"THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS" The Key To A Joyful, Productive Life (12:12) by Mark Copeland

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS"

              The Key To A Joyful, Productive Life (12:12)


1. I suppose that we all have known Christians who go through life...
   a. Looking like they were "weaned on a pickle"
   b. Useless for any good work when things were going rough for them

2. But we have also known Christians who are the opposite...
   a. Joyful, steadfast in doing good
   b. Even though they are experiencing the same kind of hardships

3. Why the difference?
   a. I believe that the joyful, steadfast Christian has found the
      secret expressed in the Scriptures
   b. One place this "secret" is found is in Ro 12:12...

   "Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing steadfastly
   in prayer;"

[As we consider this verse, there are several observations we can make.


      1. That joy is a matter of personal temperament (heredity)
      2. That joy is a matter of circumstances (environment)
      3. But how can that be when being joyful is enjoined upon us all?
         a. It is a command, a duty - 1Th 5:16; Php 4:4
         b. Commanded even when things are rough - 1Pe 4:13

      1. Seen in the example of the Hebrews - He 10:34a
      2. Also in the example of Christians in Asia Minor - 1Pe 1:6

      1. Notice our text:  "rejoicing in hope"
      2. It should be easy to see how hope is the source of joy in our lives...
         a. A student, in hope of enjoying summer vacation, is happy as
            he thinks about it
         b. Likewise, it was the strong hope of the Hebrews that gave
            them joy despite the seizure of their property - He 10:34
         c. Again, the source of the Christians' joy in Asia Minor was
            their hope of salvation - 1Pe 1:5-6

      1. If Christians are not joyful, it is because they are not full
         of hope!
         a. And that is only because their minds are so preoccupied with
            things of this life
         b. I.e., they are just religious enough to be miserable!
      2. If they spent more time contemplating the hope we have as
         Christians, joy would automatically follow!
         a. Of course, hope is based upon faith - He 11:1
         b. And faith comes from the Word of God - Ro 10:17
         c. But if people do not read the Word, their faith is weak,
            their hope is shallow, and their joy is minimal

[But if we let God's Word produce the faith necessary for a strong hope,
then we too can have that joy which will help us no matter what the
circumstances.  This leads us back to our text, where we wish to make
another observation...]


      1. "patient"
         a. Means more than simply enduring, forbearing
         b. It also takes in the thought of activity despite the hardship
            1) It is continuing to do good, regardless of the trials
            2) Not just sitting there, refraining from doing something bad
      2. "tribulations"
         a. These could be trials suffered for the cause of Christ
         b. Or those common to all (sickness, death, etc.)
      3. Paul is therefore talking about pressing on in doing good
         despite hardships

      1. This can be illustrated in several ways...
         a. The athlete
            1) Why does he or she endure the hardships of training?
            2) The joyful hope of attaining victory!
         b. The Pilgrims
            1) Why did they endure the hardships of sailing across the ocean?
            2) The joyful hope of finding freedom from religious oppression!
         c. The college student
            1) Why does he or she endure the hardships of study and examinations?
            2) The joyful hope of a successful career!
         d. The early Christians
            1) Why did they endure persecutions, pressing on in their
               faithfulness to Christ?
            2) The joyful hope of their inheritance in heaven! - He 10:34
      2. Does this not explain why some Christians do not remain
         steadfast when things get rough?
         a. They do not have the "joyful hope" necessary
         b. And why not?  Their minds are so preoccupied with worldly things!

[One last observation I would like to make, based on our text...]


      1. The relationship between prayer and the joyful life is implied
         elsewhere in the Scriptures
         a. Notice 1Th 5:16-18
         b. If we pray without ceasing, we can rejoice always!
      2. For in proper prayer, we are constantly reminded of our hope
         (the source of joy and patience)
         a. In prayer, we should be made constantly aware of the reason
            for our hope (forgiveness of our sins through Jesus' blood)
         b. In prayer, we should be made constantly aware of the object
            of our hope (to one day be with God eternally)

      1. Not if we mean formal words of supplication and petition
      2. But prayer does not always have to be with formal words 
         - cf. 1Ch 5:20
      3. Prayer can also be:
         a. A mental attitude of devotion
         b. An unspoken reference to God in all that we do


1. Are our lives as joyful and productive as they should be?

2. If not, then let God's Word sink into our hearts:  "Continue
   steadfastly in prayer"

3. Do this, and we will more likely "rejoice in hope" and be "patient in

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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The Da Vinci Code and the Dead Sea Scrolls by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Da Vinci Code and the Dead Sea Scrolls

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

The Schøyen Collection MS 1655/1
In 1947, a number of ancient documents were found (by accident) in a cave on the northwest side of the Dead Sea. This collection of documents, which has become known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, was comprised of old leather and papyrus scrolls and fragments that had been rolled up in earthen jars for centuries. From 1949 to 1956, hundreds of Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts and a few Greek fragments were found in surrounding caves, and are believed by scholars to have been written between 200 B.C. and the first half of the first century A.D. Some of the manuscripts were of Jewish apocryphal and pseudepigraphal writings (e.g., 1 Enoch, Tobit, and Jubilees); others are often grouped together as “ascetic” writings (miscellaneous books of rules, poetry, commentary, etc.). The most notable group of documents found in the caves of Qumran near the Dead Sea is the collection of Old Testament books. Every book from the Hebrew Bible was accounted for among the scrolls, except the book of Esther.
The Dead Sea Scrolls make up one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all times. Jews and Christians often point to these scrolls as evidence for the integrity of the Old Testament text. Prior to 1947, the earliest known Old Testament manuscripts only went back to about A.D. 1000. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Bible scholars have been able to compare the present day text with the text from more than 2,000 years ago. What they have found are copies of Old Testament books separated in time by more than a millennium that are amazingly similar. Indeed, the Old Testament text had been transmitted faithfully through the centuries. As Rene Paché concluded: “Since it can be demonstrated that the text of the Old Testament was accurately transmitted for the last 2,000 years, one may reasonably suppose that it had been so transmitted from the beginning” (1971, p. 191).
So what does all of this have to do with The Da Vinci Code? According to Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate” (2003a, p. 1, emp. added). Yet notice how Brown uses one of his main fictional characters (Leigh Teabing) in the book. In an attempt to disparage the New Testament documents, Teabing alleged the following about them and their relationship to the Dead Sea Scrolls:
“[S]ome of the gospels that Constantine attempted to eradicate managed to survive. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1950s hidden in a cave near Qumran in the Judean desert” (Brown, 2003a, p. 234).
“These are photocopies of the Nag Hammadi and Dead Sea Scrolls, which I mentioned earlier,” Teabing said. “The earliest Christian records. Troublingly, they do not match up with the gospels in the Bible” (p. 244).
Although Brown asserted on the very first page of his book that “[a]ll descriptions of...documents...in this novel are accurate” (emp. added), and even though he claimed “absolutely all” of his book is based on reality in terms of things that actually occurred (see Brown, 2003b), among the many inaccurate statements he made in his book are those quoted above regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Simply put, the Dead Sea Scrolls are not in any way “Christian records;” they are Jewish writings from a Jewish religious sect, most of which predate the time of Christ (and thus Christianity) by several decades, and in some cases one or two centuries. These scrolls contain no “gospels.” In fact, Jesus of Nazareth is never even mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Such a reckless use of one of the greatest biblical archaeological discoveries ever should cause readers to see The Da Vinci Code for what it really is—a fictional novel bent on raising unnecessary suspicion about the trustworthiness of the Bible. Interestingly, the “documents” Brown used in hopes of casting doubt on Christianity, are, in actuality, some of the greatest pieces of evidence for the reliability of the Old Testament. What’s more, the Old Testament was “the Bible” of the early church. It is from these “Scriptures” that first-century Christians gleaned a greater understanding about Jesus, Who, as taught in the Old Testament, was the Christ, the prophesied Messiah (Acts 8:32-35; 17:10-11; 2 Timothy 3:15-17). In that sense, the Hebrew Scriptures contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls collection marvelously “match up with the gospels in the Bible.”


