ChristadelphianBooksOnline
Rick O'Connor
The Things Of The Kingdom And The Things Of The Name
The Nature Of Man

THE OLD SERPENT, THE DEVIL AND SATAN

Introduction

There is a need to distinguish between ‘devil’ and ‘satan’. Both terms in the New Testament are used exclusively of men. ‘Devil’ is a New Testament word.

There is a very clear distinction between devil and satan. Devil is not used in Old Testament Hebrew, nor any similar word to it. There is no Old Testament counterpart of the devil - 4000 years of history presents no devil. Devil and satan are therefore quite distinct.

The Bounds of Fundamental Doctrine

Every subject of fundamental doctrinal importance in Scripture is given by God its broad definitions and strict bounds in an array of clear and emphatic generalisations.

To ignore these statements of principle, or to exceed their limits, is a mark of the “carnal mind” that is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. It is a sobering thought that the majority of expositions of the subject of the Devil and Satan extant in the world religious resist the plain sense of Scripture, especially the major, definitive and clearest divine statements on the subject.

These declarations of principle are our protection from error and will be the focal centre and touchstone of the expositions to be featured in this study.

The Seven Declarations of Principle – The Devil and Satan


  1. THE SOLE SOURCE OF TEMPTATION IS THE LUSTS OF MAN - James 1:12-17
  2. ALL LUSTS ARE ORIGINATED BY THE WORLD - 1 John 2:15-17
  3. THE SOLE SOURCE OF SIN IS THE PASSIONS OF MAN’S FLESH - Romans 7:5-25
  4. THE THINKING OF MAN’S FLESH IS THE ENEMY OF GOD - Romans 8:7
  5. THE HEART OF MAN IS THE SOURCE OF ALL WICKEDNESS - Mark 7:18-23
  6. MAN’S HEART IS THE MOST DECEITFUL OF ALL THINGS – Jeremiah 17:5-11
  7. THE DEVIL HAS BEEN CANCELLED OUT THROUGH CHRIST’S DEATH - Hebrews 2:14

As we examine these, their universality and exclusiveness will become clear, as will their prime position as statements of fundamental principle.

They are the first things a reverent student of the Bible seeks in seeking to find God and to understand the Gospel He has graciously given to save us.

To these, throughout the effort, we give paramount weight, and use them to guide and limit our interpretations of all else said on this topic, especially such passages as contain figurative, symbolical, parabolic or ironical language, as many on this subject do.

Christendom has arrived at its extraordinary caricature of Bible doctrine by ignoring the Bible’s statements of principle, by wresting many passages out of their immediate context and the general context of Scripture and failing to distinguish literal from figurative language.

That being the process by which the theologians have reached their erroneous conceptions of the subject, we need to reverse the process to arrive at a clear and Scripturally true comprehension of what God does mean by the titles: “THE DEVIL” and “THE SATAN”, and this we will do, if God permit.

The Human Heart – Our Real Problem

In Jeremiah 17:1, 5, 9, 10 the emphasis is on the heart of man. V5 identifies the problem - it is not anyone other than man.
Jeremiah 17:9 the heart speaks of the innermost things. The heart is more deceitful than anything God knows.
Isaiah 40:4 same word as “deceitful” in Jeremiah - the heart is crooked, bent.
Hosea 6:8 mg (cunning) - same as “deceitful”.
Jeremiah 9:4 “utterly supplant” - one who pulls down and takes the place of another, supplanter. See Genesis 27:36 (related word) A cunning, crooked, supplanter - always supplants God. No work left for the devil of Christendom.
Jeremiah 17:9 - who then can ever get to the bottom of the human heart - there is nothing to match it.
“wicked” - cp. Jeremiah 15:18; 30:12,15. “Incurable” - Micah 1:9 Job 34:6 (“incurably sick”). “Very sick” - 2 Samuel 12:15. “Desperate or desperately sick” - Isaiah 17:11. The human heart is incurable. The only thing that can cure the human heart is to change its nature.
Jeremiah 17:10 - when God sees evil he goes into the heart that produced it - to find its source and get the right culprit. The devil then is human kind. V11 God does not as an unrightful possessor hang on to his ill-gotten gains. The heart will be changed in immortality.

Mark 7:2 - the subject is the source of defilement. V15 nothing external to a man can defile him. Vvl8-23 he chides the disciples for not understanding how true defilement occurs. V21 there is only one place of origin of all sin.

