Exploring the Bible Course - 24


Our  aim  in  these  notes  is  to  consider  this  subject,  using  the  Bible  to  define  the  meaning  of  the words “devil” and “satan”. We will take the stand of one who is looking into the matter without a preconceived or biased view of what the words refer to. To do this we will first look at every use of the word “devil” and “satan” in the Old Testament. In this way we will gain the understanding that those who believed and studied the word of God would have held in Jesus Christ’s day; for what we know as the Old Testament was the Scriptures to them.

The “Devil” in the Old Testament  
The word “devil” does not occur at all in the Old Testament. Nowhere in the Bible from Genesis to  Malachi  (a  period  of  4000  years),  is  the  word  “devil”  found.  This Bible  Fact may  come  as  a surprise  to  many  who  have  been  taught  that  there  is  a  supernatural  devil  that  tempts  men  and women  to  sin.  There  is  no  place  that  even  infers  that  man  is  tempted  by  a  supernatural  power which is the enemy of God.

The  word  “devils”  occurs  four  times  in  the  Old  Testament  and  relates  to  pagan  gods.  These references are considered at the end of this lesson under the heading “Devils and Demons”.

Old Testament Teaching on the Source of Temptation and Sin  
As has been well documented in earlier lessons, the root of temptation to sin comes from the mind or  heart  of  man  himself.  The  following  references clearly  demonstrate  God’s  teaching  in  the  Old Testament on this point. They show that the root cause of sin lies in man himself. Consider the following:

• “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”
 (Genesis 6:5)
• “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21)
• “The  heart  is  deceitful above  all  things,  and  desperately  wicked:  who  can  know  it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

From these quotations we see that the “heart of man” represents man’s mental thought process. God  shows  that  it  is man’s  own  imagination that  produces  the  temptations  that  lead  to  sin. Nowhere  in  the  Old  Testament  is  it  taught  that these  sinful  desires  are  to  be  attributed  to  a “superhuman evil devil”, as suggested by some religions. For 4000 years from creation to the time of Jesus, not one person, enlightened by the word of God, attributed temptation to such a “devil”. God treats man as a rational being who is responsible for his own thoughts and actions.  

“Satan” in the Old Testament
Following is the list of all the places where the Hebrew word for “satan” occurs. This list is taken from Englishman’s Hebrew Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament. The Hebrew word is given, followed by the English translation from the 1611 Authorised Version (AV).

From the above list several points become very obvious.

• The  Hebrew  word  is  not  used  very  frequently  throughout  the  Old  Testament.  When  you consider  how  many  examples  of  sinful  behaviour  are  recorded,  it  is  remarkable  that  satan does  not  come  into  the  picture  more  often,  if  indeed  the  popular  teaching  about  satan  was  true.
• On more than half the occasions where the word occurs in the 1611 Authorised Version of the Bible, the translators have translated it as “an adversary”, “to resist”, “to withstand” and “an accusation”.
• In  the  four  passages  of  Scripture  where  they  have  left  the  Hebrew  word satan untranslated, they have, in three of these, made a marginal
note that the word means “an adversary” (ie in Job 1:6; Psalm 109:6 and Zechariah 3:1).

Let us now look at a selection of these passages where the Hebrew word satan occurs.  
The  first  time  the  word  is  used  in  the  Bible  is  in  Numbers  22:22,32.  As  we  read  this  section through we realise that the “adversary” that “withstood” or “opposed” Balaam, the wicked prophet, was an angel of God. Thus the word simply means “one who stands in opposition to another”. Yet the Hebrew word in these verses is the word satan. Therefore the angel doing God’s will is called “satan” because he is “opposing” or is “an adversary” to a wicked man.

The  next  occurrence  in  1  Samuel  29:4  refers  to  David  who,  the  Philistines  feared,  would  act  against  them  in  battle  and  therefore  be  their  opponent  or  “adversary”.  Thus  David  would  be  a  “satan” to the Philistines.

In 2 Samuel 19:22 David says that two of his soldiers who caused him trouble were “adversaries” or “satans” to him.

By following the same procedure through we note that the references in the book of Kings all refer to  nations  around  Israel  that  were “adversaries”  to  them.  We  read: “The  Lord  stirred  up  an adversary (Hebrew satan) unto  Solomon,  Hadad  the  Edomite” (1  Kings  11:14).  Again:  “God stirred  him  up  another  adversary (Hebrew satan),  Rezon  the  son  of  Eliada” (1  Kings  11:23).  Here  we  see  that  it  is  God  Himself  who  stirs  up  these  people  to  afflict  Israel,  because  Israel  had forsaken Him. The “satan” is named in each case — he is a mortal man who led military oppositionagainst Israel. These adversaries to Israel were not sent to make Israel sin at all. They were sent as God’s method of punishment because they had sinned.  

