The Great Salvation/23
The Devil Is Not a Personal Monster Dwelling in "Hell," and Yet Everywhere Present Tempting All Men, But Is Sin in the Flesh
Now, dear reader, we come to the question of the devil--a question that you may think of trivial importance, but which we must insist is of great importance. It is very important that we believe no doctrine that will dishonor and blaspheme God. If there is such a personal monster as is popularly believed in-one that is immortal and possessed of power to tempt weak humanity in all parts of the world at the same time, and that has the power of an endless life to continue his rebellion against God--the question is, Where did such a being come from? Did God create him? Did God give him immortality--His own nature and the nature we are commanded to seek for by well-doing? Did God give him power to be everywhere present performing his wicked work? Is it God's purpose to allow such a monster of wickedness to live eternally in open rebellion against Him? If so, why so? Can you believe these things without dishonoring God, who is wise, just, all-powerful and good?
If we believe that the devil is immortal and has eternal life, how can we believe that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life" (Rom. 6:23)? If we believe that the devil is to be an eternal enemy of God and man, how can we believe that Christ through death will "destroy him that hath the power of death, that is the devil" (Heb. 2:14)? and that Christ will destroy the last enemy (I Cor. 15:26)? Is not man naturally weak enough in resisting the enticements of the carnal mind? Why should God create, or even allow to exist, a being possessed of such a tempting power over man who is already so weak? Why should there be a "hell" larger and more thickly populated than "heaven," and why should there be a devil more powerful for mischief than God is for good? Is it not blasphemy against God to believe such things?
Now, the word devil, like that of "hell", is quite deceiving in the manner of it’s use in the New Testament, for it is made to represent two different words in the original Scriptures. These Words are, in the Greek, daimon and diabolos. The first is a word which the heathen applied to supposed departed spirits. With them, when a person was afflicted with a disease of any kind, especially disease affecting the mind, it was a disembodied spirit, or, as it would now be called by their disciples, an "immortal soul", had entered the body of the person to punish him. To cure the disease was to cast out the demon, spirit or soul. Thus, if one was affected with seven different diseases and was healed it was the casting out of seven spirits or immortal souls. Religious people who have given heed to doctrines of devils (demons) still hold the heathen dogma of disembodied spirits, but they have abandoned the ancient theory of transmigration. The language of Scriptures is the language of the times in which they were written; but it does not commit our Lord and His apostles to the heathen theory, any more than our use of the word lunatic commits us to the belief that an insane person has been 'moonstruck', or that our use of erysipelas means that we believe in "St. Anthony's fire".
The following from Yate's "History of Egypt, which we quote from Diabolism, will illustrate how the use of words and phrases may mean one thing to a heathen and another thing to one who has escaped the darkness of heathenism:
"It would seem that the same diseases prevailed then in Syria and Egypt as now. and the various practices adopted by the people concerning them have very little changed during a period of nearly two thousand years. Nothing is more common in the present day in the East than to be told that a person has a devil or is possessed of a devil; and the expression is applied more or less to every complaint. I had occasion to notice this immediately on my arrival in the country.
"I have known the Rev. Mr. Wolff ridiculed for stating that one evening when he was passing between Jerusalem and Cairo he east out a devil in the wilderness; but I can only suppose he used the expression in the sense alluded to, and that he merely employed the native idiom. I have often been applied to myself in Syria and other parts to east out a devil; by which I merely understood that I was to cure the bodily ailments of the individuals-not that I was expected to perform a miracle on the occasion, further than that the cure of every disease is ascribed by the natives to talismanic influence.
The work of the Saviour and His apostles in this particular was the miraculous cure of disease, the account being given in the idiom of the times. The heathen and those who believed their doctrines of demons took a heathen view of the matter; just as a religious heathen in our day would look upon a ease of erysipelas as a fire from St. Anthony, while a rational mind would know better.
The word which most concerns us is diabolos; because a failure to understand the meaning of this word will hinder one from comprehending the plan of salvation. Christ came to destroy the diabolos and his works; therefore a wrong view of diabolos interferes with a correct view of the mission of Christ.
The meaning of diabolos as given by Dr. Young is accuser, calumniator. The word is rendered devil in the New Testament thirty times, where it’s use sustains the meaning above given. It does not stand for one supernatural being, as is commonly supposed; for in three instances it is used in the plural. In these cases, however, the translators of the common version, seeing, no doubt, that the word could not mean the supposed supernatural being, have not used the word devil. It would not do to make Paul say. "Even so must their wives be grave, not "supernatural devils". So they gave us a correct translation, which furnishes a key to the true meaning of the word. Hence it is:
I Tim. 3:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers (diaboloi).