Mark 7 speaks of the evil of the human heart. Matthew 6:13 “the evil” or “the evil one” speaks of the human race.
James 1:12 “temptation” = trial; “tried” = Proven. Vvl3-14 it not God but you (v16 make no mistake I’ve told you the whole story) - it’s not God, but us. V17 excludes all other possibilities of a tempter’s origin. Sin doesn’t come from heaven. God only fathers light. Maybe now he’s Father of lights, but what of the past - v17 answers - there has been no change with the Father.

The Devil

The Devil is a title, which means: “The Transgressor”, which God has chosen to describe the source of all transgression against Him, that is, mankind’s own innate propensity to sin, “the passions of sins”, Romans 7:5. This same title is then used to describe people and human governments, which are dominated by that propensity to sin, John 6:70; 1 Peter 5:8.

God charges all the World with being His enemy, 1 John 2:16. He identifies the “passions”, Romans 7: 5-25, and “lusts”, James 1:13-17, which are in men, as the force that generates all the sins men commit, Mark 7:20-23.

It is this “thinking of the flesh” which He condemns as the source of the World’s enmity to Him, Romans 8:7.

It is these innate propensities to sin which God identifies as “The Devil”, Hebrews 2:14, which it was Christ’s work to destroy. This he did in his own case two thousand years ago, and will do for us who believe in his Truth when, very soon now, he returns from heaven, Hebrews 9:24-28; Matthew 25:31.

“The Devil invented by Catholic and Protestant theology is a perversion of this doctrine, which misuses unrelated Bible passages, regardless of their general or particular context.

To speak of a Devil who is a rebel angel is to deny the supremacy of God and invalidate the Lord’s prayer: “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”, Matthew 6:10.

To speak of a Devil who is immortal is to deny the justice and truthfulness of God, who says; “The wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:4, 20.

To speak of a Devil who is a rebel, sinful angel; who is spirit, and yet can die; is to deny both the worth of our own hope of salvation and the express teaching of Scripture that angels cannot die, Luke 20:36.

What Christadelphians Believe on the Devil

We believe that a correct understanding of the devil as outlined in God’s word is very important, in helping us to understand clearly God’s plan of salvation.

In Hebrews 2:14-15 it shows us the object of Christ’s mission - to destroy the devil which had the power of death. Christ partook of human nature and died in order to do this, and in so doing deliver others from the power of the devil and of death.

When we look at some other scripture we see that Christ came to destroy SIN :-

Hebrews 9:26
“He put away SIN by the sacrifice of himself”.
1 Corinthians 15:3
“Christ died for our SINS.”
1 Peter 2:24
“His own self bare our SINS on the tree.”
1 John 3:5
“He was manifested to take away our SINS.”

We also see that SIN was the original cause of DEATH :-

Romans 6:23
“The wages of SIN is DEATH.”
Romans 5:12
“By one man SIN entered the world and DEATH by SIN”
1 Corinthians 15:56
“The sting of DEATH is SIN.”


From this it is obvious that Christ came to DESTROY SIN and also that the power of DEATH is in SIN. The Devil is therefore a synonym (or a word with the same meaning) for SIN. What then is SIN? From Romans 7 we see that sin and human nature are closely related.

v17
“SIN which dwelleth in me”
v23
“the law of SIN which is in my members”
v18
“I know that in me dwelleth no good thing, I will what is right but how to perform it I find not.”


Paul found himself constantly exposed to a mental conflict, he wanted to do the will of God, but HIS OWN desires were so strong that he found himself succumbing to them.

Vv19-24
He blames him failings on the weakness of human nature.

In Mark 7:15-23 we see that sin is from internal thoughts and not from external influences.

Galatians 5:17-21 describes the works of the flesh, they can be aligned in 1 John 3:8-10 with the works of the Devil.

James 1:14-15 “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of HIS OWN lusts.”

If we look at the word “Devil” itself from the Greek, it is the word “Diabolos” which signifies a false accuser, or a slanderer. In 1 Timothy 3:11 we see it correctly translated as slanderer. 2 Timothy 3:3 translated false accusers and Titus 2:3 also false accusers.

We see from this that the word Devil basically relates to human nature. Human nature can be shown forth in various forms e.g. a government can become a political manifestation of the flesh if it stands in opposition to the ways of God. Look at 1 Peter 5:8. In this verse the Christians were being persecuted by civil authorities who likened to a roaring lion because of their ferociousness (cp. with Paul in 2 Timothy 4:17 he was delivered out of the mouth of the lion when he escaped imprisonment). Christ also referred to civil authorities as the devil in Revelation 2:10.

In 1 John 3:8 we see that right from the beginning of time it has been the lusts of the flesh that have driven men to sin – 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).

So how do we overcome the devil – By following Christ’s example and conquering the flesh of the Glory of God. (Acts 2:38 Baptism, 1 John 1:9 Forgiveness).

