary for us to include the investigation of it in our dealing with the great problems of the world's redemption.
The word "devil" comes from two Greek words in the Scriptures. It is not properly a translation of either of them, and its adoption by the translators of the Authorized Version to represent two words, which are of different meaning, is quite confusing. It would have been better had the two words been transferred, or if even one of them had been represented by "devil" and the other transferred, so as to put the English reader on his guard and enable him to make a proper distinction.
DIABOLOS AND DAIMON
The two words are Diabolos and Daimon. Diabolos is the one demanding the more elaborate treatment, because it represents that from which the world, in the broad sense, needs redemption. When redemption takes place from the universal evils represented by the word diabolos, those evils, which may be termed incidental and special, which are represented by the word daimon, will necessarily be included, upon the principle of the lesser being involved in the greater.
The meaning of the word diabolos is, that causing to pass over, to cross the line from right to wrong, to overstep. A diabolos is an accuser, calumniator, slanderer, a traducer. The meaning of daimon is, as used by those who believe in disembodied spirits, deified spirits or spirit entities, which were supposed to be able to enter the bodies, singly or in companies, of mortal people and to afflict them with various diseases, such as blindness, deafness, madness, etc. Hence one so afflicted was called a demoniac, one possessed. The word daimon or demon occurs about sixty times in the New Testament, and the word diabolos thirty times. The apostle Paul uses the latter in the plural number three times--I. Tim. 3: 11; II. Tim. 3: 3; Tit. 2: 3--and applies it to both males and females. The two words must be kept distinct, for diabolos is never applied to demoniacs as descriptive of their condition or affliction.
As already observed, diabolos is the word which stands for the great evil of the world, from which the world needs redemption and which it is the purpose of God, in carrying out His great plan of salvation, finally to destroy.
Whether we view the subject of the devil from a Scripture standpoint or from the point of so-called orthodox religion it will be seen to be of vast importance; so much so that the plan of salvation, from either point of view--and they are widely different--cannot be understood apart from it. It may be said to be the cause or reason of religion, which is designed to cope with the devil, whatever it is or he is, or whether it is an it or a he.
As to popular religion, its aim is to save immortal souls from being dragged by the devil into a hell of eternal torment. The aim of the religion of the Bible is to save men from the devil, which it is said "hath the power of death," and to give them a life free from all the evils of the present and a nature invulnerable against temptation, sin and death.
In considering the subject it is necessary to compare the devil of the Bible with that of popular belief so as to accept the truth and reject the error; and by such a comparison the striking contrast will largely help to a clear understanding of the truth concerning the entire subject--the origin, nature and end of the devil.
The devil of popular
religion is a personal being, an immortal being, an omniscient being, an
omnipresent being. He is said to have a kingdom of his own, quite well
regulated, with the reins of government well in hand; and although the kingdom
proper is located in a place called hell, supposed to be in the heart of the
earth, its dominion extends throughout all the earth's surface. This devil,
though personally located, it is asserted, can be present in hell and on
earth--in all parts of the earth--at the same time; in hell tormenting, and in
the earth influencing, enticing, deceiving and deluding millions of men, women
and children. His success in this world-wide wicked work, if it be judged by
the numbers of the subjects of his kingdom as compared with those of the
His power is represented as being sufficient to miraculously appropriate the laws of God to his own use in carrying out his evil designs, and thus to change laws which were designed for good into the perpetration of evils the most deplorable, either in defiance of or by the permission of the Great Creator.
His advantage in his antagonism against God and in his contest for the greater number of souls, in addition to his marvelous power, his omniscience and his omnipresence, is in the fact that he finds mankind already to his hand, in that they are naturally weak and prone to do evil rather than to do good. The battle is therefore half won for him before he begins; and man, poor creature, already possessed of a sin-perverted and sin-disposed nature, finds himself pitted against the most subtle and powerfully wielded hypnotic influence imaginable in his struggle to save himself from an eternal abode in a hell of indescribable torture.
IS THE DEVIL FROM HEAVEN?
The possession of such
wonderful power as is attributed to the popular devil, and his vast kingly
possessions in hell and upon earth, are said to be due to a rebellion which in
a very remote past, long before the creation of man, he was guilty of inciting
in heaven, where he had previously enjoyed the glories of a holy angel. As
"Brighter once amid the host
Of angels, than that star the stars among."
As a punishment for this rebellion it is asserted that he was cast out of heaven, upon his declaring that "he would rather rule in hell than to serve in heaven," and was given power and authority to rule in hell and to perform his wicked work in the earth in the furtherance of a great kingdom of evil which is to be as eternal as heaven against which he rebelled. Since that expulsion,
"Satan, so call him now, his previous name
Is heard no more in heaven, he of the first,
If not the first, archangel; great in power,
In favor and pre-eminence."
In the alleged fall of the devil from heaven it is asserted that others of his kind, but of lower rank, fell with him. Alexander Cruden, M. A. says: "By collecting the passages where satan or the devil is mentioned, it may be observed, that he fell from heaven, with all his company; that God cast him down thence for the punishment of his pride, that by his enraged malice sin, death, and all other evils came into the world; that by the permission of God he exercises a sort of government over his subordinates; that God makes use of him to prove good men and chastise bad ones; that his power and malice are restrained within certain limits by the will of God; in a word, that he is an enemy to God and man, and uses his utmost endeavors to rob God of his glory and men of their souls."
If we reason upon this theory of the devil we shall be driven to ask, Is it possible that "he of the first, if not the first archangel" in heaven could, with his company, be transformed into such a monster of evil? Is it possible that evil can even, arise in the thoughts of one who has presumably after a successful probation, been admitted into God's holy habitation? If so heaven itself is not secure from evil passion, and if one prominent angel with his followers can thus transform the whitest of holiness into the blackest of wickedness, why may not all the immortal angels, and even the mortals who shall "put on immortality" in the resurrection morn, be corrupted with evil thoughts and transformed from happy beings walking with the Lamb in the whiteness of the "righteousness of the saints" into the blackness and darkness and wickedness of this devil and his subordinate outcasts from heaven?
Moreover, here we are asked to believe that the flaming passions of the devil for power and dominion in opposition to God were punished by giving him exactly what he desired. He desired rulership in hell rather than to serve in heaven; and as punishment he is given hell inside of the earth as a kingdom and a free scope on the earth to play upon the weaknesses of its habitants in what must surely be a successful effort to add to the population of his kingdom in the dark and fiery regions he so well likes and fully enjoys. Was it not a most singular way of punishing this disobedient angel to give him the very thing his wicked ambition craved and to thus gratify his most ardent desires?
If the devil is a being possessed of the marvelous powers attributed to him by popular belief, the question will obtrude itself upon reasonable minds, without in the least deserving the charge of irreverence, Why did God, who is the source of power, give such powers of evil to a being bent upon war against all that was good, even against God Himself? Of course if the devil was once a holy angel, he was immortal; and, indeed, he is declared to be immortal and therefore possessed of the power of endless life--to live as long as God lives--to live, too, in the hottest fire imaginable, according to the literal theorists of hell, and therefore he must be constituted of a fire-proof nature, which can be none other than immortal nature; and that is the nature of God Himself. Then comes the question, Why did the All-Wise God ever impart His holy and pure nature to a devil of any kind, to say nothing of such a fiend as that under consideration? If He did not impart his holy nature of immortality to this being when he was a devil, but before he became one, then, since He knows the end from the beginning, why did He impart his nature to one who He knew would become a devil notwithstanding his consubstantiality with God? But we cannot continue such questions as these without appearing irreverent, and so let no one say that the All-Wise God of heaven ever did or ever will impart His pure and holy nature to any but those who are worthy and who will, after the possession thereof, and by reason of the possession, forever continue worthy, since one possessed of Divine nature is so possessed because he has "escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" and cannot then sin, any more than he can die; for the Divine nature is as sinless as it is deathless. It is therefore nothing short of blasphemy to declare or to believe in the popular theory of the devil.
As already observed, man is in a fallen state, possessed of the "carnal mind, which is enmity to God," and if in addition to this he is constantly exposed to the hypnotic powers of such a being as the popular devil, what chance has he to overcome? His case is a hopeless one indeed; and to add to this the horrible thought that the result of captivity to the carnal mind, enticed and inflamed by such a powerful external influence from a being who plies his wicked work from behind the scenes invisible to the victim--I say, the very thought that the victim's eternal fate is one so fearful, so terrible, so horrible that tongue or pen cannot describe it and eternity cannot end it, is most revolting to reason and a manifest libel upon the character of a just and beneficent Creator.
