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The Christadelphians

"And the Lord shall be King over all the earth ..."
Zechariah 14:9

West Houston

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The Identity of Lucifer
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The Truth About Lucifer

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12).

The Terrible Reality of Evil

It is often difficult for people to come to grips with the question of evil. Its existence is a stark, ugly, undeniable fact. Yet most of us naturally shrink from that which presents embarrassing problems, beyond our ability to solve.

Evil has been present from the very beginning of history. The relentless struggle between the “Forces of good and evil” — however the term may be understood — continues today with increasing strength! The very violence of today’s society, the rising crime rate, the constant story of bloodshed, are evidences of this fact.

But the question still remains to be answered: What is the real source of evil? Is there some external force over which we have no control, exercising an unhealthy influence over us? Is there a supernatural “devil” such as has been the foundation of church teaching for centuries? If this is so, how is it that we ourselves are conscious of doing wrong, or feel uncomfortable when guilty — this being the case even with young children?

Most importantly: who or what causes us to do wrong? Or are we totally to blame for our own wrongdoing?

The History of the Struggle for Good and Evil From early times, almost every culture has held some kind of belief in an eternal struggle between the forces of ‘good and evil.’ A pagan world devised philosophies of supernatural beings which involved demons and devils with frightening powers and exercising a fearful influence over mankind. As there was always a “good” chief god believed to enjoy himself somewhere in the upper regions of the atmosphere, so there was the necessity of a gloomy chief god of the “underworld,” to guard the spirits of the dead in the dark shadows of a mysterious area deep below the earth’s surface.

Human Inventiveness

Out of these ancient superstitions the inventive mind of man fabricated the fanciful church-notion of a superhuman monster, called Devil, the absolute personification of every form of evil and iniquity; a power to be reckoned with; a creature virtually as powerful as God Himself.

In this way, orthodox Christianity superimposed the pagan beliefs and superstitions of both civilised and barbaric peoples upon the teachings of the Bible to gain control over them, and found a scapegoat for wickedness, someone who was the originator and instigator of all that is evil and ungodly. Someone upon whom man could shift his own responsibility for doing wrong with the blame: “He made me do it!”

This fabrication gave rise to the introduction of further errors into the teaching of the Church, for the supposed Devil and his “evil angels” must have their victims! Since dead bodies do not mysteriously disappear, but corrupt, so obviously the Devil had to get its clutches into the departed “souls” of those dead who, being evil, are not accepted into heaven. Consequently, it was reasoned that man must possess “an immortal soul” — a teaching not found at all in the Bible! Since wicked souls cannot to to heaven, they are sent on the opposite way — to a place called hell, under the earth!

Of course, these arguments collapse when it is realised that man does not possess an immortal soul. Search the Scriptures from beginning to end, and you will never find the expression “immortal soul.” These two words never occur together — nor in the same verse — in the entire Bible!

The Beginning of Life and the True Meaning of “Soul”

The Bible speaks clearly concerning the origin of man and his soul. “The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). This statement is uncomplicated, and easy to understand. The elements used for the forming and creation of the first human body were taken from the earth. Those who doubt this reject the very words of Jesus Christ himself for he clearly endorsed this account of man’s creation: “He which made them at the beginning, made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4). If Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did not know what was true concerning the origin of man, who would? Either we believe Christ’s endorsement of the Genesis account, or we reject the entire teaching of the Bible. There is no middle ground.

Having made the first man, God then “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” The Bible does not say that God breathed into his nostrils the “breath of eternal life” — or “ever-living life.” Simply, “the breath of life.”

The creature to be known as “man” was now alive: “And man became a living soul.” Again, note the simplicity and directness of the wording. The word rendered “living” is from a Hebrew word, chay, from chaya, meaning “life” or “living.” Look carefully at the way in which this word is used in Genesis 1:20, 21, 24, 28, 30. Note, too, its application to all the animals of creation, in Genesis 2:19.

