The Diabolos

“In me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing … When I would do good, evil is present with me … The law of sin which is in my members”—Romans 7:18-23closeRomans 7:18-23 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (ESV) closeRomans 7:18-23closeRomans 7:18-23 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (ESV) 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (ESV)

WE BELIEVE that the Bible, which we regard as wholly and infallibly inspired by God, does not teach the existence of a personal, supernatural monster known as the Devil, and further, that the teachings of Scripture on this and related subjects entirely rule out the possibility of such a being. We believe that the true picture of sin and temptation and all their attendant evils is entirely and wholesomely different from the one presented by orthodox Christendom which is all centered around a mythical hoofed and horned monster who has vast and universal power, who dominates by far the greatest part of all human activities, and who plies his evil craft freely throughout all God’s wide dominions. This doctrine can only flourish in the atmosphere of a limited and degraded conception of God. It further requires a degraded conception of the conditions in heaven, and a degraded conception of the divine and sinless immortal nature that is held forward as the reward of the righteous.

***

IT IS undeniably true that some passages of Scripture appear to attribute personality to that which the Bible terms the diabolos, or devil. But a full view of the whole subject must guide us as to what is actual personality and what is personification. The Scriptures personify many things—far more than we realize until we begin to watch for them. Animals, birds, fishes, mountains, the earth, cities, countries, riches, wisdom, righteousness, sin, death, the grave, love, parts of the body, blood—all are personified, sometimes very vividly and at great length. Just as the diabolos, or mind of the flesh, is personified, so is wisdom, or the mind of the Spirit. Several chapters in Proverbs present in extended detail the activities and characteristics of a woman whose name is Wisdom.

***

BUT THE scriptural devil is not just a personification but the centralization under one clear-cut term of many complex ideas, all interrelated. The use of the word “soul” in the Scriptures is a striking parallel. “Soul” means much more than just “life” or any one of the many different words used to translate it. It means life as related to animal, breathing creatures, but it also embraces all the functions and manifestations of that life, and all living creatures themselves. So the devil, or diabolos, is human sin and opposition to God in every manifestation and consequence—personal, political, social and religious. It includes under one brief term all that is human and fleshly, as opposed to that which is divine. UNQUESTIONABLY THERE IS A DEVIL—it is he who tempts us—draws us away from God—causes us to sin—leads us into the way of death. The conception that this is some great supernatural monster who has the whole world in bondage to his will is utterly unreal and unscriptural—a carried-over relic of heathen superstition. As Paul says in speaking about the idols and deities of Greece, to the pagans there were many gods—

“But to us there is but one God, the Father, of Whom are ALL things” (1 Cor. 8:6close1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (ESV) close1 Corinthians 8:6close1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (ESV) yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (ESV) ).

—all-powerful, all-wise, everywhere present. A true conception of the omnipotence and unique position of God as the absolute Lord and Ruler of the universe would of itself rule out this idea of a tremendously powerful and everywhere-present enemy dominating God’s dominions and frustrating His efforts for man’s good—a creature so great as to be able at the same moment to influence the lives of the 300 million people on earth, besides completely controlling the destinies of countless billions more already in hell. This belief presents us with not one supreme, unrivalled God, but two—a god of good and a god of evil, the latter far more successful in the number of followers he controls and leads away into eternal torment in hell-fire (which is a part of the orthodox devil picture). The Scriptures present the conflict of sin as RIGHT WITHIN MAN HIMSELF—this orthodox devil belief takes it right outside of man and makes it a struggle of two great rival supernatural powers in which man is a practically helpless victim.

***

The orthodox devil is a fallen angel. This is the most unscriptural and repulsive aspect of the personal devil theory. The belief that there could possibly be war in heaven among God’s holy angels, and a large number of angels be consequently cast out, is utterly degrading to a true concept of the glory of God and the eternal beauty and perfection of His appointments. This conception destroys all the stability and value of God’s plan of the ages. A poet even of the world has well perceived the implications of this belief and how it jeopardizes all assurance of salvation. The Devil is represented as uttering this exultant challenge to his followers as he fell from heaven— Through the seams of the shaken foundations, Smoke up in great joy, With the smoke of your fierce exaltations Deform and destroy; Smoke up with your lurid revenges And darken the face Of the heavens, and taunt them with changes From glory and grace. We are falling while destiny strangles, Pull down with us all; Let them look to the rest of the angels— WHO’S SAFE FROM A FALL? The angels of God are immortal, for we are told that the redeemed shall be made like them, to die no more. An immortal rebel is an impossibility, because— “The wages of sin is death.” Jesus said in his prayer— “Thy will be done on earth, AS IT IS DONE IN HEAVEN.” He quotes heaven as the ideal state of eternal good and security and harmony. Did he overlook the ever present possibility of further rebellions there?