To a reasonable mind, therefore, a naked statement of the popular belief of the devil is all that is required to secure its rejection, and at the hands of men who have escaped the superstition of the world's darkest ages the theory is relegated to the myths of pagan and Roman traditions to renew its companionship with Pluto, Pan and Nox, and with all other myths of ignorant and superstitious inventions.
The truth concerning the origin, nature and end of the devil can be learned from the Bible only. With this subject, as with all others which relate to man's fall and ultimate rise through the beneficent plan of salvation, the rule must be, "To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according this word, it is because there is no light in them." But it is claimed that the theory of the popular devil is derived from the Bible, and Cruden, in our quotation from him, says, "By collecting the passages where Satan or the devil is mentioned, it may be observed, that he fell from heaven, with all his company," etc. So we must examine the passages supposed to teach this and see wherein lies the mistake, for before we turn to them we may be sure they do not teach a theory so at variance with all that is reasonable and all that is revealed of the justice and wisdom of God.
LUCIFER'S FALL FROM HEAVEN
One passage relied upon is Isa. --
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell (sheol) to the sides of the pit, etc.
Now we need not seek
outside this chapter to discover who this Lucifer is. In the margin it is
"day star" instead of "Lucifer," an epithet which in no
sense can apply to a being who is said to love darkness and hate the light of
day. This "day star" is spoken of as aspiring to "ascend into
heaven" and to exalt his "throne above the stars of God," while
the devil of popular belief first comes into view as already in heaven,
expressing a preference for rulership in hell. The Lucifer of the passage seeks
to ascend; the popular devil desired to descend. The one desired to exalt his
throne above the stars of God; the other preferred to have his beneath the
stars in a kingdom of darkness as deep down as possible, the deeper the better
to suit him. This day star was to be brought down to sheol,
to the sides of the pit, which is the grave (verse 11), which is no
place for an immortal being. But, to cut the matter short, the fourth verse
leaves no room to doubt who this Lucifer is; for it
says: "Thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of
The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers. He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth. The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet; they break forth into singing. Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us. Hell (sheol) from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols; the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer!
Here is very glowing
and highly poetic language describing the fall of the king of
Where now is there room in this passage for the devil of popular belief? If it be said that the devil is prompting the king, then we ask, Do kings, judging from their history, need such a devil to make them proud, ambitious, covetous and tyrannical? Are not all these natural to the hearts of kings? What is the need of calling in a supernatural devil when the natural devil is equal to all the requirements of the case? In any event, we must abide by the testimony, and to him who would read into it what is not there it might well be said, "Get thee behind me Satan."
Whether we consider the existence of evil in all its forms and the perpetrations of the many crimes of this wicked world as they are seen in high places of power or among the lower masses in their gratification of lust, we shall find a palpable cause for it all without seeking for an omniscient, omnipresent person possessed of power to tempt nations and individuals to do wicked things. Man in his fallen state, degenerate man, giving unrestrained liberty to the promptings of the lower faculties and freely allowing the passions to play according to their natural tendencies, will be found to be of sufficient causative power to produce all that is to be seen in the phenomena of evil and therefore there is
NO NEED FOR A SUPERNATURAL DEVIL
Some thoughtlessly say: "If there is a God there must be a devil." If this were true the heathen notion of the eternity of two great antagonistic powers would be true. If there must be a devil because there is a God, then since there never was a time when God was not, there never could have been a time when the devil was not. Of the popular devil it might be safely said, If there is a God there cannot be such a devil; for God would not allow such a being existence, to say nothing of a co-eternity of existence of such a monster with God Himself.
As already observed, there is no need for calling in the supernatural where the natural will answer all the requirements of the case. There is no difficulty in accounting for the origin of evil and the universal existence of sin. This is easily done without calling in the aid of a supernatural wicked one. The Scriptures tell us that it is the flesh, the lower propensities of the flesh, uncontrolled by the higher faculties, which is the source of sin. Paul says, "For I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." "I find then a law in my members, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me." "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind" (the higher faculties imbued with truth and righteousness), and "bringing me into subjection to the law of sin which is in my members" (Rom. -23). The same apostle shows us what the flesh is capable of producing, indeed what it naturally produces now, since it has been poisoned by transgressions. He says:
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. * * * Now the WORKS OF THE FLESH are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they that do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.--Gal. 5: 17-21.
Let there be a careful examination of these things which flesh can do and which it does do--yea, which are characteristic of the flesh uncontrolled, and then the question may well be asked, Wherein does the flesh need the help of a supernatural devil? What is there for such a devil to do? Is there any vice which he can add to those which the flesh is capable of? Surely there is no need of calling in a supernatural devil when we find the natural, the flesh, equal to the production of all the categories of evils which are in the world. In discovering the source, the cause, the fountain of all vices in the flesh, have we not discovered the real devil--that which causes to cross the line from right to wrong, from righteousness to wickedness, from virtue to vice?
If we keep in mind what the lust of the flesh is capable of doing, yea, what it is natural for it to do, we shall have no difficulty in finding a proper explanation of passages of Scripture which refer to persons, kings and nations as "devils" or "satans." The diabolism of any form of wickedness will be found rooted in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, in antagonizing that which is good and right, and in inciting to that which is bad and wrong.
As a person, Judas was a diabolos, a traducer, a calumniator, because he betrayed his Master; and that which was the cause was the lust of the flesh, assuming the form of covetousness.
As a king, Herod was a diabolos, in that his lust for political power and his fear of being supplanted by him "who was born King of the Jews," incited his cruelty upon the little children.
As a nation,
When Jesus said, "I have chosen you twelve and one of you is a devil," there was no thought of Judas being such a devil as that of popular belief. Judas himself became a diabolos by yielding to evil thoughts; and this instance will illustrate all others of a similar character, and it will render it useless to seek for a cause beyond the lusts of the flesh. We must not forget that man is in a fallen state--a state in which his passions are inflamed and his natural proclivities bent upon wrong-thinking and wrong-doing.
This evil condition varies in different persons. One man may be possessed of a very "bad temper," another of a "good temper." What makes the difference? Is it that a separate personal devil excites the "bad temper" in the one and not in the other? Not at all. The difference depends upon the phrenological make-up of the men; and this, too, depends upon the extent to which the passions have been yielded to on the one hand and curbed and controlled on the other. A "bad temper" allowed full scope will grow worse and worse and will create a condition of mind that will be transmitted to future generations, and thus the diabolism of a "bad temper" becomes a "family failing." The same is true of all the vices. Cultivate them and they will become master of the man; check, curb and control them and the man will, to a degree, become master of them--never, however, so long as he is in the flesh, will it be safe to be off his guard; and with the utmost watchfulness his mastery over himself will only be to a degree; for only one was ever able to overcome completely and that one was Jesus Himself.(1)
(1) It is of course, not necessary that one should accept the theory of Phrenology or any other scheme of Psychology, in order to be saved and have a place in God’s Kingdom. The theory of Phrenology never was popular, and it has become even less so as the years have rolled by--which is not the slightest evidence that it is not true. It nullifies the theory of the immortality of the soul, and sort of brings men to judgment before the time--neither of which effects are or can be popular. And as to the systems of Psychology now in vogue, there are probably no two leading Psychologists who are in perfect agreement. These systems of character analysis are arts, rather than sciences: which is to say that they depend for their successful application upon the skill and intelligence--and experience--of their practitioners: their ability to balance one faculty or one influence against another.
No, it is not necessary that one should be an expert in these matters in order to be saved; but some understanding of the causes and effects of sin on human-nature is essential. It must be recognized that the human species, individually and collectively, is degenerate in mind and body, through sin. Solomon says, "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." A similar truth is voiced by Jeremiah, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" This is confirmed by the Savior, when he declares: "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." To this we may add the testimony of Paul: I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me . . . bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."
Now these mental phenomena of human life as it is seen at present will help us to discover the mode by which the diabolos originated.