The word “soul” seems to strike an enigmatic chord with many, as though it implies in itself that man is immortal. Not so. Rendered from the Hebrew word nephesh, it simply means “a living, breathing creature; a person; an animal.” The word is never used in the Bible in relation to immortality.

True Significance of the Word “Soul”

The Bible applies the word nephesh in various ways, showing absolutely that the word emphasizes the mortality of humankind and all animal life. For example, we learn that:

  • a “soul” is born: (Genesis 46:18);
  • a “soul” can eat: (Exodus 12:15);
  • a “soul” can be eaten: (Leviticus 22:11);
  • a “soul” can be saved from death: (Psalm 56:13);
  • a “soul” can die: (Joshua 11:11);
  • even a sinless soul died: (Isaiah 53:12).
  • The word nephesh occurs 754 times in the Old Testament. In 326 places the “soul” is said to be subject to death; in 203 places it is said to be in danger of death; and in 123 places it is said to be delivered from death, thus implying its liability to death.

    In the New Testament the equivalent Greek word is psuche, which occurs 106 times. In 45 places it is said to be subject to death; in 29 places it is said to be in danger of death; and in 16 places it is said to be delivered from death. Never is the “soul” described as being immortal. Nor can it be applied to represent something within mankind that continues to live on, after death. There are, then, no immortal souls to be wafted away, either upward to heaven or downward to hell. On the contrary, the Bible clearly teaches that man is wholly mortal, and that at death he entirely ceases to exist.

    After Adam and Eve had broken God’s command, God pronounced the sentence of death upon them: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” God made no mention of a “soul” being separated from the body at the cessation of life. Instead He said, “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden... So He drove out the man...” (Genesis 3:22-24).

    At Death, Man Ceases to Exist

    The creation account shows that man was created a living creature. Nothing more than this is stated or implied.

    There is also copious evidence, set forth in clear, easily understood terms, which confirms that, at death, human life ceases to exist. After “the breath of life” has left the body, no other “life” remains. The Word of God declares:

    • “In death there is no remembrance of Thee [God]: in the grave, who shall give thee thanks?” (Psalm 6:5).
    • “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Psalm 146:3-4).
    • “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything… their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished…” Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:5,6,10).
    • “The grave cannot praise Thee, death cannot celebrate Thee; They that go down into the pit cannot hope for Thy truth” (Isaiah 38:18).
    • “There [in the grave] the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary be at rest” (Job 3:17).
    • “David is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre [i.e., the evidence of his death] is with us to this day… For David, after he had served his own generation, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption” (Acts 2:29;13:36).
    • “Lazarus sleepeth…Lazarus is dead…” (John 11:11,14).

    Heaven, Hell, or the Grave?

    In view of the foregoing biblical evidence, commonly held beliefs concerning the origin of evil and the reward of the righteous are clearly shown to be wrong.

    Much theological error revolves around the fallacy of the immortality of the soul. This teaching necessitates that “souls” must go “somewhere” at the moment of death. It is claimed that the righteous (or “good” people), go to heaven. This means that someone must be in charge ‘Up There.’ A picture is often portrayed of “souls” soaring off to astonishing heights to meet “St Peter,” who stands guard at “the Pearly Gates” with the keys in his hand, to determine whether to grant entrance or not. If the decision is in the negative and entry is denied, the “soul” must again embark on its journey, this time heading downwards, where it must cringe before the malevolent presence of the “Devil.” There, deep in the earth (so we are told) it is unbelievably hot, so that a newly arrived “soul” is greeted by fearful screams and blood-curdling shrieks of the “souls” who are in endless torture and torment throughout eternity. Loathsome demons prance around amidst the sulphurous, roaring flames, brandishing pitchforks and vexing “roasting souls” with endless cruelties.

    A Travesty of Truth

    The concept of a supernatural “monster” causing mankind to commit sin is not merely biblically wrong. It causes two major violations against divine truth and every form of logic.