Brown, Dan (2003a), The Da Vinci Code (New York: Doubleday).
Brown, Dan (2003b), “Today,” NBC, Interview with Matt Lauer, June 9.
Paché, Rene (1971), The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

“Abiogenesis is Irrelevant to Evolution” by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


“Abiogenesis is Irrelevant to Evolution”

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

The Law of Biogenesis tells us that in nature, life comes only from life of its kind (Miller, 2012). Therefore, abiogenesis (i.e., life arising from non-living materials) is impossible, according to the scientific evidence. How then can atheistic theories like Darwinian evolution be considered acceptable? There is a growing trend among evolutionists today to attempt to sidestep the problem of abiogenesis by contending that evolution has nothing to do with the origin of life, but rather is a theory which starts with life already in existence and explains the origin of all species from that original life form. However, this approach is merely wishful thinking—an effort to avoid the logical import of the Law of Biogenesis.
Historically, evolutionists have recognized that abiogenesis is a fundamental assumption inherent in evolutionary theory, and intuitively must be so. In 1960, British evolutionary physiologist, G.A. Kerkut, listed abiogenesis as the first assumption in a list of non-provable assumptions upon which evolution is founded. “The first assumption is that non-living things gave rise to living material, i.e., spontaneous generation occurred” (Kerkut, 1960, p. 6). Evolutionary theory is an attempt to explain the origin of species through natural means—without supernatural Creation. Logically, unless you concede the existence of God and subscribe to theistic evolution in order to explain the origin of life (a position that has been shown to be unsustainable, cf. Thompson, 2000), abiogenesis must have originally occurred in order to commence the process of Darwinian evolution. Abiogenesis is required by evolution as the starting point.
Further, atheistic evolutionary geologist, Robert Hazen, who received his doctoral degree from Harvard, admitted that he assumes abiogenesis occurred. In his lecture series, Origins of Life, he says, “In this lecture series I make a basic assumption that life emerged by some kind of natural process. I propose that life arose by a sequence of events that are completely consistent with natural laws of chemistry and physics” (2005, emp. added). Again, evolution is an attempt to explain life through natural means, and abiogenesis must go hand-in-hand with such a theory. Hazen further stated that in his assumption of abiogenesis, he is “like most other scientists” (2005). It makes perfect sense for atheistic evolutionists to admit their belief in abiogenesis. Without abiogenesis in place, there is no starting point for atheistic evolution to occur. However, many evolutionists do not want to admit such a belief too loudly, since such a belief has absolutely no scientific evidence to support it. It is a blind faith—a religious dogma.
It is also true that atheists themselves use the term “evolution” as a generalized catchall word encompassing all materialistic origin models, including those dealing with the origin of the cosmos, not just the origin of species. A simple Google search of the keywords, “cosmic evolution,” illustrates that contention. Consider, for example, the title of Harvard University astrophysicist Eric Chaisson’s Web site: “Cosmic Evolution: From Big Bang to Humankind” (2012). Consider also the comments of NASA chief historian, Steven Dick: “Cosmic evolution begins…with the formation of stars and planetary systems, proceeds…to primitive and complex life, and culminates with intelligence, technology and astronomers…contemplating the universe…. This story of the life of the universe, and our place in it, is known as cosmic evolution” (2005). If atheism were true, in this mythical story of how the Universe evolved from nothing to everything, abiogenesis must have occurred somewhere along the way. Thus, abiogenesis is a fundamental, implied phenomenon of evolutionary theory. Creationists are merely using atheistic evolutionists’ terms in the same way they use them.
The truth is, one cannot logically commence a study of Life Science or Biology—studies which are intimately linked with the theory of evolution by the bulk of the scientific community today—without first studying the origin of that life which allegedly evolved from a single-celled organism into the various forms of life on Earth today. Biology and Life Science textbooks today, with almost unanimity, include a discussion of biogenesis, abiogenesis (ironically, discussing the work of Pasteur, Spallanzani, and Redi, who disproved the theory of abiogenesis), and extensive discussions of evolutionary theory. The evolutionists themselves inevitably couple Biology and Life Science with evolution, as though they are one and the same. But a study of life—biology—must have a starting point. So, evolutionists themselves link the problem of abiogenesis to evolution. If the evolutionary community wishes to separate the study of biology from evolution—a position I would strongly recommend—then the evolutionist might be able to put his head in the sand and ignore the abiogenesis problem, but not while the evolutionist couples evolution so intimately with biology.
The reality is that abiogenesis stands alongside evolutionary theory as a fundamental plank of atheism and will remain there. The two are intimately linked and stand or fall together. It is time for the naturalist to forthrightly admit that his religious belief in evolution is based on a blind acceptance of an unscientific pheonomenon.


Chaisson, Eric (2012), “Cosmic Evolution: From Big Bang to Humankind,” Harvard College Observatory, https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~ejchaisson/cosmic_evolution/docs/splash.html.
Dick, Steven J. (2005), “Why We Explore: Our Place in the Universe,” NASA, http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/whyweexplore/Why_We_13.html
Hazen, Robert (2005), Origins of Life, audio-taped lecture (Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company).
Kerkut, George A. (1960), The Implications of Evolution (London: Pergamon).
Miller, Jeff (2012), “The Law of Biogenesis,” Reason & Revelation, 32[1]:2-11, January, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1018&article=1722.
Thompson, Bert (2000), Creation Compromises (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Satan--His Origin and Mission [Part II] by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

Satan--His Origin and Mission [Part II]
by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Part I of this two-part series appeared in the October issue. Part II follows below and continues, without introductory comments, where the first article ended.]