The Four Places where Satan is Left Untranslated
As has been mentioned, there are only four places in the text of the Authorised Version of the Old Testament  where  the  word  has  been  left  untranslated  and  appears  as  “Satan”.  This  in  itself  should cause the rational Bible student to examine the matter very carefully to see why this is so. We should remember that in all cases to this point we have seen that the word “satan” has referred to:

• an angel acting on God’s behalf to oppose someone,  
• men who oppose the ways of another.  

The satan is  not  necessarily  morally  wrong—simply  in  opposition to  another.  In  none  of  the  above cases could it be suggested that an evil supernatural being is referred to.

We will now look at the places where the word is untranslated and left as “Satan”
This  first  reference  is  an  interesting  one:  “Satan  stood  up  against  Israel,  and  provoked  David  to  number Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1). Now if we compare this with the parallel record of the incident in 2 Samuel 24:1 we read: “The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against  them  to  say,  Go,  number  Israel  and  Judah”.  Here  we  find  that  the  one  who  was  the  “adversary”  or  “Satan”  to  Israel  on  this  occasion  was  God  Himself.  God  is  here  acting  as  an  “adversary”  (Hebrew  satan)  to  the  nation  because  they  were trusting  in  themselves  and  had  turned from Him.  

The second place where the word has been left untranslated is in the book of Job. The Authorised Version translators have made the marginal note that the word means “adversary” (Job 1:6). Who then is this adversary to Job?  

We  are  told,  “Now  there  was  a  day  when  the  sons  of  God  came  to  present  themselves  before  the  LORD,  and  Satan [Hebrew  meaning  “the  adversary”] came  also  among  them” (Job  1:6).  To  this point in the Bible we have not seen one reference to an independent supernatural “satan” leading men to do evil, so we need to evaluate what is being said here. Is God really, for the first time in His word, introducing us to such a being? When we consider how God has spoken of the angels in His  presence,  it  is  impossible  to  imagine  or  accept  such  a  discussion  as  this  taking  place  in heaven. We read: “The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless  the  LORD,  ye  his  angels,  that  excel  in  strength,   that  do  his  commandments, hearkening  unto  the  voice  of  his  word. Bless  ye  the  LORD,  all  ye  his  hosts;  ye  ministers  of  his, that do his pleasure” (Psalm 103:19-21). Thus in heaven in the court of God there are the angels  who  obey  him  and  do  His  will.  Further  in the  New  Testament  we  are  again  told  of  the  angels and their work: “Are  they [the angels] not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). The Bible is clear—the angels minister to those who are the heirs of salvation. The satan or adversary of Job wanted God to take away all Job had so “he will curse thee to thy face” (v11). This satan wanted a test put on Job that would ensure he lost his salvation.  

Although we are not told specifically who the adversary is here in Job, the only scripturally logical conclusion  is  that  the “sons  of  God” who  gathered  were  the  believers  where  Job  lived.  They  had  come to worship God, but among them there was a man who was envious of Job and the material things he possessed (Job 1:9-11). As we read through the book of Job we realise that Job understood,  and  so  did  his acquaintances  (Job 42:11),  that  it  was  God  who  brought  the  trials upon him (Job 19:21). Job’s words show without doubt that he that he understood this when he said: “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (1:21); and again, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (2:10). It was through these trials that Job showed the quality of his faith and patience (James 5:11).  

Envy is one of those evils which the followers of God must always guard against in their thinking. It  is  listed  among  “the  works  of  the  flesh”  (Galatians  5:19-21).  James  says:  “If  ye  have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth...For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:14-17). It was “envy” in Christ’s day that caused  the  Jewish  leaders  to  demand  the  crucifixion  of  the  Lord  Jesus  Christ:  “Pilate  answered  them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy” (Mark 15:9-10).

The third place is Psalm 109:6. In this psalm it is difficult to understand why the translators have left only one of the four places where the word satan occurs untranslated. We note that verses 4, 20  and  29  are  translated  “adversary”,  while  verse  6  is  left  as  “Satan”.  However  there  is  the   marginal  note  “adversary”  to  guide  us  in  our  understanding.  As  we  read  through  this  psalm  we see that it is prophetic of Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. Judas was encouraged by the chief priests and rulers to betray Jesus, for they were an “adversary” or “satan” to Jesus. They stood at Judas’ right hand, as the psalm says (v 6). Peter quotes verse 8 of the psalm in Acts 1:20, where he mentions that Judas
“was guide to them that took Jesus” (v 16), confirming that this psalm is speaking of Judas.

The final place where satan is left untranslated is in Zechariah 3:1–3. Here, as the history of the times shows, those who were opposed to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem under Joshuaand Zerubbabel were the Samaritans. The account of their opposition is recorded in Ezra 4:1–6. In verse 6 Israel’s opponents wrote “an accusation”, a word derived from satan meaning “an adverse letter”  (a  letter  expressing  opposition),  in  which  they  made  false  charges  against  the  Jews.  Thus the “satan” here in Zechariah is clearly identified as the Samaritan opposition to the work of the Jews.