    Firstly, such a doctrine is God-dishonouring; for it argues that, whilst God does everything possible to lead mankind in the ways of goodness and righteousness, one of His own angels can with impunity openly rebel against the omnipotence of a holy and righteous God, triumphantly subjecting men and women to every form of wickedness and ungodliness that he can conceive.

    Secondly, if such an evil creature existed — with a power as great, or greater, than that of God — it would remove all responsibility from mankind for the sins and the evil they commit; for they could quite rightly blame the wicked influence of the “Devil” for their wrongdoing, whilst they remain blameless. Why are the prisons then filled with people, whilst the real “criminal,” the Devil, goes free?

    Would a wise and loving God, whose sole desire for mankind is that men and women might attain to eternal salvation, permit the human race to be dominated by a perverted, utterly depraved “fallen angel?”

    The very suggestion is irrational! Such an appalling state of affairs could only exist in the world if God were powerless to destroy this evil creature — which certainly must be the case, if such a creature existed, in view of the frightfully degenerate and morally corrupt state of today’s world!

    It is difficult to conceive that such specious concepts of “life after death” could be taught as part of the christian religion. However, all the nonsensical theology described in the above paragraph is based upon the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. Once it is established from the pages of the Bible, that man is wholly mortal, that all existence ceases at death, and that “the immortality of the soul” is a fallacious doctrine and the figment of man’s philosophical imagination, our thinking upon these matters undergoes a remarkable change. There is no immortal soul.

    Therefore, no one goes to heaven or hell at death. And there is no supernatural “Devil.”

    Who, Then, is Lucifer?

    Many dictionaries, somewhat lacking in areas of biblical knowledge, claim that “Lucifer is a name for the Devil.” This is the popular view, and is widely believed.

    Perhaps part of the myth and mysticism surrounding the word Lucifer comes from the fact that its Latin meaning is “light-bearing” — similar to the meaning of the Hebrew word from which it has been rendered. Gesenius, a notable Hebrew scholar, states that the original Hebrew word means “bright star” or “morning star.” The name occurs only once in Authorised Version of the Bible, but is generally omitted from modern versions of Scripture.

    In the A.V., this word is only found in the prophecy of Isaiah: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” (Isaiah 14:12). Other, more correct, renderings of this Hebrew expression, should be noted. The Revised Version has: “How art thou fallen from heaven, day star, son of the morning.” The Revised Standard Version has: “How are you fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn.” The New English Bible has: “How you have fallen from heaven, bright morning star, felled to the earth.”

    The Hebrew word for “Lucifer” is heylel, derived from a root word, halal, meaning “to be clear, and hence to shine.” The word is particularly identified with celestial bodies.

    But who was the “bright star” that “fell” from “heaven” as mentioned in Isaiah 14:12? It is always unwise to take a verse or two of Scripture out of context, and therefore it is important to read the background verses of this chapter. Even a cursory reading of Isaiah 14, will make the identity of the individual quite clear. It was Belshazzar, king of Babylon who lived about BC600, at the time this prophecy was declared. So Isaiah is commanded: “Take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! The golden city ceased!” (Isaiah 14:4).

    The chapter has nothing to do with the circumstances of the creation of the earth, nor with what happened in the Garden of Eden. Right through to the end of this prophetic section, the power of Babylon remains the central point of the prophecy. “I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of Hosts, and cut off from Babylon, the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 14:22-23).

    Biblical Symbology And Fulfilled Prophecy

    The chapter in which Isaiah mentions “Lucifer” is a continuation of the prophetic utterances recorded in the previous chapter, which begins with the words: “The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see…” The prophet continues: “The stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine” (note the celestial terms which are markedly similar to the language of chapter 14:12-13, wherein it is stated that, in his proud and extravagant boasting, the king of Babylon determined to “ascend into heaven” and “exalt his throne above the stars of God”). Thus: “Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah” (Isaiah 13:10, 19). Therefore, the “Lucifer” of Isaiah chapter 14 is none other than the king of Babylon.