After all the toil and sorrow and struggle and evil of the present dispensation, is THIS the best we have to look forward to, a perpetuation—on a vastly more terrifying scale—of the old nightmare of viciousness and war? Surely we can see how pitifully limited, human and debased this personal devil idea is, which begins with rebellion in God’s holy dwelling place! HOW LITTLE THE INVENTORS OF THIS IDEA KNEW ABOUT GOD! It is a fantastic relic of paganism and heathen superstition. It is the old story of the gods of Greece and Rome who were always fighting with each other and with men, and tumbling down to the earth. So with the attempts to manufacture a history of the devil from Isaiah 14closeIsaiah 14 The Restoration of Jacob 14:1 For the Lord will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land, and sojourners will join them and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob. And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them in the Lord's land as male and female slaves. They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them. Israel's Remnant Taunts Babylon When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: “How the oppressor has ceased,
the insolent fury ceased!
The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked,
the scepter of rulers,
that struck the peoples in wrath
with unceasing blows,
that ruled the nations in anger
with unrelenting persecution.
The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
they break forth into singing.
The cypresses rejoice at you,
the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
‘Since you were laid low,
no woodcutter comes up against us.’
Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.
10 All of them will answer
and say to you:
‘You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!’
11 Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
and worms are your covers. 12 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
13 You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
16 Those who see you will stare at you
and ponder over you:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms,
17 who made the world like a desert
and overthrew its cities,
who did not let his prisoners go home?’
18 All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;
19 but you are cast out, away from your grave,
like a loathed branch,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
who go down to the stones of the pit,
like a dead body trampled underfoot.
20 You will not be joined with them in burial,
because you have destroyed your land,
you have slain your people. “May the offspring of evildoers
nevermore be named!
21 Prepare slaughter for his sons
because of the guilt of their fathers,
lest they rise and possess the earth,
and fill the face of the world with cities.”
22 “I will rise up against them,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity,” declares the Lord. 23 “And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the Lord of hosts. An Oracle Concerning Assyria 24 The Lord of hosts has sworn:
“As I have planned,
so shall it be,
and as I have purposed,
so shall it stand,
25 that I will break the Assyrian in my land,
and on my mountains trample him underfoot;
and his yoke shall depart from them,
and his burden from their shoulder.” 26 This is the purpose that is purposed
concerning the whole earth,
and this is the hand that is stretched out
over all the nations.
27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed,
and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
and who will turn it back?
An Oracle Concerning Philistia 28 In the year that King Ahaz died came this oracle: 29 Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of you,
that the rod that struck you is broken,
for from the serpent's root will come forth an adder,
and its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent.
30 And the firstborn of the poor will graze,
and the needy lie down in safety;
but I will kill your root with famine,
and your remnant it will slay.
31 Wail, O gate; cry out, O city;
melt in fear, O Philistia, all of you!
For smoke comes out of the north,
and there is no straggler in his ranks. 32 What will one answer the messengers of the nation?
“The Lord has founded Zion,
and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.” (ESV)
closeIsaiah 14closeIsaiah 14 The Restoration of Jacob 14:1 For the Lord will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land, and sojourners will join them and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob. And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them in the Lord's land as male and female slaves. They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them. Israel's Remnant Taunts Babylon When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: “How the oppressor has ceased,
the insolent fury ceased!
The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked,
the scepter of rulers,
that struck the peoples in wrath
with unceasing blows,
that ruled the nations in anger
with unrelenting persecution.
The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
they break forth into singing.
The cypresses rejoice at you,
the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
‘Since you were laid low,
no woodcutter comes up against us.’
Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.
10 All of them will answer
and say to you:
‘You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!’
11 Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
and worms are your covers. 12 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
13 You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
16 Those who see you will stare at you
and ponder over you:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms,
17 who made the world like a desert
and overthrew its cities,
who did not let his prisoners go home?’
18 All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;
19 but you are cast out, away from your grave,
like a loathed branch,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
who go down to the stones of the pit,
like a dead body trampled underfoot.
20 You will not be joined with them in burial,
because you have destroyed your land,
you have slain your people. “May the offspring of evildoers
nevermore be named!
21 Prepare slaughter for his sons
because of the guilt of their fathers,
lest they rise and possess the earth,
and fill the face of the world with cities.”
22 “I will rise up against them,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity,” declares the Lord. 23 “And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the Lord of hosts. An Oracle Concerning Assyria 24 The Lord of hosts has sworn:
“As I have planned,
so shall it be,
and as I have purposed,
so shall it stand,
25 that I will break the Assyrian in my land,
and on my mountains trample him underfoot;
and his yoke shall depart from them,
and his burden from their shoulder.” 26 This is the purpose that is purposed
concerning the whole earth,
and this is the hand that is stretched out
over all the nations.
27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed,
and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
and who will turn it back?
An Oracle Concerning Philistia 28 In the year that King Ahaz died came this oracle: 29 Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of you,
that the rod that struck you is broken,
for from the serpent's root will come forth an adder,
and its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent.
30 And the firstborn of the poor will graze,
and the needy lie down in safety;
but I will kill your root with famine,
and your remnant it will slay.
31 Wail, O gate; cry out, O city;
melt in fear, O Philistia, all of you!
For smoke comes out of the north,
and there is no straggler in his ranks. 32 What will one answer the messengers of the nation?