From the above detailed analysis of all the references to “Satan” in the Old Testament we see that the  word  means  nothing  more  than  “an  opponent,  an  adversary”.  There  is no  evidence in  these references,  read  in  context,  for  a  supernatural,  God-defying  being  who  leads  people  to  sin.  If  we look  factually  at  every  reference  in  the  Old  Testament there  is  not  one  place  where  Satan tempts a person to sin.

Conclusions Drawn from the Old Testament on “Satan” and “Devil”
As can be clearly seen, there is no basis or foundation in the Old Testament to support the view that there is a supernatural evil power that tempts man to sin. We have shown the sense in which the word “satan” has been used, and noted the fact that the word “devil” is not mentioned once in
the  Old  Testament.  More  than  that—it  is  clearly  obvious  that  the  Old  Testament  teaches  that temptation to sin comes from the heart of man himself.

“Satan” in the New Testament  
When  we  come  to  look  at  the  word  “Satan”  in  the  New  Testament  we  realise  that  the  word  has been  brought  from  the  Old  Testament  across  into  the  New.  We  know  that  in  the  Old  Testament satan means “an adversary”. It obviously carries this same meaning into the New Testament.  

It can be used of people who oppose the way of God, as Jesus used it of the apostle Peter when he said to him: “Get thee behind me, Satan (Matthew 16:23). Jesus then explained why he spoke like this  to  Peter— “for  thou  savourest  not  the  things  that  be  of  God,  but  of  men.” Though  well intentioned, Peter’s thoughts were contrary to God’s will and because he tried to influence Jesus by this thinking, he was an adversary to him.

The word can also be used of those thoughts which oppose or are adverse to God’s way, and it is used  this  way  by  the  apostle  Peter  when  Ananias  and  Sapphira  decided  to  steal  money  for themselves. Here we read that Peter said to Ananias, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit”, which he explains in the following verse, “Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine  heart?” (Acts  5:3-4).  As  we  have  seen  in  the  Old  Testament  it  is  the  imagination  of  the thoughts of the heart of man that produces temptation and sin as we have shown above (Genesis 6:5;  Jeremiah  17:9)  Ananias  allowed  those  evil  thoughts  that  were  adverse  to  God’s  ways  to  deceive him into thinking he could lie and steal. So Peter quite logically calls those deceitful lusts “Satan”, as they oppose God’s ways.

We  see  then  that  the  word  Satan in  the  New  Testament  only  means  “an  adversary”,  and  can  be  applied to either a person or those who oppose another in doing God’s will, just as it was in the Old  Testament.  It  can  also  be  applied  to  the  deceitful  desires  in  our  nature  that  tempt  us  to oppose God’s will.

The following quotations show how the word satan is used of both political and religious powers that are opposed to those who are walking in God’s ways.  

It is used of the political opposition that the believers faced in Pergamos. Jesus was well aware of this opposition and said: “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is:  and  thou  holdest  fast  my  name,  and  hast  not  denied  my  faith,  even  in  those  days wherein Antipas  was  my  faithful  martyr,  who  was  slain  among  you, where  Satan  dwelleth” (Revelation  2:13).  Pergamos  was  the  capital  of  the  province  of Lydia  in  Asia  (now  Turkey)  and  the  “seat”  of  government  for  Pagan  Rome  was  there.  The  believers  were  suffering  for  their  faith  and  one, Antipas, had been killed. The “Satan” or “adversary” Jesus speaks of was a way of describing the political leaders who persecuted believers—he was certainly not referring to a supernatural being living in Pergamos and persecuting them.

It  is  used  of  the  false  believers  in  Smyrna.  Jesus  says: “I  know  thy  works,  and  tribulation,  and poverty,  (but  thou  art  rich)  and  I  know  the  blasphemy  of  them  which  say  they  are  Jews,  and  are not, but are the synagogue of Satan”. Here religious opposition to the believers is spoken of, and Jesus calls such adversaries “the synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9).

Paul uses the word “Satan” when speaking of those who opposed his preaching in Thessalonica. The  Jews  had  forbidden  him  to  speak  and  had  incited  the  civil  authorities  to  prohibit  him  from preaching there, causing him to flee from the city (Acts 17:5-10). He calls those who now hindered his  return  “Satan”  or  the  adversary: “Wherefore  we  would  have  come  unto  you,  even  I  Paul,  once  and again; but Satan hindered us” (1 Thessalonians 2:18)

The word satan meaning adversary is sometimes used interchangeably with the word devil in the New  Testament.  This  can  be  seen  in  the  parable  of  the  sower.  The  seed  that  fell  by  the  wayside was taken by “Satan” in Mark 4:15, but in Luke 8:12 we are told that it was taken by
“the devil”. Thus we find a close correlation between these words. The word devil is explained a little later in this lesson, as is the connection between the use of “devil” and “satan”.  

