Key To The
of The Scriptures
BY H.P. MANSFIELD
(17) The Devil and Satan
Not A Fallen Angel.
The current teaching that the Devil is a
fallen angel, with mysterious powers over the minds of men and women, is
quite foreign to the Bible teaching on this theme.
We learn from the Bible that Jesus
Christ was manifested that "he might destroy the works of the
devil" (1 John 3:8).
Again, that Jesus partook of human nature that "through death be might
destroy him that hath the power of death, that is the devil" (Heb. 2:14)
In these two statements, the devil is
(1) -- That
which Christ came to destroy;
which has the power of death.
From other parts of the Word, we learn:
(1) -- That Christ came to destroy sin.
"He put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb. 9:26).
"Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3).
"His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree" (1
manifested to take away our sins" (1 John 3:5).
(2) -- That sin was the original cause
"The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23).
"By one man (not the devil) sin entered the world, and death by
sin" (Rom. 5:12).
"The sting of death is sin" (1 Cor. 15:56).
These two lines of reasoning converge to
show that the terms "sin" and "devil" are used
synonymously. In order to destroy the devil, Jesus came
in that nature where it is found, for we shall show that the act of sin comes
from the flesh. He partook of flesh and blood, that through death he might
destroy the devil. So declared Paul in Hebrews 2:14.
But if the devil were an angel, how would
the death of Jesus destroy him? Yet Paul is specific that the
devil was destroyed through death!
Human Nature Is The
If we can show that human nature is the
devil, it follows that when Jesus died, seeing that he came "in the
flesh" (1 John 4:2), the devil was put to death as far as he was
concerned. Jesus possessed our nature,
but be never succumbed to it, for be never sinned. He triumphed over it during his lifetime, by figuratively putting it to
death, and when he died on the cross, its power was brought to an end.
After he had been raised from the dead, he
was given "divine nature" or immortality, in which the devil, or
the lusts of the flesh, find no place.
But the devil still lives in us so long as
the lusts of the flesh hold sway, and so powerfully, unfortunately, that we
give way to sin. What can be done? We can seek the strength of God
to overcome (Phil. 4:13), and His mercy to forgive where we fail. And in
Christ, if we confess our sins, such mercy will be freely extended (1 John
We have shown that the devil and sin are
synonymous terms, and we now propose to quote Scripture to show that the term
"sin" is used for human nature, the source of all transgression.
Consider the following passages:
"Sin dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is in my flesh)
dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:17).
"He (Christ) died unto sin once" (Rom. 6:10).
"Reckon yourselves to be dead to sin but alive unto God"
"God made him (Jesus) to be sin for us who knew no sin" (2
In all these places "sin" is
related to human nature, or the lusts of the flesh. Normally
"sin" is transgression of law, but it is clearly seen that such a
definition cannot apply to the references above.
Sin (transgression of law) springs from
fleshly lusts or desires, styled in Romans 8:3 as "sinful flesh"
(see Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:21-23). Our nature is such that we do not need the
prompting of a supernatural devil to cause us to sin, because it springs
naturally from the 'lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of
life" (1 John 2:16). The thought of sin is
generated by the "desires of the flesh," before the act of sin is
committed (Ps. 10:4; 94:11) so that Isaiah exhorted the unrighteous to
"forsake his thoughts" (Isa. 55:7). James summed up the matter
"Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and
enticed. Then when lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when
it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:14-15).
This process is illustrated by the
confession of Achan:
"I SAW two hundred shekels of silver, I COVETED them, and TOOK
them ... I SINNED" (Joshua 7:20-21).
Saw, coveted, took! That defines sin,
without the need of a supernatural devil to tempt!
Paul likewise, in treating with the
subject of sin (Romans Ch. 7) speaks of it as an, element of human nature,
which he found to be at enmity with the principles of God. There is no hint
in his words of a supernatural devil being responsible for sin.
"The evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would
not, it is no more I that do it, but sin (human nature, alias the devil) that
dwelleth in me" (Vv. 19-20).
He confessed to a "law in his
members" warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into
captivity to the "law of sin in his members" (Romans 7:23).
The "law of sin and death," the
desires of the flesh that lead us to disobey God, is the Apostle's term for
human nature, the devil of the Bible (Rom. 8:2).
Significance Of The
The word "devil" has been used
as a translation for two entirely different Greek words: diamonion and
diabolos. The first word should be translated "demons." It was applied to those diseases (mainly mental
disorders) which Jesus miraculously "cast out" of afflicted
An example occurs in John 7:19-20. Jesus
asked the Jews: "Why go ye about to kill me?" They answered:
"Thou hast a devil (diamonion), who goeth about to kill thee?" The
Jews' reply, "Thou hast a devil!" is equivalent to the modern expression:
"You are mad!"
In speaking of "demons" in that way, the
New Testament was merely using the vernacular of the times by which mental
disorders were described. The Grecian theory was that demons were the cause
of madness, epileptic disorders, and obstructions of the senses. To be
"possessed of a demon" was the way in which these illnesses were
then described; and to "cast out a demon" was to say that the
person was cured.
