The Devil: His Beginning.
- The Devil: His Beginning.
- The Prince of this world.
- The Devil a Busy Character.
- The Devil and the Church.
- The Devil and the Church (conti.).
- The Devil and the World.
- The Devil and the World (conti.).
- The Power of the Devil.
- The Power of the Devil (conti.).
- The Devil and His Methods.
- The Devil and His Methods. (conti.)
- Exposed Positions.
- Exposed Positions. (conti.)
- Our Defense against the Devil.
- Our Defense against the Devil. (Conti.)
Satan hath here a mighty kingdom (Matt 12: 26), opposed to that of Christ in chapter I: 20, 21, consisting of men and angels, inhabiters of earth and air; wherein he had die start of Christ carrying the world before him, four thousand years previous to the incarnation. Zanchy, the most judicious of the protestant writes, and Suarez, die best of school-men, suppose with some probability, that the angels had notice of the setting up a kingdom for Christ (predestinated to come by the Second Person’s assumption of human nature) and his therein being the head of all principality and power, from whom men and angels should have their grace; and that the sin of the fallen spirits was refusing subjection to this king; and that thus they “kept not their first estate but left their own habitation,” voluntarily quitting that station God had set them in, and leaving their dwelling in heaven to go and set up an opposition kingdom here below. — Thomas Goodwin
WE have no genesis of the devil in the Bible as a direct statement. The Bible is not his full history. It gives no intimation of his birth and no description of his creation. The Bible is only concerned with the devil as he has part in the great Arises of man’s history, and only gives us occasional glimpses of him m his work of ruin and death as explanatory, or as putting his acts in striking contrast and opposition to the works and aims of Christ. There
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are not lacking in these intimations and inferences, sidelights which indicate an original purity, a high relation to God, and a heavenly character and conduct. It is not a fanciful conjecture that he was and is the head of the angels who kept not their first estate. Peter in his first Epistle gives’ the angel crises and fall as one of the signal events which illustrate God’s justice, its certainty and fearfulness. He says, “God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment.’ Jude speaks after the same order of God’s inflexible wrath when he tells us that ** the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.’
The Revelation of John adds its testimony with addition to this fact: “And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was there place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’*
To the Word of God we must go, assured that we will find the traces of the devil’s steps and the unfolding of his conduct whose bad schemes have
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eclipsed so much of earth’s brightness and blasted so much of its promise and hope.
If we have the child-like spirit of docility and trust, if we will ^’lay aside all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word/’ we will find satisfaction and illumination, not satisfaction as to curiosity, nor illumination in the niceties or subtilities of philosophy, but satisfaction and illumination in all things which pertain to the highest and weightiest truth for the thoughtful, trustful and prayerful mind.
In the Bible we have the~ facts and history of man’s redemption. Incidentally or essentially, other worlds and other beings are brought prominently on the stage of redemption purposes and plans. These revealed facts whether incidental or essential, whether casual or regular, are to our faith what the facts of nature are to the student of nature. They must shape theories and settle opinions. They must not be set aside, for weighty and final they must be. Reason must not ignore nor reject them, but must lay them deep and solid as the foundation of an investigation, the basis of every hypothesis. These Bible facts demand our faith, though we may not be able to reach out beyond into the unknown regions where harmony reigns.
The Word of God brings clearly to light the unseen world, its persons, places, facts and history.
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Not, we say, in minute detail, but full enough to provoke thought and reflection, and to create and inspire faith.
The Bible nowhere enters into an argument to prove the person and being of God. It assumes His being and reveals His person and character. Without preface or introduction, the Bible brings God before us in all His majesty and omnipotence. God is at die world’s beginning, and He it was who created the beginning of all things. ” In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” How sublime and awe-inspiring our first glimpse of God I God is revealed not by argument but by work. We learn what He is from what He does.
In like manner is the revelation of the devil. He is before us in full person without introduction or ceremony as the evil one, a graduate in the work of guile and evil. The curtain is drawn and the chief actor is in full dress. A world is at stake, man is to be seduced, Eden is to be blasted. No light is shed upon his past history, no knowledge of the school where he learned his dire trade. He was before earthly life. Eden does not date his birth, and is not the first chapter of his history, nor is it the first trial of his hellish art We have no access to the archives of the past Eden bounds our horizon,. and the devil is there. Henceforth his history is to run parallel with our race. Man ‘to be die object of his schemes, his nun, and his ambition. Earth is to be the favourite scene of
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his exploits. He is at the cradle of man, and has much to do in shaping his character and determining his destiny.