TRUE ORIGIN OF THE DEVIL
Let us call the present mental state of man an abnormal state; for we may safely conclude man was not created in his present mental state. Then we can call his original state, before he fell, when "every thing was very good," the normal state. The difference between the two states will then appear to be that one was not naturally bent in the wrong direction, while the other is. To cause the change from the normal to the abnormal, something must have occurred to affect, pervert, unbalance the mental and moral faculties and to cause evil results also in the physical man. What will intensify the abnormality of the mind now? The answer is, A breach of law--sin. Passion propagates passion, theft propagates theft, and so on with all other things that are wrong to do. So we may safely conclude that the mental and moral abnormality of the human race was originally caused by sin. The mind having perverted itself, it became hard to control and thus brought the flesh into such a state that, in order to do good and obey righteous law, the abnormal lusts, now impregnated in the very being, must be "overcome," "crucified," "kept under"; and this because sin is now inherent in the flesh and antagonizes right thinking and right doing and is therefore the diabolos.
There was therefore a time when "everything was very good," and therefore when there was no devil, or diabolos; and in the account of creation the Scriptures are as silent upon the creation of a devil as they are upon that of a hell. So now the question is, When and how did the devil originate? The history is clear as it is; any mystery about it is the result of an attempt to be wise above that which is written. Here it is:
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day that ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened; and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and gave also to her husband and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God, amongst the trees of the garden. (Gen. 3: 1-8.)
Now we need not speculate about what kind of a creature this "serpent" was, what his manner of locomotion was before he was cursed to go upon his belly and to eat dust. The testimony declares his subtlety was greater than that of the creatures of his kind, and informs us that he talked with the woman. That no such a creature exists now possessed of the same powers in no way lessens the truth of the history of the case as God has given it to us. God has spoken; it is for us to believe. To those who go further back than this history goes, seeking for a devil that will answer to the description of the popular monster, and who is supposed to have used the serpent as a medium, all we can say is, you presume to go further than the inspired Word permits you, and your devil-hunting in the garden of paradise, at a time when God pronounces "every thing very good," is a reflection upon the work of the Creator. Let us give Him the credit due to His Holy name in admitting that He gave us a "very good" start; and let the fact of a subsequent existence of a diabolos or of a million of them be attributed to sin upon the part of the creature rather than to an evil work of a beneficent creative hand.
Keeping within the limits of what is written, limits which the wisest man has no more power or right to go beyond than has the simplest child, we have a creature which could talk and reason and hereby tempt Eve to cross the line from right to wrong by telling her a lie, the first lie we ever hear of. That lie is the father of all evil, the cause of sin; and that serpent lie became sin on the part of our first parents in the transgression of the first law we have any record of. They were tempted, drawn away of their lust, the lust becoming inordinate by believing the lie, it conceived sin, and the sin, in accordance with the law, brought death. Here is the serpent begetting, and the woman giving birth to sin--a crossing the line from right to wrong, from which birth sin has been a power to propagate itself and therefore in forms innumerable it is the diabolos, the great enemy of mankind. Hence to the wicked Jews who yielded to sin's influence against Jesus, our Lord said, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it,"--Jno. .
Now the origin of the
whole matter is given clearly by the apostle Paul in the words, "By one
man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all
men, for that all have sinned"--Rom. 5: 12. Man, according to this, was in
the world before sin entered and therefore before there was a diabolos, and the
order of entry into the world was, first, man; second, sin; third, death; and
now we have discovered an adequate cause for all evil and man's great enemy,
death, and it is needless to seek for a personal supernatural, omniscient,
omnipresent devil. A comparison of Scripture with Scripture will make this
still clearer. We are told that Jesus came as the "Lamb of God to take
away the sin of the world"; and we are also told that He came to
"destroy the works of the devil" (
THE PERSONALITY OF THE DEVIL
When the lamb of God shall have "taken away the sin of the world," he will have "destroyed the works of the diabolos;" and when he has removed from the world the cause of death, he will have brought sin to an end and destroyed the devil. Since there is only one cause of death, sin and diabolos must be two words for that one cause. A person, a society or nation becomes a diabolos by becoming a sinner, and becomes a sinner by becoming a diabolos. The great evil of the world consists of all evil things in their many and various forms; and since these are inseparable from persons their aggregation as the world's great evil, or the "sin of the world," is personified and called the "evil one" and sometimes represented by personal pronouns, similarly to the common way in which we speak of drunkenness and mammon. All drunkards and every case of individual drunkenness are comprehended in the word "drunkenness," which we sometimes term "King Alcohol;" and every act of covetousness is involved in the word mammon when we say "Mammon is the curse of the world." So every act of sin is involved in "the sin of the world;" and every influence and incident which causes to cross the line from right to wrong and incites to slander, to calumniate and traduce is a manifestation of diabolism and the aggregation of all these is the diabolos which Christ came to destroy and which he will have completely destroyed when "he hath put all enemies under his feet and the last enemy is destroyed, which is death." Then, having passed from paradise lost to paradise restored, every thing will again be "very good" and there will be no more devil or diabolos.
The personification of principles and inanimate things is quite common with all good writers; and to this is largely due the poetic power of the Scriptures. For instance, "Sheol from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming." Again, "Yea, the fir trees rejoiced at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon saying," etc. In the New Testament we have those eloquent words of the apostle Paul, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" In all these instances we have a personification of sheol, trees, death and hades, without the remotest thought of their being real personalities. Then, too, we have sin and obedience represented by personal pronouns, in the words, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (Rom. ). No one supposes from this that sin and obedience are persons, but since neither can exist without a person, and are acts of persons, they are fittingly personified. So with "evil one" and diabolos. These are words which stand for the aggregation of evils which man has brought upon himself by transgression of the law, and which he is helpless to deliver himself from. But God has promised the complete end of every form of evil when He will be honored and man blessed.
Now with these thoughts kept in mind we shall have no difficulty in understanding scriptures which have been erroneously applied to a fictitious devil.
In Luke 10: 18, the Saviour says, "I beheld satan as lightning fall from heaven," and in this there is a supposed support for the popular theory of the devil's origin in heaven. The mistake on this verse arises from a wrong view of the two words "satan" and "heaven." As to "satan" we will only say here that it means adversary, leaving the proofs to be considered further along in our investigation under its proper heading. But the word "heaven," as we have already seen in the case of the king of Babylon falling from his throne, in which he is spoken of as falling from heaven, must be viewed in the scriptures in two senses--first, as a name for the physical expanse above and the place of Deity's dwelling; and second, as representing power and position, or rulership in the kingdoms of men. In modern phraseology this is termed the political heaven or heavens.
Of the physical heavens it says, "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule by day, and the lesser light to rule by night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light to the earth"--Gen. 1: 16-17. Analogous to this the exalted position of rulers is termed heaven and the ruled, the people, or subjects of a kingdom, are called the earth. By referring to what we have said under the title "The Heavens and the Earth, New and Old" the reader will see this more fully elaborated.
The Apostle Paul says, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, or in the heavenlies. The "wrestling" was with rulers, both of the Jewish heaven and the Roman heaven, which were adversaries or satans against the work of Christ and his apostles.
In verse 15 of the chapter in which the words of Jesus occur with reference to satan's fall from heaven, we read, "And thou Capernaum, which art exalted up to heaven, shalt be brought down to hell, or hades, the grave; and the work of establishing Christianity in the place of Judaism and paganism was to result in like manner in the fall of the rulers of both the Jews and the Romans who then ruled, and they were satans in that they combined as an adversary against Christ first and his apostles afterwards. Therefore, foretelling the triumph of Christianity over this political and spiritual satan he said, "I beheld satan as lightning fall from heaven."
This fall, so far as pagan Rome was concerned, was also symbolized to John when on the isle of Patmos, in signifying to him things that should be hereafter (Rev. 1: 1; 4: 1). In chapter 12, it is said there appeared to him "A great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet," etc. Here is the church in an apostate state exalted to political eminence in contrast to the pure woman which "as the chaste virgin espoused to Christ" was not of this world, and against whom the door in the political heaven is closed till the Lord comes to open it as a way into the "new heaven wherein dwelleth righteousness" (Rev. 4: 1; II. Pet. 3: 13). This exalted woman gave birth to a political "man child" (verse 5) when Constantine, the child of the church, was politically born, and he was caught up into heaven, nominally, "to God and to his throne;" for He who "ruleth in the kingdoms of men" had decreed that paganism should be dethroned by nominal christianity. The result was that there "was war in (the Roman) heaven," "Michael and his angels," who were for God as Cyrus and his armies had been his "sanctified ones" in the destruction of ancient Babylon, "fought against the dragon; and the dragon (the pagan Roman power) fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out that old serpent called the devil, and satan, which deceiveth the whole (Roman) world; he was cast out into the earth." Thus satan as lightning fell from heaven and the "principalities and powers in the heavens" with which the apostles and all the followers of Christ for over two centuries had to "wrestle" went down when this satan, or adversary, the dragon, or pagan power of Rome, fell before the powerful wave of christianity headed up in Constantine the Great in A. D. 312. The fact that there had been a departure from the simplicity of the Truth and that a perverted christianity was the means of the great overthrow of the dragon power is not inconsistent with its being "on the Lord's side," since it was for a time the means of protecting the "remnant of the woman's seed," or the faithful adherents of true christianity.