The word diabolos is compounded of dia, a
preposition signifying across or over, and ballo, meaning to throw or cast. It defines that which crosses, or falls
over, and is therefore a fit word by which to designate inordinate desires of
the flesh, which cause mortal man to cross over the line of righteousness
established by God, and so to sin.
The word also signifies to
"slander," "libel," "falsely accuse." Thus
Judas is described as a devil (diabolos) because be betrayed and slandered
Jesus to the authorities (John 6:70). In 2 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 2:3 the word
had been correctly rendered "false accusers" (Gr. diabolos), for it
should never be translated "devil."
A consideration of the places where the
word is used, will reveal that it cannot apply to a fallen angel. In
Revelation 2:10, the faithful are warned that "the devil shall cast some
of you into prison." Did the fallen angel do that? Of course not! The
reference is to the civil authorities of the times, who were, "falsely
accusing" the Christians. In this case, sin was politically manifested.
How much better would this reference read if diabolos was therein translated
as it is in Timothy and Titus: "False accusers shall cast some of you
Again, in Ephesians 6:11, Paul refers to
the "wiles of the devil" (i.e. the false accusers). He was
referring to the unscrupulous means that pagan authorities were using to
obtain a conviction against Christians when they were hailed before the
courts. These same "devils" were always on the watch, ready to
condemn any inconsistency on the part of the Christians. The Apostle
therefore warned certain ones against being lifted up with pride, and so
"falling into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Tim. 3:6-7).
Would the devil taught by Christendom
condemn anybody lifted up by pride? By no means! He would look favourably
upon such as a most promising subject!
Another reference, frequently quoted to
prove the existence of a supernatural devil is 1 Peter 5:8: "Your
adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may
But let us look at the statement a little
more closely. The word "adversary" is antidikos in Greek,
and signifies "an opponent at law!" So, once again, we are in the
atmosphere of a court case! And who is opposed to us? Why, the devil! Again
let us use the translation of 2 Timothy 3:3, and the "opponent at
law" is a "false accuser," and against such Peter warned
Christians to be on their guard.
But why describe him as a "roaring
lion?" Because, as the use of a similar expression in 2 Timothy 4:17
shows, this was a figure of speech by which the fierce and unscrupulous
antagonists of Christianity were described. They were men of
the flesh, and they personified sin in political manifestation.
The flesh, with its lusts, is a false
accuser and a calumniator,
because if its desires are gratified, mankind will never attain unto the
Kingdom. It slanders God, because it reasons that He does not really want men
to do the things He has asked them to do. It is a deceiver, because it claims
that true happiness is found only in gratifying its desires. The whole world
lieth in wickedness (1 John 5:19), and there are but few who are
prepared to "resist the devil," and so gain a victory over flesh. Most are "children of the devil,"
in that they obey its lusts without consideration of God's way, thus
revealing that they are "of their father the devil" or sin's flesh.
There is not a reference to the words
"devil" or "satan" in the Bible that cannot be
interpreted in accordance with the principles outlined above.
The Hebrew word "satan," means
"adversary." In contrast to the word diabolos which denotes an evil
adversary, satan can refer to either a good or an evil adversary!
In Numbers 22:22 it is used in the former
way. The verse reads: "The angel of the Lord stood in the way for an
adversary (Heb. satan) against him." Here the word satan had been
correctly translated "adversary," though the same Hebrew word in
many other places has been transliterated "satan."
In v. 32, the word satan had been rendered
"withstand." The account has to do with the
withstanding of the wicked prophet Balaam by an angel of God, so that in
this, we have an example of a good satan opposing a wicked man.
Another example of a good satan, or
adversary, is contained in 1 Chronicles 21:1. It records: "Satan stood
up against Israel and provoked David to number Israel." The parallel
account in 2 Samuel 24:1 reveals that the "satan" (adversary) in
question was God, Who was opposed to Israel at the time
because of the wickedness of the people. The record in Samuel reads:
"The anger of the Lord was
kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, Go,
number Israel and Judah."
A careful consideration of the use of this
word throughout Scripture reveals that it should not be interpreted to
signify a fallen angel.
For example, in 1 Timothy 1:20, Paul wrote
that he had delivered certain heretics "unto Satan that they may learn
not to blaspheme."
Would the Satan of orthodoxy teach them
"not to blaspheme?"
Not if the current doctrine is true, on the
contrary, he would teach them to blaspheme. The satan in this instance was
the pagan world to which Paul had excommunicated the heretics, in order that
they might be disciplined, and eventually brought back to an acknowledgement
of the truth (see Titus 3:10; 2 Thess. 3:6, 15).
In 1 Timothy 5:15, Paul wrote of certain
women being "turned aside unto Satan." They bad not sought out the
invisible tempter of orthodoxy, but bad been drawn aside by the allurements
of the world, the great adversary of the Truth (1 John 2:15-16).