“The Lord has founded Zion,
and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.” (ESV)
The Restoration of Jacob 14:1 For the Lord will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land, and sojourners will join them and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob. And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them in the Lord's land as male and female slaves. They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them. Israel's Remnant Taunts Babylon When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: “How the oppressor has ceased,
the insolent fury ceased!
The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked,
the scepter of rulers,
that struck the peoples in wrath
with unceasing blows,
that ruled the nations in anger
with unrelenting persecution.
The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
they break forth into singing.
The cypresses rejoice at you,
the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
‘Since you were laid low,
no woodcutter comes up against us.’
Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.
10 All of them will answer
and say to you:
‘You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!’
11 Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
and worms are your covers. 12 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
13 You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
16 Those who see you will stare at you
and ponder over you:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms,
17 who made the world like a desert
and overthrew its cities,
who did not let his prisoners go home?’
18 All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;
19 but you are cast out, away from your grave,
like a loathed branch,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
who go down to the stones of the pit,
like a dead body trampled underfoot.
20 You will not be joined with them in burial,
because you have destroyed your land,
you have slain your people. “May the offspring of evildoers
nevermore be named!
21 Prepare slaughter for his sons
because of the guilt of their fathers,
lest they rise and possess the earth,
and fill the face of the world with cities.”
22 “I will rise up against them,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity,” declares the Lord. 23 “And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the Lord of hosts. An Oracle Concerning Assyria 24 The Lord of hosts has sworn:
“As I have planned,
so shall it be,
and as I have purposed,
so shall it stand,
25 that I will break the Assyrian in my land,
and on my mountains trample him underfoot;
and his yoke shall depart from them,
and his burden from their shoulder.” 26 This is the purpose that is purposed
concerning the whole earth,
and this is the hand that is stretched out
over all the nations.
27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed,
and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
and who will turn it back?
An Oracle Concerning Philistia 28 In the year that King Ahaz died came this oracle: 29 Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of you,
that the rod that struck you is broken,
for from the serpent's root will come forth an adder,
and its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent.
30 And the firstborn of the poor will graze,
and the needy lie down in safety;
but I will kill your root with famine,
and your remnant it will slay.
31 Wail, O gate; cry out, O city;
melt in fear, O Philistia, all of you!
For smoke comes out of the north,
and there is no straggler in his ranks. 32 What will one answer the messengers of the nation?
“The Lord has founded Zion,
and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.” (ESV)
and Ezekiel 28closeEzekiel 28 Prophecy Against the Prince of Tyre 28:1 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord God: “Because your heart is proud,
and you have said, ‘I am a god,
I sit in the seat of the gods,
in the heart of the seas,’
yet you are but a man, and no god,
though you make your heart like the heart of a god—
you are indeed wiser than Daniel;
no secret is hidden from you;
by your wisdom and your understanding
you have made wealth for yourself,
and have gathered gold and silver
into your treasuries;
by your great wisdom in your trade
you have increased your wealth,
and your heart has become proud in your wealth—
therefore thus says the Lord God:
Because you make your heart
like the heart of a god,
therefore, behold, I will bring foreigners upon you,
the most ruthless of the nations;
and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom
and defile your splendor.
They shall thrust you down into the pit,
and you shall die the death of the slain
in the heart of the seas.
Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’
in the presence of those who kill you,
though you are but a man, and no god,
in the hands of those who slay you?
10 You shall die the death of the uncircumcised
by the hand of foreigners;
for I have spoken, declares the Lord God.”
A Lament over the King of Tyre 11 Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me: 12 “Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God: “You were the signet of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone was your covering,
sardius, topaz, and diamond,
beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;
and crafted in gold were your settings
and your engravings.
On the day that you were created
they were prepared.
14 You were an anointed guardian cherub.
I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
15 You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you.
16 In the abundance of your trade
you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
I exposed you before kings,
to feast their eyes on you.
18 By the multitude of your iniquities,
in the unrighteousness of your trade
you profaned your sanctuaries;
so I brought fire out from your midst;
it consumed you,
and I turned you to ashes on the earth
in the sight of all who saw you.
19 All who know you among the peoples
are appalled at you;
you have come to a dreadful end
and shall be no more forever.”
Prophecy Against Sidon 20 The word of the Lord came to me: 21 “Son of man, set your face toward Sidon, and prophesy against her 22 and say, Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Sidon,
and I will manifest my glory in your midst.
And they shall know that I am the Lord
when I execute judgments in her
and manifest my holiness in her;
23 for I will send pestilence into her,
and blood into her streets;
and the slain shall fall in her midst,
by the sword that is against her on every side.
Then they will know that I am the Lord.