The Bible is a revelation, not a philosophy nor a poem, not a science. It reveals things and persons as they are, living and acting outside the range of earthly vision or natural discovery.
Bible revelations are not against reason but above reason, for the uses of faith, man’s highest faculty. The powers of reason are not able to discover these Bible facts, and yet they are for reason’s use, its light, strength and higher elevation, but more essentially to form, to nourish and to perfect faith*
The Bible reveals the devil as a person, not a more figure, not an influence simply, not a personification only, but a real person. In the eighth chapter of John, Christ is arraigning the cruelty and murderous malignity, the falsehood, deceit and hypocrisy of the Jews. Jesus says, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him,
Many myths may have gathered around the person of the devil by the accretion of ages, much of poetry, sentiment and tradition, and even our fears may have caricatured his person, exaggerated his character, and coloured his conduct But there is truth in regard to him, naked and simple truth.
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There is much truth that needs to be learned about the devil, and no age needs the plain, unvarnished truth about the devil more than this age. We need the light of that truth as a warning, as an incentive to vigilance, and an inspiration to effort. We need the knowledge of the enemy, his character, presence and power to arouse men to action, for this is vital to victory.
It is wholly at variance with any Christian idea of the perfection of truthfulness in Christ, who was truth itself, to suppose Him to have used such plain and solemn words repeatedly before His disciples and the Jews in encouragement and furtherance of a lying superstition,
A denial of the reality of demonical possessions on the part of any one who believes the Gospel narrative to be true and inspired, may justly be regarded as simply and plainly inconceivable.
When the devil fell, others fell with him. This is the lesson of God’s Word.
Of the number of these fallen spirits we have no census. In Ephesians, quoting from the Revised Version, in the summary of these unseen foes we have “spiritual hosts,” an uncounted, uncountable number.
How innumerable they are, we cannot tell. The demoniac of Gadara was named “legion because many devils were entered into him.” A legion if exact was somewhat less than six thousand. That number must be great, enabling them
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to spare so many to swarm into and possess one man, or even seven in one woman, as Mary Magdalene.
The statement in Revelation that the great red dragon with “his tail did draw the third part of the stars of heaven and did cast them to the earth,” may be a reference to the fall of the angels and their number.
The Bible is dear in many references and some direct statements that the devil has a host of angelic followers who are ready, eager in their efforts to hurt man and defeat God’s Kingdom on earth.
II. THE DEVIL: HIS PERSONALITY
Men don’t believe in a devil now.
As their fathers used to do;
They’ve forced the door of the broadest creed
To let his majesty through;
There isn’t a print of his cloven foot;
Or a fiery dart from his bow.
To be found in earth or air to-day.
For the world has voted so.
But who is mixing the fatal draft
That palsies heart and brain.
And loads the earth of each passing year
With ten hundred thousand slain?
Who blights the bloom of the land to-day;
With the fiery breath of hell.
If the devil isn’t and never was?
Won’t somebody rise and tell?
–Alfred J. Hough.
THE devil is a person of marked emphatic character. Character gives dignity, place and value to the person, or character degrades the person. Character is that which is inner, cut in and graven. Character abides, forms action and shapes life. Character is a fountain. It is the head and stream of conduct; character often versus reputation. Character is what we are. Reputation is what folks think we are. The real and the think so are often two worlds. It
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would be well every way if reputation were based on character, if the real and the reputed were one. A bad reputation may be coupled with a good character. Then the times are sadly out of joint or the environments, and the folks are more sadly out of joint than the times. A good reputation may be but the veneering of a bad character. The devil has this characteristic with him. Reputation is based on character. They are one. His reputation is bad, because his character is worse-
The devil is a created being. He is therefore not self-existent nor eternal, but limited and finite.
There was a time when he was not, when he began to be. His creation was after the order of the angels. The angels were not the offspring of the family relation. Cradlehood and all the tender ties, training, sweetness and growth are unknown to them. The pains and joys of child-birth are not theirs. Each angel is created, not born, created directly, personally, by God. The devil was created good, doubtless very good. His purity, as well as exaltation, were sources of congratulation, wonderment and praise in heaven.