In any study of Satan, the question is bound to arise: Why has Satan established himself as God’s archfiend and man’s ardent foe? No doubt a portion of the answer can be found in the fact that he, too, once inhabited the heavenly realm, but as a result of his defiant rebellion against the great “I AM,” was cast “down to hell” (2 Peter 2:4). Satan’s insurrection failed miserably, and that failure had dire, eternal consequences. His obstinate attempt to usurp God’s authority cost him his position among the heavenly host and doomed him forever to “everlasting bonds under darkness” (Jude 6). In the end, his sedition gained him nothing and cost him everything. Regardless of the battle plan he adopted to challenge the Creator of the Universe, regardless of the battlefield he chose as his theater of war, and regardless of the strength or numbers of his army, the simple fact of the matter is that—in the most important contest of his existence—He lost!
The conditions of his ultimate surrender were harsh. Although his armies had been thoroughly routed, although he had been completely vanquished, and although the Victor had imposed the worst kind of permanent exile, Satan was determined not to go quietly into the night. While he had lost the war, he nevertheless planned future skirmishes. Vindictive by nature (Revelation 12:12), in possession of cunning devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), and determined to be “the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:9), he set his face against all that is righteous and holy—and never once looked back. His anger at having been defeated fueled his determination to strike back in revenge.
But strike back at whom? It was futile to attempt a second mutiny. God’s power was too great, and His omnipotence too all-consuming (Job 42:2; 1 John 4:4). Another target was needed; another repository of satanic revenge would have to be found. And who better to serve as the recipient of hell’s unrighteous indignation than mankind—the only creature in the Universe made “in the image and likeness of God” (Genesis 1:26-27)? As Rex A. Turner Sr. has suggested: “Satan cannot attack God directly, thus he employs various methods to attack man, God’s master creation” (1980, p. 89). Sweet revenge—despoiling the “apple of God’s eye” and the zenith of His creative genius! Thus, with the creation of man, the battle was on—and has been ever since. As Basil Overton has warned: “Satan is out to get us. He will take advantage of us if we let him. It is a fight to the finish!” (1976, 5[4]:3).
It was through mankind that Satan would exact his revenge—the correct emphasis here being on the word “through.” As the apostle Paul stated in Romans 5:12: “Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned” (emp. added). Man thus became the agent who caused sin to be in the world. Richard Batey wrote: “Paul’s point is rather that since the power of sin is a universal human experience (Rom. 1:18-32; 3:9-23), this power must have come into the world through the representative man, Adam” (1969, 1:72).
As the “prince of this world” (John 12:31), Satan stalked about “as a roaring lion, ...seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He, and his ignominious band of outlaws (“sons of the evil one”; Matthew 13:38), have worked their ruthless quackery on mankind from the moment the serpent met mother Eve in the Garden of Eden. Their goal is nothing short of the complete spiritual annihilation of all mankind which, no doubt, is why Satan personally is identified within Scripture as the “king of the abyss,” the “Destroyer” (“Apollyon,” Revelation 9:11; see Easton, 1996), and the “wicked one” (“Belial,” 2 Corinthians 6:15; see Vine, et al., 1985, p. 60).
In his war against Heaven, Satan will stop at nothing; it is a “no holds barred/winner take all” battle. Witness, for example, his cruel deception of Eve (Genesis 3:1-6) with its temporal and eternal consequences of physical/spiritual death (1 Corinthians 15:21; Ezekiel 18:20). Recall the trials, tribulations, and tragedies visited upon the Old Testament patriarch, Job (Job 1-2). Take notice of Israel’s beloved monarch, King David, being tempted and convinced to sin (1 Chronicles 21:1,7). Remember the devil as Joshua’s adversary (Zechariah 3:1ff.). Commit to memory Beelzebub’s part in Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7), or how he hindered the apostle’s missionary efforts (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Cower in fear (as the early church did—Acts 5:11) at the results of his having persuaded Ananias to lie to the Godhead (Acts 5:3). Weep in sadness at the Great Adversary’s so successfully convincing Judas to betray His Lord (John 13:2) that Christ even referred to this singular apostle as “the devil” (John 6:70).
Or, tremble in dismay at the potential ruin of humanity, had Satan succeeded in causing Christ to sin when he tempted Him in the wilderness those many years ago (Matthew 4:1-11). Had Jesus yielded, there would have remained “no more a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26), and man would have been doomed—destined to inhabit forever the “blackness of darkness” (Jude 13) in the eternal presence of his most vituperative enemy, but, more important, in the eternal absence of His God.
Make no mistake about it. Satan has arrayed himself against both God and man. He is God’s archfiend, and man’s ardent foe. Nothing short of an absolute victory will assuage him; nothing short of a hell filled with every single member of the human race will dissuade him. He is, indeed, “the enemy” (Matthew 13:39).


As we study this enemy, another question comes to mind: Why has God allowed Satan to continue to exist? Since he is denominated within the pages of Scripture as “a murderer” (John 8:44), why not simply impose on him the same death penalty that civilized nations have imposed on murderers from time immemorial (cf. Numbers 35:16)? What possible justification could God have for allowing one so wicked to continue to live?
The answer, I am convinced, has to do with the nature of God, and the nature of the spirit beings (angels) that He created. There is a clue regarding this point in the text of Luke 20:33-36. Within this passage, Jesus spoke of the righteous who one day would inhabit heaven, and stated that “neither can they die any more, for they are equal unto the angels.”
If righteous humans who will inhabit heaven cannot die, and if they are equal to the angels, then it follows logically that angels cannot die. While the Godhead is eternal, humans and angels are immortal. As Douglas Kelly correctly observed, angels (and this certainly would include Satan prior to his fall) “are immortal, but only the Triune God is eternal” (1997, p. 93).
In his excellent, thought-provoking work, Systematic Theology, Turner addressed the issue of Satan’s continued existence when he wrote:
Why did God not destroy Satan when he sinned? Why let Satan continue to exist and influence others to sin? The answer here lies in God’s nature—his eternal nature which he has passed on to angels as well as to men—for there will never be a time when the spirits or angels, the evil as well as the good, will cease to exist. Punishments and prescribed limits have been passed upon evil spirits, and the more will be passed upon them, but they will always exist (1989, p. 83).
Scripture delineates angelic beings as immortal; thus, they—whether righteous or sinful—never will cease to exist. However, there may be more to Satan’s continued existence than simply the angels’ immortal nature. In addressing the question of exactly why Satan persists, Lloyd Ecrement has suggested:
Perhaps the reason might well be expressed in the words the Lord asked Moses to say to wicked Pharaoh: “For by now I could have put forth my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth; but for this purpose have I let you live, to show you my power, so that my name may be declared throughout all the Earth” (Exodus 9:15-16) [1961, p. 33].
Indeed, from a purely human vantage point, the continuation of evil—even for a brief period—generally is not viewed as either desirable or ideal. But, as T. Pierce Brown has proposed, God may have “allowed Satan to retain his power, temporarily, until he is through using him to test and purify a people for his ultimate glory and purposes” (1974, 91[16]:245). Certainly, God’s glory was exemplified by mankind’s creation because Isaiah, speaking for Jehovah, said that man was “created for my glory” (Isaiah 43:7).
In John 9, the story is told of a man who had been born blind. When Jesus’ disciples inquired as to the reason for his predicament, He responded that it was in order that “the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3, emp. added). What all this entails, we may not profess to know, realizing that the “secret things belong unto Jehovah our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29). But the Scriptures do reveal enough information for us to conclude that Satan’s continued existence follows logically from the immortal nature of angelic beings. They also reveal that the devil’s existence is not at variance with Heaven’s eternal plan, since at times it affords opportunities for mankind to witness the working of God amidst His creation.


Were Satan made of flesh and bone, we might employ the oft’-used phrase to describe him as a “man with a mission.” But do not let the fact that he is spirit rather than flesh trick you into thinking he has no mission. He most certainly does—and has since the day he was cast from the heavenly portals. Simply stated, that mission is the complete destruction of all humanity in hell.
It is no accident that, within the pages of Scripture, Satan (i.e., our “adversary”; Zechariah 3:1) routinely is denominated by such unseemly designations as: (a) the devil (i.e., slanderer; Matthew 4:1); (b) “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4); (c) “the prince of the powers of the air” (Ephesians 2:2); (d) the father of lies (John 8:44); (e) the “Great Dragon” (Revelation 12:9); (f) “Beelzebub” (i.e., prince of demons; Matthew 12:24). (g) the “wicked one” (Matthew 13:38); (h) “the prince of this world” (John 12:31); (i) the ruler of darkness (Ephesians 6:12); (j) “the tempter” (1 Thessalonians 3:5); (k) “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10); (l) a “murderer” (John 8:44); (m) “the enemy” (Matthew 13:39); (n) “a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8); (o) a “serpent” (2 Corinthians 11:3); (p) “Belial” (i.e., “wicked one”; 2 Corinthians 6:15); and (q) “angel of the bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:11).
After even a cursory glance at these appellations, surely we could agree with L.O. Sanderson when he wrote: “These alone should make us fearfully concerned” (1978, 120[43]:678). Satan’s names describe his mission. His primary goal is to alienate men from God by causing them to sin. His main objective is to make men his slaves, thereby robbing them of the freedom that God’s Word alone can impart (John 8:32). But how, exactly, does Satan do this?


