Satan Dispelled

In order to bring home to us just how much ignorant superstition has grown around the words "satan" and "devil," (the word "devil" being commonly used as a translation of the Greek word "diabolos"), let us suppose that two men visiting a Zoological Garden came upon a huge serpent in captivity, and one exclaimed, "Look at the huge dragon!"

"Dragon!" the other would say scornfully, "That's a serpent."

Yet the first man was not exactly wrong, but he was not speaking the language intelligible to an Englishman. In the same way, if he was passing an old enemy in the street and remarked to his companion, "See that man passing us? He is a devil!" His companion would not understand him merely to be intimating that the man in question had defamed him and made accusations against him falsely.

One can see then how our English thinking minds are led along strange paths ending in confusion, by our use of words which, to us, are foreign and surrounded by mystery. Such words are "satan," "devil," "dragon," which ought to appear in our English texts of the Scriptures as, respectively, "adversary," "accuser" or calumniator,' and "serpent."

If there is an English equivalent to the Hebrew word "satan" and an English equivalent tot he Greek word "diabolos," why not use them, instead of confusing our minds by the use of words which are foreign to us, and which on that account, have been handed down to us through the centuries draped in tangles of incomprehensible lore and fable and allegory?

It would appear that with regard to the "satan" of popular theology, i.e. the mythical, supernatural evil genius, the majority of Christians have no clearly defined ideas on the subject, and do not consider it a matter of importance to have such. A small minority, however, make an important issue of the matter, and this small minority appear to be divided mainly into two camps: (1) Those who believe the word "satan" to refer to a supernatural evil genius who has made a specialty of leading human beings astray, and (2) Those who believe the word "satan" to refer to any adversary, either human or heaven-sent, (as, for example, the heavenly messenger sent to block Balaam's path - Num 22:22), and "diabolos," to refer to any accuser, calumniator or slanderer without qualifications, and regardless of sex.

This wide difference of opinion between these two companies of Christians, constitutes a barrier which prevents them from seeing eye to eye or understanding each others language, just as effectively as did the "babel of tongues" at the building of the notorious tower. This is greatly to be deplored, as, in very many cases that is the only insurmountable obstacle to that very desirable unity which our Lord Jesus desired for His followers. In order to define these two opposite opinions for the purpose of our search for the Truth, we can describe them briefly as: (1) Those who believe that the source of evil, wickedness and iniquity in every form is outside of man, and is centered in a supernatural being who is antagonistic to God and His Will. (2) Those who believe that the source of evil and iniquity is the carnal nature of man, as opposed to the Spirit of God.

We take it for granted that both these classes are in agreement concerning the testimony of the Holy Scriptures, and that neither would embrace a man-made doctrine if they positively knew it to be opposed to the teachings of the Word of God. With Paul, they would emphatically declare, "Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar." Are we then agreed concerning the truth, and willing to submit that our Lord does not speak wrongly whoever else may do? If so, we are ready to consider His statement upon where iniquity originates.

Let us consider our Lord and Saviour's idea of the source of all iniquity.

He said, "Those things come forth from the heart and they defile the man." (Matt. 15:18-19; Mark 7:2). "...For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness ("diabolos", the false accuser), covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy (defamation), pride, foolishness. All these things come FROM WITHIN and defile a man." Surely this does not leave much to be done by a supernatural being! If other witnesses were required to confirm this truth, we find ample corroboration in the writings of Paul to the Romans, and in the epistles of James.

Paul wrote (Rom. 1:28-29) concerning degenerate men, that GOD GAVE THEM OVER TO A REPROBATE MIND (God, not "satan"), to do those things which are not convenient (i.e. not seemly), being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, hater of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.

To the Galatians Paul wrote (Gal. 5:19-21), "Now the WORKS OF THE FLESH are manifest, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations (i.e. covetousness), wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like..." And we have the Apostle James' testimony (James 1:14), "...Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust (desire) and enticed." (Variorum bible: under various renderings, gives: "...when he is tempted by his own lust (desire) being drawn away by it and enticed."

Here, on the evidence of three witnesses, and one of them the Lord from Heaven, even the very Truth, we have the unchallengeable statement that the source of wickedness and all iniquity is WITHIN MAN HIMSELF, in his innermost being; Jesus names it, "the heart of man"; Paul calls it "a reprobate mind", and "the flesh", while James states that it springs from the fleshly desires, and, in condemning strife and envy, he says they are "earthly, sensual," that is to say, NATURAL or ADAMIC and SOMATIC. (James 3:15). In chapter 4:1 he writes, "From whence comes wars and fighting among you? Come they not hence, even of YOUR LUSTS (desires) that war in your members?"

