Satan Is Not Omnipotent: A Philosophical Arguments (3)
Demons & Demonism / Satanism:
Demons are evil angels who sinned against God, were thrown out of heaven with Satan, and now continually work evil in the world. Peter says, “God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until judgment” (2 Peter 2:4).
Also, Jude says, “the angels that did not keep their position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6). A cursory survey of the Old Testament (OT) points to Jewish demonology. It is evident from the account in Genesis 3: 1-15, showing that some animals are believed to be endowed with demonic powers, though here, the Serpent is seen to be demonic and not possessed by an evil spirit (Wisdom 2:24, Rom 16:20 also in Lev. 17: 7; 2 Ch 11: 15, Is 13: 21, and 34:14). The demonology of later Judaism became elaborate.
The conception of demon or devil or Satan embraces three species of existences:
- National Deities, conceived as fallen but not always stripped of all power Exodus12; 12, Is 19: 1, 24:21.
- Angels that were once attendants upon the true God but have fallen – 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6
- Modification of primitive animism – the spirits of the wicked dead[i], who haunt the tombs or at least cause men they possess the power to do evil (Mt 8: 28)
The devils of later Judaism are invisible spirits to whom every ill, physical or moral, is attributed. These spirits are quasi-independence about God; in that they at times do His bidding as ministers of His wrath but, in this sense, are not classed in Scripture as devils, e.g., the demon of pestilence (2 Sam 24: 16, 2 Kings 19: 23, Is 37: 36, Psalm 78: 49). In the NT, the belief in devils as Spirits, evil and innumerable was within all Nations (Jewish and Gentiles).
The fourth Gospel is free from the demonic element. Thrice in John 7:20, 8:40, and 10:28, possession was used to explain Christ’s work and influence; but evil is traced back to the devil’s activity. The Synoptic, especially Luke, abounds in references to demons as personal spirits besetting or possessing a man. The demon enters into a man (Luke 8:20) or individual animals (Mt 8:32) and passes out (Mt 17:18, Lk 11:14) or is cast out (Mt 9: 34). This demoniacal possession is referred to as the cause of various diseases such as psychical disease symptoms in association with physical. Paul speaks of doctrines emanating from devils (1Timothy 4:1). The devils about 1 Cor 10:20 were demigods or deposed idols. James recognizes the existence of several devils (2:9). To James in 4: 7, the devil is an antagonist who, upon resistance, takes to flight.
In the OT, the evil process advanced so far that Satan’s name is used in the later books with some freedom. It is Satan who tempted Christ (Mt 13: 39), snatched up the good seed (Lk 8: 12), and for Satan and his angels (fallen), an appropriate destiny is prepared (Mt 25: 41). John says the devil prompted Judas to commit treason (13:2) and is vicious in his lusts, a liar, and a murderer (8: 44); a sinner in both nature and act (1 John 3: 8, 10); He prolongs the tribulation of the faithful who do not yield to him (Rev 2: 18); after his great fall 12:9, he is goaded by defeat into more malicious activity v12, but eventually meets his doom (20: 10). Peter presents the devil as prowling about in search of preys (1 Peter 5: 8) and the standing adversary of man, battled by Jesus (Acts 10: 38). To allow the devil (Eph 4; 27) may lead to a share in his condemnation (1 Timothy 3: 6). Paul considers the devil’s snare (I Ti 3: 7, 2 Ti 2: 26) and his wiles (Eph 6: 11) real. Devil is the moral adversary of man (Mt 13: 39, Lk 10: 19, Eph 4: 27, 1 Peter 5: 8), acting according to the OT with the permission of God (Job 1: 9-12). Devil is also called the tempter (Mt 4: 3, 1 Thess 3: 5) and the accuser of those who listens to his solicitation (Rev 12: 10). In Ch 21, Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.
