1-7 Sin Is Personified
Now, we then come on to this question of personification. Now, one of my questions to Mark is: Is sin personified? Is sin personified? And I would submit to you that it's quite obvious sin is personified. " The wages of sin is death" - sin is personified as a paymaster paying out your wages - death, death. Now Mark has made the point that you only read the idea of personification in poetical books. Well, Romans isn't a poetical book and you have got loads of personification there. It says " sin has reigned unto death" . Is sin a king? Well, that's personification. " The wages of sin is death" - is sin a paymaster? No, it's personification. So then, the book of Romans is shot full with that. To say that personification is only used in the poetical books is nonsense.
Now, if sin then, is personified, and I think there is no way round it, sin is personified, although we will have Mark tell us what he thinks in a moment - if sin is personified, and if as Mark admits really that the word satan just means an adversary, what is the objection to my saying " sin is personified" and the name of that personification is satan? What is the problem? What is the problem of accepting that? Sin is personified, yes, and it has got a name. A personification has a name. Nothing unreasonable about that, and it's called understandably, the enemy, the adversary, the false accuser. Because that's just our Number 1 enemy, isn't it? Ourselves, satan, evil desires within us, that personification that's inside us. All the times you read these descriptions throughout the New Testament of sin's personification, and all the times you read of things like " the devil is a big dragon" or " the devil is lion" or " the devil is a snake" or " the devil is a king, or sin, or whatever."
Now, you can't turn a personification into a person. That is something I've probably got to say to you several times this afternoon, that I feel the CGAF turns a personification into a person. Now if they say they don't do that, well what do we do when it says, " the devil is a roaring lion" is he a lion? or is he a person? He can't be both. Now, if we accept that all these things are figurative language - he's a lion, a lion-like force, a snake-like force, a dragon-like force, well then, we are getting more at the whole purpose of personification, that the Bible is constantly trying to tell us how sinful our nature really is. And so it likens it to a big angry lion, or to a subtle serpent, or to a big dramatic dragon. You can't take all those figurative pieces of language and take them dead literally - take all those personifications as a literal person.
Now let me just give you some evidence as to why Christadelphians believe that satan or the devil does refer to our own sinfulness. Well, we come back to Hebrews 2: 14, which is the verse I would quote to specifically define what I understand is the devil. It says there that Christ had human nature, that through his death, he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is the devil. So the devil has the power of death. But we know that sin has the power of death. Temptation creates sin, which creates death, James says in chapter 1. So then, the devil must be related to our own internal sinfulness. It says Christ had human nature so that by his death he might destroy the devil. If the devil is a person, well how could Christ's death destroy him? I would have thought his life might have destroyed him. How could his death destroy him? How can a man's death have power over another personal being?
Now we are told in Romans 8: 3, that Christ was of our human nature so that he might destroy the power of sin, in the flesh. Here in Hebrews 2 it says that Christ was of human nature that he might destroy the power of the devil. So I suggest that sin and the devil are related by that parallelism. Hebrews 9: 26, we are told that it was by his death that Christ destroyed sin. Hebrews 2: 14, " by his death he destroyed the devil." Sin and the devil are definitely related. Now we can't say, it is very difficult to say that they are not related. And as I say, it is difficult to say that sin isn't personified. If sin is personified, and if sin is the devil, and the devil is a title that can mean adversary or enemy, well then I would say that the Christadelphian position is pretty watertight.
So then, we are told in Acts 5: 3 that Satan filled the heart of Ananias and it goes on in the next verse to say that Ananias " conceived" this thing in his heart. So then satan filling that man's heart is the same as his conceiving sin within his own heart. So then he conceived that sin, like a woman conceives a child, it didn't get into her from outside her, it begins, just like sin begins inside you. And so, in 1 John 3: 5 and 8, we are told that Christ was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, and then we are told that he was manifested to destroy our sins, as if our sins and the works of the devil are the same thing, which is what Galatians 5 says, the works of the flesh - these are what our sins are. The devil therefore, is our innate sinfulness. Now Christ destroyed him that hath the power of death. There is a big personification there.
I'm surprised that the CGAF has such a problem accepting what Christadelphians are saying about personification, because they accept in common with Christadelphians that you have got another massive personification right though the New Testament based around the idea of the Spirit. Because we don't believe the Holy Spirit is a person and I don't think that you do either, so when you read about the new man being formed inside you, that is a personification of the spiritual man. It says, we read about Christ in you, the hope of glory, it talks about the new man of the spirit, the spirit or Christ in you. These are personifications of that new man in Christ Jesus that is created inside you. In the same way, there is that massive personification running through the New Testament which the CGAF accept.
(Note: a few words are missing at end of first side of tape) the person and that is the reason I suggest why sin is personified and that is why is so important that sin is personified to make us realise that with more self knowledge as we grow in Christ to understand that in fact we have got two sides to our character, two people within us, and the new man has got to overcome the old man. There is this spiritual warfare going on inside us, not out in the sky somewhere, or up in the cosmic regions, it is there inside our heart. That is the fundamental purpose of Christianity, to overcome that evil man, those evil tendencies inside us, personified as a person. Now we are told that evil thoughts proceed from the heart in Mark 7. They proceed from within. It doesn't mean that our evil thoughts are literal people but they are spoken of as somebody, or something, that proceeds from inside you, that walks out, as it were, from inside you. We are told that a man's lusts drag him away - James 1: 14 - when he is tempted. His lusts drag him away. That's a personification again, you see, the Bible is riddled with it. It's not just in poetical books, the Bible is riddled with personification. But our evil desires, or lusts, drag us away. They proceed out of our heart and come up to us and drag us away.
There is a fight, a battle between us. It says that some people are dragged away by their own lusts completely we are told in Timothy, whereas others resist that. " Resist the devil and he will flee from you." If you resist the preying temptations that prey on your mind, as we all know or we should do from our own spiritual striving eventually those temptations will go down. The devil, the real devil, will flee from you.
So then, finally, I would just like to summarise what I've been saying. I've been saying that these words, devil and satan, refer to adversary, or mean adversary, or false accuser, that the origin of disaster in our lives, evil if you want to look at it in that way is of God, and that God brings those problems into our lives. He may use His angels in order to do that, but those angels are not tempting us to sin, they are not associated with sinfulness, but they are there to bring problems into our lives, which make us better people. I've said that the origin of sin is inside us, not in any spirit being outside us, but that sinfulness which is inside us, is personified, and I'm asking for clarification from the CGAF whether they accept this personification of sin, and if they do, then I do not understand why they are unhappy with calling that the devil or satan. I would like to know how Satan can be described as having a positive spiritual effect upon somebody. So then, these are the sort of questions which I put to Mark and I put them on a piece of paper and I would like to see them answered.
Now the problem with debating is that the person who is debating can build up in his own mind the tremendous belief in what he believes and you can keep on and on justifying your own side without picking up the things the other person has said. In my next speech I trust I will be able to look at some of the things, some of the good points, I believe, that Mark raised, and I won't attempt to answer all of them because there isn't time in 15 minutes to do justice to all he said, so I would like to introduce you to a booklet I wrote a while ago which comments on each of the major passages which talk about the devil and satan. It is called " In Search of Satan" and it will be on display on the bookstall at the back.