24 “And for the house of Israel there shall be no more a brier to prick or a thorn to hurt them among all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord God. Israel Gathered in Security 25 “Thus says the Lord God: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. 26 And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.” (ESV)
closeEzekiel 28closeEzekiel 28 Prophecy Against the Prince of Tyre 28:1 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord God: “Because your heart is proud,
and you have said, ‘I am a god,
I sit in the seat of the gods,
in the heart of the seas,’
yet you are but a man, and no god,
though you make your heart like the heart of a god—
you are indeed wiser than Daniel;
no secret is hidden from you;
by your wisdom and your understanding
you have made wealth for yourself,
and have gathered gold and silver
into your treasuries;
by your great wisdom in your trade
you have increased your wealth,
and your heart has become proud in your wealth—
therefore thus says the Lord God:
Because you make your heart
like the heart of a god,
therefore, behold, I will bring foreigners upon you,
the most ruthless of the nations;
and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom
and defile your splendor.
They shall thrust you down into the pit,
and you shall die the death of the slain
in the heart of the seas.
Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’
in the presence of those who kill you,
though you are but a man, and no god,
in the hands of those who slay you?
10 You shall die the death of the uncircumcised
by the hand of foreigners;
for I have spoken, declares the Lord God.”
A Lament over the King of Tyre 11 Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me: 12 “Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God: “You were the signet of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone was your covering,
sardius, topaz, and diamond,
beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;
and crafted in gold were your settings
and your engravings.
On the day that you were created
they were prepared.
14 You were an anointed guardian cherub.
I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
15 You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you.
16 In the abundance of your trade
you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
I exposed you before kings,
to feast their eyes on you.
18 By the multitude of your iniquities,
in the unrighteousness of your trade
you profaned your sanctuaries;
so I brought fire out from your midst;
it consumed you,
and I turned you to ashes on the earth
in the sight of all who saw you.
19 All who know you among the peoples
are appalled at you;
you have come to a dreadful end
and shall be no more forever.”
Prophecy Against Sidon 20 The word of the Lord came to me: 21 “Son of man, set your face toward Sidon, and prophesy against her 22 and say, Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Sidon,
and I will manifest my glory in your midst.
And they shall know that I am the Lord
when I execute judgments in her
and manifest my holiness in her;
23 for I will send pestilence into her,
and blood into her streets;
and the slain shall fall in her midst,
by the sword that is against her on every side.
Then they will know that I am the Lord.
24 “And for the house of Israel there shall be no more a brier to prick or a thorn to hurt them among all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord God. Israel Gathered in Security 25 “Thus says the Lord God: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. 26 And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.” (ESV)
Prophecy Against the Prince of Tyre 28:1 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord God: “Because your heart is proud,
and you have said, ‘I am a god,
I sit in the seat of the gods,
in the heart of the seas,’
yet you are but a man, and no god,
though you make your heart like the heart of a god—
you are indeed wiser than Daniel;
no secret is hidden from you;
by your wisdom and your understanding
you have made wealth for yourself,
and have gathered gold and silver
into your treasuries;
by your great wisdom in your trade
you have increased your wealth,
and your heart has become proud in your wealth—
therefore thus says the Lord God:
Because you make your heart
like the heart of a god,
therefore, behold, I will bring foreigners upon you,
the most ruthless of the nations;
and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom
and defile your splendor.
They shall thrust you down into the pit,
and you shall die the death of the slain
in the heart of the seas.
Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’
in the presence of those who kill you,
though you are but a man, and no god,
in the hands of those who slay you?
10 You shall die the death of the uncircumcised
by the hand of foreigners;
for I have spoken, declares the Lord God.”
A Lament over the King of Tyre 11 Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me: 12 “Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God: “You were the signet of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone was your covering,
sardius, topaz, and diamond,
beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;
and crafted in gold were your settings
and your engravings.
On the day that you were created
they were prepared.
14 You were an anointed guardian cherub.
I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
15 You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you.
16 In the abundance of your trade
you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
I exposed you before kings,
to feast their eyes on you.
18 By the multitude of your iniquities,
in the unrighteousness of your trade
you profaned your sanctuaries;
so I brought fire out from your midst;
it consumed you,
and I turned you to ashes on the earth
in the sight of all who saw you.
19 All who know you among the peoples
are appalled at you;
you have come to a dreadful end
and shall be no more forever.”
Prophecy Against Sidon 20 The word of the Lord came to me: 21 “Son of man, set your face toward Sidon, and prophesy against her 22 and say, Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I am against you, O Sidon,
and I will manifest my glory in your midst.
And they shall know that I am the Lord
when I execute judgments in her
and manifest my holiness in her;
23 for I will send pestilence into her,
and blood into her streets;
and the slain shall fall in her midst,
by the sword that is against her on every side.
Then they will know that I am the Lord.