"But now," writes Paul to the Colossians, (Col. 3:8-9) "ye also PUT OFF all these, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing THAT YOU HAVE PUT OFF THE OLD MAN (i.e. the old degenerate flesh) with his deeds."

All these foregoing statements stress the fact, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is man's reprobate heart and mind and his unregenerate flesh, which constitute the prime enemy against God. There is no mention of anything supernatural or third party involved. "We have found the enemy, and he is us."

THE ACCUSER THAT HAD THE POWER OF DEATH.

To deal now with a text which is invariably quoted in support of the "supernatural devil" theory, let us consider Paul's statement to the Hebrews when explaining the reason for Christ's sacrifice of Himself. (Heb. 2:14). "Forasmuch then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He (that is Jesus Christ) also Himself took part of the same; that, through death, He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the accuser."

Whom did Paul mean by "the accuser" who had the power of death? Do you believe that God had given the power of death into the hands of a rebellious spirit being? If so, do you claim that it was to that rebellious spirit being that Jesus referred when He said, "...but rather fear Him which (who) is able to destroy both life and body in Gehenna"? (Matt. 10:28). You will agree that Jesus was referring to the Almighty One, to GOD. How then could it be true that a "fallen spirit" had the power of death? But "the accuser" had the power of death; we say "had" advisedly, because when Jesus died on the cross "the accuser" was DESTROYED. And "the accuser"? Was the written decree which had been contrary to us - the word of God which decreed that we were all under sentence of death in Adam. Jesus Christ, by HIS death, dis-annulled that decree by which we, as heirs of sin in Adam, were doomed to death.

Paul explains it thus to the Colossians: "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened (made alive) forgiving you all trespasses. Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances (the signature of decrees) that was against us, which was contrary to us, nailing it to His cross." (Col. 2: 13-14).

The decree of death passed upon all flesh by reason of inherited sin was annulled by Christ's sacrifice. This decree constituted "the accuser" (Greek: diabolos) which had the power of death and which was destroyed by Christ's sacrifice.

Time and time again, Paul stresses the fact that the great foe of the spirit is the flesh, as, for example Romans (7:14), "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. (16-17) If then I do that which I would not...it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me, (18) for I know that IN ME (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing. (22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man, but I see another law in my members (flesh) warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. ( That is to say, his spiritual-mindedness and his flesh were opposed) (25) so then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but WITH THE FLESH THE LAW OF SIN." Chpt 8:1-13 also stresses this point (8:3). "For what the law could not do in that it was weak THROUGH THE FLESH, God, sending His own Son, in the LIKENESS OF SINFUL FLESH and FOR SIN, condemned sin in the flesh."

(Verses 5-7) "They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh. For to be CARNALLY MINDED is death. Because the CARNAL MIND is enmity against God." That is to say, the carnal mind is the enemy of God - the adversary (satan) against God.

THE TEMPTATIONS IN THE WILDERNESS. JESUS TEMPTED OF THE ACCUSER.

Bearing the truths in mind from the previous messages, we can understand the full meaning of the temptations which Jesus underwent in the wilderness prior to His being openly declared well-pleasing to God.

He shared our human flesh and was subject to hunger and thirst and fatigue and doubts like other men.

After a fast in the wilderness, lasting forty days and forty nights and reducing the vitality and the resistance of His flesh to their lowest ebb, that entirely human part of Him - the flesh- became subject to doubts and questionings which He would not have experienced under normal conditions. It was for that purpose that He had to be led by the Spirit into the wilderness and subjected to dire starvation, otherwise His mind could not have become obsessed by the maddening pangs of hunger, which, for a few brief moments craved food at any price - as did Esau - (this was the first impulse) nor could He have become a prey to doubts and questionings concerning the reality of His exalted vocation - the second temptation - neither could the third temptation, the wealth and comfort of temporal power have attracted His mind even for an instant.

The temptation of the "diabolos," i.e. the accuser (let us refrain from the use of the unscriptual word "devil"), was the doubting cry of the flesh at its weakest point of resistance, when it ALMOST overwhelmed the power of the Spirit in our Lord. First it craved food - bread - urgently, and by any possible means, saying "You, yourself, have the power to make it out of these stones if you will. You turned water into wine for others." But the Spirit in Him, still awake and watchful in spite of the utter exhaustion of the flesh, countered with, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God," and would probably call to His mind the Psalm of David (50:15) which says, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me."