The Root of Temptation and Sin Defined in the New Testament
In the New Testament Jesus and the apostles clearly describe how we are tempted to sin.  

• “For from  within,out  of  the  heart  of  men,  proceed  evil  thoughts,  adulteries,  fornications,  murders,  thefts,  covetousness,  wickedness,  deceit,  lasciviousness,  an  evil  eye,  blasphemy,  pride,  foolishness:  all  these  evil  things  come  from  within,  and  defile  the  man” (Mark  7:21-23).  The Lord Jesus Christ describes where sin comes from—“out of the heart of man”.
• “Every  man  is  tempted,  when  he  is  drawn  away of his own lust, and  enticed”  (James 1:13-15). The natural inclination of every one of us is
to satisfy self. This urge is strong and leads to sin. James goes on to point out that sin then brings forth death.
• Paul,  in  Galatians  5:16-21,  lists “the  works  of  the  flesh”,  which  are  “adultery,  fornication,  uncleanness,  lasciviousness,  idolatry,  witchcraft,  hatred,  variance,  emulations,  wrath,  strife,  seditions,  heresies,  envyings,  murders,  drunkenness,  revellings,  and  such  like”,  stating  that those who do the will of God or those who follow the desires of the flesh that lead to sin who are the seed of the diabolos, or “devil”.
• In Acts 13:10 Paul describes Elymas the sorcerer in the following terms: “O full of all subtilty [like the serpent in Eden—Genesis 3:1]
 and all mischief, thou child of the devil [diabolos], thou enemy  of  all  righteousness,  wilt  thou  not  cease  to  pervert  the  right  ways  of  the  Lord?” Elymas was acting in exactly the same way as the serpent had in Eden. He “perverted” the right way of God. Using personification for those sinful desires that motivated him, Paul describes him as a “ child of the devil”.
• “Submit  yourselves  therefore  to  God.  Resist  the  devil  [diabolos],  and  he  will  flee  from  you” (James  4:7).  James  has  already  pointed  out  that  all  temptation  comes  from  within  man (James 1:13-15), but if we commit our ways to God and resist sinful temptations, then we will
overcome them.

We can see now that this word is used in the New Testament to summarise that sinful propensity that is part of all human nature. Following Adam and Eve’s transgression, it passed through to all mankind (Romans 5:12). It is that sinful tendency that Paul spoke of saying:  “For  I  know  that  in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18).  

The “Diabolos” as a Political and Religious Force
Because  the  word  diabolos  is  used  to  represent  that  power  that  leads  to  sin,  it  is  also  used  to represent  those  who  are  motivated  by  fleshly  ambitions  and  desires.  They  can  be  either individuals or a group of people. 

Following are some examples:

• “Fear  none  of  those  things  which  thou  shalt  suffer:  behold,  the  devil  shall  cast  some  of  you into prison, that ye may be tried” (Revelation 2:10). Here John speaks of the persecution that the believers in Smyrna were suffering from the ruling Roman power.
• “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians  6:11-12).  Here  Paul  warns  the  believers  in  Ephesus  of  the  persecution  that  they faced from both political and religious opposition that would falsely accuse and slander them.
• “Be  sober,  be  vigilant;  because  your  adversary the  devil,  as  a  roaring  lion,  walketh  about, seeking  whom  he  may  devour”  (1  Peter  5:8-9).  Here  Peter  warns  of  the  persecution  that  the believers  were  facing  from  the  authorities.  This  pagan  political  power  falsely  accused  them, bringing terrible afflictions upon them.

Death—the Inevitable Consequence of Sin
The consistent teaching of the Bible is that death has come by sin. In the beginning Adam sinned and was sentenced to die (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:17-19), and we have all inherited that mortality that came by sin.  

• “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12)

God, however, has provided the means by which sin can be forgiven through the perfect sacrifice of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, thus providing deliverance from that grim cycle ending in death.

• “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)
• “As sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21)
• “The  wages  of  sin  is  death;  but  the  gift  of  God  is  eternal  life  through  Jesus  Christ  our  Lord” (Romans 6:23)

Christ and his Crucifixion—Victory over Sin and Death  
From  the  preceding  quotations  we  see  that  Jesus Christ  is  the  one  God  has  provided  to  give  us the wonderful hope of eternal life, instead of the inevitable consequence of death because of sin.

The ultimate victory over sin and death was achieved by the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross.  

• “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3)
• “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5)
• “He bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24)
• “He put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26)

How could Christ’s Crucifixion Bring Deliverance from Sin and Death?
Jesus Christ shared the identical nature with those he came to save (Hebrews 2:14), and so was able to identify with mankind in the struggle against sin.