24 “And for the house of Israel there shall be no more a brier to prick or a thorn to hurt them among all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord God. Israel Gathered in Security 25 “Thus says the Lord God: When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and manifest my holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they shall dwell in their own land that I gave to my servant Jacob. 26 And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.” (ESV)
, clearly said in the context to be judgments respectively on the kings of Babylon and Tyre. One of the strongest arguments against the personal devil is the devoted reliance of its believers on these two chapters as proof. Nothing more clearly shows the groundlessness and purely inferential imaginativeness of the conception. *** THROUGHOUT all God’s dealings with Israel the devil is strangely absent—never a word of warning against this great arch-enemy of mankind, the greatest and most constant danger that man faces—and yet there is plenty said about sin and evil and death. How can this omission be explained? Simply that other and more literal language is used to express the same ideas. The word ‘devil’ in the singular does not occur in the Old Testament. ‘Devils’ occurs four times only, and is translated from words which refer to the idols of the heathen, as Deut 32:17closeDeuteronomy 32:17 17 They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
to gods they had never known,
to new gods that had come recently,
whom your fathers had never dreaded. (ESV)
closeDeuteronomy 32:17closeDeuteronomy 32:17 17 They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
to gods they had never known,
to new gods that had come recently,
whom your fathers had never dreaded. (ESV)
17 They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
to gods they had never known,
to new gods that had come recently,
whom your fathers had never dreaded. (ESV)
— “They sacrifice to devils, to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up.” In the New Testament, the word that is translated devil is “diabolos.” Young’s concordance gives the meaning as “accuser.” It is not a proper name of any particular person, but an ordinary Greek word of common usage and meaning. It occurs 38 times. 35 times it is translated “devil,” twice “false accuser,” once “slanderer.” In the last three cases the translators were forced to use the proper English equivalents for the Greek word, for it is apparent that the context would make any suggestion of a supernatural monster look ridiculous, as 1 Tim. 3:11close1 Timothy 3:11 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (ESV) close1 Timothy 3:11close1 Timothy 3:11 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (ESV) 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (ESV) — “Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers (original: diabolos—devils).” Nine of the occurrences of diabolos are connected with the temptation of Christ. We are not told who or what the diabolos was in this case. To read this account with the orthodox devil in mind makes it inconsistent and unreal. It all appears like a meaningless stage pantomime rather than the deep and vitally serious matter of real inner temptation that it was. Jesus was tempted, we are told, in all points like as we are (Heb 4:15closeHebrews 4:15 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (ESV) closeHebrews 4:15closeHebrews 4:15 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (ESV) 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (ESV) ). We must look within ourselves and our own experiences for an understanding of his temptation. James says (1:14)— “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed.” We are never approached by supernatural monsters with offers that we know to be childish frauds.
Who the individual was who presented the temptation to Christ we are not told. It is not important to the lesson. God does not just cater to our curiosity. He puts in the lessons just what we need to learn. We must find a meaning for diabolos, and an understanding of this temptation that is in harmony with fact and Scripture. Christ’s real struggle, like ours, was a conquering of his own will and subjecting it to the will of God— “Not my will, but Thine be done.” We must understand what the devil is to get to the bottom of what we are fighting, and how we are to fight it. Let us look at the passage referred to in James (1:14)— “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his OWN LUST, and enticed.” What about the “devil,” the tempter? Do the Scriptures give two entirely different explanations of temptation and sin, or is it two ways of expressing the same thing? Lust, says James, is the first cause—the root of sin. The Scriptures say much about lust, attributing all corruption to it: “Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Rom 13:14closeRomans 13:14 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (ESV) closeRomans 13:14closeRomans 13:14 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (ESV) 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (ESV) ). “Crucify the flesh with all its lusts” (Gal 5:24closeGalatians 5:24 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (ESV) closeGalatians 5:24closeGalatians 5:24 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (ESV) 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (ESV) ). “Abstain from fleshly lusts, that war against the soul.” The whole issue is the war between flesh and spirit— “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other” (Gal 5:17closeGalatians 5:17 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (ESV) closeGalatians 5:17closeGalatians 5:17 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (ESV) 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (ESV) ). THE FLESH IS THE GREAT ENEMY. Paul says (Gal. 5:19closeGalatians 5:19 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, (ESV) closeGalatians 5:19closeGalatians 5:19 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, (ESV) 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, (ESV) )— “The works of the flesh are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, idolatry, hatred, wrath, strife, envy, murder, drunkenness.” Where is the devil? He is there, but under a different name. There are not two ex- planations of sin and evil, but one. The works of the flesh are the works of the devil that we are told Christ came in the flesh in order to destroy. The battleground is within ourselves—between flesh and Spirit—let us never be diverted from that. The wiles of the devil within us consist in shifting the blame and attention to some imaginary monster— “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9closeJeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it? (ESV)
closeJeremiah 17:9closeJeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it? (ESV)
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it? (ESV)
