WHO AND WHENCE THE DEVIL?
BY: LARRY HODGES
“And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand
years and cast him into the bottomless pit and shut him up and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the
nations no more until the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.“
– Revelation 20:2–3
The subject of “the Devil,” or “Satan,” as he is commonly known, has been one of much discussion and debate. The devil is mentioned only four times in all of the Old Testament and yet some thirty-five times in the New Testament. I have not included those many times that the word demon or demons is translated, “devil.” I am here referring only to “the” Devil, not to spirits or demons commonly referred to in Scripture as devils.
There seems to be several theories as to his origin or even whether it is proper to refer to the devil as “him,” or “his.” One idea is that Satan or the Devil is nothing other than the carnal mind. The legitimacy of such an idea is sought on almost the solitary ground that nothing may be attributed to the Devil which may not also, in some sense, be attributed to the carnal mind.
Others say that Satan is merely a spirit, which is incarnate in the carnal mind, and I find much more legitimacy in this finding than with the idea that Satan is nothing but the carnal mind. I say that I find it more believable, but I cannot say that I wholeheartedly believe it.
Still others agree with traditional thought and believe that Satan is a fallen angel. Among these adherents are such notables as Jacob Boehme, Jane Leade and William Law, to mention but a few.
As to where he might have originated, some believe that, as was just mentioned, he was a fallen angel while others believe that he was created the Devil. That is, they believe he was created “a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.“ – John 8:44
Let me say just here that I do not believe something based upon who else might or might not believe it. Nor do I believe something to be false simply because tradition teaches it as truth. I seek to believe or disbelieve a thing because I believe the Holy Spirit testifies or does not testify to its truth and agreement with the Word of God as He has revealed it to me. I recognize no other point of reference or measure as to truth. I do lend a certain astute consideration to a matter if someone I respect believes or teaches it, but I reserve final say on the matter to the Holy Spirit alone. That is not to say that everything I claim to believe is infallibly correct. It is not, I fear. But the verdict I receive from the Holy “Porter,” who keeps the door of my heart, gets first place and the final word on all such matters.
I really couldn’t care less what the truth turns out to be as long as I am enabled to see it as such. It came as quite a jolt to me many years ago when the Holy Spirit showed me the silliness of arguing over doctrines when He made quite clear to me that it is very possible to win an argument even though I am absolutely wrong. I like what George Hawtin said about arguing over doctrine. He said it was “like a dogfight in a flower bed. The only thing it ever settles is the flowers.” Debate itself is or can be good, but when the purpose of debate leaves the search for truth and becomes instead an attempt to “be right” and to win the debate, it has lost its virtue.
What I really have a problem with is the idea that Satan was originally created to do and to be just what he is and does. If he was created a murderer from the outset, then to what is he to be restored when God, as we and the Bible teach, shall restore all things unto Himself? Satan needs no restoration if he never fell.
And yet, we know that evil shall eventually be expunged from every least vestige of God’s creation. Forget the idea of annihilation of the Devil, though, because we have proven in our teachings that annihilation is a false one. Nothing is ever really annihilated; it merely changes form. Also, why consign the Devil to the lake of fire if that fire is for purging and correction? Purging from what? Correction for what? Satan is already more obedient than most Christians are if he is already what he was created to be.
First, let’s consider the idea that Satan was created “a murderer from the beginning.” Well, the Bible does indeed say that “he was a murderer from the beginning.” But oughtn’t we ask, “The beginning of what?” Was it the very beginning of anything or merely “a” beginning? We are told concerning wisdom that, “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old…”, yet the book of Genesis is a book of various beginnings. It was the beginning of a spiritual creation and then of a physical creation. When the apostle John is speaking to the Church through his writing in I John, he encourages them to allow that which they had heard from the beginning to remain in them (2:24). Obviously John was not speaking of what the Church had heard in the garden of Eden or before. The beginning spoken of in I John was not that beginning. So we see that it is possible that the term “from the beginning” can be used without it bearing the literal sense of the term. It could have been one of the many idioms of speech which the Hebrews were so fond of using. But this, in and of itself does not discredit the idea that Satan was created Satan rather than, say, a fallen angel.