The Bible makes it clear that the devil is the originator, the father, of sin. John wrote: “[H]e that doeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning” (1 John 3:8). In speaking to this point, Wayne Jackson has written: “Disease, infirmity and death are ultimately the responsibility of Satan, for by his introduction of sin into the world, he brought about such woes and hence he is really the murderer of the human family (John 8:44)” [1980, p. 76].
However, it is important to recognize that while Satan is the originator of sin, he is not the immediate cause of sin. As Ecrement has warned:
Satan tempts, but he cannot compel men to do evil against their wills. A man must yield to Satan’s temptation and desire before he becomes guilty of sin. To be tempted is not sin, but to yield to temptation is sin. We are answerable and responsible for our own sins, notwithstanding the temptation and influence of the devil. God endowed us with reason and a free will, therefore we have the ability to choose good or evil; in other words, we are free moral agents. So our sins are our own, and our own responsibility (1961, p. 34).
Satan’s constant coercion and tantalizing temptation do not, and cannot, override man’s free will. James affirmed this in his epistle when he wrote:
But each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death (1:14-15).
As an example of this point, consider the apostle who betrayed the Son of God. Overcome by the grotesque nature of his dastardly deed, Judas eventually lamented: “I have sinned in that Ibetrayed innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). Even in his final hours, he did not attempt to lay the blame for his sin at someone else’s feet.
Similar lessons are taught in Acts 5 and 2 Samuel 12. In Acts 5, when Ananias and Sapphira lied about the amount they had received from the sale of a piece of land (and the amount they subsequently professed to have donated to the church), Peter inquired of Ananias: “How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:4, emp. added). The apostle wanted Ananias to know that he, personally, bore the guilt for his sin. He could not claim (with any legitimacy): “The devil made me do it.”
In 2 Samuel 12, the prophet Nathan was sent by God to convict King David of the sin of adultery with Bathsheba, wife of Urriah the Hittite. This he did. After hearing the evidence against him, “David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against Jehovah” (12:13). To his credit, David realized that not even powerful potentates are immune to the personal responsibility that accompanies transgression of God’s law.
If we are responsible for our own actions, how, then, does Satan influence us to sin? In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul spoke of the fact that “no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” The word “devices” in this text derives from the Greek noemata, which “refers to intelligent notions, purposes, designs, devices, etc.” (Overton, 1976, 5[4]:3). In Ephesians 6:11, Paul admonished Christians to “put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The word “wiles” derives from the Greek methodeias, from which we get our word “methods.” Methodeias “is from the Greek verb that means to trace; to investigate; to handle methodically; to handle cunningly.... The devil is a skilled artisan. He will deceive you if you do not work at the job of fighting back at him” (Overton, 1976, 5:[4]:3).
Indeed, deceit is perhaps Satan’s most powerful tool. Through his “devices” and “wiles,” Satan pressures us “with all deceit of unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Sanderson has suggested that Satan’s traits “clearly show the Devil to be a cunning, deceitful hypocrite. He is truthless, dishonest, and fraudulent in every possible way” (1978, 120[43]:678). Adding to this assessment, L.M. Sweet wrote: “Satan’s power consists principally in his ability to deceive. It is interesting and characteristic that according to the Bible Satan is fundamentally a liar and his kingdom is a kingdom founded upon lies and deceit” (1939, 4:2693). The New Testament provides ample evidence to substantiate such a conclusion. Wayne Jackson summarized some of that evidence when he acknowledged that the deceiver:
(1) Delights in blinding the minds of the unbelieving that the light of the gospel should not dawn upon them (II Cor. 4:4). (2) To accomplish this he does not hesitate to transform himself into an angel of light along with his ministers who pretend to be ministers of righteousness (II Cor. 11:14,15). (3) When people are inclined not to believe the truth, the devil takes the gospel from their hearts (Luke 8:12). (4) He is full of trickery. He has his snares (I Tim. 3:7), and employs his “wiles”—a deliberate planning or system (Eph. 4:14; 6:11) [1980, p. 81].
But what power does Satan have that allows him to accomplish his task of deceiving humanity? How extensive is that power, and how is it wielded?


There can be no doubt that, as “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), Satan is powerful in his own right. When the devil tempted the Son of God in the wilderness, he offered Him all the power and glory of the kingdoms of this world, if only He would fall down and worship him (Matthew 4:9). His justification for this insidious offer was based on his claim that, as the lord of this planet, he could offer its possessions to “whomsoever I will” (Luke 4:6). Interestingly, Jesus refuted neither Satan’s position as “god of this world,” nor his ability to impose his will upon it. Erich Sauer therefore concluded:
This whole offer would have been unreal from the first for the Lord as a temptation, if some such legal basis for Satan’s dominion in the world had not existed. Otherwise Jesus would only have had to point out that the necessary presuppositions for Satan’s legal claim to and ability to dispose of the glory of the world simply did not exist. The Lord however left this claim of the devil’s uncontradicted and merely declared that man should worship and serve God alone (Luke 4:8). With this He recognized in principle the tempter’s right to dispose of the kingdoms of this world in this present age. This same thought lies behind the various sayings of Jesus in which He calls Satan “the Prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) [1962, p. 66].
We would do well to recognize the same thing the Son of God recognized: Satan is an important and powerful foe!
As powerful as he is, however, Satan is not omnipotent—a fact that even he recognized. During his temptation of Christ, he admitted that his earthly reign “hath been delivered unto me” (Luke 4:6). When the devil robbed Job of his family and earthly possessions, and even when he afflicted Job physically, he did so only with the expressed permission of God (Job 1:12; 2:6). When he sought to “sift” Christ’s apostles as wheat, he first had to “ask” for them (Luke 22:31). It is evident, therefore, that his powers do have limits.
But exactly what powers are in his possession? When T. Pierce Brown observed that “apparently he is able to make some sort of suggestions to the heart” (1974, 91[16]:5), he provided a picture window into which we may peer to observe the way Satan works among men. Among Satan’s powers are these. He perverts the Word of God (Genesis 3:1-4). He instigates false doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1-3). He blinds men to the truth (2 Corinthians 4:4). He sows tares among God’s wheat (Matthew 13:24-30,36-43). He steals the Word of God from human hearts (Matthew 13:19). He lays snares for men (2 Timothy 2:26; 1 Timothy 3:7). He tempts (Matthew 4:1; Ephesians 6:11). He afflicts (Job 2:7; Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38; 2 Corinthians 12:7). He deceives (Revelation 12:9; 20:8-10). He undermines the sanctity of the home (1 Corinthians 7:3-5). He prompts both saints and sinners to transgress the laws of God (1 Chronicles 21:1; Matthew 16:22-23; John 13:2; Acts 5:3). He hinders the work of God’s servants (1 Thessalonians 2:18). And he even makes accusations against God’s children before Heaven’s throne (Job 1:6-11; 2:3-6; 21:1-5; Zechariah 3:1-4; Revelation 12:9-10).
Satan employs his power of “suggestions to the heart” in a feverish manner to pervert the truth. In his book, Get Thee Behind Me Satan, Virgil Leach assessed our much-feared, other-worldly adversary in these words:
He is the great pretender and the first liar and hypocrite with special skills in deception.... No one escapes his trickery; every man knows something of deception. He will influence men to conceal or distort truth for the purpose of misleading, cheating and fraud. If he cannot overthrow truth he will neutralize it, water it down to dilute it. Qualities of guile, craftiness, dissimulation and pretense are used in all his maneuvers. Satan is a master of deceit and is well aware that half lies mixed with half truths more often do the trick and will more easily be swallowed and digested, not that he will not use an out-and-out lie should it fit the occasion. Loving darkness, he would prefer a tree to hide behind than an open field and would prefer an ambush over an open warfare. Our adversary would desire to plant his “Judas kiss” on the cheek of every man (1977, pp. 14-15).
Like a lion ready for the hunt (1 Peter 5:8), Satan waits to devour us via his “suggestions to the heart.” Like a well-hidden, coiled snake (Revelation 20:2), he is able to strike in an instant, injecting the poison of his venom into the minds of men. Or, using what is perhaps the most insidious disguise at his disposal, he even may portray himself as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14) who feigns humility, piety, and righteousness, yet whose intentions all the while are as insincere as they are sanctimonious.
What awesome powers the devil commands! What subtle meanness he exhibits! One moment he presents himself as an innocent-faced, sweet-talking “angel”; the next he is a ravenous mammal or slithering reptile. Little wonder Paul wrote to the Thessalonians:
For this cause I also, when I could no longer forbear, sent that I might know your faith, lest by any means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor should be in vain (1 Thessalonians 3:5).
The apostle’s inner stirrings on behalf of those he had worked so long, and so hard, to wrest from the devil’s grasp were based on his knowledge that they faced daily a formidable foe who was more than capable of ravishing both their bodies and their souls.