The devil is a positive character. He wears disguises, but his ends are single and lie m only one direction, double-faced but never double-minded, never undecided, never vague nor feeble in his purposes or ends. No irresolution, nor hesitant depression nor aimless action spring from him.
The devil has character if not horns, for
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character is often harder and sharper than horns.
Character is felt. We feel the devil. He orders things, controls things. He is a great manager.
He manages bad men, often good men and bad angels. Indirect, sinister, low and worldly, is the devil as a manager.
Is Christ a person? He puts the devil in opposition and contrast to Himself as a great mighty malignant person the sower of all evil — as Christ is the sower of all good. “The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.”
Is Christ impersonal? Are the children of the kingdom impersonal? Are the children of the wicked one impersonal? Are not Christ and the children of the kingdom personal and persons? Are not the children of the wicked one and the devil personal and persons also?
In the Bible the personality of the devil is made emphatic. He is not only the source of evil to others, but the embodiment of evil in a person. The Revised Version makes this emphatic. The petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “Deliver us from evil,” becomes personal, “Deliver us from the evil one.” So we find Christ praying not only that His disciples should be delivered from evil, all evil, impersonal and general, but “that thou shouldst keep
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them from the evil one.” The statement by John that “the whole world lieth in wickedness,” becomes personal, for in the Revised Version, all wickedness concentrates in a person. “ The whole world lieth in the evil one.” Here, too, the devil is called the “wicked one.” Personality is attributed to him. Fatherhood is attributed to him, the father of all evil, the enemy of Jesus, malignant, active, crafty, cautious, cowardly.
The devil and his angels are of a higher order than the fallen sons of Adam, by rank, order, and intelligence. The devil is called in the Bible a prince, a world ruler, “prince of this world.” He is designated as “ the devil and his angels,” He and they are held accountable, are condemned for their sins and for revolt in leaving their “first estate,” the sphere for which they were created, and in which they were originally placed by God. This fact of their fall, and all the other statements, direct and incidental, emphasize them as persons, living, acting, free, accountable. That they had a chief prince in all their movements, prime in wisdom, prime in skill and in leadership, is clear from all Scriptural statements concerning the devil and his angels.
In 2 Corinthians 11: 13, Paul says: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into sA angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if
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his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works.’ ”Satan himself” is an emphatic declaration of personality. He has ministers. An influence does not have ministers. Paul is writing of persons, wily, fraudulent and alluring, and he introduces the great person, the pattern and inspirer of all their fraud, hypocrisy and error, his apostles, false as he, the arch-impostor.
Jude has a statement which brings into view many persons: ”Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael, the archangel, when contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said. The Lord rebuke thee.”
The “filthy dreamers” were persons. Moses was a great person. Michael an archangel was a person. The devil, what was he, if not a person? Living in the Mosaic dispensation, the devil was contending with the highest dignity under that dispensation of angels. Did the mighty archangel have to appeal for help against a mere influence, a shadowy, dreamy personification? This statement in Jude declares the devil to be a high dignity, whose person and presence are not to be treated with indignity or by frivolity or raillery.
The statement in Peter is after the same order and to the same end. The devil is a person of great dignity. “The Lord knoweth how to
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deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished. But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord But these, as natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not, and diall utterly perish in their own corruption.”
Note how James puts the mightiest persons in contrast and opposition: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you.” Why such a combination and contrast? Is God not a person? How can we then reduce him who is so in God’s way to a mere influence? The passage teaches a personal devil as surely as a personal God.
Why are God and the devil in like manner conjoined in Peter’s urgent exhortation? “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Why casting all care on Him? Why be sober and vigilant?” Your ad-
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Versary” can be no less than a person against whom the Christian has to be armed with God.
“Your adversary! “ Hate and ruin are in his opposition. Can he be less than a person? The devil, “ walking about like a roaring lion/’ strong, full of passions, and deadly hate! Can anything less than a person of infernal passion and infernal power answer this divine portraiture? To Peter the existence and person of this powerful adversary had a sad demonstration in his own experience. The words were still on his conscience and heart and memory. “Simon, Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat.”