It is extremely important, I believe, not to overlook the fact that “the Lord possessed (wisdom) in the beginning of His ways.” This means that all that He did, He did in and through His own infinite wisdom. This at least implies that God had purpose in all that He undertook to do in His creation. It implies that there would be no afterthoughts or mental postscripts or “gotcha’s” or lapses, such as a wayward angel later straying, without His already having taken it into account and making allowances for it. It presupposes that God, being God, knew beforehand just what He would do and why. He has not changed in His mind or purpose one iota from the beginning.
He would have a creation which He would place under the guidance and oversight of a creature whom He would call “man.” That “man” would not be created without the ability to sin–to miss the mark. In fact, the “man” would indeed miss the mark, alienate himself from God, his Creator, without any possible way of correcting his mistake. God would then, in His infinite wisdom and compassionate love, bring forth His very own Son, Jesus Christ, who would, in the counsels of the God-head trinity, give His own life to reconcile “man,” as well as all things, with God and, in the process, win the deepest affections of His creatures forever. How is Satan or any angel to be re-conciled with God according to Colossians 1:16, 20 if he were never alienated from Him?
Is Satan, as traditional thought claims, a fallen angel? Are there Scriptures, which lend credit to that line of thought? Some think there are or there would be no such line of thought issuing from traditional quarters.
We find Jesus saying some very cryptic things to some very, at the time, uncryptic men. For instance, when the seventy returned from their missionary trip exclaiming that the devils (demons) were subject unto them, Jesus said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” —Luke 10:18. What did He mean? They surely had no idea what He meant. Had Jesus literally seen Satan cast out of heaven as the result of these men casting demons out of people or did He see it in connection with something else? I don’t believe there was much mystery about what He meant. Here were these men lifted up with pride that demons were subject to them, so Jesus says, “Watch it boys! I saw Satan who was ‘greater in power and might,’ fall from heaven! How much easier would it be for you to fall than he?” (Paraphrased)
Where in traditional thought does the idea of Satan becoming a fallen angel come from? Are there Scriptures, which bear out this line of thought? Jude speaks of “angels (messengers) which kept not their first estate but left their own habitation, [whom] He hath reserved in everlasting (for the age) chains (imperceptible bonds) under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.“ – Jude 6 But that does not, by itself, sustain the idea of Satan becoming a fallen angel. Jane Leade and Jacob Boehme both say that they were told explicitly by the Lord that Satan is a fallen angel. If so, then they have adequate proof of it for themselves, but not for me. I have personally heard nothing about the matter directly from the Lord.
I do not believe that Isaiah 14:12 (Lucifer – son of the morning, or morning star) has reference to Satan at all but rather to Adam. At most it is a lamentation against and an application to the king of Babylon, a type of Satan, but it has no direct reference to Satan himself. In fact, the word, Lucifer, is actually used only once throughout the entire Bible. It is used in Isaiah 14:12 in, of course, the Old Testament. The same word is used again in the New Testament, but since the New Testament was written in either Greek or Aramaic rather than Hebrew, the word “Lucifer” does not appear but rather “day star” its translation. It has reference to Jesus, the last Adam, as opposed to Adam the morning star.
The reason I believe the teaching about Satan and who he is and where he comes from is important is that I have seen the result of erroneous ideas about Satan. That is, since, in the minds of some, Satan is no more or other than the carnal mind (which I categorically and absolutely deny) it only follows then that demons are non-existent also or are no more than imaginations or thoughts. This leads us to believe that when Jesus cast the legion of demons out of the demoniac of Gadara, it was merely the man’s thoughts which entered into the swine and drove them over a cliff and into the water to be drowned. This is a prime example of the place to which we may be easily taken by error.
Demons are not “the” Devil, Satan, that ancient Serpent or even the Dragon. They are evil spirits apparently under the control of, or at least subservient to Satan. I say this because of the Scripture found in Matthew 12:24: “This fellow (Jesus) doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub the Prince of the devils.” It seemed to be common knowledge at the time, which Jesus never bothered to contradict, that Beelzebub, that is, the devil, was prince or chief of the demons. What was the connection between demons and Satan? Traditional thought has it that when an archangel by the name of Lucifer fell, he took one-third of the angels with him and they became evil spirits. Aside from a direct revelation from the Lord, there seems to be no Biblical support for such a theory.