Is all lost, then? Hardly! Although the Scriptures repeatedly affirm Satan’s immense power, they likewise affirm that “he [God] that is in you is greater than he [Satan] that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). We know this to be the case because the Scriptures testify eloquently to the fact that Satan—far from having free reign—has been “bound.”
The concluding book of the New Testament, Revelation, was written to offer encouragement to first-century Christians who, because of their professed faith in the Son of God, were threatened hourly with severe persecution “even unto death” (Revelation 2:10). Within this book, which is written in apocalyptic literature that is highly figurative, the message is one not only of comfort, but of ultimate victory over the devil and his forces. The twentieth chapter, especially, presents a picture of God’s archfiend and man’s ardent enemy, Satan, as being “bound” (vs. 2) and “cast into the abyss” (vs. 3). As Hardeman Nichols has suggested:
If in our study of Revelation 20 we fail to see the final overthrow of Satan and his collaborators, we have missed a major truth. If we do not appreciate the final triumph of every righteous person, we have not been sufficiently blessed by this study (1978, p. 260).
Concerning the devil, Nichols went on to write that “[w]hen, in the unspecified eternity before the world he initiated his rebellion, God put a restraint upon him” (p. 263).
That restraint never has been removed. And, in fact, it has been tightened. While it is true that in the first century the devil and his minions were able to affect people physically (cf. Luke 4:41; 8:26-33), fortunately that no longer is the case. For example, when the prophet Zechariah foretold of the coming of the Messiah, and spoke of the blessings that would attend His reign, he stated that eventually the Lord would “cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land” (13:1-2). Concerning Zechariah’s prophecy, Homer Hailey remarked:
Likewise, unclean spirits, the antithesis of the prophets, would cease. In the conquest of Christ over Satan and his forces, unclean spirits have ceased to control men as they did in the time of the ministry of Christ and the apostles (1972, p. 392).
L.M. Sweet correctly observed that in our day and age there is no evidence that “Satan is able to any extent to introduce disorder into the physical universe or directly operate in the lives of men” (1939, p. 2694). [For a more in-depth discussion of these points than the limited space here will allow, the reader is referred to Jackson, 1990, 1998.]


God not only “bound” Satan, but sealed his ultimate doom. Our Lord will be victorious over Heaven’s Great Adversary, for “to this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8). It is via the power inherent in His own death and resurrection that He will “bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). The fate that awaits this traitorous tyrant is clear:
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Revelation 20:10).
Eternal punishment in hell has been “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
God’s covenant pledge, made with our forefathers in Genesis 3:15, then will be fulfilled once and for all: “he [Christ] shall bruise thy [Satan’s] head.” The paradise lost of Genesis will have become the paradise regained of Revelation. With the earthly reign of Satan brought to an end, and the eternal bliss of God’s saints secure, then, surely, we shall be able to say with the psalmist of old: “This is the day which Jehovah hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).


Batey, Richard (1969), The Letter of Paul to the Romans (Austin, TX: Sweet).
Ecrement, Lloyd L. (1961), Man, the Bible, and Destiny (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Hailey, Homer (1972), A Commentary on the Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Jackson, Wayne (1980), “Satan,” Great Doctrines of the Bible, ed. M.H. Tucker (Knoxville, TN: East Tennessee School of Preaching).
Jackson, Wayne (1990), “Miracles,” Giving a Reason for Our Hope, ed. Winford Claiborne (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman College).
Jackson, Wayne (1998), “Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality?,” Reason & Revelation, 18:25-31, April.
Kelly, Douglas F. (1997), Creation and Change (Geanies House, Fearn, United Kingdom: Christian Focus Publications).
Leach, Virgil (1977), Get Thee Behind Me Satan (Abilene, TX: Quality).
Nichols, Hardeman (1978), “The Binding of Satan,” Premillennialism: True or False, ed. Wendell Winkler (Fort Worth, TX: Winkler Publications).
Overton, Basil (1976), “Satan,” The World Evangelist, 5:[4]:3, November.
Sauer, Erich (1962), The King of the Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Sanderson, L.O. (1978), “The Devil and His Wiles,” Gospel Advocate, 120[43]:678, October 26.
Sweet, L.M. (1939), “Satan,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Turner, Rex A. Sr. (1980), Systematic Theology (Montgomery, AL: Alabama Christian School of Religion).
Vine, W.E., Merrill F. Unger, and William White (1985), Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: Nelson).