The Satan

“The Satan” and “The Devil” are not identical. New Testament use of the word “Satan” is grounded historically in Old Testament precedent, and must be viewed in this light in order to be understood.

“The Satan” is a title: which means “The Opponent”, “The Adversary”; which God has chosen to describe people or bodies of people who, posing as worshippers of God, have abandoned His truth and turned to opposing it and those who espouse it, Matthew 12:26; Revelation 2:9; 20:2. It is particular, in its reference to religious opposition to God, His truth, or His faithful worshippers, not general, like “diabolos”, which by contrast refers broadly to sin and sinners.

In the expositions that will, God willing, comprise the Effort, the distinct themes to be found discriminating these two subjects in Bible teaching will be pointed out, and the great illumination that they cast on the meaning of individual contexts will be given rightful prominence.

Satan is a Hebrew word, meaning an adversary, or opponent.

The New Testament use of SATAN is special in two clear ways:

  1. Transferring into Greek letters, but untranslated, the Hebrew OLD TESTAMENT noun “Satan”, to stand out as an intruder into the Greek context, to direct us to apply its OLD TESTAMENT meaning in every NEW TESTAMENT context where Satan appears.
  2. Quoting directly from Job chapters 1 and 2 and Zechariah chapter 3 (with its background of Ezra chapters 4 to 6) the definite form “THE SATAN”, which is unique to those passages, to compel us to bring them to bear on every NEW TESTAMENT context where also the expression “The SATAN” appears.

Two Key Old Testament Passages

Zechariah 3:1 - Satan, noun; “to resist” - verb; both in same verse (note mg references). Why did they put satan there rather than adversary? (1) A theological reason and (2) because THE SATAN - definite article is used. “The satan” - a particular adversary that the Jews of Zechariah’s time were suffering. The historical background is found in Ezra 4:1-3 adversaries (tzar - another word), v3 they were refused, vv4-5 their response, v6 accusation (sitnah - an abstract noun formed from satan).

Zechariah 3:2 refers very clearly to Ezra 4. The issue was Jerusalem. Jesus takes this use of satan and makes it New Testament use, cp. Matthew 12:22-26. Beelzebub - 2 Kings 1:2. The god of Ekron - Philistine city. Lord of the flies - because they believed flies were good for healing. Jews changed it to Baalzebul - Lord of shame or the dung heap. He firstly proves that it is impossible for Beelzebub to be the source of power if he did make them sick he wouldn’t give another power to heal. V26 the definite article “If the Satan cast out the Satan”. If you wish to know what is meant by “the Satan” you will have to go to a Hebrew scripture to find it out. If I am not the one opposing God, he is the Joshua therefore those opposing him were the Satan of Zechariah 3. Cp. 1 Thessalonians 2:14-18 - he had sought to return but the Jews prevented him (the Satan).

There is an equivalent Greek idea for a religious opponent, cp. 1 Peter 5:8 adversary = ANTIKIEMENOS - one who lies down in front as an adversary. Another occurrence is in Jude v9 (devil = diabolos). Here there is some common ground between Satan and devil. Matthew 5:25 adversary (Antidikos - an opponent at law) - cp. Psalm 109:6,20,29; Zechariah 3:4. A wicked judge and an accuser they will be judged with the same basis used against me.

If there are Greek equivalents why transliterate into New Testament? There is no Greek word that can draw the basis of the Hebrew, in particular the context of Zechariah 3, into the New Testament.

So applied, the expression “The SATAN” always signifies:-

Apostate Religionists, Who Oppose the Truth of God

The Satan is identified in the NEW TESTAMENT with three main bodies of apostates:

  1. The Leaders of the Jews who opposed Christ - Matthew 12:26
  2. False brethren who oppose Christ’s true saints Revelation 2:9
  3. The Apostate Churches of Christendom, which oppose Christ’s true Ecclesia - Revelation 20:2

The second of these, especially, has a solemn warning for us: there have been in the past, brethren of Christ who have fallen so far into apostasy that they have been counted to be “The SATAN”, so can we! This calls for humility, reverence and care in study of the Scriptures, to ensure we do not follow in such footsteps.

