What Is Character And Nature Of The Devil – Spiritual Reading.
1. First of all, the Bible teaches us that the [Devil is a person.
This comes out in our second text, 1 John 3:8: “The devil sinneth.” Only a person can sin. When we say that the Devil is a person we do not mean that necessarily he has a body, certainly not such a body as he is pictured as having in various paintings and engravings that are supposed to represent the Devil. A person is any being who knows and feels and wills. When we say that the Devil is a person we mean that he is a being who has intelligence, feeling and will, that he is not a mere principle of evil.
The personality of the Devil is taught over and over again in the Bible. Just a few illustrations in addition to our texts. Turn again to Matt. 13:19: “When any one heareth the word of God, and understandeth it not, then cometh the evil one, and snatcheth away that which hath been sown in his heart.”
The representation of this passage is the representation of a person. He is called “The Evil One,” not merely “evil,” but “The Evil One,” which of course is the representation of a person. If evil is only impersonal, or if it only works through human beings, these words of our Lord Jesus would be without meaning.
The personality of the Devil comes out again very clearly and very forcibly in Eph. 6:10-12: “Finally, brethren, be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might. (11) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Here Paul distinctly tells us that the great reason why we need to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might and why we need to put on the whole armour of God, is because there is a being of great cunning, subtlety and power, a person named “The Devil,” and that this being has under him a multitude of other personalities of such dignity and power as to be called by the titles: “principalities,” “powers,” “world rulers,” “spiritual hosts of wickedness.”
Beyond a question our Lord Jesus, and the Apostle Peter and the Apostle John and the Apostle Paul believed in and taught the existence of a personal Devil. If there is not a personal Devil we may as well give up our Bible, for in that case it is a book that is full of folly and of fraud. If there is not a personal Devil we must give up our belief in the inspired authority of the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Peter, the Apostle John, and we must give up our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
No intelligent student of the Bible can retain his faith in the inspiration and authority of that Book, or his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, if he gives up belief in the existence of a personal Devil. As intelligent men and women, we must take our choice between believing in the existence of a personal Devil or giving up our faith in Jesus Christ and Christianity. Any system of doctrine that denies the existence of a personal Devil is radically unchristian whatever name it may arrogate to itself.
2. The second thing that the Bible teaches as to the nature of the Devil, is that, the Devil is a being of very great power and authority.
This comes out in the verses we have just read, Eph. 6:10, 11: “Finally be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (11) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” These words make it clear that the Devil is so mighty that the people of God cannot resist his cunning wiles without having on the whole armour of God, and it is also evident from the 10th verse that we cannot resist his power unless we are strengthened with the strength of God.
And this is not all: in the 12th verse we read: (12) “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
These are tremendous words. If they mean anything, they certainly mean that there are beings of great authority and dignity who are under the leadership of the one supreme being of evil, the Devil. The conflict that we have on hand as believers in Christ is terrific. The conflict that the Allies have on hand with the mighty military forces of the Kaiser is nothing to the battle we have on hand with the Devil and his hosts.
We are fools if we underestimate the battle. On the other hand, we must not over-estimate it. While our conflict is with the Devil, and while our wrestling is against “the principalities,” against “the powers,” against “the world-rulers,” against “the spiritual hosts of wickedness,” nevertheless He that is for us is far mightier than they. The Devil is mighty but our Saviour is almighty.
It is quite possible for one to become morbid over this subject of the Devil, and to become utterly discouraged and even deranged. That is entirely unnecessary and unwarranted. While our conflict is with the Devil and his mighty hosts, God has provided for us a strength and an armour whereby we may “be able to quench all the fiery darts of the Evil One” and to “withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand” (v. 13).
3. The third thing that the Bible teaches us as to the Nature of the Devil is that, the Devil is a being of great majesty and dignity of position.
Turn to Jude 8, 9: “Yet in like manner these also in their dreamings defile the flesh, and set at nought dominion, and rail at dignities (the literal translation of the Greek word rendered dignities is “glories“). (9) But Michael the Archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing judgment, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”
From these words it is evident that the position of the Devil was so exalted that even Michael the archangel did not dare to bring a railing judgment against him. The context seems to imply that the position of the Devil was more exalted than that of Michael the archangel himself. The Devil of the Bible is not at all the Devil of common thought. He is not a being hideous in appearance, with hoofs and horns and tail. He is not even the being pictured by Milton or Bunyan.
He is a being of very great original majesty and dignity, a being of great wisdom and power. When people talk lightly and contemptuously about the Devil they display gross ignorance of what the Bible teaches about him. It is true that he is evil in character and therefore called “The Evil One” (John 5:19, R. V.). It is true he is a liar and a murderer (John 8:44), it is true that he is full of malignity (II Cor. 4:4): but he is a being of great dignity and majesty, so that even Michael the archangel durst not bring against him a railing accusation.
4. The Bible teaches furthermore that the Devil is “the prince of this world.”
Our Lord Jesus Himself taught this. He says in John 12:31: “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” The Greek word translated “world” in this passage is kosmos, and the thought is of the present world order, and our Lord’s teaching is that the Devil is the prince of this present world order.
We have the same teaching of our Lord in John 14:30, where we read: “I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world cometh: and he hath nothing in me.” These words of our Lord [are found in what many regard as the most precious chapter in the Bible, the 14th chapter of John, and if we give up this teaching of our Lord regarding Satan we must give up, not merely the Bible as a whole, but this most precious chapter in the Bible. We find the Lord teaching the same thing again on that same night, the night before His crucifixion, in John 16:11 where he says: “The prince of this world is judged”—the evident reference being to Satan.
How the Devil came to be Prince of this world it may be impossible for us to say, but that he is so admits of no question, if we are to accept the teaching of Jesus Christ, and any one who will study the ruling principles of commercial life, of political life, of social life, and above all of international relations, to such an one it will become perfectly evident that the Devil is the one who is master of the present order of things.
If we ever doubted before that there was a Devil, and just such a Devil as the Bible pictures, we can scarcely doubt it now, when we consider the action of the rulers of the earth in this present mad world war. How could beings so intelligent in matters of science and philosophy and economics as the present rulers of Germany are, ever be guilty of plunging the nations of the earth into this mad war?
There is but one reasonable answer: because there is a Devil who rules the present Kosmos, or world order, and he controls the Kaisers and the Reichstags of the world and will until the true Prince comes, the Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Excerpt From – The Fundamental Doctrines Of The Christian Faith By Reuben Archer Torrey.
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