• “He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15)
• “In  that  he  himself  hath  suffered  being  tempted,  he  is  able  to  succour  them  that  are  tempted” (Hebrews 2:18)
• “God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3)

Unlike all other descendants of Adam, Jesus overcame every temptation to sin throughout his life and obeyed God perfectly. In his death upon the
cross he rendered the final act which perfected his obedience: “He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians  2:8).  Thus  he  conquered  sin,  and destroyed  its  power  in  himself,  and  in  his  resurrection  and  raising  up  to immortality  death  itself  was  defeated.  God  provided  him  as  the promised Redeemer who would save all those who be
lieve in him (John 3:16). God’s gracious gift of  eternal  life  is  extended  to  all  who  show  faith in what He has done in Christ and are baptised
into his name (Romans 6:3–5, 23).  

Christ Destroyed the “Diabolos” or “Devil”
We have seen the way that diabolos is used to personify the sin-prone propensity that all mankind share  through  their  flesh  and  blood  nature.  This  is  that  same  nature  that  Jesus  Christ  shared with those he came to save. Consider how his work in overcoming sin by perfect obedience even unto death is described in the following passages:

“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 had the power of death, that is the devil [diabolos]” (Hebrews 2:14). Throughout his life Jesus always did the will of his Father. In death he obediently  submitted  to  public  crucifixion,  and   finally  destroyed  that  which  had  held  sway  over men from the time of Adam’s first transgression. In all other men that power had led to sin, but Jesus  Christ  gained  the  victory  over  sin  and  death.  He  has  now  been  raised  to  immortality.  Sin and death are no longer a threat to him—“death hath no more dominion over him” (Romans 6:9). In doing  this  in  himself  he  has  done  it  for  all those  who  come  to  God  through  him.  Through  him there  is  forgiveness  of  sin  and  hope  of  eternal  life.  It  is  part  of  God’s  wonderful  purpose  that ultimately death itself will be removed from the earth for ever (1 Corinthians 15:25-26; Revelation 21:4).

It is worth noting that the idea of a supernatural being spoken of in this verse would make the statement absurd. Clearly, whatever the diabolos is, it was destroyed in the death of Christ.

In 1 John 3 we again have the statement that Christ came to destroy the works of the “devil” or diabolos. Consider how John states this:

verse 5 “Ye know that he [Jesus] was manifested to take away our sins:”

which is the same as saying:

verse 8 “For  this  purpose  the  Son  of  God  was  manifested, that  he  might  destroy  the  works  of  the devil (diabolos)”.

Thus John is saying that the phrase “the works of the devil”  which Jesus destroyed, is equivalent to saying that Jesus came “to take away our sins”. Our sins are the works that result from those lusts in our nature when they are unrestrained. Through Jesus we can have these sins forgiven (1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Timothy 1:15).

“That Old Serpent, which is the Devil [diabolos], and Satan”  
This  expression  is  found  in  Revelation  20:2  and  now  we  can  understand  what  is  meant  by  the combining of these three titles together. Sin entered the world through the lie of the serpent. He was  the  “adversary”  to  God  and  His  teaching  and  also  to  Eve  who  accepted  his  lie.  He  was  the “false  accuser”  of  God  and  His  truth.  Through  their  sin  Adam  and  Eve  brought  death  into  the world. All mankind have inherited that sin-prone nature that came through them, and death that came  by  sin.  Thus  throughout  the  New  Testament  these  expressions, satan and diabolos or “devil”,  have  been  used  to  describe  this  sinful power  in  our  nature.  On  many  occasions  these expressions are personified.

When Christ returns, all those “in Christ” will be made alive. The power of sin and death for them will have been destroyed. Christ will then reign
for a thousand years and during that time sin will be restrained for the mortal population of the earth. Thus there will be no more oppression by evil rulers or injustice from corrupt systems. Towards the end of the “millennium” some men will rebel and oppose the rule of Christ— for a short time sin will no be restrained. But finally, Christ and the  immortal  saints  will  triumph.  All  that  is  associated  with  sin,  including  death,  will  be  finally destroyed (Revelation 21:8,3,4). This period is also described in 1 Corinthians 15:21-28, 52-57. In achieving  this  glorious  purpose  we  have  the  graphic  symbolic  destruction  of  that  sin  power (Revelation 20:10) where the “diabolos” is destroyed. Only then will sin and death no longer blight men’s lives—for ever.