When we properly divide the Word of God, identifying that the accuser is our flesh and realize that our Saviour came in the flesh (and was tempted in all things) it is easy to understand Jesus temptation in the wilderness. To sum it up before we go on, the tempter in the wilderness was Christ's carnal nature, the flesh in opposition to "the Spirit of God". It was a battle between fleshly desires and our desire to do the Will of God. In essence the conversation was internal, as we have our own battles of conscience between following our own fleshly desires or seeking to do the Will of God.

THE SECOND TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS

The Spirit had led Jesus to go into the wilderness to be tempted or tried of the "accuser", or "by the accuser", meaning that His human flesh or mind as opposed to His spirit, was to be put to the test.

Now the narrative goes that the accuser (according to Mark 1:13, "the adversary") took Jesus up into the Holy City and set Him on a pinnacle of the temple and suggested that He should cast Himself down in order to prove whether He really was the promised Messiah, because it was written that God would give His messengers charge over the real Messiah.

How simple and easy to understand is this record of Jesus' trials, if we have not our understanding clouded by pictures of some invisible and sinister superhuman Mephistopheles, popularly called the Devil and Satan, engineering the affair.

The accuser was in Jesus' case, as it ever had been right from the beginning, the human flesh. The human or carnal in man has been a doubter and a prevaricator from the beginning.

At this time, when Jesus' bodily strength was all but gone through long fasting - than which there is no surer method of reducing one's moral fortitude - His sensitive mind became an easy prey to doubts and fears. In His heart the terrifying thought took hold - that kind of sudden horrible fear that comes to us all in moments of extreme physical weakness - what if, after all, His call to Messiahship were but a delusion? How could He be sure it was not so? Had He any proof of it? And so on. Then comes the thought, supposing He were to go into the city and climb up on a pinnacle or a parapet of the temple. . .

Jesus, in His own mind, pictures Himself doing this and putting His Messiahship to the proof because of what had been written by the prophet in Psalms 91:11-12, "He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee; and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone." But the Spirit in Him returned the answer, "It is written again, 'Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.'" thus reasoning with His own flesh out of the Sacred Scriptures. In this connection we see the parallel spoken to the Hebrews by Paul (Heb. 3:8-9), wherein it is made plain that it is the heart of man that is involved, when he said, "Harden not your hearts as in the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted Me (their God) proved Me and saw My works forty years." The hardening of the heart and the putting of God to the proof would have been wherein the sin lay. Remember Jesus' own words again, "For OUT OF THE HEART OF MAN proceed all the evil thoughts and deeds."

THE THIRD TEMPTATION

It is easy to understand, would be again the result of extreme weakness and weariness of the flesh, combined with the premonition that terrible trials and final disaster awaited Him, and that His mission would be bound to end in death. Having moved among men for nearly thirty years and sounded their depths, He would see little reason for hoping to succeed in raising their minds to anything above the level of earth and flesh.. Furthermore, He knew that with the power He had at His command the world and all its wealth lay at His feet. If He would but turn His back upon God and His high calling and devote Himself to the service of the world, the whole earth would be His kingdom. That would provide an escape from trials and sorrows and cold and hunger and weariness, not only for Himself, but also for all those He loved. True! But even in His dire extremity He realized just what that involved. That would amount to the worshipping of a false god. Idolatry! You will remember that Paul in writing to the Colossians (3:5) places, among other named vices, evil desire and covetousness in the category of idolatry. It therefore follows that in Jesus' case a yielding to the enticement of worldly wealth and its physical comforts would amount to idolatry, that it is to say, making a god of the flesh, which, as we learned, is the prime adversary and enemy of God.

The popularly accepted theory that a spirit being, called The Devil and Satan, offered to present Jesus with the kingdoms of the world, is quite unacceptable when we remember that it is clearly stated in the book of the prophet Daniel that "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men and giveth it to whomsoever He will." (Daniel 4:32).

Can it be doubted that Jesus was fully aware of that plain statement in the Scriptures? Why then should he be tempted even for a moment with such a transparent falsehood coming from an adversary?

Let us banish this fictitious "devil" from our minds and credit the human element, - his own weakened flesh - with the power to tempt Jesus. Let us picture him after forty days of hunger and privation; he is weakened and with his mortal fortitude at lowest ebb. Now he recalls the occassion when, after his baptism by John in the Jordan the voice from heaven declares, "Thou art my beloved son; in thee I am well pleased." (Luke 3:22.) Then naturally his mind would revert to the Psalm of David (2:7) where it says: - "The Lord hath said unto me 'Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession'".