But if Satan was created a murderer from the beginning and never fell, then from whence are these things called demons and why does Satan have influence over them? That demons are evil spirits, there seems to be no argument. The Bible also seems to indicate that Satan is a spirit also. “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.“ –Ephesians 2:1–2 If the prince of the power of the air is Satan, then Satan is a spirit, for that is what the Bible states.
The carnal mind is not a spirit. Carnal means flesh and flesh is not spirit. I once asked Preston Eby what he thought about Satan. “Preston, do you believe that the carnal mind is Satan?”, I asked. He answered, “No, I do not believe that the carnal mind is Satan. I believe that Satan is a spirit that is somehow incarnated in the carnal mind.” That means, if I understand it correctly, that anywhere you find a carnal mind, you will find Satan. It’s quite short of but the next best thing to omnipresence. That also seems to agree with Ephesians 2:1–2. It may also explain why there seems to be such a connection between Satan and the carnal mind.
It is also in right in line with what God said in the garden just after Adam’s transgression and fall. He says to Adam, the man whom He had formed of the dust, “For dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.” – Genesis 3:19. He had just told the Serpent what his diet would consist of. “… dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life” – Genesis2:14. God told the Serpent that the Adamic man (dust or the carnal mind) was to be his meat and that it was that upon which he had the right to feed. If we can hear it and believe it, our Adamic man was taken to the cross at Calvary and there judged by God, slain in the person of Jesus Christ (the last Adam), and forever put away according to Galatians 2:20.
I have some trouble believing that Satan is the carnal mind simply because I do not believe that Jesus had a carnal mind even when He was in the wilderness to be tempted. Also, I see it as inconsistent that Satan (the carnal mind) entered into Judas. What? He had no carnal mind until Satan entered him? Ridiculous!
I believe, based upon the evidence presented to us in the Bible that I have just cited, that Satan is a spirit, not the carnal mind. We can easily see that the carnal mind is his medium, his domain, his element, his environment, his habitat, his realm, even his very principality, so that wherever the carnal mind is, Satan is also. This understanding, while it may not tell us what or whence Satan is, surely tells us what he is not. But honestly, does it tell us that Satan is not a fallen angel? What is an angel? “. . .Who maketh His angels spirits;” —Psalm 104:4. Without getting into a debate over the different kinds of angels, we may know just from this verse of Scripture that angels are spirits.
So we find ourselves right back where we started… almost. Is Satan a fallen angel who is the chief spirit of the evil demons or spirits? Do we have any evidence of an angelic rebellion or do we just discount it because something of this sort is believed by tradition? What might be meant by Isaiah 24:21-23 – “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days they shall be visited. Then the moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem and before His ancients gloriously.” Then we have, “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. And cast him into the bottomless pit and shut him up and set a seal upon him that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after the that he must be loosed a little season.“ – Revelation 20:1-3
The very striking similarity of phraseology and even of words is too much to be only coincidental. It seems that Revelation 20:1-3 is a reiteration and explanation of Isaiah 24:21-23. We cannot say that the host of high ones are but men in high places, for we are told clearly that they are on high. That is, in the heavenlies. And we are also told that kings shall be judges on the earth in contradistinction to those who are to be judged on high. We are told also that these high ones are to be shut up in a pit (the same language and words used in Revelation 20:3. Instead of saying they are to be shut up a thousand years, in Isaiah we are simply told it shall be many days. A “thousand years” are many days.
We are also told that in that day the moon shall be confounded and the sun shall be ashamed. In other words, the sun and moon will not be seen to give forth their light by reason of an excelling glory. When shall that be? We are told “…when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His ancients gloriously.” When shall this be? After the revealing of His Son in His many sons! After the manchild of Revelation 12:5 is caught up to God and to His throne. For this is exactly when Satan and his angels (spirits-Psalm 104:4) were cast out! We are very clearly told that at the time that the manchild is caught up to God and to His throne that there was war in heaven.
Beloved, this occurs in no other place than behind the veil! So being behind the veil does not necessarily mean that we have arrived, as some are wont to say. As Preston Eby mentioned in a recent writing of his, there is a seeing the kingdom, an entering the kingdom and then a possessing of the kingdom before there is ever an inheriting of the kingdom! Just as it was with the children of Israel. They first spied out the land, then they entered the land, next they possessed the land through warfare, and finally, there was the rearing of Solomon’s temple, and that temple represented the establishment of the kingdom (the new body) which typifies the inheritance. But know that in this realm to which the manchild is caught up, there is no Satan, for he is cast down from there into the earth realm.