II Tim. 3:3 Men shall be * * * without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers (diaboloi).
Tit. 2:3 The aged women, likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers ( diaboloi).
If they had been slanderers or false accusers they would have been devils in the sense that "devil' is used in the New Testament from diabolos.
Literally the word diabolos means that which causes to cross over. Hence that which tempts men to cross the line from right to wrong, or to sin. That which causes man to sin, as well as sin itself in all it’s various phases is personified in the Scriptures in the same way that riches are called the god this world and mammon; and this principle of human nature is what tempts to do wrong. Hence it is the diabolos which causes men to cross over the line. There are what we call riches; there are what we call sins. Take the Scripture personification of these and call the first Mammon and the second Diabolos. Then we can say Mammon tempts us; Mammon is our enemy, Mammon will destroy us. And we can substitute Diabolos and say the same things. No one would be foolish enough to think mammon a supernatural, personal monster because we use the word in this personal sense. Why should not the use of the word diabolos be allowed in the same way? Obedience and sin are personified: "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness" (Rom. 6:16)? Here are two masters represented by the pronoun his; but nobody supposes they are really two persons. Sin is either a wicked thought or act of a person, obedience is a good thought or act of a person. And it probably is because neither can exist without a person that they are personified. It was diabolos that put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ (John 13:2); and thus he became a devil (diabolos)—(John 6:70)
Now Christ came to take away the sin of the world--that is, to ultimately remove sin and all it’s effects from the earth. When this is done the diabolos will be no more.
Christ to Take Away Sin
John 1:29 Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.
I John 3:5 He was manifested to take away our sins.
Rom. 8:3 God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.
Christ to Destroy the Devil and His Works
Heb. 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is the devil (diabolos).
I John 3:8 For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil ( diabolos ).
When the devil and his works are destroyed, all evil will be removed from the earth, paradise will be restored and everything will again be very good. To believe, therefore, that the devil is a supernatural being that is to live as long as God lives, and whose works in a supposed "hell" are to continue as long as "heaven" continues, is to deny the truth concerning the work of redemption through Christ.
Think not, then, that God maintains the existence of such a monster and that our temptations come from him. "Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed". (Jas. 1:14)
Satan is frequently used in the same sense as diabolos. Indeed, diabolos is the word which the Septuagint employs for the Hebrew word satan. While the word mostly means the same as diabolos, there is this difference----that satan does not always stand for an opposer of right. It is frequently rendered adversary; and the angel of the Lord that stood in the way of Balaam is called a satan. On the whole, however, what has been said under the heading of diabolos will apply to the word satan. Any person who is an opposer of right is a satan. Hence our Lord’s words to the Apostle Peter, "Get thee behind me, satan"; from which no reasonable person would infer that Peter was the being superstition supposes the devil to be.
When the grand mission of Christ is completed there will be no satan, diabolos nor demon, for he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet; the last enemy shall be destroyed--death.
Sin, the transgression of law, made man a satan--an adversary of right. Lust conceived and brought forth sin; and sin, when completed, brought forth death. To bring forth death sin took effect in man’s nature in the form of disease or mortality; disease multiplied into various forms, and these forms were by the heathen called demons. When our Redeemer brings the time when there will be no sickness or pain there will be no "demons." When our "vile body is changed and fashioned like unto his glorious body", "mortality will be swallowed up of life and there will be no more lust in our natures; hence no more diabolos or satan in us. Being free from lust, we shall not sin and therefore not become diabolos or satan. Then Christ will have fulfilled His mission in "destroying him that hath the power of death, that is the devil". There being ,no more death, no more demon, no more diabolos, no more satan, the LAST enemy will have been destroyed. Yes, DESTROYED; and then "God shall be all IN ALL". In this, dear reader, you have a prospect that exalts and honors Jehovah’s name, in that it shows us that, while He has permitted man to sin and thus blight and curse the earth for a time, His wisdom, power and glory will put an end to all evil. Such a God-honoring, glorious prospect is shut out from your view by the heathenism that would perpetuate the existence of a personal, omniscient, omnipresent, immortal, fire-proof devil, with countless millions of hopeless and helpless victims.