Each New Testament instance of THE SATAN draws on the Old Testament precedents in Job 1 and 2 and Zechariah 3 to invest the expression THE SATAN with the meaning:

APOSTATE RELIGIONISTS, WHO OPPOSE THE-TRUTH OF GOD

The historical features of THE SATAN establish this:


FEATURES OF ‘THE SATAN’


JOB
CHAPTERS

ZECHARIAH CHAPTER
3

EZRA
CHAPTERS
4 to 6
FALSE WORSHIPPERS OF GOD
1:6-7
3:1
4:1-2
2 Kings 17:24
OPPONENTS OF GOD’S WORK
1:9-11
2:4-7
3:1
4:4-5
FALSE ACCUSERS OF GOD’S SERVANTS
1:11
3:1,2
4:6-16
VIOLENTLY STOP THE WORK OF THE TRUTH
1:11-22
2:7
3:1
4:17-24
BUT GOD REVIVES HIS WORK AND VINDICATES HIS SAINTS
42:10-16
42:7-9
3:2,7-8
3:4,9
5:1-5
6:1-12; 6:13-15

This historical origin of THE SATAN imported into the NEW TESTAMENT by quotation, designates the NEW TESTAMENT SATAN to be:

DEVOTEES OF FALSE RELIGION, WHO ARE ADVERSARIES OF THE TRUE.

Other Important Old Testament Passages

Numbers 22:22 - adversary = satan This angel is called Satan, but he is doing good for God as an adversary towards an evil man. (See v32 also “withstand”).

1 Kings 5:4 - no satan (adversary) at this time - i.e. no political opponent, plague, famine or sickness.

1 Kings 11:14,23,25 (all references to Satan) – political opponents who arose after Solomon turned to idolatry.

Outside of these normal type Hebrew occurrences there are special references, such as:-

A Brief Consideration of Some Difficult Passages

Isaiah 14:1-4 - the subject outlined, v6 a ruler of the nations, vv10-11 he is brought to the grave, v12 on is therefore quite clear. “A fall from heaven” - cp. ch.34:2-6 judgments on earthly nation called Edom (here the government of Idumea) i.e. a fall from government (cp. 14:5-6); vv13-14 a nation that set itself to rule Israel, vv15-16 a man brought low.

Ezekiel 28:2 “thou art a man not God”, v3 onwards generates great sarcasm, vv11-12 great exaggeration, v13 Tyre as a city was on the west coast of geographical Eden. All of Eden was fruitful, v14 the Cherub was a word used to describe the nation in whom God was manifest. The High Priest’s breastplate is referred to as the “stones of fire”. Tyre was a proselyte nation in the days of Solomon (Hiram). Cherub = a nation with whom God is prepared to dwell. V15 from the time of their embracing the Truth.
“Perfect” does not convey the idea that the English word does upright or unsullied. Both Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 find themselves in the midst of historical chapters.

2 Corinthians 11:12-15 transforming themselves shows they are false - “for the Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” a problem people have is because of the use of angel – a messenger of light - the Pharisees claimed to be proclaiming the truth of God’s word.

Demons Defined

What are they? The churches have developed a doctrine of demons that bears no resemblance either to the original pagan ideas or to the prevailing public view at the time of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“DEMONS” ARE OF GREEK ORIGIN (Liddell & Scott, pp 270-271).

Daimon
=
God, Goddess; specially, the gods as a power, the deity. Whereas theos = a particular god, in person.
Daimon
=
one’s demon or genius, i.e. attendant tutelary spirit allotted to each at birth, hence ‘fortune’.

DAIMON, in Hesiod OP.121 (800 BC) = souls of men of golden age*, acting as tutelary deities; connecting link between gods and man. So also of deified Darius (Aeschulus) (480 BC).

DAIMONION
=
the divine essence or power, the divinity in plural form = inferior race of divine beings, demons.

So Liddell & Scott clearly point out the pagan Greek view as to the origin of demons.


DAIMON is rarely, if ever, used in an evil sense in Classical Greek of early times, but by New Testament times this predominated.

Distinguish from DIABOLOS and DAIMON:-

the noun DAIMONION and the verb DAIMONIZOMAI.

DAIMONION means THE DIVINE ESSENCE or POWER. Like Daimon it is a Pagan Greek mythological idea, merely a product of superstition.

In Greek usage Daimonia were:-


In Greek usage Daimonizomai meant:-


In Classical Greek the bad sense developed gradually.

Immortality of the Soul - It was an idea of Egypt and Babylon that the Greeks adopted. Consider 1 Corinthians 10:14, 19-22, context idolatry. In this passage idol and demon are parallel thoughts. V19 Is an idol real? No - but the Gentiles think that it is a real deity. Not to confuse word with DIABOLOS, not related to DAIMON. Use of DIABOLOS 34x devil, also liar, slander, e.g., see Titus 2:3, false accusers.

V20 of 1 Corinthians 10 is a quote from Deuteronomy 32:17, see vv 15-18. V17 devils Hebrew “shedim” = destroyers and is translated 300 B.C. in the Septuagint as “daimonion”, i.e. demons = false gods as opposed to Deos the true God.