    Some may wonder at the use of heavenly language to describe earthly kingdoms, with their risings and fallings. This is not uncommon in Scripture. Isaiah provides a further explanation of this symbology in the opening words of his prophecy: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!” (Isaiah 1:2). One cannot imagine the prophet raising his voice to the clouds, addressing them as though they would be capable of hearing and responding; nor is it reasonable to conceive of him bending over a clod of earth and speaking similarly, hoping to be heard by the soil. He explains: “Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers... give ear unto the law of our God, ye people” (v. 10).

    In Biblical symbology, the “heavens” (and such orbs as the sun, moon and stars) represent ruling powers; whereas the “earth” is representative of the society of a kingdom (Deuteronomy 32:1; Leviticus 26:19; Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 51:6; Jeremiah 2:12; II Peter 3:13). In fulfilment of these prophecies — which were quite remarkable, considering that Babylon was, at that time, the most powerful kingdom on earth — the Medes and Persians overran and conquered the Babylonian Empire by seizing control of the great city overnight.

    Thus the king who thought himself all-powerful and able to “ascend” to the greatest heights of the political “heavens,” was brought “down to earth” through divine intervention in the affairs of men. And not only so, but the prophet added: “Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming” (Isaiah 14:9). This statement may rekindle fantasies of everlasting fire and the unending screams of the wicked, roasting through all eternity. But do not be misled; let the Bible speak for itself, as we shall now do:

    What is Hell, and Where is it?

    We have established from Bible teaching that humans do not possess an immortal soul, and that at death humankind totally cease to exist. Therefore there are no “souls” to either waft off to heaven above, or be dragged screaming into eternal hell-fire. What then, are we to make of this “hell” which is “beneath?”

    The English word hell is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon word “helan” which simply means “to cover” or applies to any “covered place.” In Old Norse, the word was “hel”; the equivalent in Gothic was “halja”; in Old High German it was “hella.” In all these languages the meaning was the same.

    In the O.T., as seen in this verse from Isaiah, the word “hell” has been rendered from the Hebrew sheol, which has a similar meaning to its counterpart in English. Although the A.V. renders the word as “hell” thirty times, it renders the same Hebrew word as “the grave” thirty-one times, and as “pit” three times. Some versions render it as sheol, leaving it in its Hebrew form. The New International Version uses “grave” with a footnote “sheol.”

    The word simply means “a covered-over place.”

    If “hell” is defined as the place of eternal torment for wicked “souls” it creates insurmountable problems, not merely on the grounds already presented in this article, but because “hell” is the place to which both wicked and righteous are consigned. For example, Jacob, one of the great patriarchs, went there (Genesis 37:35); it was also the final resting place of the rebellious priests of Israel: Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their wicked associates (Numbers 16:30).

    Psalm 16:10 prophesies that the Son of God, Jesus Christ would be in “hell”: “For Thou [God] wilt not leave my soul in hell.” Peter quotes this verse in Acts 2:31, using the past tense, following Christ’s resurrection from the grave: “his soul was not left in hell,” adding: “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:31-32). Paul later used the Psalm to prove the same point — that Christ had died, been laid in the grave, and then raised from the dead by his Father’s power (Acts 13:35).

    A further passage from the O.T. using the word sheol, is quoted in the N.T. to prove that God’s faithful servants will be raised from the grave to receive the gift of divine nature (compare Hosea 13:14 with 1Corinthians 15:55). This passage provides Paul’s proof that Jesus Christ himself had risen from the grave — not that he had been consigned to the raging flames of a “hell,” to be unjustifiably maltreated by the “Devil.” Hell, then, is not a place of eternal torment. Such a concept is based upon mythology, and not Bible teaching. In biblical terminology hell is simply “the grave;” a “covered place” where human bodies are placed after death. In the case of God’s true and faithful servants, it is merely their resting place until the time of Christ’s return, when they will be raised to appear before him.