Summary Points
Satan and the Devil in the Old Testament
1. The word devil does not occur in the Old Testament at all. The expression “devils” occurs four times and refers to pagan gods.
2. The  Hebrew  word satan means  “adversary”.  The  word satan occurs  33  times  in  the  Old Testament.   It   is   translated  “adversary” 12   times, “resist” 1,  “withstand” 1,   and  left  untranslated as “Satan” 19 times, these 19 being in only four contextual places (Young’s Index Lexicon of the Old Testament). On this basis it is obvious that Satan is not the arch-enemy of God as widely taught by Christendom.
3. None  of  these  references  indicate  an  evil,  supernatural,  powerful  being,  driving  men  to  sin. Church teaching of the devil and Satan cannot be established from these references.
4. In the Old Testament God states that all sin comes from the evil imaginations and lusts that come from the heart of man (Genesis 6:5; 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9).

The Root of Sin Defined in the New Testament
5. Jesus  states  that  man’s  evil  ways  come  from  the  thoughts  of  his  evil  heart  (Mark  7:21-23). James says man is tempted by his own lusts
(James 1:13-15), and Paul likewise said that the sin that he committed came from his own sinful nature (Romans 7:15-25).
6. “Satan” is used in the New Testament to represent those who are “adversaries” or opposed to the  ways  of  God.  Jesus  called  Peter  “Satan”  when  he  opposed  Jesus’  desire  to  do  God’s  will (Matthew 16:23).
7. The word devil in the Greek is diabolos and means “a slanderer, false accuser”. The word is so translated in 2 Timothy 3:3; Titus 2:3 and 1 Timothy 3:11.
8. The word devil (diabolos) is used to personify those evil lusts that are part of human nature and tempt man to sin.
9. Diabolos is  also  used  to  represent  those  people, and  political  and  religious  authorities,  who falsely accuse God and His ways (Revelation 2:10; 1 Peter 5:8-9).
10. Jesus Christ destroyed “the works of the devil” by overcoming temptation to sin (1 John 3:8). He completely destroyed “the devil” in his death (Hebrews 2:14).
Appendix—Devils and Demons
Devils or Demons in Old Testament Times

The  word  “devils”  occurs  four  times  in  the  Old  Testament  in  the  Authorised  Version translation (Leviticus  17:7;  Deuteronomy  32:17;  2  Chronicles  11:15;  Psalm  106:37).  In  most  modern translations  the  word  “demons”  replaces  the  word  “devils”  which  certainly  does  not  convey  the Hebrew  meaning.  These  references  relate  to  the  pagan  worship  of  the  heathen  nations  around Israel. The first three quotations below are taken from the American Standard Version which uses the word “demons” instead of “devils”.

“They served their idols, which became a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto demons” (Psalm 106:36-37). The pagans, who worshipped idols, believed in these “demon” gods. Israel provoked God by imitating these vile practices. “They  sacrificed  unto  demons,  which  were  no  God,  to  gods  that  they  knew  not,  to  new  gods that came up of late, which your fathers dreaded not” (Deuteronomy 32:17). Moses describes how that Israel went astray from the true worship of God and sacrificed to the idol gods of the pagans, here  called “demons”,  which  were  merely  pieces of  metal,  wood  or  stone.  See  how  they  are described in Psalm 115:3-9 and Isaiah 44:9-20.

Paul takes up this point, showing that such “demons” or “devils” spoken of in the Old Testament were the gods of paganism: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to  demons,  and  not  to  God” (1Corinthians  10:  20).  Here  Paul  uses  the  Greek  word  “daimonion” which is translated “devils” or “demons”. Obviously Paul is speaking of the pagan gods that were part of Greek mythology.

So Paul says: “Concerning  therefore  the  eating  of  those  things  that  are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, [Paul is speaking of the demon gods of paganism] whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). Paul is emphatic—these demon or devil gods of the Gentiles do not exist  at  all.  Paul  says  there  is  but  one  God—the  Father.  To  believe  there  is  some  other supernatural power apart from God is contrary to what the Bible teaches.  

It must be noted that the Greek word “daimonion” rendered “devils” or “demons” is a completely different word from the Greek word “diabolos”, which is rendered “devil” or “false accuser” in the New Testament. A person reading the Greek language would see no connection between the words at  all.  It  is  the  English  translators  who  have connected  the  two  words  together  in  some  English translations.

In  the  Old  Testament nowhere where a person was cured of sickness is it said that a devil was cast  out.  This  means  that  for  the  period  of  the  Old  Testament  people  who  read  the  Bible  and believed in God did not believe in such things.

Plato,  the  well  known  pagan  Greek  philosopher who  lived  some  400  years  before  Jesus  Christ,  explained  what  pagan  religion  taught  regarding  demons  or  devils.  He  wrote:  “Every  demon  is  a middle being between God and mortal men”. Plato further explained: “All those who die valiantly in war...are made demons, and that we ought for ever after to serve and adore their sepulchres as the sepulchres of demons”.
These then were “good demons”. However there were also “evil demons” in pagan worship. They were those who, according to another writer Plutarch, had lived evil lives and after death became “wicked and malignant demons who envy good men, and endeavour to disturb and hinder them in the pursuit of virtue, lest remaining firm in goodness, and uncorrupt, they should after death, obtain a better lot than they themselves enjoy”.