). Jesus said (Matt: 15:19)— “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” This is the Scriptural devil—the natural, ordinary thinking of the flesh—but MAN WILL NOT RECEIVE IT. He wants someone else to blame. The popular conception is that men are basically good and the devil is to blame. But Paul says: “In ME, that is, IN MY FLESH, dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18closeRomans 7:18 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (ESV) closeRomans 7:18closeRomans 7:18 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (ESV) 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (ESV) ). He is analyzing his natural state. So John says (1 Jn. 5:19close1 John 5:19 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (ESV) close1 John 5:19close1 John 5:19 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (ESV) 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (ESV) )—
“The WHOLE WORLD lieth in wickedness” This is why a true conception of the devil leads us logically to another fundamental doctrine—separation from the world and all its customs and thinking as embodied particu- larly in popular Christianity, which is made up principally of the flesh-pleasing inventions of men—beautiful customs, beautiful ceremonies, beautiful empty thoughts full of sentiment without any truth or solid godly value in them— “ALL that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. is not of the Father, but of the world ” Jesus said to the Jews— “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye do” (John 8:44closeJohn 8:44 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (ESV) closeJohn 8:44closeJohn 8:44 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (ESV) 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (ESV) ). The lusts of the flesh—the lusts of the devil; The works of the flesh—the works of the devil; The destruction of the flesh—the destruction of the devil; The deceitfulness of the flesh—the wiles of the devil— Can we miss the force of these repeated scriptural parallels? “To be carnally (fleshly) minded is death” (Rom. 8:6closeRomans 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (ESV) closeRomans 8:6closeRomans 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (ESV) For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (ESV) ). “The wisdom of this world is earthly, sensual, devilish.” The word “sensual” here is psuchikos—soulish, translated “natural” in the expression, “There is a natural body.” “Earthly—natural—devilish.” The devil is not unearthly or supernatural—he is the earthly, natural mind of the flesh. Let us not be ignorant of his devices and waste our efforts beating the air for some supernatural phantom to blame our faults on. Consider another passage in James (4:1)— “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence even of your lusts that war in your members?” “Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, “The Spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy” (verse 5). Then compare verse 7— “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you” Every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lusts—war comes from the spirit of lust that dwells in us—resist the devil and he will flee from you. This latter passage is one of the most important statements in all Scripture. *** “Then shall he say to them on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (or messengers)’ ” (Matt 25:41). This takes us forward to the great consummation portrayed in that book of symbol and imagery, the Revelation. The connection of thought will illustrate the scriptural use and meaning of devil (Rev. 20:10closeRevelation 20:10 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (ESV) closeRevelation 20:10closeRevelation 20:10 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (ESV) 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (ESV) )— “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” And verse 14— “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.” So we have the devil, and the beast, and the false prophet, and death, and hell, ALL cast into a lake of fire. Death and hell could not be literally thrown into a lake of fire. Death is an abstract conception—not a material object. Neither are the beast and the false prophet literal creatures. All this is symbolism, as the Revelation plainly tells us, and the devil is part of the symbolism. This devil of the Revelation, which we can see is the same devil as that of Matt 25:41, first appears in chapter 12. This chapter is quoted to support the personal devil theory of an angel cast out of heaven. Consider this chapter: a woman clothed with the sun—the moon under her feet—a great red dragon, called the devil and satan, having seven heads and ten horns casting down a third part of the stars with its tail and waiting to devour the child of the woman—then war in heaven— the dragon cast out—he casts a flood of water out of his mouth to drown the woman—the earth opens up and swallows the flood and the woman is given eagle’s wings to flee from the dragon. And all this, which is specifically said to symbolize political affairs on the earth, is taken as a strictly literal account to teach the personal devil theory! This is one of its greatest strongholds. But far from supporting the personal devil theory—it COMPLETELY DESTROYS IT, for it clearly shows who and what the devil really is. Who is this great red seven-headed, ten- horned dragon, that old serpent called the devil and satan? HERE WE HAVE HIM FACE TO FACE. Let us study him well. Let us get the true picture. We see him in his much advertised fall from heaven. The personal devil believers take us to this chapter—let us stop and look around a little. We find this dragon idea takes various forms through the subsequent chapters of the Revelation, but his color, his ten horns, and his seven heads continue with him. Then in 17:9, we read— “Here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.” “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings.” “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (verse 18). The dragon of the Revelation—this great dreadful devil of orthodoxy—dissolves, upon investigation, into a POLITICAL CARTOON! His heads are mountains, his horns are kings, his woman is a city, and that city is ROME! No wonder Rome has invented a supernatural devil to divert attention from her alliance with the Apocalyptical dragon, and all the churches who have sprung from her—and are now rapidly gravitating back—have perpetuated the deception. Not that the Roman Catholic system comprises this devil in its entirety. But, especially
during the period to which the vision refers, it was the center of the political power of the diabolos or opposition to God. In the Apocalyptic drama, Rome is the great antagonist to the people and truth of God. It is the great enemy, deceiver and accuser. It is the “God of this world;” for long actually, and still claiming to be, the ruler of the kings of the earth—the center and head of the kingdoms of the world—the drunken rider of the scarlet beast—the political apex and supreme enthronement of the mind of the flesh. But—what happens to the personal devil theory when we let the Revelation explain itself?