    The Devil and Satan

    Many are convinced that a supernatural evil monster exists, merely because the words “devil” and “satan” appear in the Bible. How, they wonder, could these words ever refer to anyone other than Lucifer? In fact, neither of these words are proper names, as we have demonstrated in regard to the word rendered “Lucifer.”

    The word “devil,” in the singular, does not appear at all in the Old Testament. It occurs only four times in the plural, and has been translated from two different Hebrew words. One of these has also been rendered “satyr” (once) and “satyrs” (once). The first reference to “devils” is in Leviticus 17:7, which was written about 2,500 years after creation.

    If this referred to the supernatural monster of popular theology, it is remarkable that it should take some 2,500 years of human history before he even got a mention in the Bible! However, this Hebrew word has been rendered “goat” 19 times, and “kid” or “kids” [of goats] 27 times, and its basic meaning is “hairy.” It has been rendered “devils” only twice. Perhaps from this meaning developed the image of a hairy, cloven-footed, long-tailed creature, waving a pitch fork!

    The other word occurs only twice. One authority writes concerning this word shed or shedim: “When the gods of the [pagan] nations are called shedim it is not meant that they are evil spirits, but that they are insubstantial shades, ‘no-gods,’ with neither divine nor demoniac functions.” There is no hint in either of these Hebrew words that they represent a supernatural monster. If they did so, we would wonder why neither word was introduced early in the Genesis narrative at the time “the Devil” is alleged to have caused sin to come into the world.

    In the New Testament, the word “devil” has been rendered from two Greek words. The first, and most commonly quoted to suggest the existence of a supernatural monster, is diabolos. It is derived from the prefix dia, meaning “through,” and ballo, “to hurl, thrust, or throw.” Diabolos means “false accuser, slanderer,” and can relate to any who oppose the truth of God’s Word, by speaking slanderously or falsely against it. Like all other words rendered “devil” or “satan,” diabolos is not a name; it defines a particular type of character or condition, and is always used of those who violate or oppose the will or Word of God. For example, it is used to describe sin (Hebrews 2:14); civil authorities who persecuted the people of God (Ephesians 6:11; Revelation 2:10); those who were false accusers (II Timothy 3:3); Judas Iscariot, who was a flesh-and-blood human being (John 6:70); women who slandered others (I Timothy 3:11).

    The other Greek word rendered “devil” is daimon, which is generally used to describe certain illnesses. In the times of Christ it was commonly believed that certain types of illnesses were caused by evil spirits. This was especially so with afflictions such as epilepsy and mental afflictions. During an attack, the unfortunate victim would froth at the mouth and wildly throw himself around on the ground as though under the control of some powerful, invisible force. Because neither the sickness nor its effect was understood, superstitious minds of the day thought that only spirit-possession could cause such a condition.

    Biblical language adopted the terminology of the times, but did not teach pagan doctrines. Jesus Christ was told by his adversaries: “You have a devil!” (John 7:20). This was the equivalent of saying: “You are mad!” Certainly, the Son of God, perfect in character, was never possessed by a supernatural “devil.”

    “Satan” is a Hebrew word found in the Greek as: satan or satanas. The meaning is the same in both languages: “to be an adversary” or “an opponent.” Like diabolos, the word satan is not a name but is descriptive of a type of person or group of people. It has been rendered “resist,” “adversary,” “withstand,” and “satan.” It has been used in various ways which indicate that it is not “another name for the Devil,” as some suggest. For example, it is used of God when He became an “opponent” to Israel (I Chronicles 21:1). An “angel of the LORD” is also described as a “satan” (Numbers 22:22, 32). The Lord Jesus Christ described the apostle Peter as a “satan” because he “opposed” the Lord when Christ moved towards Jerusalem and his crucifixion (Matthew 16:23). Religious communities which proclaim a false gospel are also termed “satan” (Revelation 2:9). In the Old Testament the word satan occurs only five times outside the book of Job.