It is remarkable that
History often repeats itself; and since He who inspired the scriptures could foresee all events, a record of one future event is often analogous to another more remote. When Christ comes to "reign till he hath put down all enemies under his feet" satan, diabolos, and daimon or evil in any form will "be bound." At the end of the days of the kingdom of men the diabolos spirit will assert itself in its struggle for political eminence, even against Christ, a greater than Constantine; but the "prince of Rosh" who will be the leading power of the nations and who will become the dragon power by his conquest of the seat of the dragon--Constantinople--will be "cast out of the political heaven," and again the world will behold "satan as lightning fall from heaven" when the "new heaven and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness" shall be established in "the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ."
THE DEVIL THAT TEMPTED CHRIST
Many suppose that the devil that tempted Christ was the monster of popular belief; and some who have abandoned that fiction have a difficulty in understanding the narrative. Deity decreed that the plan of salvation should depend upon a complete victory over the evils which sin had subjected man to. The execution of this plan must therefore entail suffering under trial. None of the mere sons of Adam could meet the requirements without falling helplessly under the load; and therefore God, in His love, laid help upon one born of the fallen race, who, by faithfulness, would be able to endure the trials and thereby be "made perfect through suffering," and become the "Captain of our salvation."
In the origin of the evils which salvation is designed to eliminate, there was temptation, sin and death; in the removal of the evils, there must be temptation, righteousness and life. The first Adam when he was tempted was "drawn away of his own lust," his lust conceived sin, and sin brought death. The second Adam refused to allow lust to draw him away, or to conceive sin; and therefore sin, on his part, did not bring forth death. Hence, though he suffered death because sin had brought it upon the entire race, of which race he was a member, he "could not be holden of death;" and therefore he triumphed over sin and death and thereby "destroyed him that hath the power of death, that is the devil"--destroyed him so far as Himself was concerned first, in order that he might destroy him for his people finally in a complete "taking away of the sin of the world."
In considering the temptations of Jesus we must keep in mind the fact that in order to destroy the devil he was made of flesh and blood (Heb. 2: 14); and that he was in "all things made like unto his brethren" (Heb. 2: 17); and that therefore he "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4: 15).
Now this would be a singular way to cope with an omniscient, omnipresent, immortal devil. How could it be possible for one made of flesh and blood, in that fallen state susceptible of temptation in all points like to ourselves, to destroy such a powerful monster? Is it not evident that the devil is a thing of the flesh, from the fact that Jesus was made flesh and blood in order that he might destroy the devil? What is it that tempts a man to do wrong? Answer, "A man when he is tempted is drawn away of his own lusts." Then lust is the tempter, and lust has been inordinate ever since it was inflamed by the first sin committed. This is the devil, therefore, to be destroyed; and since it is in the flesh, called sinful or sin's flesh, Jesus was made of that very flesh in order that he might overcome and destroy lust, in the nature which had, by the first sin of man, become sinful. Therefore His destruction of the devil must be by the overcoming of the temptations which the flesh would naturally suggest and finally by voluntary submission to that death which would impale sin's flesh upon the cross as a manifestation of God's displeasure with the nature of a fallen, perverted sinful race and yet exhibit His pleasure with a character which was "holy, harmless, and undefiled," developed in that nature.
Now it will readily be seen that Christ's temptation was necessarily a thing of the flesh, as all temptation is, and that there is no reason to seek further for an adequate cause; and now let it be observed that his temptation was such as to appeal first to the cravings of hunger; second, to presumption; third, to forbidden ambition, involving covetousness.
It does not require a supernatural devil to tempt a flesh and blood man who is suffering from the pangs of hunger to seek means whereby he may satisfy his cravings. No such a devil is necessary to tempt flesh and blood to show off, by the performance of a startling deed that will attract and arouse the wonder of the world. Nor is it needful to seek beyond flesh and blood for ambition for greatness and power in the political world.
It is not wrong to satisfy hunger; but it is wrong to employ forbidden means to do so. It is not wrong to work miracles, when a manifestation of God's power and glory is the object; but it is wrong in one possessed of miraculous power, when the object is the ostentation and the gratification of a love for notoriety. It is not wrong to strive for exaltation to rulership of the world to come, but it is wrong for a child of God to aspire to rulership in the kingdoms of this evil world.
Jesus was suffering hunger. He possessed the power to miraculously satisfy it; and therein was the trial, the temptation to be overcome by such an implicit trust in God as could exclaim, "It is written, man shall not live by bread alone; but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." By the way, it did not even require any external personal natural tempter to urge this temptation--the natural cravings of the flesh, with the consciousness of the possession of the power to satisfy was an all sufficient-tempter, and the right and duty overcame, the diabolos received his first blow, and the victor was, by his success, in this his first trial, in measure strengthened for to meet the next.
Not only did this first
temptation appeal to the appetite of the natural man; but it involved trust in
God, a trust which had examples to strengthen it. For had not Moses fasted
forty days and forty nights and yet the Lord sustained him? (Ex. 34: 28). Had
not the Lord provided ravens to carry bread to Elijah? Had not manna from
heaven been given famishing
In the wilderness our Lord is contemplating, and preparing for the great work before him, having just passed from private life into the official performance of the great work he came to do. He must meet the gaze of the world, though he was just emerging from obscurity. How could it be done? In a moment, the flesh would be ready with a plan by which he would quickly become a hero in the eyes of the masses. And then, had not scriptures declared that God would give his angels charge concerning him? By one act he could test the truth of scripture and make a hero of himself. Would not this be what the flesh would naturally suggest? Did it require a supernatural devil to invent this temptation? And suppose it had been suggested by such a devil or even by an external personal natural devil, would it have been any more of a trial? Jesus was not yet an angel possessed of impeccable nature. He must be tempted in all points like unto his brethren, and therefore sin's flesh was his nature purposely in order that it might do just what it did do--suggest, in this case, a presumptuous test of the truth of scripture by a misapplication of scripture. But quick as a flash, the mind of the spirit was ready to resist the devil and make him flee--drive the fleshly thought out of the mind. Jesus was fortified with the knowledge that the promises of the scriptures were predicated upon a performance of duty, and realizing that "the path of safety was the way of duty" he quickly drove out the fleshly thoughts and braced himself with the words, "It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Another victory was won--over what? Over the flesh; whose desire for unlawful notoriety by unlawful means had been peremptorily rebuked, and a noble, faithful and abiding trust in God was exhibited for our example.
One more trial must be met, and here again we may ask, did it require a supernatural devil to suggest this? Did Jesus depend upon such a devil for power to take the kingdoms of the world? Did he depend upon even a natural personal devil in the form of a king or any living man? Jesus knew very well that no such a devil as the popular personal monster had the power to give him the kingdoms of the world; and with such knowledge wherein would be the temptation? He knew likewise that no man had the power, even if it could be supposed that he had the will, to give Jesus the kingdoms of the world. One would only bestow a laugh of contempt upon any kind of a devil that might offer what it were well known he had no power to give. There would be no real trial in such "temptation." To give edge to a temptation the tempted must believe that the tempter has the power to fulfil his part of the contract. Now search for the power to take the kingdoms of the world, and the only one in whom you will find it is Christ; and in the fact of his consciousness of the possession of such power and yet that he resisted, and manifested the resignation to abide the Father's time, is seen the real merits of the victory. To have allowed the Jews to "take him by force and make him a king," or to have exercised his miraculous power to seize the kingdoms of this world would have been worshipping the flesh instead of serving God. The flesh could easily, as it always does, quote scripture to prove that to the Messiah belonged the kingdoms of this world, and why not take them? But the mind of the Spirit knew the time allotted for each part of the mission of the Saviour--that in which he must be "made perfect through suffering;" and that in which he will rightfully transform "the kingdoms of this world into the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ."