Satan--His Origin And Mission [Part I] by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


Satan--His Origin And Mission [Part I]
by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

As we make our way through this pilgrimage called “life,” surely we would count among the strongest aspirations of the human heart the desire to be content and happy—not in the mediocre sense of those words, but instead to be genuinely fulfilled and at peace both with ourselves and with the world in general. Oh, how we would like to be able to say with the writer of old (and actually mean it): “This is the day which Jehovah hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
But, as each of us knows all too well from personal experience, not every day causes us to “rejoice and be glad.” The simple truth is that things do not always go our way. Plans go awry. Fortunes are forfeited. Friendships are broken. Lives are lost. To echo the words of that ancient patriarch so famous for his perseverance in the face of adversity, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).
Facing the routine vicissitudes of life would be difficult enough on its own, without any outside force “stacking the deck.” Unfortunately, however, there is an outside force marshaled against us. Within the pages of Holy Writ, that “outside force” is identified by a variety of designations, but likely the best known and most widely used among them is the name: Satan.
In the Old Testament (where we first are introduced to the word, and where it is used approximately nineteen times), etymologically the Hebrew term satan is related to an Aramaic verb that means “to lie in wait,” “to oppose,” or “to set oneself in opposition to.” On occasion the term was employed to describe in non-specific terms any adversary, but whenever it was accompanied by the definite article (i.e., the adversary), it always indicated a proper name associated with mankind’s greatest adversary, Satan (Hiebert, 1975, 5:282).
In the New Testament (where the term Satan is used thirty-six times), the Greek word for Satan (satanas) indicates an adversary, opponent, or enemy, and “is always used of ‘Satan,’ the adversary...” (Vine, et al., 1985, p. 547). Another designation for our Great Adversary—“devil”—is used thirty-three times in the New Testament, and “...came into English through the German language from the Greek word diabolosDiabolos means a slanderer, treacherous informer and, traitor” (Overton, 1976, 5[4]:3).
Exactly who is this devil, Satan, who has established himself as God’s archfiend and mankind’s ardent foe? Is he real? If he is, what is his origin? Why has he arrayed himself against both God and man? What is his mission? What are his powers? And what is his ultimate destiny? These are questions that cry out from the human heart for answers. Fortunately, God’s Word provides those answers.


Throughout history, both those who do not accept the Bible as the Word of God (unbelievers), and those who accept it but only marginally so (religious liberals), have disavowed the existence of Satan as a real, personal, spiritual being. Rather, they speak of him as a “myth,” and of his dealings with mankind as “legends” invented as vehicles of “moral teaching” intended to impart great spiritual truths. But neither he nor his activities is accepted as historical reality. For example, atheistic writer Isaac Asimov, who was serving as president of the American Humanist Association at the time of his death in 1992, wrote:
By New Testament times, the Jews had developed, in full detail, the legend that Satan had been the leader of the “fallen angels.” These were angels who rebelled against God by refusing to bow down before Adam when that first man was created, using as their argument that they were made of light and man only of clay. Satan, the leader of the rebels, thought, in his pride, to supplant God. The rebelling angels were, however, hurled out of heaven and into Hell. By the time this legend was developed the Jews had come under Greek influence and they may have perhaps been swayed by Greek myths concerning the attempts of the Titans, and later the Giants, to defeat Zeus and assume mastery of the universe. Both Titans and Giants were defeated and imprisoned underground. But whether Greek-inspired or not, the legend came to be firmly fixed in Jewish consciousness (1968, p. 540, emp. added; see also pp. 408-410).
The assessment of liberal-leaning religious writers does not sound much different. Andrew Zenos of Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Chicago suggested:
The apparent incongruity of a person (i.e., Satan) with such a frame of mind consorting with the other “sons of God” in the courts of heaven, giving an account of himself to, and speaking on familiar terms with, God, disappears when the narrative is seen to be constructed, not as a picture of realities, but as a vehicle of moral teaching... (1936, p. 811).
Almost half-a-century later, two writers, Neal D. Buffaloe and N. Patrick Murray, co-authored a text in which they wrote: “By contrast [to the literal, historical view of Genesis—BT], the mainstream of Biblical scholarship rejects the literal historicity of the Genesis stories prior to Chapter 12, and finds the literature of parable and symbol in the early chapters of Genesis.” Later, in referring to the events of these chapters, including Satan’s temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden, the authors stated that “these things never were...” (1981, pp. 5,8).
Because unbelievers reject belief in the spirit entity known as God (and, not coincidentally, the Bible as His Word), it hardly is shocking that they simultaneously repudiate belief in the spirit being known as Satan (whose actual existence can be documented only within God’s Word). Skepticism of, and opposition to, spiritual matters on the part of unbelievers should be expected. Skepticism of, and opposition to, such matters on the part of those professing to be believers should not.
The same Bible that informs the religious liberal about the existence of the God in Whom he proclaims to believe, also informs him of the existence of Satan—in whom he does not believe. Where is the consistency? Furthermore, consider the emphasis on Satan within the whole of the Sacred Text, the importance placed on the fact of his existence by both biblical writers and the Son of God Himself, and the critical role he has played in the necessity of God’s great plan of salvation for mankind.

The Reality of Satan in the Old Testament

From the first book of the Bible (Genesis) to the last (Revelation), the existence of the devil as a real, literal adversary is affirmed. Our first introduction to Satan occurs in Genesis 3 as he arrives in the form of a serpent to tempt Eve. Speaking of the historical nature of this account, M.W. Jacobus observed:
That there was a real serpent in this transaction cannot be doubted any more than we can doubt the real history throughout. Here, where the facts speak, further explanations are not necessary, nor fitted to the time of the beginning. (1) The real serpent is contrasted with the other animals, (vs. 1). (2) In the New Testament allusion is made to a real serpent in referring to the history (2 Cor. 11:3,14; 1 Jn. 3:8; Rev. 20:2). Yet (3) that there was in the transaction a superior agent, Satan himself, who made use of the serpent, is plain from his being referred to as “the old Serpent, called the Devil and Satan,” (Rev. 12:9)—“a murderer from the beginning” (Jn. 8:44) (1864, 1:112).
Additional Old Testament testimony addresses the historical existence of Satan. In 1 Chronicles 21:1, the text states: “And Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.” Six verses later, this simple statement is found: “And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:7). Israel suffered as a direct result of Satan’s workings in the life of her monarch.
In the book of Job, Satan retains a place of great prominence—more, perhaps, than in any other Bible book. In the first two chapters alone, he is mentioned at least fourteen times. In fact, Job 2:1-2 records a conversation between this mendacious despot and God:
Again it came to pass on the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, that Satan came also among them to present himself before Jehovah. And Jehovah said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
The entire theological thrust of the book of Job is utterly dependent upon the actual existence of Satan, his adversarial nature toward God and mankind, and Heaven’s ultimate superiority over him. Further, the New Testament epistle of James boldly refers to Job’s dealings with Satan: “Behold, we call them blessed that endured: ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, how that the Lord is full of pity, and merciful” (5:11). What possible meaning could this have had to first-century saints who were about to endure extreme persecution and intense suffering as a result of their faith? An imaginary fight between a non-existent devil and a mythical patriarch could not, and would not, provide much comfort to those whose lives were in imminent danger. A promise that “the Lord is full of pity, and merciful”—based on real, historical events—could, would, and did provide such comfort in times of peril.
In Zechariah 3:1-10, the prophet recorded a vision “...intended to show that Jehovah’s people, conditioned upon a moral and spiritual reformation, could again enjoy prosperity” (Jackson, 1980, p. 75). In Zechariah’s vision, Satan appeared as an adversary of Joshua the high priest, who was clothed with dirty garments that symbolized “the sins of the whole nation, of which he was the representative” (Hengstenberg, n.d., p. 972).
And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of Jehovah, and Satan standing at his right hand to be his adversary. And Jehovah said unto Satan, “Jehovah rebuke thee, O Satan; yea, Jehovah that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (3:1-2).
In describing the spiritual importance of this scene, one writer commented: “Satan was ready to challenge the Lord’s own institution for the forgiveness of sin, to deny the right of God to pardon the sinner. He seeks to overthrow the Throne of Grace, so hateful to him, and to turn it into a seat of judgment and condemnation” (Laetsch, 1956, p. 422; cf. also Psalm 109:3-8). Satan’s part in this scenario hardly can be overstated. Without his act of overt condemnation, and God’s response to it, Zechariah’s message to the people of God would be lost. The activity and historical reality of Satan in the Old Covenant sets the stage for the urgency of God’s plan of salvation in the New.