    What, then, of the satan in the book of Job? He is described as “going up and down in the earth,” but never spoken of as flying through the skies, or descending to a fiery domain beneath the earth. He is said to have gathered with “the sons of God,” but this is a term used of mortal believers, among whom Job himself was numbered (I John 3:2). Moreover, it was not “satan” who brought such suffering upon Job but God himself (Job 2:3; 19:21; 42:11). There is no evidence to associate the satan of the book of Job with a superhuman monster. Thus the words rendered “devil” and “satan,” understood in accordance with the various original words, do not represent a supernatural monster who causes people to sin.

    The Origin of Sin

    Whilst there is certainly the hope of a resurrection to eternal life for all who serve God as “true worshippers ... in spirit and in ruth” (John 4:23-24; Acts 4:19-20; I Corinthians 15), the reality of sin and its effects must still be faced, for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

    Therefore unless we find the means whereby we may overcome sin, nullifying its power in our lives, we will “remain in the congregation of the dead” (Proverbs 21:16).

    Where, then, should we find the source of sin? The answer to that question will help us to break free from the erroneous and specious doctrines which are the hallmark of popular “christianity,” but which blind people to the true message of God’s Word so long as they remain under their influence. The Lord Jesus Christ answers: “From within, out of the heart of man, 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).

    Who are we to blame for our wrong doing? Only ourselves. We can hold no one else accountable. By nature, we all have a proneness to sin. “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). To this testimony, the prophet Jeremiah adds: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). How did this happen to the human race? How did sin enter the world? We will answer these vital questions after we have defined “sin.” God tells us that “sin is lawlessness” (I John 3:4), R.V. God has set before mankind certain commandments and statutes to which He requires the human race to conform. This is for their own benefit as well as fulfilling God’s will in their lives. When men and women decide that they do not care for God’s will or purpose, or they repudiate His Word, they live a way of life that is outside His law. Thus they become “outlaws” because they live “outside” the “law” and ways of God. This situation came about because of an incident that occurred in the very beginning of time.

    Eve and the Serpent

    Of all the creatures of creation, only man was made in the “image” [form or shape] and “after the likeness” [mental capacity; ability to moralize] of God, thereby becoming morally and spiritually answerable to Him. It was God’s purpose that mankind should “have dominion” over all the earth, as God’s representatives, reflecting His righteousness and holiness (Genesis 1:26). This purpose was temporarily interrupted when sin entered the world as the direct result of the false teaching of the serpent. But it is a purpose that will be fulfilled in the future.

    In the Garden in Eden, Adam and Eve were subjected to a law so that God could test their fidelity and loyalty: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, dying thou shalt die” (Genesis 2:16-17); see A.V. margin).

    When the entire work of creation had been completed, God pronounced everything He had made as being “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Adam and Eve were placed in the beautiful garden to tend it and care for it.

    The serpent then appeared on the scene.

    This creature is described as a “serpent,” and nothing more. It is not presented as a supernatural monster in the form of a serpent. Nor does the Bible teach that the “Devil” was hiding somewhere in the garden, using the serpent as an instrument for the perpetration of evil.

    If the former had been the case, mankind would have nothing to fear any more from this “devil” because God “cursed it above all cattle, and above every beast of the field” and He told the serpent: “Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life” — thus it was condemned to become an abject creature of the earth with a limited lifespan (Genesis 3:14).

    If the “Devil” was hiding somewhere in the garden and had prompted the serpent to perpetrate the first lie, surely the serpent, when confronted by God, would have blamed the devil. But the serpent had no one to blame!

    Later, the apostle Paul endorsed that which is stated in Genesis: “I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted…” (II Corinthians 11:3). He does not mention any immortal “devil.”

    The Bible reveals three things about the serpent. The first is that it “was more subtil than any beast of the field” (Genesis 3:1), which simply means that it had a higher intelligence than any other creature among the lower order of animals. However, since it had not been created with the ability to moralize upon divine principles, it possessed only an animal, or carnal, mind. The only thoughts it could express were the product of a natural, or ungodly mind.