The "orthodox" theory is that Christ was "God very God;" and that the devil is a hideous, cloven-footed, powerful personality. If these two theories are true the temptation of Jesus was a sham. How could such a devil tempt God to sin? Just imagine such a devil offering God the kingdoms of this world. If it be said that God had assumed human form, that will not explain how He could cease to be God and forget His former omniscience and omnipotence and become actually a man, and really susceptible of such temptations as Jesus was subjected to. Jesus was begotten of God, born of a woman and "made like unto his brethren;" and his temptation was "in all points like unto theirs, yet without sin." His education and preparation for the ordeal of his trial would forewarn and forearm him against temptation from such a being as the popular devil. He would know who he was the moment he presented himself, and he would have disdained to talk with such a creature for a single moment. For a low, besotted man to suggest an evil act to a respectable upright man would be no temptation at all. The very sight of the sot would be enough. If it be claimed that the devil had the power to hypnotize, then again there was no real trial in the case; for one hypnotized is not a subject of a mental and moral trial; he is a helpless victim.
To claim that it was the popular supernatural devil that tempted Christ is to exalt the devil above one who, according to the popular belief, was "God very God," and to represent the devil as offering to give kingdoms to God himself. The temptation of Christ cannot be explained upon any other basis than that it was a struggle of the mind in determining whether to yield to the natural inclination of the flesh to seize present, temporal gratification at the cost of future and eternal blessings, or to deny the promptings of the flesh, though for the time it would necessitate great suffering, in order to attainment to the eternal and glorious reward which God had in His wisdom and goodness placed, not at the beginning of probation, but at the end. Jesus, therefore, succeeded as the "seed of the woman" against the "seed of the serpent" in a hard-fought battle which manifested that "enmity" which God in the beginning had declared should exist between sin's flesh and the spirit of truth and righteousness. After this great victory the adversary, satan, or diabolos, would be certain of defeat throughout the Lord's entire probation till he would attain to the "joy that was set before him" beyond the cross.
If in the Saviour's overcoming the diabolos--destroying him and all his works--we find no place for any sort of a devil except the sinful proclivities of man's fallen nature, is it to be supposed for a moment that we shall find any other devil as an enemy with which we must contend? When from scripture, observation and experience we learn the sinful tendencies and capabilities of the flesh, it will be useless to look further for a satan, a diabolos or a devil. If in the "war in our members" which must be waged in every one who strives to do the right we give the mind begotten by and imbued with the spirit of truth and righteousness the preeminence, we shall have done our part in "resisting the devil" and in causing him to "flee from us." Let us therefore consider well the task before us and we shall find where our enemy is, and what he is, and thereby half the battle will have been fought.
A CORRECT TRANSLATION OF DIABOLOS
As a further means of understanding the meaning of the word diabolos, which is rendered devil in our translation, we will now examine the use of the word where it has been properly translated. This translation will show that when there was no possible way to make the word mean the same as the word "devil" was intended to mean the translators could be true to the original word; for the translation in the cases we are about to consider gives the true definition of Diabolos. It is by comparing Scripture with Scripture that we can best arrive at the correct doctrinal meaning of Scripture words. Dictionaries and lexicons often give theological meanings opposed to the Biblical meaning, and therefore they are not always safe to follow. This is apparent in the meanings given of "soul," "spirit," "hell," etc.
In 1842 there was a
book anonymously published on the subject of the devil. The author was
evidently a scholar, and he treated the subject masterly and elaborately,
though on other matters incidentally introduced he was in error, which somewhat
hampered him. The book has been republished by brother
Thos. Nisbet, of
What, then, is the word rendered "devil" in these passages? It is diabolos. What does this mean? It is derived from diaballo, this itself being compounded, or made up, of two words, dia, through, and ballo, to strike, to pierce (as with an arrow): diaballo, therefore signifies to pierce through: and as, when a man's character is attacked by the false charges of another, his character is pierced through with darts of calumny. And, as the idea of this calumny implies that the accusations are false, the term diabolos means a false-accuser, a calumniator. The proper meaning of the word diabolos is, therefore, FALSE-ACCUSER, CALUMNIATOR; the improper meaning is "devil"--this improper interpretation having been first given by the translators of the Scriptures into Greek; a rendering Leigh remarks, "nowhere else sampled (i.e., so used) in any Greek author." The derivation of this word thus proves that false-accuser, calumniator, is the correct translation.
that "false-accuser" is the correct translation of diabolos is
offered in the occasional use of the proper meaning of the word in the common
translation. A few passages may be noted. Paul, in writing to Timothy
respecting the wives of deacons, observes, "Even so must their wives be
grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things,"
Paul, in writing to Titus, uses the same expression: "The aged women, likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false-accusers," Tit. 2: 3. The phrase rendered "not false-accusers" is me diaboloi, not devils--if "devil" be the proper meaning of the word diabolos. The translators, however, have here again, by the undoubted application of the term to women, been obliged to translate the word properly, and have themselves thus afforded a second evidence that diabolos means false-accuser.
A third passage, confirming this as the proper interpretation, is the following:--"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy. Without natural affection, truce-breakers, false-accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good: Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away," II Tim. 3: 1-3. Here the word, correctly rendered "false-accusers," is diaboloi, "devils"--that is, if "devils" is the proper interpretation--the interpretation given to it in thirty-five other passages in the common translation. But it is not the proper rendering: the proper translation has been given in this passage, thus affording a third confirmatory evidence that "false-accuser" is the meaning of the word diabolos.
In all the passages thus quoted the word is applied to human beings, and not to any supernatural, invisible beings--a fact well worthy of being noted.
The question here occurs, If the phrase "false-accuser," or that of "slanderer," is the proper translation in these passages, why should not a similar rendering be given throughout the Scriptures? Why should the Translators, or, more correctly, the Revisors of the Scriptures, not have rendered the word uniformly throughout? The answers are left to be supplied by the common-sense of each inquirer.
It will be seen from the preceding remarks that false-accuser, slanderer, calumniator is the primary meaning, and, it may be added, the proper meaning of the word diabolos--a meaning which has this advantage, that all can understand it; a statement which cannot be made in reference to the word "devil;" for does any one, adopting the common notions, understand what the "Devil" is? Do any two people agree on his character, his existence, his attributes? Seeing, then, that there is a simple meaning, and seeing there is a mysterious meaning, can it be proper, can it be advantageous, to substitute a word which has no definite meaning for one which has a fixed, a practical meaning?
Now with this
definition of the word diabolos there is no difficulty in understanding any
passage in which the word occurs. If it be Eph. —"Neither give place to the devil," the meaning
is, not to yield to the lust of the flesh in any form. I. Pet. 5: 8—"Your
adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may
devour," means the wickedness of sin's flesh in the power of
That devil that
contended with the angel about the body of Moses (Jude 9) could not have been
the creature of popular creeds for if the "body of Moses" means
Moses' corpse, what would such a devil contend about a corpse for? No doubt
"the body of Moses" means the body politic; for it is said,
"They were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (I
Cor. 10: 2). Moses was the head and
That which incites to do evil is diabolos. Let any honest man take a retrospect of his life and consider well the trials he has passed through in refusing to do wrong and in determining to do right; and let him ask himself what was the tempter in all cases. Persons may have tried to allure him by apparently fair words, but these persons would be natural tempters and not supernatural. Any tendency to yield to them would be characteristic of his own fleshly nature, and not of an invisible supernatural devil. An honest man, with the experiences of his life before him, will be frank enough to admit that in every case of temptation, wherein he had failed he had himself to blame; and wherein he overcame, he did so by a strength of mind which determined to do the right. Such men as commit murder and other crimes of the grosser sort, either from delusion or dishonesty, shift the blame from themselves to an imaginary supernatural devil; and they are encouraged in this cowardice by the popular religious leaders. Were the civil government to admit the claims of popular religion, it would have no right to punish a man for a crime; for how can a man be held responsible for what he does while hypnotized by a being possessed of supernatural power? Viewed from any reasonable standpoint the theory of a supernatural devil must be seen to be a pagan fiction disguised by its devotees in garments made of scripture words. Every intelligent, enlightened man will find enough to do in the struggle between right and wrong, if he overcome his own fleshly proclivities; and in proportion to his failure will be his blame; and in proportion to his success will be his merit.