Jesus temptation was TO ASK FOR THESE POSSESSIONS THEN AND THERE at the dictation of his human flesh, which naturally recoiled from the prospect of the death he knew awaited him as the "sacrificial Lamb" if he continued to follow his heaven-appointed vocation.

SATAN WAS PETER: DIABOLOS WAS JUDAS.

If our Lord had said that the "diabolos" and the "satan" are supernatural persons, or a supernatural person, we are bound to believe it to be so, but He Himself called Peter "satan", and we know that Peter was human, very very human! "And one of you is a diabolos (an accuser)," Jesus said, referring to Judas, who would accuse Him to the elders of Israel. Moreover, our Lord tells the scribes and Pharisees that they were sired by the "accuser", while agreeing with them that they were Abraham's seed. (John 8:37-44).

Where then does Jesus place the blame for all the evil and wrongdoing in the world? He has told us plainly it comes out of the heart of man, that is to say, man in his natural adamic state. Jesus said to the Pharisees, "Ye are from beneath...ye are of this world. Ye are of your father the accuser. He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, for there was no truth in him." (Compare this statement with that contained in Ezekiel 28:15, concerning the King of Tyrus, and it will be seen that these texts cannot possible both refer to the same person).

"But," you may say, "if the accuser was a murderer from the beginning and there was no truth in him, a liar, and the father of lies, does not that point to a supernatural accuser and adversary?" If our Lord's own words did not rule out such a belief, we would have to admit that it seems so, but when He Himself tells us the source from which murders and lies spring, and states emphatically that it is from the heart of man, there is no excuse for us still to cling to the popular "fallen angel" theory. "for from within, out of the heart of men," says He Who is the Truth, and the Word of God, "Out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, MURDERS, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. ALL THESE THINGS COME FROM WITHIN and defile a man." (Matt 15:19, Mark 7:21)

ON THE WORDS "DIABOLOS" AND "DEVIL"

When Jesus dubbed the scribes and Pharisees "children of the accuser" ("diabolos": English texts "devil" erroneously) it was with regard to their habit of going about looking for, and finding faults in others and accusing their fellow-creatures of sin. In the eighth chapter of the Gospel according to John (8:3), we read first of their bringing the woman caught in the act of adultery, and of their accusation of her before Jesus, endeavouring to tempt the Lord to commit Himself to a statement on the case. You will notice how Jesus left each man's conscience to be his own accuser when He quietly suggested that he who was without sin should be the first to cast a stone. This was followed up with another accusation (verse 13) by the offspring of the "accuser". They say to Jesus, "Thou barest record (i.e. witness) of Thyself. Thy record is not true." THEY ARE ACCUSING HIM NOW OF FALSELY WITNESSING. Jesus in reply, again makes reference to the flesh, the old adversary: "Ye judge after the flesh," He declares. Again they accuse Him (verse 48), this time of being a Samaritan, and of having a demon ("daimon" not "diabolos"), that is to say, of being possessed of an evil spirit. And yet again (verse 52) He is accused of being "possessed," and of speaking falsehoods.

Does not this make it abundantly clear why Jesus said to them, "Ye are of your father THE ACCUSER, and the lusts (desires) of your father ye will do."? They came to Him first with the accusations against the adulteress, and then against Himself. It was their desire that the woman should be sentenced to be stoned to death, and finally they endeavour to stone Him.

(John 8:44). "Ye are of your father the accuser, and the desires of your father ye will do...He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth..."

"How," you may ask, "could this possible be applied to Adam?" We find Adam fully justifying the application of all these terms to him who was the first parent of the nation of Israel. He was a murderer insofar as he, by his wilful and disobedient act, brought death upon the Adamic race. In this respect Adam was "a murderer from the beginning." You will recall also that the chief among Adam's few recorded statements was an accusation, vix.: "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree..." (Gen 3:12). Straightway Adam became "the accuser," and Eve, no less an accuser, blamed the serpent for the lapse. Thus, the father of the Adamic race was indeed "an accuser and a murderer from the beginning," as Jesus said.

THIS WORD "DEVIL".

How do we explain this word "Devil" which keeps recurring and obtruding itself into our theology and our English texts?