    Secondly, it had the power of speech, for it was able to converse with the woman (Genesis 3:2-5). Balaam’s ass was given this same power (Numbers 22:28-30; II 2Peter 2:16).

    Thirdly, it is evident that the serpent was created as an upright creature. If this serpent had possessed the same form as a serpent does today, there would have been no point in God sentencing it: “upon thy belly shalt thou go.”

    Sin and Death — God Intervened

    God had warned the man and the woman that if they disobeyed His law (Genesis 2:16-17), they would die. But the serpent persuaded the woman: “Ye shall not surely die.” Foolishly and tragically, the woman heeded the false teaching of the serpent who had simply spoken according to its limited, animal mind, without any compre-hension of the spiritual and moral implications of what he told her, and therefore she and her husband sinned against God, and their sin resulted in death “passing through” to all the human race.

    This fact is supported by the teachings of Paul: “As by one man [Adam] sin entered the world, and death through sin; and so death passed through to all men” (Romans 5:12), A.V. and Greek text. This agrees with that which he wrote to the Corinthians: “The sting of death is sin” (I Corinthians 15:56). And to the Romans: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

    Thus death came upon the human race as the result of sin — a sentence which was pronounced against Adam and Eve in Eden, and which passed on to all their descendants. Obviously sin originates from within mankind and does not operate through the influence of an external, supernatural “Devil.”

    This situation would have left the humanity in a hopeless condition, if God had not intervened. The grace and mercy of God had to be revealed to provide a hope of redemption for mankind. God promised that One would come who would be “the seed of the woman,” to “crush” the “head” of the serpent (which had become a symbol for the source and existence of sin).

    The only way in which the effects of sin could be defeated, whilst at the same time not impinging upon the righteousness and justice of Almighty God, was through one of Adam’s condemned race to overcome sin as a representative of sinners. He must live a life of perfect obedience to God, to totally overcome the power of sin in himself, and then willingly offer his life as a sacrifice to God. By this he would utterly deny the evil propensities and inclinations of his nature and, in his death, show that all righteousness comes only from God and not of the flesh.

    As the promised “seed of the woman” it was necessary that the Lord Jesus Christ should be “made of a woman” (Galatians 4:4), bearing the same weak, sin prone and mortal nature which resulted from God’s condemnation of sin in the Garden of Eden. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Christ] 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 [the diabolos, fallen human nature, with its evil propensities] .. that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:14,17).

    How to Gain the Victory through Christ

    Christ succeeded in destroying “the devil,” the effect of sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3) which held the power of death. Until the Lord’s triumph over the weakness of his human nature, death had exercised “dominion” over all (Romans 6:9). After Christ rose from the grave, he received divine nature — the same nature that God possesses; a nature that can never die, and in which the Lord Jesus would never again experience the weaknesses of the flesh (Hebrews 5:7-8). His sacrificial death demonstrates the way in which we can gain the victory over “the devil.” Because we are still mortal, erring creatures, we sin through the weakness of our nature and need forgiveness. God has made provision for this necessity for all who worship Him “in spirit (the correct disposition) and in truth” (in accord with the true teaching of His Word — (John 4:23-24)). John taught: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). Because of this wonderful provision of divine grace, Peter taught: “Repent and be baptised every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).

    When this is done we can look forward to the fulfilment of God’s purpose to refashion this world into a place of joy and peace. This requires the return of Jesus Christ to subdue all nations and unite them in a world empire, and “to be glorified in his saints” (Acts 1:9-11; 17:31; Daniel 2:44; Revelation 11:15; 2Thessalonians 1:7-10). Christ will then reign upon the earth, as king over God’s kingdom (Hebrews 2:5-13; Matthew 19:28; Luke 1:31-33; Psalm 2).