The word "devil" in the English version of the New Testament is also used to represent the original word daimon; and the translation is tainted with the theory of the translators concerning disembodied spirits, or ghosts. We can the more boldly say this now, since the Revision has exposed the same weakness in the use of the word "hell" for two words in the original--gehenna and hades. While the modern leaders still hold to the ancient theory of disembodied spirits, they have made such changes in their belief as the result of superstition giving place to education that they have no longer any use for disembodied spirits for the purpose supposed to be involved in the New Testament account of demons. The prevalent idea in the days of Jesus was that diseases were produced by "spirits." Blindness, dumbness, insanity, etc., were all the work of "spirits" possessed by the unfortunate victims; but now religious leaders know better, and are able to dispense entirely with such "spirits" in accounting for the same diseases. With the ancient mythologists "spirits" were essential in accounting for diseases; now they are not; therefore their existence is no longer necessary. If it is superstition to believe now as in the past that diseases are inflicted by disembodied spirits, may it not be superstition also to believe in the existence of such spirits? The supposed utility of their existence having been seen to be a delusion, why retain them without any thing for them to do in the line of employment in which they were once supposed to be engaged?
Our language is full of words of heathen origin; but such words no longer mean what they did on the lips of a heathen. Our meaning is well understood now when we call an insane person a "lunatic," without retaining the theory that the person is moon-struck. One using the word "lunatic," would not thereby be committed to the ancient theory. So with our use of the names of the days of the week, as well as many names of diseases, for example, "St. Anthony's fire," "St. Vitus dance." We accommodate ourselves to the phraseology of our times without being held to the original meaning thereof.
Now what is permissible in our times in this respect was also so in the days of Jesus and His apostles. When a disease was miraculously cured, the act was described in the language of the times. Then as now, some held the heathen view, others the reasonable and truthful view. The words "soul" and "spirit" are used to-day by some wrongfully, by others rightfully; and the latter cannot be held responsible for the former. So with the words daimon and demoniac in the days of Jesus. Suppose we transfer the phraseology of those times down to our own times and use it in the description of curing diseases, would not the facts be precisely the same? The use of the words now would no more make the cure of disease a literal casting out of demons or "spirits" than the use of the words then and vice versa. The facts represented by the words are what we must seek to find, and not stumble over the words into the delusions generally associated with them. The following quotation from "Yates's History of Egypt" will illustrate the truth in this matter very clearly:
It would seem that the
same diseases prevailed then in
I have known the Rev.
Mr. Wolff ridiculed for stating that one evening when he was passing between
Now let us examine, for example, the first instance in the New Testament of casting out a demon. In Matt. 9: 32 we read, "As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed of a devil (daimonizomenon--being demonized), and when the devil (daimonion) was cast out, the dumb man spake." What really was the matter with this man? He was dumb; and the very same affliction is the sad lot of many persons today. Shall we say of the dumb of today that they are demonized? Yes, if the word is used to describe dumbness; no, if it is used as meaning that every dumb person is possessed of a "disembodied spirit," or ghost afflicting a man with dumbness. To "cast out a demon" now, in a similar case, would be to cure the afflicted of dumbness; but a "spirit," called a "demon" would no more be an entity leaving the cured person than fever would be a "spirit" or "demon" as an entity leaving a person of whom we may say, "Her fever left her." So when it is said, "He has lost his speech," "he lost his hearing;" or "his speech returned," "his hearing came back to him." A comparison of the facts in the case will show that it is only a difference in phraseology in different times, in different countries to describe the same facts.
The relation of the two words--diabolos and daimon--may be said to be that of cause and effect. Therefore when the former came into the world, the latter followed; and in the same order they will go out of the world. The Apostle Paul says, "Sin entered into the world," and when "the sin of the world is taken away," sin will have gone out of the world. When sin entered, diabolos entered, and thereby man's nature became afflicted with diseases, or we may say, became demonized. When the diabolos is destroyed, the demonized condition of the fallen race will cease. No one supposes that when Paul says, "sin entered into the world" he meant that sin was a "spirit" or an entity coming from one world to another. So when the "Lamb of God" shall have "taken away the sin of the world," no one supposes that sin is an entity taken from one world to another. If sin could be said to have entered the world, and yet the statement not mean that an entity entered, then if we call sin diabolos, we can say diabolos entered; and when sin is destroyed and is no more in the world, diabolos will have been destroyed and will be no more in the world. Since the disease of the human family--mortality--is the result of sin, disease may be said also to have entered into the world, and, using the heathen word, we may say that thereby the race became demonized, or became possessed of a demon in the form of mortality. Now the work of the Redeemer is to cast out this demon; and in the casting out of the demon there will no more be a personality or a million personalities than in the coming in.
Now transfer this from the race and the universal affliction of man with the demon of mortality to an individual afflicted with one of the many diseases resulting from a mortal state, and we can say of a certain disease that it entered man and that, when the man is cured, it left the man; or, to change it into Eastern phraseology of New Testament times, we would say a demon entered a man, and, when he is cured, a demon was cast out.
If a superstitious person were to say of a certain woman, "She is possessed of seven demons," that person would have in mind that seven immaterial entities had entered the woman and that they were afflicting her with seven diseases. A more enlightened person might not deem it needful, and indeed might know it would be impossible for the time being, to correct the superstitious idea, and might use the same language, the "seven demons" meaning to him seven diseases. So even now in this western world and in this boasted age of enlightenment some who still hold to the fag ends of heathenism, despite their education and their advantage in the advancement of science, say of a person when he dies, "His soul left him," meaning that an immaterial, conscious entity had left him; but the language to one enlightened in the Bible and in true science would mean that the man's life had gone out or had been extinguished.
The greatest difficulty in understanding some of the New Testament accounts of casting out demons is in the fact that the language sometimes seems to make them appear to speak independently of the person whom they are supposed to possess. Allowing that this difficulty forces the conclusion that the demons were entities and that they actually did speak, the question will arise, Why is the same phenomenon not to be found in similar afflictions today? We may visit an insane asylum and hear much strange talk and see many distressing actions, but all would clearly be the talk and actions of the poor unfortunates who would be distressingly visible and not a word would come from invisible entities, demons or "spirits." Have facts changed? Have the "spirits" who talked in times of yore become dumb, or gone off on a journey, while the same diseases still remain to afflict mankind? No one is foolish enough to answer yes. The facts are the same now as then; and therefore the difficulty is in the phraseology only, and it may be removed by a careful consideration of facts, with the mind freed from superstition.
Now let us examine a
case where the demons appear to speak. Matt. 8: 28-34 will illustrate all other
passages of similar phraseology. Even in this, however, some allowance must be
made for coloring on the part of the translators--not necessarily intentional;
but because of their holding to heathen demonology. In this passage we have a
description of two insane men. They are said to be possessed of demons. Verse
31 says, "So the devils (demons) besought him" etc. If there were no
demons there as separate entities or "spirits" how could they talk?