The Bible refers to a "synagogue of
satan" (Rev. 2:9), or a religious congregation in opposition to the true
describes Satan's seat as being in the Asian city of Pergamos (Rev. 2:13), because that city became the
temporary headquarters of those heretics which troubled the early Ecclesias
(cp. v. 14).
It refers to satan as being
"bound" during Christ's millenial reign (Rev. 20:2),
which is a reference to flesh
being restrained under the disciplinary laws of Christ. It describes Peter as satan, when he set himself in
opposition to Christ (Matt. 16:23).
The word Satan, therefore, signifies
"adversary." Whilst it can relate to a good adversary opposing
wickedness, most often it is an evil adversary that is in view. The greatest
and most evil adversary to righteousness that mankind possesses are the lusts
of the flesh. The desires are so powerful, that to gratify them men turn their
backs upon God. Jesus taught that "from within, out of the heart of
man" proceed all forms of sin (Mark 7: 21-23), and that is the satan we
need to dread most.
Satan In Job And
Satan figures largely in the book of Job,
and many base their concept of a fallen-angel-devil upon the expressions of
It is alleged, for example, that the scene
of Ch. 1:6-7 which depicts Satan appearing before the Lord in company with
the sons of God, relates to God's dwelling place in heaven, and at first
sight it seems to read that way.
But obviously, if God is so holy that He
"cannot look upon sin," He would not tolerate such a creature in
imity to Him.
And a true interpretation of the verses
does not require such an inconsistent picture.
We learn from Deuteronomy 19:17 that when
a person appeared before a priest (God's representative on earth) he appeared
before the Lord, because God was with the priest in the judgment (2 Chron.
Why not apply the same principle of
interpretation to Job Ch. 1:6 -- a principle that is consistent with other
parts of Scripture? When that is done, the whole transaction is
understood as taking place on earth, before God's priest.
But what of the term: "Sons of
God"? Does not that indicate the angels of heaven?
By no means. The same phrase is used of mortal
believers (see Deut. 14:1;
Hos. 1: 10;
John, writing to mortal believers, declared: "Now are we the sons of
God" (1 John 3:2). Thus the term relates to mortals, not angelic beings.
Satan (many Bibles supply the alternative --
"adversary" in the margin) was also a son of God, or a believer,
but one who was motivated by jealousy and envy against Job, and who was
therefore his adversary. He sought to blacken Job's reputation in the sight
of God by imputing unworthy motives to his blameless life, and by accusing
him of hypocrisy.
It is by no means uncommon to have such
people among the believers, and claiming to be sons of God in the sense of 1
John 3:1. Even among the disciples of the Lord, there was satan in the person
of Judas (John 6:70) as well as Peter (Matt. 16:23, Mark 8:33). Every
Christian community has its satan, its Judas in its midst, so that Job's
experience was by no means unique.
It is sometimes claimed, however, that the
Satan of Job exercised the powers of life and death over the patriarch. The
book does not say so. It claims that all the trials that Job experienced came
from God (Job 2:3; 19:21; 42:11). He was tested that his enemies might be confounded, and
that a principle of faith in adversity might be exhibited as an example for
all times (James 5:11).
[We would like to also point out, that
throughout the book of Job, Job and his friends NEVER attributed any of the
trials he was experiencing to any one but God. -- Antipas]
Another reference frequently advanced to
prove the existence of Satan in heaven as a fallen angel is Revelation 12:7:
"There was war in heaven . . ."
This seems conclusive, but is far from
being so when the context is examined. For example, vv.1-2 depicts a woman
giving birth to a son "in heaven." It is the same
"heaven," but is it God's dwelling place?
Such an idea is unthinkable. There is
neither marriage nor giving in marriage there (Luke 20:36). It is obvious
that we are in the presence of symbolic language (see Rev. 1:1), and the
"heaven" in question relates to the political "heavens"
which are set up on earth!
In fact, all this chapter is couched in
and should be interpreted in that light.
It is completely wrong to base a Bible doctrine on the literal interpretation
of such expressions.
The same chapter speaks of a "great
red dragon" (also in heaven) "having seven heads and ten horns, and
seven crowns upon his heads" which catches a third of the stars in his
tail and casts them into the earth.
Obviously this is not literal language;
nor is it the language of fantasy. It is the language of symbol, the clues
for the understanding of which, are carefully given (see Rev. 17:9-10). And
these reveal that the symbols have relation to political events on earth, not
in heaven, in which God's purpose is worked out.
The doctrinal evidence of the Bible shows,
without doubt, that the devil revealed therein relates to sin in its various
forms which Christ came to destroy.
TO STUDY No. 17
1. What, according to the Bible, was the
original cause of death?
2. Explain in scriptural terms the process
of sinning and its results.
3. What does the word "devil",
used in our English Bible version, really mean, when properly translated from
4. How should the Hebrew word
"salan" be translated into English?
5. Did Job think that the evil brought
upon him was caused by a super-natural Satan?
6. Where, in the Book of Job, do we have
proof that the trials were divinely controlled?