***

IN ACTS 10:38, Peter says that Jesus went about healing all that were oppressed of the devil. This corresponds with Jesus’ own statement that a woman with a disease was “bound by Satan.” The orthodox explanation of this is in direct conflict with God’s own statement (Deut. 32:39closeDeuteronomy 32:39 39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. (ESV)
closeDeuteronomy 32:39closeDeuteronomy 32:39 39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. (ESV)
39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. (ESV)
)— ” I wound and I heal, neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand.” “I am the Lord and there is none else. I make peace and create evil” (Isa. 45:6-7closeIsaiah 45:6-7 that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things. (ESV)
closeIsaiah 45:6-7closeIsaiah 45:6-7 that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things. (ESV)
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things. (ESV)
). As a separate personal agent, a devil creating disease conflicts with the statements and powers of God. But as sin in the flesh, the devil is the root and cause of all evil— “By man sin entered the world, and DEATH BY SIN.” And not only death, but all the evils that are inseparably associated with it. “Oppressed of the devil” means subject to the physical afflictions and miseries that the reign of sin has brought upon the human race— “The corruption that is in the world through lust.” Parallel passages—the expression of the same thought in different words—form one of the best methods of determining the meaning of questioned phrases. In Eph. 4:27closeEphesians 4:27 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. (ESV) closeEphesians 4:27closeEphesians 4:27 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. (ESV) 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. (ESV) , we find— “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil (diabolos)” The whole picture is one of self-control—a restraining of the natural impulses. Paul says elsewhere (Rom. 13:14closeRomans 13:14 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (ESV) closeRomans 13:14closeRomans 13:14 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (ESV) 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (ESV) )— “Make not provision for the flesh.” Give not place to the devil: make no provisions for the flesh. *** MANY things said about Sin indicate that IT is the great enemy spoken of as the devil. In Rom. 6:19-20closeRomans 6:19-20 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. (ESV) closeRomans 6:19-20closeRomans 6:19-20 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. (ESV) 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. (ESV) Paul counsels against being the “servants of Sin.” Also Rom. 6:12closeRomans 6:12 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (ESV) closeRomans 6:12closeRomans 6:12 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (ESV) 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (ESV) — “Let not Sin reign in your mortal bodies, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” NOTICE THE CONSTANT PERSONIFICATION OF SIN as a master and ruler— “Sin hath reigned unto death …” “Sin shall not have dominion over you …” “His servants ye are whom ye obey, whether sin or righteousness” (Rom. 6:16closeRomans 6:16 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (ESV) closeRomans 6:16closeRomans 6:16 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (ESV) 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (ESV) ). Notice too that it is “Sin” here that fills the exact position of the “Devil” elsewhere. The

Law was given, says Paul— “That Sin might become exceedingly sinful.” Or as in the original— “That Sin might be an exceeding great Sinner.” Compare John 13:27closeJohn 13:27 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” (ESV) closeJohn 13:27closeJohn 13:27 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” (ESV) 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” (ESV) — “Satan entered in to Judas.” With Rom. 7:17closeRomans 7:17 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (ESV) closeRomans 7:17closeRomans 7:17 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (ESV) 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (ESV) — “SIN dwelleth in me.” And Rom. 6:12closeRomans 6:12 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (ESV) closeRomans 6:12closeRomans 6:12 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (ESV) 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (ESV) — “Let not Sin reign in your mortal bodies.” *** NOW WE come to a passage that throws much light on the meaning of devil (Heb. 2:14closeHebrews 2:14 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, (ESV) closeHebrews 2:14closeHebrews 2:14 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, (ESV) 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, (ESV) )— “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise (that is, Jesus) took part of the same that through death he might destroy (or bring to nothing) him that hath the power of death, that is, the DEVIL.” Here are two important points. First, that Jesus had to be of flesh and blood and had to die to destroy the devil; and second, that the devil has the power of death. Supposing the devil to be a supernatural personal being, a fallen angel defying God, this passage presents an inexplicable problem. Why need Jesus be of weak flesh-and-blood to destroy him, and how can a supernatural ENEMY of God have the “power of death”? God Himself alone, as He declares, has the power of life and death. But understanding the scriptural devil as the mind of the flesh—the motions of sin in the human body—that, unless conquered inevitably lead to death—we can see that it was essential for Christ to be of flesh and blood to overcome it and, as a victorious representative of the race, to break its death-hold on the race and open a way to life for all who are in him and covered by him. The above passage in Hebrews is worded this way in Rom. 8:3closeRomans 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, (ESV) closeRomans 8:3closeRomans 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, (ESV) For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, (ESV) — “God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH.” Again see the striking and revealing parallel: “Destroyed the devil”—”condemned sin in the flesh.” His victory over sin, his successful lifelong battle against the flesh, crowned by his obedient death, condemned sin to certain destruction—”destroyed the devil”—for through that victory in God’s plan sin is to be finally abolished from the universe— “He died unto sin ONCE.” He must die, because he was of the nature in which sin dwelt and which was condemned to death because of sin, but because he has waged a perfect fight against that sin that dwelt within him, never yielding to it in the slightest degree, Peter says (Acts 2:24closeActs 2:24 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (ESV) closeActs 2:24closeActs 2:24 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (ESV) 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (ESV) )— “Death could not hold him.” His death in obedience to God was the completion of his victory over sin— “BY DEATH he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.”