This pagan teaching regarding demons is seen to be fundamentally flawed when we turn to the Bible. We have clearly seen that man is mortal and at death passes into the grave—the only hope of life after death is the resurrection from the dead at the coming of Jesus Christ. The idea of people living on after death, as the pagans believed, (and as is now taught by many Christian religions), is a denial of the word of God. Sin brings death (Romans 6:23). Deliverance from sin and death is only available  through  baptism  into  Jesus  Christ.  Greek  mythology  is  certainly  not  Bible teaching.

Devils and Demons in the New Testament
The idea that there were such beings as these “demons” or “gods” was widely believed in the first century  by  the  pagans  to  whom  Paul  took  the  Gospel.  An  example  of  this  is  seen  when  Paul visited  Athens.  There  he  was  asked  to  address  the  people  near  the  Parthenon—the  very  large temple  to  the  gods  on  Mars  Hill  or  Areopagus  (Acts  17:19).  Paul  had  spoken  about  the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To them this sounded like their teaching of men becoming “demons” or  “gods”.  They  were  perplexed  saying, “He  seemeth  to  be  a  setter  forth  of  strange  gods  or demons [Greek daimonion]: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection” (v18). If a person lived after death, they believed he was a demon or god.  

This Greek idea of good and bad demons or gods had been introduced to the Jews before the time of  Christ  in  the  period  when  the  Greeks  ruled  over  the  land  of  Israel—BC333-167.  The  Jews adopted this thinking by attributing diseases or disorders such as mental sickness, epilepsy, and deafness  or  dumbness  to  these  devils/demons  or evil  spirits.  They  did  not  have  the  scientific  medical  knowledge  that  we  have  today  whereby  the  root  of  many  of  these  problems  can  be identified.  

However  we  must  understand  that the  fundamental  root  of  all  illness  and  degeneration  of  our bodies  lies  in  the  fact  that  we  are  descendants  of Adam  who,  because  of  sin,  was  sentenced  to return to the dust of the ground—to die. We have all inherited mortality that came by sin. Medical science  may  be  able  to  identify  problems—even  relieve them—but it has no cure for death itself. That alone is available from God.

Let us look at some references to “devils” or “demons” in the life of Jesus.  

On  several  occasions  the  leaders  of  the  Jews  claimed  that  Jesus  had  a  devil  or  demon  and  therefore  was  mad:  “Many  of  them  said,  
He  hath  a  devil  [demon],  and  is  mad;  why  hear  ye  him?” (John  10:20);  again: “Then  answered  the  Jews,  and  said  unto  him,  Say  we  not  well  that  thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil [demon]? Jesus answered, I have not a devil [demon]; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me” (John 8:48-49). Because they did not understand Jesus, the leaders said he was mentally deranged, believing that some demon god had entered his mind.

Again we see that the Jews were affected by this idea of pagan gods or demons causing sickness. We read: “Then  was  brought  unto  him  one  possessed  with  a  devil  [demon],  blind,  and  dumb:  and he  healed  him,  insomuch  that  the  blind  and  dumb  both  spake  and  saw” (Matthew  12:22).  The person  was  blind  and  dumb  and  Jesus healed  him by  God’s  power.   “But  when  the  Pharisees  heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils [demons], but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils  [demons]”  (v24). The Pharisees would not acknowledge that Jesus was given this power to heal  by  God,  for  to  do  so  would  prove  he  was  sent  by  God.  This  they  could  not  accept  so  they   attributed the healing to Beelzebub, a pagan god of the Philistines.

It is interesting to note that there is the account of a king in Israel who rejected God and sent his servant to Beelzebub to see if he would be healed of his illness: “Ahaziah...was sick: and he sentmessengers,  and  said  unto  them,  Go,  enquire  of  Baalzebub  the  god  of  Ekron  
whether  I  shall  recover of this disease. But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel,  that  ye  go  to  enquire  of  Baalzebub  the  god  of  Ekron?  Now  therefore  thus  saith  the  LORD,  Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die” (2 Kings 1:2-4). Here the king, who had rejected the God of Israel, turned to Baalzebub to seek help. God sent  the  prophet  Elijah  to  tell  him  he  would  die.  There  is  no  mention  of  demons  or  evil  spirits here.  How  ignorant  the  Pharisees  were  to  claim  that  these  demons  actually  existed  and  that  
Beelzebub was the ruler of them—for Beelzebub was a lifeless pagan idol.

That the casting out of devils or demons is synonymous with healing sick people is evident from the  following  quotation  where  Jesus  sent  the  disciples  out  to  the  towns  of  Galilee  saying,  “Heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you...And the seventy  returned  again  with  joy,  saying,  Lord, even  the  devils  [demons]  are  subject unto  us through thy name” (Luke 10:9,17),
meaning that they had healed the sick.  