The Reality of Satan in the New Testament

Within the pages of the New Testament, the existence of Satan is reaffirmed, and more of his cunning, deceit, and hypocrisy is revealed. Of paramount importance is the record of his temptation of the Son of God (Matthew 4:1-11; cf. Luke 4:1-13). Erich Sauer has noted:
The whole story of the temptation of Jesus proves beyond all doubt that we are here concerned with a factual and personal conflict between two protagonists. The accounts of the evangelists and the behaviour and words of Jesus show clearly that we are not here concerned with a mere “principle” of evil, but with a real, factually present, speaking and active person, not “the evil” but “the evil one” (1962, p. 64).
A few chapters later, we find Jesus referring to Satan as “Beelzebub” (Matthew 12:27), a term that originally meant “lord of refuse,” “lord of the flies,” or “lord of dung” (Easton, 1996). As such, it was an expression of extreme contempt that signified all that was the opposite of holiness and purity—hardly a name to be applied by the Lord to some harmless, legendary, mythical character of antiquity. Wayne Jackson has suggested:
As the serpent seduced Eve (Gen. 3:6) through the manifold channels of the lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, and the vainglory of life (I John 2:16), so he sought to solicit Christ to sin similarly (Matt. 4:1-11). Interestingly, he is denominated “the tempter” in that narrative. The Greek term is peirazon, a present tense participle—literally expanded, “the always tempting one”—which suggests his characteristic activity. Had the devil succeeded in causing Christ to sin, the Lord could not have served as the blemishless sin-offering (I Peter 1:19; II Cor. 5:21), and the entire human race would have been forever lost! (1980, p. 76).
Christ’s apostles also addressed the fact of Satan’s existence. And certainly they knew of which they spoke, for Satan is depicted within the pages of the New Testament as their ardent enemy. For example, the Lord informed Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you that he might sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). A fact often overlooked within this text is that the pronoun “you” in the Greek is plural, indicating that Satan wanted all of the apostles (see Jackson, 1980, p. 76). The apostle Paul spoke of “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) who has his “devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11), and even “ministers” who disguise themselves as righteous (2 Corinthians 11:15). The apostle John noted that “the devil sinneth from the beginning” (1 John 3:8), and lamented the fact that “the whole world lieth in the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Further, Paul’s thorn in the flesh was said to have been “a messenger of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7). But perhaps most sinister is the fact that it was Satan who “put into the heart of Judas Iscariot” the idea to betray his Lord (John 13:2).
In addition, various New Testament writers referred to Satan as the author of sin (1 John 3:8), sickness (Acts 10:38), and death (Hebrews 2:14), and the one who leads men astray (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). The authors of Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words make an important observation when they state that:
“Satan” is not simply the personification of evil influences in the heart, for he tempted Christ, in whose heart no evil thought could ever have arisen (John 14:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15); moreover his personality is asserted in both the OT and NT, and especially in the latter, whereas if the OT language was intended to be figurative, the NT would have made this evident (1985, p. 547).
What the New Testament makes evident, however, is exactly the opposite—i.e., that Satan is notfigurative, but very real.


The Bible does not address specifically the origin of Satan, yet there is adequate information to draw a logical, well-reasoned conclusion as to how he came into existence. Consider the following.

Is Satan Deity?

Although quite powerful, Satan does not enjoy the status of deity. Clues to this fact are scattered throughout the pages of Holy Writ. Deity is eternal. Scripture speaks of “the eternal God” (Deuteronomy 33:27) Whose “years shall have no end” (Psalm 102:27), and Who is “the Alpha and the Omega..., who is and who was and who is to come” (Revelation 1:8). Deity is omnipotent. He is referred to as “God Almighty” (Genesis 17:1) Who cannot “be restrained” (Job 42:2). By “the thunder of his power” (Job 26:13-14) He has the might to create (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 45:12) or destroy (2 Peter 3:10). He alone retains the power to instill life (Genesis 2:7), and to raise the dead (Ephesians 1:20). Deity is omnipresent. “[T]here is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). He is “at hand” and “afar off ” (Jeremiah 23:23-24). He is able to “bring every work into judgment...every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Deity is omniscient. The psalmist wrote:
O Jehovah, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising; Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Jehovah, thou knowest it altogether.... Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it (139:1-6).
God not only knows the past and the present, but the future as well (Acts 15:18). Indeed, “how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out” (Romans 11:33).
Satan, by comparison, does not possess these qualities. For example, he is not omnipotent. Scripture affirms: “greater is he [God] that is in you than he [Satan] that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). When he sought to “sift” the apostles as wheat, he first had to “ask” for them (Luke 22:31). Satan is not omnipresent. His position as “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) was “delivered” unto him (Luke 4:6). When he eventually is cast permanently into his place of eternal torment, the devil will be powerless to resist (Revelation 20:10). In discussing the apocalyptic literature of the book of Revelation which speaks of Satan’s being “bound” (20:2), Hardeman Nichols observed: “The binding of Satan, we conclude, equally means that his work will be restrained in a certain realm...” (1978, p. 262). Omnipresence, by definition, is not restrained. Further, Satan is not omniscient. If we are sufficiently knowledgeable of the Word of God, and carefully wield that knowledge to resist him, the devil does not possess a superior knowledge sufficient to overcome us, but will “flee” (James 4:17; cf. Matthew 4:4). He is not intelligent enough to outwit us in order to “snatch” us from the Lord’s hand (John 10:28).
The only possible conclusion regarding Satan is that he is not deity. But such a conclusion has serious implications. If Satan does not partake of the nature of deity, then he cannot be eternal. Thus, he must be a created being. That, as Wayne Jackson has explained, is exactly what he is.
...[S]ince the devil is not of the nature of deity, it is obvious that he is a created being, for all things and beings (outside the class of deity) are the result of creation—“for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” (Col. 1:16); this would include Satan as he originally was (1980, p. 78; emp. in orig.).

Was Satan Created “Evil”?

