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The Real Devil A Biblical Exploration  


1-6 The Origin Of Sin

So then, where does sin come from? And this is another question I would put to Mark. What is the origin of sin, what is the origin of Satan, where did this Satan come from, where does sin come from? Well, we are told explicitly in Mark 7: 15 - 23, he says there is nothing from without a man that entering into him can defile him because from within, out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts. All evil things come from within. So then our sinfulness comes from within.

The idea that temptation to sin and some sinful spirit is located outside us, is really not in scripture. By saying that, we are really trying to shift the blame from us onto this being called the devil or satan. We are told that the wages of sin is death and so why you and I die is because of our sins. It's would be unfair surely if we had to die for someone else's sins. If Satan enters people and forces them to sin, then surely it is a bit unfair that we have to die because really the fault of sin is with this person called Satan. But we are told that the heart is the root of all evil. We are told in James 4: 1, he says " where do wars and fightings come from, come they not hence, even of your lusts?" James 1: 14, he says, " Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own evil desire and enticed." Notice that, notice the words there: he is tempted when he is drawn away of his own, his own, desire. It is not a desire that is put into you from outside you; it originates inside you, it is your own evil desire. That we are going to suggest is what the Bible calls the devil.

We are told in Romans 5: 12 that by one man, Adam, sin entered the world.This was the origin of sin. It goes on six times in Romans 5 to say that sin came into the world by one man; it is by one man's offence, by one man's transgression. He emphasises that the origin of sin was with one man. Now Adam didn't even talk to the snake so you can't start connecting Adam with the snake. So it was by Adam that sin came into the world. That is what we are told. We are not told anything in Genesis about Satan, Lucifer or the Devil, or things like that. So that is another question that we need to have answered.

Now, there are many examples in the Old Testament about people sinning. In the time of the Judges lots of people sinning, going wrong. But never is there any indication in the Old Testament that the people were sinning as the result of this spirit being called Satan affecting them, tempting them, leading them into temptation. There is a complete silence there.

That is a very, very significant point I think, because if this person has always been around and he was actually destroyed by Christ on the cross, which Hebrews 2: 14 says he was, then really you should read a lot about this evil being called the Devil in the Old Testament in his heyday as it were before he got destroyed by Christ and then you should read hardly anything about him in the New Testament after he was destroyed. But of course it is the other way around. So why is there this silence about the Devil and Satan in the Old Testament? I would say it is because the Old Testament antecedent of the Devil, what I understand to be sin in human nature, is just sin in human nature. That's what the Old Testament talks about. You come to the New Testament that is personified.

Now a very significant passage you may like to have a look at is in Romans 7. I see we all have our Bibles, which is a good thing - Romans chapter 7. In this whole passage from verse 15 down to 21 you have got Paul locating the origin of his own sin. And there's not a word about Satan, not a word about the Devil in the whole thing. He says, " In me - verse 18 - that is, in my flesh dwelleth no good thing. The good that I would I do not, and if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." He doesn't say, " When I want to do good and I find myself doing sin, well, it's this devil and he enters me and possesses me." No! He says, " When I want to do good and I do evil and I do sin, why? Because of sin that dwelleth in me. " I find then a law - a principle within me - that when I would do good, evil is present with - i.e., within me. The sinfulness and evil was there inside him. That's the root of sinfulness, that's the root of his problem - not, as Christ said, not due to anybody outside you possessing you. So in Eccl. 9: 3 we are told " the heart of the sons of men is full of evil." Time and again the Bible emphasises the danger of the human heart and the sinfulness of it.

And it is, I suggest, the idea of a personal supernatural devil does right away with man's responsibility to try and change his own thinking; which is why this debate is not an academic debate. I don't think it is just an academic disagreement: this is something that affects every minute or every hour of your day - how you think and how you use the word of God to work on your mind. In Galatians 5: 19 we are told that our sins are the works of the flesh. Our sins are not as a result of us becoming a puppet of this person called Satan. Our sins are created by - are the works of our own flesh.

So let's come and think about these words, satan and devil. Now Mark has obviously told you what the words mean - that satan means an adversary and the devil means a false accuser. Now I would like to ask Mark to show us just from one verse or perhaps one or two verses an explicit definition of what he really is trying to tell you what the devil is. Let's have some verses that explicitly say that satan means this, that or the other or the devil means a supernatural being. I would be interested to see if he can actually explicitly define from one or two verses in plain English what he really thinks the devil is. I would point out that nowhere does the Bible say that satan is a spirit. Now is satan a personal being, or is he a spirit? You can't say he is both because the Bible does not countenance the existence of a spirit world. All existence is in a real bodily form.

Now, this word satan, then, an adversary. Well, what I want to know is...if we are going to accept that the devil is a personal being, as this is what we are being asked to accept, does that mean that every time when you read in the Bible the word satan or the word devil, you have to say, Ah this big personal being, who's responsible for temptation? Well, I think Mark knows full well that you can't really say that. It's an untenable position. When Christ says to Peter, " Get thee behind me Satan" , well, he was talking to Peter. Peter was an adversary. I would like to know what his view of the definite article is there. Or when Jesus says, " I have chosen twelve of you and one of you is a devil" . He is talking about Judas. Well, obviously, you can't look at the word devil and say, Oh yes, this supernatural being. Of course not. I think Mark would agree with me that it's just a word that means a false accuser, slanderer, an enemy. And it's used as a noun or an adjective and I think there is no doubt about that. As he said, " The Lord stirred up an adversary (a satan) to Solomon" - this man Hadad. ‘Satan’ there just means an adversary, it doesn't mean anything other than adversary.

Now, very significantly, and this is very significant, when you go to 2 Samuel 24: 1 - you may just like to flick there - 2 Sam. 24: 1 - " The Lord moved David against Israel" to take a census. Now the parallel record of that is 1 Chronicles 21: 1 - " Satan stood up against Israel" and provoked David to take a census. Satan made him to take a census. God made him take a census. So you can't say that when you read the word the Satan, " Oh that that's talking about some personal supernatural being of evil" which is what you have just been told, because it says there quite clearly that it was God who was acting as the Satan in this particular instance. God was the adversary. Well, you can't say that Satan always refers to some person or supernatural being.