Here is the difficulty. But we must not forget that we are in the presence of
two insane men, and therefore we may not hope to listen to rational
speech; but we may expect to hear them speak in accordance with the deluded
state of their minds. Even in our day some men profess to be
incarnations of women. What is this, but a delusion (or a fraud) that
the disembodied entities of the dead women have entered into these men? One
professes to be an incarnation of Christ; another of Elijah, etc. Now it would
not be strange if these women-incarnated men should personate the women and use
the feminine gender in speaking of themselves; nor if
the pretended Christ-incarnate man should try to personate and speak as if he
were Christ. It would be consistent with the delusion, but not with reason and
facts, and that is all that can be expected in such cases. We have heard of an
insane man who supposed himself to be Queen
Before dismissing this
part of our subject it may be well to give a short history of demonology, as a
means of showing that the popular theory of our times is identical with that of
heathenism so far as the existence of departed disembodied spirits is
concerned, the very theory to which demonology owes its origin. The absurdities
associated with the theory by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and by the Jews after
they became idolators, are now ridiculed by people of education, and yet many
of them still cling to that which was responsible for those absurdities. The
foolish tales told about demons and the attributing of jugglery by the ignorant
to their supposed occult powers are no more absurd
than is the theory of departed disembodied spirits itself. Perhaps the reading
of the short history we are about to give will make this manifest; and the
truth of the prediction of the Apostle Paul will be found exemplified in
quarters that will be a surprise to many. He declared, "Now the Spirit
speaketh expressly, that in the latter (later) times some shall depart from the
faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils (demons);
speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot
iron" (I. Tim. 4: 1, 2). The "doctrine of demons" is the
doctrine of disembodied spirits, with all its attendant lies and frauds about
purgatory, ghosts, apparitions, table rapping, etc. It is all the outgrowth of
the immortality of the soul, which originated in the words of the
serpent--"Ye shall not surely die; but ye shall be as gods." This
doctrine, Gibbon says, the Jews did not believe till
they went to
The following concise history we quote from the book previously referred to, entitled "The Devil, an Expose":
HISTORY OF DEMONOLOGY
In what sense then, was the word Daimon used by the Greek writers? A most extended inquiry by Mr. Farmer has established that the Greek writers used this word to express HUMAN "SPIRITS" of departed people. Many such "spirits" of departed human beings the ancients deified and worshipped: and hence the word daimon meant to the Greek and those who used their language, human departed "spirits," raised to the rank of gods and deities. "Homer calleth all his gods, daimones, and Hesiod, the worthies of the golden age."--Leigh's Critica Sacra, Article Daimon. Hesiod maintains, indeed, that whenever a good man dies he becomes a demon: and Plato praises him for the sentiment.
The heathen had two
classes of gods: the world, together with all its constituent parts and
principles, and the demons. "They conceived the world to be pervaded and
animated by a vital and intelligent substance they regarded as a divinity which
contained, framed, and governed all things." Farmer on
A further consideration
affording very strong evidence that these "demons" meant the
"spirits of departed men" is that the parentage and,
consequently, the human origin of almost all the heathen deities were
known and recorded. Philo Biblyus, the translator of Sanchoniathon's History of
the Gods, expressly asserts, "That the Phoenicians and Egyptians, from
whom other people derived this custom, reckoned those amongst the great gods
who had been benefactors to the human race: and that, to them, they erected
pillars and statues, and dedicated sacred festivals."--Apud Euseb. Praep. Evangelica, lib. I, c. ix, p. 32. Diodorus Siculus states, "That there
were two classes of gods, the one eternal and immortal, the other such as were
born on the earth and arrived at the titles and honours of divinity on account
of the blessings they bestowed on mankind."--Lib. i and v. This writer
describes Saturn, Jupiter, Apollo, and others (the primary gods of paganism) as
illustrious men. Plato remarks, "All those who die valiantly in war
are of Hesiod's golden generation, and become demons; and we ought
forever to worship and adore their sepulchres, as the sepulchres of
demons."--Plato de Republica, c. v. 468, tom. ii,
editio Serrani. This transference of warlike heroes into gods, and the worship
of them, many regard as belonging peculiarly and solely to paganism: but have
we not the same things in our day? Do we not see statues erected in our streets
to those chargeable with legal murder which are raised for the mental worship
of our children?--the
To return from this
digression on modern hero worship, it is apparent that among the Greeks the
term daimon expressed a "departed human ‘spirit,’"
DEIFIED. The Greeks held further that these daimones, or "departed
human ‘spirits,’" had the power of TAKING POSSESSION of other
HUMAN BEINGS, and that they could be expelled from these beings so
possessed. Hence Lucian, writing respecting an exorcist, one who so
dispossessed the possessed, remarks: ekselaunei ton daimona = he expelled
the demon (Lucian's Philospeudes, p. 338, vol. ii.,
edit. Amstelodami). Lucian affords, in a dialogue in
the works from which the above is a quotation, the view entertained in his day
regarding demons. Four parties are introduced in the dialogue; three, Ion,
Eucrates, and Diognotus, being believers in demons, and the fourth, Tychiades,
who is not a believer therein. Ion, after he had given an account of the person
who cast out demons, adds that he himself had seen one (that is, a demon) so
ejected. "Many others as well as you," said Eucrates,
"have met with demons (daimosin). I have a thousand times seen such
things." In proof of this assertion, he assures the company that he and
his family had often seen the statue of Pelchus descending from his pedestal,
and walking round the house--pp. 338-339. In the sequel of the dialogue,
Eucrates, who had been defending the doctrine of apparitions, says, "We
have been endeavoring to persuade Tychiades (who sustains the character of an
unbeliever in these points) that there are demons (diamonas tinas einai)
and that the phantasms and souls of the dead wander upon the earth, and appear
to whom they please," p. 346. To confirm this sentiment, Diognotus, the
Pythagorean, bids Tychiades go to
The Latins also
entertained the idea that "departed human ‘spirits’" sometimes
possessed the living. Those so possessed among them were so called the Cerriti
and Larvati: the Cerriti from the goddess Ceres, who was supposed to possess
them; the Larvati from the laros, gods, who were supposed to be the possessing.
The correspondence between the possessing beings, the lares,
and the daimones,
Opinions similar to those held by the Greeks and the Latins, were entertained by the Jews. Josephus, the celebrated Jewish historian, asserts that those called daimonia are the "spirits" of wicked men who enter the living, and kill those who receive no help (De Bell. Jud., lib. vii, 2, 6, 3). Very early in the history of the Jews they had become acquainted with the gods of the heathen, and showed a lamentable proneness to adopt the principles and the practices of their superstitious and idolatrous neighbours. The philosophy of the East was greatly studied and admired by the Jews, and they came to regard persons possessed as possessed by the same "spirits" as those which their neighbours regarded as possessing. So strongly was this opinion rooted in their minds and so generally diffused among the people, that when the Saviour cast out daimonia, the Pharisees observed, "He casteth out daimonia by Beelzebub, the Prince of Daimonia" (Matt. 9: 34), a statement at which no astonishment was expressed; which, had not the knowledge of the doctrine of possession by "departed human spirits" been general among the Jews, would have excited astonishment.
Who, then, was this
Beelzebub, the prince, not of devils, as the Common Version renders the word,
but of demons? We read in the Old Testament that one of the kings of
It will be seen from the foregoing that Beelzebub, or Beelzebul, was the heathen fictitious god of the fly. Of course it was not a god at all--had existence only in the demonized minds of pagans. This which is now admitted is quite helpful to us in understanding the Saviour's use of words without being responsible for the errors associated with them. Even modern believers in demonology will not claim that He committed himself to the heathen theory by not protesting against the use of the word Beelzebub, or even by using it himself, when He said, "And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out?" In this passage we have the words "Beelzebub" and "cast out demons." It would be quite as unreasonable to claim that the Saviour believed in the heathen god of the fly because He used the word Beelzebub as it is to claim that He believed in the heathen theory of "casting out demons" because He used their words.
That there are difficulties it cannot be denied; but the difficulties arise from perversion of language by heathen dogmas, thousands of words having been invented to suit thousands of heathen fictions; and so Jesus and His apostles in their times, and we in our times, are forced by stubborn circumstances to use an impure language, saturated with heathenism. All we can do is, keep the mind in a higher atmosphere than the tongue or pen, and, "as through a glass darkly," see truth in words which originated in lies. If any object to this, let them ask what they mean when they name the days of the week. When the glorious time comes to put an end to the "strange language" of an idolatrous world, He who in the days of His humiliation was compelled, in measure, to take the language as it was, will "turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent" (Zeph. 3: 9).
Satan is a Hebrew word (Sathan), and it did not originate as a name for a heathen fiction. It had a legitimate birth; but it has not escaped improper use at the hands of a perverted theology; for it has been tagged on to the fictitious devil of popular dogma. In the use of this word it is a question of the mind as to whether it is employed truthfully or falsely. The word on the tongue of one whose mind is imbued with the personal immortal devil theory is a misuse; but uttered by one who understands its original and true meaning to be the one who opposes, whether righteously or unrighteously, it is properly used.
The word Satan occurs in the Authorized Version fifty-three times, seventeen times in the New Testament and thirty-six in the Old. For the Hebrew word sathan the translators have not always given us "satan." Instead of thus anglicizing the word in every case they have, and more frequently, translated it; and herein they have, perforce, given us the true meaning of the word. They saw that its use in many passages could not be made to mean the Satan they had in their theologically perverted minds, and so they were compelled to properly translate it adversary.