But what was Satan originally? When was he created? And was he created “evil”? The biblical evidence may be summarized as follows. The Scriptures categorically state that all things, as they had been created originally, were good. Genesis 1:31 records: “And God saw everythingthat he had made, and, behold, it was very good (emp. added). In their Old Testament commentary on the Pentateuch, Keil and Delitzsch have observed:
By the application of the term “good” to everything that God made, and the repetition of the word with the emphasis “very” at the close of the whole creation, the existence of anything evil in the creation of God is absolutely denied, and the hypothesis entirely refuted, that the six days’ work merely subdued and fettered an ungodly, evil principle, which had already forced its way into it (1968, 1:67).
Thus, whatever else Satan may have been originally, he was good. God did not create Satan as an evil adversary; rather, Satan became evil. Some, however, have suggested that God’s statement in Isaiah 45:7—“I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things”—indicates that God does, in fact, create things that are evil. This view results from a misunderstanding of the use of the word “evil” within the context of that passage. The statement obviously can have no reference to moral evil, since such is contrary to God’s holy nature (see Isaiah 6:3). Deuteronomy 32:4 describes Jehovah as the “God of faithfulness and without iniquity.” An in-depth examination of the passage in Isaiah reveals that God, through the prophet, was announcing to the (as yet unborn) Cyrus, king of Persia, his intention to use the monarch as an instrument for punishment. Notice in Isaiah 45:7 how the word “evil” is employed in direct contrast to “peace.” God’s point was this: “I form light and create darkness [viz., I control nature]; I make peace and create evil [viz., I also control nations]; I am Jehovah that doeth all these things.”
Later in the forty-seventh chapter, there is a commentary that further explains how the word “evil” is used in chapter 45, verse seven. In verse 11, as he described the coming judgment upon Babylon, Isaiah said: “Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know the dawning thereof: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it away: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou knowest not” (emp. added). The “evil” that God “created” was desolation due to the abject wickedness of the Babylonian empire. In Isaiah 31:1-2, God similarly warned Israel that if the Hebrew nation forged an untoward alliance with Egypt, He would bring “evil” (i.e., punishment) upon them. “Thus, scholars have observed that ‘evil’ can be used with a purely secular meaning to denote physical injury (Jeremiah 39:12), or times of distress (Amos 6:3), and that is its significance in Isaiah 45:7” (Jackson, 1984, 1:84). When Job’s wife proposed that he curse God and die, his rejoinder was: “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10; emp. added). Job’s meaning is clear: shall we not receive punishment and correction from the hand of Jehovah, as well as innumerable blessings? Rex A. Turner Sr. has noted:
Solomon wrote: “A prudent man seeth the evil, and hideth himself; But the simple pass on, and suffer for it” (Prov. 22:3). The meaning of this statement from Solomon is that the prudent man sees public calamity approaching, and he uses all lawful means to secure himself. Evil here is put for dangers and calamities that befall men. Thus, God creates evil only in the sense that he brings punishment or calamity upon those who do evil. In no sense, therefore, has God created criminal or moral evil. In no sense has God provoked or brought about evil in any angel or man (1989, p. 79).

Is Satan a Fallen Angel?

There is compelling textual evidence within the Bible which indicates that originally Satan was one of the angels who inhabited the heavenly realm, and that he (along with others) departed from a righteous state and rebelled against God. There is a hint of this in the Old Testament book of Job. Eliphaz said of God: “Behold, he putteth no trust in his servants; and his angels he chargeth with folly” (Job 4:18). In discussing this wording, renowned commentator Albert Barnes wrote:
Language like this would hardly be employed unless there was a belief that even the holiness of the angels was not incorruptible, and that there had been some revolt there among a part, which rendered it possible that others might revolt also (1949, 1:lxiii; emp. in orig.).
Indeed, the New Testament seems to confirm that such a revolt did take place. In two separate passages, reference is made to just such a revolt. The apostle Peter said that “God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). Another inspired New Testament writer wrote: “And angels that kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6). Since the Bible also refers to Satan as “the prince of demons” (Matthew 12:24), and speaks of “the devil and hisangels” (Matthew 25:41, emp. added), “...the only possible conclusion is that the devil is the leader of a group of angels who rebelled against God and were therefore expelled from heaven to eventually spend eternity in hell” (Workman, 1981, 1[5]:4).
From references such as these, it is clear that God created angels (just as He has men) with the powers of reason and free will, which made it possible for them both to think and to choose. Turner has commented:
This is to say that angels had the freedom of choice—the freedom to fear and serve God, and the freedom to refuse to fear and serve God. Without intellect and freedom of absolute choice, angels could not be holy as God is holy. In the absence of free will, coupled with responsibility, there can be no true holiness (1989, p. 82).
But, as Lloyd Ecrement has noted: “They, therefore, have the ability to choose good or evil. It is possible, but certainly not necessary, for them to sin. If they choose evil rather than good, that is no reflection upon their Creator, but simply a rebellion against Him—they abuse the powers of reason and a free will given to them by God” (1961, p. 33). Apparently, certain of the angels chose wrongly, which is why Peter referred to the “angels when they sinned.” But John wrote that sin is “lawlessness” (i.e., transgression of God’s law; 1 John 3:4). In some fashion, then, the angels’ sin consisted of breaking God’s law by not keeping their “proper habitation,” but instead departing from whatever appropriate position it was that God had established for them.
Since Scripture speaks of “the devil and his angels,” it becomes reasonable to suggest that Satan was either the instigator, or leader (or both), of this heavenly revolt. What brought about this Satanic rebellion? Nichols, in speaking about sedition against legitimately established authority, has suggested that “...rebellion is generally attempted only by the headstrong and obstinate” (1978, p. 262). Henry M. Morris similarly observed:
The root of all sin, in both man and angels, is the twin sin of unbelief and pride—the refusal to submit to God’s will as revealed by His own Word and the accompanying assertion of self-sufficiency which enthrones the creature and his own will in the place of God. This was the original sin of Satan, rejecting God’s Word and trying to become God Himself (1971, pp. 214-215).
Victor Knowles has added:
Perhaps Satan became proud of his position as an angel and reached out, wanting more power and authority. What else could there be in heaven to battle for? It is possible that he may have harbored bitter envy and selfish ambition in his heart, for James says that such “wisdom” is “of the devil” (Jas. 3:14,15) (1994, p. 70).

When Did Satan Become Evil?

But when, exactly, did all of this take place? Numerous conservative scholars have suggested that likely the creation of the angels occurred during the first day of the creation week, but prior to the creation of the Earth itself (see Jackson, 1980, p. 78; Kelly, 1997, p. 93; Knowles, 1994, p. 69; Turner, 1989, p. 80; Whitcomb, 1972, p. 43). In speaking of God and His original creation, Knowles has commented: “Before creation of the world He created the angels, for they observed the process and rejoiced over it (Psa. 148:2,5)” (1994, p. 69). John C. Whitcomb concurred when he wrote that the angels “must have been created at the very beginning of the first day of creation, for Job 38:6,7 tells of their singing and their shout for joy at the creation of the earth” (1972, p. 43). Douglas Kelly also advocated such a position, but stressed caution, when he wrote:
Neither Genesis, nor any other text in Scripture, states when the angelic beings were actually created. What is definite is that angels are creatures, and thus do have a beginning. They are immortal, but only the Triune God is eternal, without beginning or endings. Reserve is necessary on such a speculative subject that has not been revealed to us by God in his Word....
Perhaps the angels were brought into being on the very first day of creation. In Job 38:4-7 we are told that the angels were present when the foundations of the earth were laid, and were rejoicing over it all. Psalm 104:2-5 speaks of the shining of God’s light during the original creative process, and mentions the angels just before reference to “laying the foundations of the earth.” Thus they appear after the creation of all things and before the earth is made a solid body.... These passages from Job and Psalms are certainly poetic, and are presumably not meant to be interpreted in the same precise, chronological sense required by Genesis 1 and 2. Poetic though its literary form is, it must mean something, and bear reference to a true state of affairs. Such passages may take us as far as we can go safely in consideration of the question: when were the angels first created? (1997, pp. 93, 94).
It is significant to remember, of course, that angels are finite, created spirits who were (and are) amenable to God’s law. Regardless of the exact time of their creation, the fact remains that certain of the angels, Satan among them, disobeyed that law, and as a result were cast from their spiritual abode. It is accurate to state, therefore, that Satan, and those dismissed from the heavenly realm with him, are fallen angels, and that their creation and transgression occurred sometime prior to God’s bringing the Earth into existence.


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