In the directions in the Sermon on the Mount about swearing, affirmations and conversation, Jesus says, “Let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one.”
Under the powerful operations of the cross and the Spirit, as well as the restraining influences of the Gospel, evil would soon be driven from the earth, branded and banned, were it not for the mighty personality and executive ability of the devil.
We find many references, hints and reminders of the power and person of the devil, coming out in the ministry of Christ The name “ devil “ invests him with an infamous personality, and clothes him with all the deceit, craft and cruelty attaching to that name. By the name ” Satan,
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Christ puts him as the adversary of God and man. By designating him as “the prince of this world,”
Christ recognizes his royal power and ruling authority for evil in this world. The devil’s agency in the ills that affect the body is not merely hinted at, but comes out as being taken for granted.
How strenuous and ever continuing the conflict between the devil and Jesus, is learned by the Lord’s prayer, that perfect and universal prayer which Jesus puts in the heart and lips of His people in all ages, for as we have seen, according to the Revised Version, that petition of conflict, peril, warning, and safety is, “Deliver us from the Evil One.” Evil is comparatively harmless, feeble and inert without the presence of its mighty inspirer. Deliverance from the devil is deliverance from the many evils of which he is the source and inspiration.
In the sixth chapter of Ephesians, the Christian soldier-hood, its character, armour, conduct and courage are challenged, and he is urged, because of the devil’s power, and because the Christian’s warfare is mainly against him, to this effect: “ Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
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The Christian’s comfort as administered by Paul ia the sixteenth chapter of Romans is not only the impartation of, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you,” but also, “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.”
Peter’s vital exhortation has a double imperative in it, not only the “casting all our care cm God,”
but a loud and urgent call to watch and pray. ” Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.’* Peter recognized in the deadly crime of Ananias and Sapphira the hand of Satan, and remonstrates thus: “Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?”
The warning and exhortation which Christ sends to the Church at Smyrna to prepare and nerve to endurance involves the person and power of the devil “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer; behold, &e devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” The explanation of the parable of the tares puts the malignity, person, and power of the devil in contrast with Christ. “The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one. The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is
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the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.”
The defense of Christ against the Pharisaic charge of violating the Sabbath puts the devil conspicuous in his work of evil; “And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”
The statement about Judas, “And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; ‘Ms a statement not of an influence nor a personification, but of a person outside of Judas, making suggestions to him, and urging him on to his act of hypocrisy, and the suggestion is strictly in keeping with the character of the devil. “And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him. That thou doest, do quickly.” How much an advance in fulness and power of action and influence is this act compared with his work in paradise! There he used a serpent as his instrument Here a man, a chosen, trusted apostle. “A messenger of Satan,” says Paul, “to buffet me.” The exalted revelation and experience of the person and power of Christ are closely followed by the revelation and experience of the person and power of the devil.
The fearful doom of the wicked at the judgment is thus set forth by Christ: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me
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ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” The final doom of Satan is revealed in these words, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophets are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
These extracts are not only arguments to prove the existence or personality of the devil, but are logical conclusive references to a person whose being is taken for granted, universally accepted and thoroughly believed by them all
A singular case would that mind be in its attitude to God’s Word, who should profess to accept that Word and not believe in the existence of the devil. This would be a great breach both in the logic and faith of such a mind, as if the play of “Macbeth” were accepted in utter failure to recognize the person or existence of Lady Macbeth, whose character forms the entire plan and colour of the whole.
The encounters with those who were possessed of devils illustrate Christ’s constant recognition of them as personal beings. He recognizes their distinct individuality. He talks to them and commands them as persons. They know Christ, confess His divinity, bow to His authority, obey, however unwillingly, His commands. He makes the clear distinction between the human personality possessed by the devil, and the personality of
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the devil who holds possession. The two are to his eye two persons.
That the exercising of these did give a severe blow to Satan’s kingdom is declared by Christ’s exclamation at the return and report of the seventy. “That even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” He exclaimed, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven,” and then amid their ecstasy and His joy He renewed their commission. “ Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” “Over all the power of the enemy.” The devil is the enemy of Christ, of man. Power over all the devil’s power.
To Christ the devil was one of the most real persons. He recognized his person, felt and acknowledged his power, abhorred his character, and warred against his person and kingdom.