In the Synoptic tradition, Jesus recognized the existence and power of a kingdom of evil, with organized demonic agencies under the control of a supreme personality, Satan or Beelzebub. These demonic agencies are the source of physical, moral, social, and spiritual evil. The Messiah’s principal function is to destroy Satan and his subordinates (Mk 1:24, 34; 3:11, 12, 15, etc.). The works of the devil are classified as works of darkness. And the light of the Gospel and the power of Christ operate to destroy the works of darkness. In apocryphal (the extra-Canonical literature), Satan’s tendency becomes more pronounced. In the Book of Enoch (Chs 1 – 36), the demons’ origin is traced to the fall of the angelic watchers, the ‘sons of God who corrupted themselves with the ‘daughters of men’ – Gen 6. It was from the offspring of these sinful unions, the giants, that the demons were sprung, according to James Hastings. To have victory over demonic power, we must recognize and take away such authority from the demon using the higher power and authority given to us by Jesus Christ as His disciples. It is clearly stated by Jesus in Luke 10: 19 “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
Stages of Demonic Activity in the History of Redemption:
In the Old Testament (OT)
The word demon is not often used in the OT; there seems to be little indication of demonic activity. However, Israel’s people often sinned by serving other gods (false gods of other nations), which were demonic forces. The identification of false gods as demons is very explicit in Deut. 32:16-17, when Moses says, “They stirred him (God) to jealousy with strange gods; they provoked him to anger with abominable practices. They sacrificed to demons, which were no gods, to gods they had never known.”
Also, in Psalm 106: 35-37, the psalmist says, “They mingled with the nations and learned to do as they did. They served their idols, which became a snare to them. They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons”.
The above references indicate that the worship offered to idols in all the nations surrounding Israel was Satan’s worship and his demons.
During the Ministry of Jesus
Jesus’s ministry demonstrated the casting out of demons with absolute authority. The people were amazed and had never witnessed such power over demonic forces in the world’s history (Mark 1:27). Jesus explained that his power over demons is a distinguishing mark on his ministry to inaugurate the reign of the kingdom of God among humankind in a new and powerful way. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed, he may plunder his house. (Matt. 12: 28-29). The “strong man” in the above text is “Satan.”
During the New Covenant Age
Jesus gave similar authority over demonic powers, first to the Twelve Apostles (Matt. 10:8; Mark 3:15) and then to the seventy disciples. After a period of ministry, the seventy “returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” (Luke 10:17). Jesus responded, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18), which indicates a remarkable triumph over Satan’s power. Authority over demons and unclean spirits later extended beyond the seventy disciples to those in the early church who ministered in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:7; 16:18; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9; 1 John 3:8). Also, today’s Christians who minister in the name of Jesus Christ have power over Satan and his demonic forces (Matt. 28:18-20).
During the Millennium
Revelation 20:1-3 explain that the activity of Satan and demons will be further restricted. Here Satan is described as wholly deprived of any ability to influence the earth.
At the Final Judgment
Satan, at the end of the millennium, will be decisively defeated and “thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur” and “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). This will be the final judgment of Satan and his demons.
[i] Josephus, Ant. Viii. ii.5
The nature of evil is the most critical problem for philosophical, religious, and moral considerations. The intrinsic presence of suffering is the most prominent feature that determines the character of existence throughout but gives at the exact time origin to the most important blessings that make life worth living. It is a pain that sets thoughts on thinking.
A state of undisturbed happiness would make reflexing, inquiry, and invention redundant. It is death that begets the aspiration of preserving oneself beyond the grave. Without death, there would be no religion. And it is a sin that imparts worth to virtue. Without going astray, there would be no seeking the right path; there would be no merit in goodness. Blame and praise would have no meaning. There would be no ideals, no progress, and no evolution to higher goals in this absence of want, imperfection, and all kinds of ill. Satan, Devil, Demons, etc., are all unclean spirits classified as evil. Evil spirits are organized under Satan in the kingdom of darkness. Their works are:
- To oppose the Work of God – Zechariah said: “And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.”
- To serve as an adversary of God: “And He (Jesus) was there in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan.”– Mark 1: 13a
- To serve as an adversary of God’s People: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” Luke 22:31
- To serve as an adversary of Mankind: “Jesus said, “then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”Luke 13: 16
- To oppose the work of God in creation, through temptation – Genesis 3: 4 – 6
- To oppose the work of God in redemption by opposing the prayer of the Saints Daniel 10: 12, 13
- To fight against the Saints – 1 Peter 5: 8
- To blind people to the Truth – Paul said: “But if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to them that are lost; in whom the gods of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
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