An interesting and revealing study is the tracking down of this intriguing word to its beginnings. One fact which is highly significant is, that it seems to have come into existence only when THE NEED OF IT AROSE, that is, about the intertestamentary period, approximately 200 B.C. to 50 A.D. or later, when the Apocryphal books of Enoch, with their elaborate and fantastic accounts of "rebellion in heaven" and the fall of the arch-adversary from his exalted estate, were launched upon an ignorant and credulous world.

We can fix, approximately, the period when the Greek word "diabolos" with the last vowel, the "o", changed to "u", thus "diabolus", was adopted into the language of Rome; not, however, having the Greek significance of accuser, but "devil."

This adopted word, namely, "diabolus" with its signification of "devil", is listed in the Latin Lexicon as belonging to LATER Latin. This can safely be interpreted to mean belonging to the post-classical period, or not earlier than 120 A.D., and within a century or two of the time when the need of such a word arose, viz. the time when the Book (Books) of Enoch presented a grateful world with a readymade but mythical scapegoat for all its sins and shortcomings!

The Apocryphal books bearing the name of Enoch were in five divisions, of which the earliest is spposed to have been written about 200 B.C. and the latest about 50 A.D. or later.

Let's look at the etymology of the word 'devil' and see if this gives us any insights in the origin of the supersticion we apply to this word.

As the Latin word "diabolus" is described in the Latin dictionary as "Ecclesiastical," and belonging to later Latin, we can safely fix the date of its adoption from the Greek New Testament writings as about 120-150 A.D., and if we bear in mind that the books of Enoch which were chiefly responsible for the "devil doctrines" (1 Tim. 4:1) date from about 150 B.C. to 50 A.D. we find the reason for the meaning of the word "diabolus" being given as "devil", instead of "accuser", as it should be.

It is a simple matter to trace the original Greek word "diabolos" in its transition through the Latin and the Italian adaptations, to our English word "devil", and to trace the effect of the "fallen angel" doctrines upon the word in its translation. For example:

Original Greek word Diabolos = accuser

Latin adaptatition: Diabolus

Fallen angel doctrines originate about B.C. 150-50 A.D

Earlier Latin verb Devolo = to fly down.

Italian word Diavolo = "Devil."

Dia - from diabolus, and "volo" from the word devolo - to fly down.

Old English word Deofol, modern "Devil"

From which we can understand why the traditional "Devil" is always depicted in possession of a pari of large black wings!

JOB AND THE ADVERSARY. (pt1)

To those Christians who believe in the existence of a supernatural spirit adversary, probably the most convincing proof to support their theory will be thought to be the first two chapters of the book of Job. It must be admitted that, on the surface, it looks very conclusive. "Satan", an adversary - the adversary, if you prefer it so - presents himself before the Lord and takes the opportunity to defame a pious and just man.

But let us analyze it. We could being by pointing out that "Satan's rebellion" - to quote the commonly accepted tradition concerning his fall from grace - placed him beyond the pale of the heavenly court and God's confidence; yet not only is he taking his place among the sons of the Elohim as if by right, but he is actually invited to pass his opinion upon a just man! And here, let it be noted, he behaves very strangely for a supernatural being who is supposed to be the campion of evil! He complains of Job as an iniquitous man whose integrity is only surface deep. Not only so, but instead of being content with that state of affairs as one would expect him to be, he actually desires to see Job put to the utmost suffering, even to moving God against him (Job) to destroy him without cause! (Job 2:3)

If he can claim Job as being on the side of iniquity, Satan should be exceedingly gratified that such a rich and influential man as Job is on 'his' side, and against the LORD. (That is, if "Satan" is the supernatural renegade which popular tradition claims he is.)

We know the result of the adversary's defamations. On two seperate occasions he presents himself before the Lord and was instrumental in bringing Job into trouble and humiliation, claiming that Job was upright only because he had no incentive nor need to be otherwise. It is important to note that the adversary "moved the Lord to destroy Job without cause," although in the narrative it would seem as if the satan had wielded the power to bring about Job's calamites; such is not definitely affirmed except in the case of Job's bodily affliction, which, however, is deserving of speicial explantion (This will be addressed later.)

Who then is this accuser, this adversary who is so bent on seeing Job brought to disaster? We are told that he came along with the "sons of the Elohim" when they came to present themselves before the Lord, but who are the "sons of Elohim"? Only by searching the Scriptures, and comparing text with text and accepting their true witness, can we discover the truth of this.

(part 2 has yet to be typed in)

Satan Dispelled Part two
Back to Home Page

Email: ehochner@ptw.com