The healing of the man who was mentally deranged concludes with these words: “Then they went out  to  see  what  was  done;  and  came  to  Jesus,  and  found  the  man, out  of  whom  the  devils  [demons]  were  departed,  sitting  at  the  feet  of  Jesus,  clothed,  and  in  his  right  mind:  and  they were afraid. They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils [demons] was  healed” (Luke 8:35-36).  The  man  who  had  been  out  of  his  mind,  was  now  in  his right  mind—he  was  healed.  In  the  speech  of  the  day,  the  demons  or  devils  were  departed  from him—whatever had caused his sickness was now cured by the power of God.

We see then that certain sickness, particularly mental sickness, was attributed to a strange power that  had  entered  the  person,  which  Greek  mythology  said  was  caused  by  evil  demons  or  gods. However those who understand the Bible know that this is not true.

In Matthew we read about the wonderful healing that Jesus performed:  “When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils [demons]: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias [Isaiah]  the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:16-17).  Jesus  healed  that  infirmity and  sickness  that  people  suffered  because  of  their  weak  mortal nature, thus proving that he was the one sent by God who would finally heal man’s mortality and bring life eternal.  

Jesus taught this principle when he healed the man with palsy. He said to him, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee”.  However when he was questioned about forgiving the man’s sins Jesus  said, “Whether  is  easier,  to  say,  Thy  sins  be  forgiven  thee;  or  to  say,  Arise,  and  walk?  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of  the  palsy,)  Arise,  take  up  thy  bed,  and  go  unto  thine  house.  And  he  arose,  and  departed  to  his house” (Matthew 9:2,5-7).

Here  is  the  wonder  of  the  healing  power  that God  gave  to  Jesus.  It  taught  those  who  were thoughtful that God had sent him to heal the greatest disease of all, that which brings permanent death—sin.  Through  Jesus  Christ  we  can  obtain  forgiveness  of  sins  and  look  for  that  great  day when “this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then  shall  be  brought  to  pass  the  saying  that  is  written,  Death  is  swallowed  up  in  victory”  (1 Corinthians 15:54).  

Demons and Patron Saints
The belief that there are “saints” alive in heaven to whom people can pray for help is yet another pagan superstition that was adopted by early Christians who were ignorant of Bible teaching. You will  recall  the  quotation  from  Plato,  which  we  quoted  earlier:  “Every  demon  is  a middle  being between God and mortal man”. Plato’s theory was accepted with modification by the Church as it deviated from Bible Truth. Instead of maintaining Bible teaching that man is mortal and at death returns to dust, the early Church taught that man has an immortal soul that lives on after death. The supposed faithful went to heaven where some were elevated to “sainthood”—these had access to petition God on behalf of mortals on earth. Many churches and schools have been named after these so-called “saints” (such as “Saint Mary’s”, “Saint Anthony’s”, “Saint Ursula’s”).  

Such teaching is not Bible teaching.

Man is mortal—he dies and in that day his thoughts perish (Psalm 146:3-4)

The dead do not know anything (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6)

In death there is no remembrance of God nor thanksgiving to Him (Psalm 6:5)

The dead do not praise God (Psalm 115:17)

The  Bible  teaches  that  the  only  hope  for  man  is  a  resurrection  from  the  dead  at  the  return  of  Jesus Christ (Daniel 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). To believe that there are saints to whom you can  pray,  or  that  relatives  who  have  died  are  now  living  in  heaven  and  can  affect  your  life  and keep  you  safe  is  not  Bible  teaching.  Jesus  Christ  is  our  mediator  in  heaven  through  whom  we approach  God  in  prayer:  
“For  there  is  one  God,  and  one  mediator  between  God  and  men,  the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

Thus the fallacy taught by the Church that one can pray to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, as Roman  Catholics  do  in  the  “Hail  Mary”,  or  to  other  patron  saints,  is  based  upon  this  wrong teaching.  Mary  and  all  the  faithful  are  dead—asleep  in  Christ—awaiting  the  resurrection  at  his  return to the earth. There is not one place in the New Testament where a prayer is offered to Mary or to any supposed saint.

Lesson 24 – Questions
1. What does the word satan mean?
2. In the Old Testament, where does God say sin comes from?
3. How does Paul describe how sin and death came into the world? (Romans 5:12)
4. Does the word devil occur in the Old Testament of the Bible?
5. What do the New Testament writers define as the root of temptation and sin?
6. What has the power of death? (Romans 5:21; 6:23)
7. How did Jesus Christ destroy “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil”? (Hebrews 2:14)
8. What is the word devil used to personify in the Bible?
9. Why did Jesus say to Peter: “Get thee behind me, Satan”? (Matthew 16:23)
10. What is the root cause of man’s sickness?
11. When Jesus cast out devils or demons from sick people what was he actually doing?

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