    The hope of living and reigning with Christ and of gaining the immeasurable gift of divine nature, is offered to all who will heed the message of God’s Word, and strive earnestly to obey it. Those who gain the gift of immortality will “reign” with him as “kings and priests” on the earth (Revelation 5:9-10). What grander hope could we ever entertain? Could there be any greater hope than to live for all eternity, manifesting the glory of our Creator in the true spirit of holiness and righteousness? This hope can be ours, for Christ taught: “He that believeth [the one true gospel] and is baptised shall be saved!” (Mark 16:15-16).

    Summary of Bible Teaching: The Devil & Satan

    The word “Devil” is the English translation of two different Hebrew words: Diabolos and Daimonion.

    DIABOLOS signifies “false accuser,” “calumniator,” “slanderer,” etc. It has been rendered “slanderers” in 1 Tim. 3:11, and “false accusers” in 2 Tim. 3:3; Titus 2:3. In no place is it used of a superhuman being tempting mankind to sin. It is translated “devil” in the following passages: Mat. 4:1, 5, 8, 11; 13:39; 25:41. Lk. 4:2, 3, 5, 6, 13; 8:12; John 6:70; 8:44; 13:2; Acts 10:38; 13:10; Eph. 4:27; 6:11; 1Tim. 3:6,7; 2Tim. 2:26; Heb. 2:14; James 4:7; 1Pet. 5:8; 1John 3:8,10; Jude 9; Rev. 2:10; 12:9, 12; 20:2,10. In all other places where the words “devil” or “devils” appear, the word in the original is daimonion.

    DIABOLOS is used to describe a person (Jn. 6:70); slanderous women (1Tim. 3:11); false accusers (2Tim. 3:3); sin (Heb. 2:14); the flesh (Acts 13:10); the antagonistic world (Ephesians 4:27); persecuting civil authorities (Ephesians 6:11; Revelation 2:10).

    DAIMONION is the word used to describe certain diseases attributed by superstition to the malignant influence of so-called spirits of dead heroes inhabiting a person. The Bible accommodates the language of the times, without endorsing this false pagan teaching. “Casting out devils” merely signifies curing a disease.

    SATAN is a Hebrew word, signifying “to oppose,” “to be an adversary.” The word is translated “adversary,” “resist,” “withstand,” and is also transliterated as “satan.” It appears as “adversary” or “adversaries” in the following places: Num. 22:22; 1Sam. 29:4; 2Sam. 19:22; 1Kgs. 5:4; 11:14, 23, 25; Psalm 38:20; 71:13; 109:4, 20, 29. It is translated “withstand” in Num. 22:32; “resist” in Zech. 3:1; “satan” in 1Chr. 21:1; Job 1:6, 7, 8, 9, 12; 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7; Psa. 109:6; Zech. 3:1, 2; Mat. 4:10; 12:26; 16:23; Mark 1:13; 3:23, 26; 4:15; 8:33; Lk. 4:8; 10:18; 11:18; 13:16; 22:3, 31; Jn. 13:27; Acts 5:3; 26:18; Rom. 16:20; 1Cor. 5:5; 7:5; 2Cor. 2:11; 11:14; 12:7; 1Thes. 2:18; 2Thes. 2:9; 1Tim. 1:20; 5:15; Rev. 2:9, 13, 24; 3:9; 12:9; 20:2, 7.

    From the above it will be found that the term has been used to describe God when revealed as an opponent to Israel (I Chr. 21:10), an “angel of the Lord” (Num. 22:22, 32), good and evil men (I Sam. 29:4; II Sam. 19:22; Psa. 38:20), an apostle (Mat. 16:23; Mk. 8:33), adverse religious communities (Rev. 2:90), sickness (Lk. 13:16), evil thoughts (Lk. 22:3; Jn. 13:27; Acts 5:3), the flesh (Acts 26:18), the world as adverse to God (1Cor. 5:5; 1Tim. 1:20), governments (Rev. 12:9; Lk. 10:18).

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