His death marked the end of the battle with sin, and he was the victor. THIS picture is beautiful, harmonious and inspiring. The application to us is made by Paul (1 Cor. 15:55close1 Corinthians 15:55 55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” (ESV)
close1 Corinthians 15:55close1 Corinthians 15:55 55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” (ESV)
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” (ESV)
)— ” O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? . . . (Again note personification). “The sting of death is sin … but thanks be to God Who hath given us the victory through Jesus Christ.” And again, (Rom. 6:6closeRomans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (ESV) closeRomans 6:6closeRomans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (ESV) We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (ESV) )— “Our Old Man (more personification) is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we might not serve sin.” Who is this “Old Man?” SIN PERSONIFIED—the devil—the flesh—condemned, destroyed and nailed to the cross. The name “Jesus” means “Savior,” because, said the angel (Matt. 1:21)— “He shall save his people FROM THEIR SINS.” THAT is the enemy—the devil, the adversary—they are to be saved from. *** NOW the second point— “Him that hath the power of death, the devil.” IT IS UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR THIS TO BE TRUE AND THE DEVIL TO BE A PERSON. The power of death is the final power. God would be reduced to nothing if another be- ing opposed to Him had the power of death. God says— “I KILL, I MAKE ALIVE.” “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: He bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up” (1 Sam. 2:6close1 Samuel 2:6 The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up. (ESV)
close1 Samuel 2:6close1 Samuel 2:6 The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up. (ESV)
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up. (ESV)
). Paul says (Rom. 13:1closeRomans 13:1 Submission to the Authorities 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (ESV) closeRomans 13:1closeRomans 13:1 Submission to the Authorities 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (ESV) Submission to the Authorities 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (ESV) )— “There is NO POWER BUT OF GOD.” How then could God’s great enemy possibly have the “power of death”? But when we realize that the Scriptures are speaking of the principle of opposition to God, and not a separate being with actual power in his hands over other beings, all is harmonious. Sin truly HAS the power of death. This WAS destroyed in the death of Christ. What do the Scriptures say about sin having the power of death? Much. Consider Rom 7closeRomans 7 Released from the Law 7:1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. The Law and Sin What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (ESV) closeRomans 7closeRomans 7 Released from the Law 7:1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. The Law and Sin What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (ESV) Released from the Law 7:1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. The Law and Sin What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (ESV) : “For when we were in the flesh (that is, served the flesh) the motions of sin, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” “Sin deceived me and slew me.” (Again, personification). “Sin working death” (verse 13). “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (verse 23).
” O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” This chapter goes to the literal root of the matter. Read it carefully—GET A PICTURE OF THE REAL ENEMY—AND THE DEVIL AS A SUPERNATURAL MONSTER VANISHES FOREVER. Other Scriptures add their testimony to indict the inherent law of sin within our members as the holder of the power of death— “Sin bringeth forth death.” “The sting of death is sin.” “The wages of sin is death” “Sin hath reigned unto death” (Rom. 5:21closeRomans 5:21 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (ESV) closeRomans 5:21closeRomans 5:21 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (ESV) 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (ESV) ). *** JESUS called Peter “SATAN” on one occasion, because, said Jesus, Peter savored of the things that be of MEN (Mark 8:33closeMark 8:33 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (ESV) closeMark 8:33closeMark 8:33 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (ESV) 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (ESV) ). Note the significance of this—satanism, according to Jesus, is unenlightened human reasoning, however well-meant. “Satan” is another common word, meaning “adversary” and very often so translated. Of itself, it does not carry a bad sense, and on one occasion an angel doing God’s will is a satan (Num. 22:22closeNumbers 22:22 Balaam's Donkey and the Angel 22 But God's anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. (ESV) closeNumbers 22:22closeNumbers 22:22 Balaam's Donkey and the Angel 22 But God's anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. (ESV) Balaam's Donkey and the Angel 22 But God's anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. (ESV) —original) and on another, God Himself (compare 2 Sam. 24:1close2 Samuel 24:1 David's Census 24:1 Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” (ESV) close2 Samuel 24:1close2 Samuel 24:1 David's Census 24:1 Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” (ESV) David's Census 24:1 Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” (ESV) with 1 Chr. 21:1close1 Chronicles 21:1 David's Census Brings Pestilence 21:1 Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. (ESV) close1 Chronicles 21:1close1 Chronicles 21:1 David's Census Brings Pestilence 21:1 Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. (ESV) David's Census Brings Pestilence 21:1 Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. (ESV) ). But usually it is used, particularly in the New Testament, as an adversary to God and all that is good, and therefore synonymous with diabolos, the thinking of the flesh. *** WE HAVE seen that eternal life depends on two things—first becoming part of Christ and thus included in his victory, over Sin, the scriptural Devil, and second, completely transferring our allegiance from being servants of Sin or the Devil to being servants of righteousness—that is, setting our course according to the specific commands of the Spirit rather than the natural promptings of the flesh. How this is set in motion is described by Paul (Rom. 6:3closeRomans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (ESV) closeRomans 6:3closeRomans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (ESV) Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (ESV) )— “As many as are baptized into Christ are baptized into his death. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in the newness of life.” The call is, “Believe and be baptized.” Be buried by baptism, symbolically marking a death to the service of the Devil Sin, whose wages is death, and arise to newness of life in Christ, henceforth to bend every effort to render faithful and intelligent obedience to the life-giving instructions of the Spirit. —G. V. Growcott, The Berean Christadelphian, April, 1963