As to what idols are, see Psalm 96:5; 106:37-38 (the demons of Canaan) & Psalm 115:3-8.

Therefore Acts 17:18 Paul charged with teaching about false demons (AV gods) because he teached Jesus (to them a male demon) and Anastasus (resurrection - to them a female demon).

V22 to Paul the Greeks were “very religious” (AV too superstitious) because v23 they believed in idols.

Wherever one goes in the NEW TESTAMENT the prevailing view was the Greek idea - not the Bible idea since nowhere in the OLD TESTAMENT is there any doctrine of demon possession.

Matthew 12:22 - clear evidence of the Greek idea among the Jews – “possessed with a devil” = Gk demonised V24 Beelzebub compare 2 Kings 1:2 - a Philistine view mingled now with Greek superstition. The god of Ekron was an idol associated with flies - the lord of the dung heap. The Pharisees therefore had imposed heathen superstition on their view of the OLD TESTAMENT Casting out sickness to them equalled casting out a demon. In their view Jesus was in cahoots with a heathen deity (v24).

V22 to Jesus it was healing; to them it was casting out demons (who in their mind were the gods of the heathen) Psalm 106:35-37 - idols of the nations are demons. Cp. Also Jeremiah 19:4-5 - Hebrew “bosheth” - shame substituted for pagan view of Molech “king”.

1 Timothy 4:1-3 - the Bible gives a special warning for our days that “doctrines of devils (demons)” constitutes a departure from the faith; i.e. to believe that demons are real is astray from the faith, cp. also Revelation 9:20.

What are the spirits of 1 Timothy 4? Spirits are doctrines or teachings and speak of false prophets as a convertible term, compare 1 John 4:1-2.

Matthew 8:16-17 establishes the modern medical view that “demon possessed” = “sick”.

Matthew 8:28-32 incident on Legion. V29 “to torment us” – classical view as put by Hesiod that while demons were without a body they could be in pain or torment; and so, according to classical theory, they would not want to be disembodied. But look at what happened - if they were really demons they would not cause the swine to be destroyed because according to popular views this would have caused them great pain. So Jesus shows but what happened that demons were not real.

Why the didn’t Jesus just say that to the men? The reason he made them sane first before straightening them out on doctrine. There is no point in reasoning with one who is “not in his right mind.”

Cp. Luke 8:26-31, 35 (abyss = “deep”) AV again elements of classical view in this parallel passage. But we notice Luke says that the man cured was restored to “his right mind”.

In Matthew 17:14-18 we have a boy with severe epilepsy. Jesus rebuked the “demon”. Does this mean that it was a real personal entity? No more the wind that he rebuked, Luke 8:24-25. Why? So that his authority may be known. V15 “Lunatick” = lit. struck by the moon, Gk. seleni metal selenium) for moon. Even in Jesus’ day they used lunacy as we do today as a figure of speech.

Hence, although in the New Testament one finds that Hellenistic views had influenced Judaism, in no way does the Bible support these pagan views, but simply it shows that they had affected the public and religious views.

So far as the Bible is concerned, Demons as idols are non-entities.


11.



Mark 3
AND Unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying Thou art the son of God.

  • Did the spirits fall down? No! the sick person fell down.
  • And believed this was the Son of God and he could be healed Isaiah 61:1; 35:5-6.
15.
Matthew 17
LORD, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed for oftentimes he falleth into the fire and oft into the water.
  • “MOONSTRUCK” still used today but not as a literal meaning, it simply refers “diseases” of the mind and senses.
  • Cp. Mark 9:14-27, Luke 9:37-49 EPILEPSY caused by brain disorder and not a demon or devil as it can be controlled by drugs.
18.
And Jesus rebuked the devil: and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
  • Other versions – rebuked HIM (i.e. the boy) and (he was cured).

Reincarnation: The Bible Denies it!


The Suppositions underlying belief in Reincarnation:

  1. Life is inherent in man and continues independent of the body after death
  2. Man’s personality survives death
  3. Man receives successive opportunities (by successive incarnations) to achieve perfection
  4. Resurrection is not essential as the only means bu which man may survive death
  5. The sacrifice of Christ was not necessary to secure life for man
  6. The sacrifice of Christ was not sufficient to bring man to perfection.

THE BIBLE DENIES EACH OF THESE ERRORS AND WARNS OF THE MORTALITY OF MAN, THE BREVITY OF LIFE AND BOTH THE NEED AND SUFFICENTLY OF CHRIST’S SACRIFICE AND RESURRECTION.



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