The word has not in itself a bad meaning; it may stand for a good intention and act as well as for bad ones; but always meaning that which opposes, and the meaning in any case can be ascertained by the context. It stands for an angel, whose opposition was for good, and of the Lord, in Numb. 22: 22, 32 where the messenger said to Balaam, "Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? Behold, I went out to withstand (or to be an adversary unto) thee," (see margin). Persons, good or bad, may be satans, and so may principles, or dispositions, or circumstances--any thing that stands in the way or opposes. The use of the word, however, is more frequent in relation to evil or unrighteous opponents or adversaries.
An examination of one
or two instances where the word has been properly translated will serve to
illustrate all others. For instance, the princes of the Philistines were afraid
that David would turn out to be a satan to them; and
therefore they said, "Make this fellow return * * * lest in the battle he
be an adversary (sathan) to us" (
The facts in these cases interpret the word, and there is not the slightest hint that it means the devil of popular belief. A case in the New Testament will help further to put the matter in the true light. When the Apostle Peter, with good intentions, said of the Saviour's predicted death, "Be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee" (Matt. 16: 22), the Lord answered, "Get thee behind me satan; thou art an offense unto me; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." It was not a separate supernatural satan that inspired the words of Peter. No such satan is needed here in order to understand the words. It was Peter's love for his Master and, no doubt, his thought of fighting for his protection that prompted the words. Nevertheless the apostle was opposing the right and was therefore an adversary. With these clear testimonies in mind as illustrative of the meaning of "satan" it is not difficult to understand any passage where the word is employed. It may stand for a state of mind adverse to one's intentions and efforts; for a state of the body, adverse to health; for a state of society or politics adverse to the performance of duty or the belief of truth; and in no case is it necessary with "satan" any more than with "diabolos" to imagine the existence of the devil or satan of popular delusion.
In the days of Job angels were "ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who were heirs of salvation," and their visits were sometimes personal, as in the case of Abraham. The conversation between the Lord and satan was very likely between an angel of the Lord and an adversary who thought that Job served God for temporal and selfish ends.
The passage reads as follow:
"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the Lord and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord."--(Job 1: 6, 7, 8, 9, 12.)
A very good description
of this satan and Job's trial at his instigation, is
given in a book entitled, "Diabolism" by Edward Turney, of
If the reader had not
harbored an idea of a supernatural, black, malicious devil, taught him from
childhood, I venture to assert that out of these verses it would be impossible
for him to invent such a being. There is no more ground for concluding that
this Satan is such a monster, than there is for believing that "the Sons
of God" were such in a literal sense. These appear to be Job's family; we
might say a company of true believers, while the adversary, or Satan, was a
person of nomadic habits, and evidently a hypocrite, envious, etc. It does not
at all appear that he was more than an ordinary man; that is, a human being;
and it would be a perversion of reason to assume that he was a fallen angel, a
supernatural, powerful, malignant being. It does not even appear that Satan
possessed any extraordinary power whatever, but was merely permitted to be the
instigator of Jehovah to put His servant Job to the full proof. "Thou movedst me against him" (Job 2: 3).
The evil which befell Job was not from Satan, but from God. "What! shall we receive good from the hand of the Lord, and shall
we not receive evil?" (chap. 2: 10). This is abundantly manifested from
the following statements in the nineteenth chapter. In reply to the speech of
Bildad the Shuhite, Job says, "Know now that God hath overthrown me,
and hath compassed me with His net. He hath fenced up my way. He hath
stripped me of my glory. He hath destroyed me on every side. He hath
also kindled His wrath against me. His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my
tabernacle. He hath put my brethren far from me. Have pity upon me, have
pity upon me, O ye, my friends: for the hand of God hath touched me."--(Verses 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 21). This is always the
case; evil does not come from the devil, but from God. Of good and evil God is
the author; man is the author of sin. Evil is the punishment of God upon man
the sinner. "I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create
evil. I the Lord do all these things"--(Isaiah 45: 7). "Shall there
be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?" (Amos 3: 6).
"Therefore, thus saith the Lord, Behold, against this family do I devise
an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks" (Mic. 2: 3), and so
forth. The testimony before us conveys not the least suspicion that Job's Satan
was superior or inferior to man; my own conviction is that he was a
fellow-worshipper, like Peter and Judas, who was full of envy at the favour and
prosperity of Job, and insinuated to the Elohim that what Job did was from
selfish motives. "Doth Job serve God for nought? But put forth thine hand
and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face."
Whereupon, the faith of the patriarch was put to the test, and what a noble
example of patience and confidence in God he furnished for all after time, and
how wonderful was it made manifest that "the Lord is very pitiful and of
tender mercy toward all them that trust Him." With the supposition that
the book of Job is a drama, I have no sympathy. Parable is indeed common, both
in the Old and New Testament; but the connection in which the man Job is
mentioned, seems to me to show conclusively that the book is a narrative of
facts. In his denunciation upon
In Zec. 3: 1, we read
of Joshua the high priest standing before the Lord, and satan
standing at his right hand to resist him. "And the Lord said unto satan, the Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that
II. Sam. 24: 1 we read that satan (see margin) moved David to number
In Luke 13: 11 we read of a woman who had a "spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could not lift herself up." To her Jesus said, "Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity." This kind act displeased the ruler of the synagogue, and to him Jesus said, Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, to be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?" There are many such afflictions as this poor woman had suffered from. What are the causes? Do even the devotees of his supposed Satanic Majesty believe that similarly afflicted women are "bound" by their supernatural satan? Many old women in obscure parts of the world who still ignorantly believe that the popular satan is the author of such afflictions are looked upon with an eye of pity by modern religious leaders; and they are called "poor superstitious old things." Yet, the old women may consistently ask, What is your supernatural satan for if he is not doing these deeds? The woman was cured of an "infirmity" of the body, a state of body which was an adversary to a normal state and that "bound" her so she could not perform the acts which life's duties require. Her satan was purely of the flesh, and it would be superstitious now as then to attribute it to a supernatural being.
We will examine one more passage, and then, we think, we shall have a sufficient variety of instances to illustrate any aspect of the question which may present itself, in all of which it will not be difficult to find that satan and satans belong to the natural world, and it is folly to explore unknown regions in a "world of spirits" in search of a personal supernatural monster.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SUBJECT
Salvation is predicated
upon a belief of and obedience to the one gospel. The gospel consists of
"the things concerning the
Now, according to this passage and the Scriptures generally, we must believe:
1. That Christ's work was and is to "destroy the devil."
2. That He was made of the same flesh and blood as are the children of the fallen race of Adam.
3. That this was a necessity in order that He might "condemn sin in the flesh" and by His death "destroy him that hath the power of death, that is the devil."
4. That the devil is destructible and will when the plan of salvation is completed be entirely destroyed.
To believe in traditions which make the word of God of none effect is almost equal to denial of God's word; and the applicability of this fact to the doctrine of the devil is seen when we consider that the popular devil is believed to be immortal and indestructible, while the destruction of the Bible devil is the great object of the plan of salvation. Hence no one can understand the plan of salvation who holds a false view of the devil; and since the plan of salvation is the gospel and salvation in any case depends upon a belief of and obedience to the gospel, the subject of the devil is one of vital importance.
Now in conclusion, the
devil primarily is "sin in the flesh," by which is meant all the
mental, moral and physical consequences, direct and remote, of the federal sin
of the race in
1. That inborn bent of the mind in the direction of wrong, which has to be overcome by a will-power begotten by a realization of right and duty as divinely revealed.
2. It is something manifested in persons who try to entice and allure others to think falsely and to do that which is wrong.
3. It is manifested in political form in the principalities and powers of the world, in a usurpation of power on the part of the great, unrighteously wielded over the weak and downcast, and in the flattery, and pomp of flesh, wherein the true God is ignored and dishonored.
4. It is, in its physical effects, to be seen in the many diseases which afflict mankind, and which believers in the "doctrine of demons" attribute to possession of disembodied spirits.
The devil in all these
forms will be destroyed when sin and death shall come to an end. Then there
will be no lust (inordinate desire) in the nature of the survivors of the
fallen race and they will be free from temptation from without and within.
There will be no person disposed to tempt another to think or do that which is
contrary to the Divine will, which is always the standard of right. There will
be no more kingdoms of men to flatter and gratify lust, and the