So what is the conclusion of the whole matter? As far as I am concerned and as far as I am able to see, Satan is not the carnal mind nor is he merely a fallen angel. It seems to me that Satan and his angels are cast out of heaven and, as a spirit, is incarnate in the carnal mind so that wherever one finds the carnal mind, one finds Satan. He ever works through and uses the carnal mind.
I don’t know if Satan was ever an archangel or not. The Bible gives no such information on it but I suspect he was. Whether he led the choirs of heaven in music seems pure speculation and fairy tales. It is no real stretch of one’s imagination to suppose that a rebellion took place or that Satan led it. He certainly led the one, which took place in Eden. While I hesitate to equate Jane Leade’s authority with that of the Bible, she is, nevertheless, a true prophetess whose word does carry a certain weight and moment. Hear what she has to say on the subject and even maintains that what she here says came straight from the Lord.
“But here is one main objection that appears to be very solidly grounded. That is, that the root of sin was from everlasting, as is God Himself. Now as to this matter, we deny that God gave being to anything out of Himself wherein the root of sin was found. For Lucifer was created out of pure eternal nature with his whole hierarchy being of the same fashion as those angels that have not left their first habitation; only these awakened and increased in that source from which an aspiring ambition arose, to become as gods, or at least, independent of God.
“And though there was no law according to that which God had given to Adam (by which law sin and disobedience was known), yet there was a law in eternal nature which consisted in keeping all in harmony and government. The darkness in God did not jar against His Light, neither did the anger jar against the Love. (Admit, there was anger in God.)
“All concurred together to illustrate the immense love and goodness. Nothing of this evil could be said to be everlastingly generated from God into the angelical principle from whence they were brought forth as out of the womb of the eternal morning. But they, leaving this meek, soft and gentle nature, awakened in themselves a monstrous shape.
“And how came this to pass? By trying and proving the strength of their Fire-Spirit to find how far they could extend it as to the sovereignty of power, whereby they would have equalized themselves to their Creator. Instead, finding themselves to miss their mark and to be disappointed, they awakened in themselves envy. Therefore they sought revenge upon the simple innocency of Adam. But here they lost their hold also and had to yield to Him who challenged the right to all eternal spirits.
“Therefore, though God has permitted that this dark prince must reign for limited periods of time and have his kingdom in this world, yet it shall be for no longer than various wonders are required for manifestation. These wonders shall all serve to set forth the fathomless depths of the Love-Angelical Principle with their wonders. Then Lucifer shall be enthroned again in high pomp, through humility and purity. For he did but leave his habitation (Jude vs.6), though not so as never to return to it again. God reserved his restoration for an astonishing wonder beyond all that could ever be conceived.
“Nay, these that were chief in scorning, disdaining and blaspheming against Love, shall be the subjects by which Love shall be proved to have such an endless depth that no created beings could ever have hoped or believed for. Therefore, let it not be reckoned impossible for God to unclothe that strange and monstrous figure by which they had made themselves devils. Do not say it is too hard for Him to make bare and naked His own pure angelical essence in them (as it was first generated).
“For He shall indeed make them pass through the eternal womb once again, wherein they were first conceived and so appropriating thereby to them their bright angelical image and nature again. This rebirth they must undergo in order to be admitted into the fraternity of the rest of their fellow angels.
“It cannot be revealed what joys, praises and glories the whole heavens will be filled with when they shall be re-installed in their first dignity with the greatest humility, which shall be their clothing. But before this comes to pass, there will be many ages of strange revolutions until the utmost variety of all amazing working powers shall be made manifest both in the dark abyss and the Light.
“And whereas it is said, that the devils are so high that they will entertain no treaty with God concerning subjection; it is true. I grant that they are and must be so until the fullness of time shall ripen the plants in God’s store that are yet to be brought forth. Let not any think that the highest diabolical fierceness and pride shall out-dare God’s grace, pity, compassion and love.
“Though the diabolical spirits be chained together as links of iron, yet there is a burning furnace into which they shall be cast. In this Divine furnace, the hammer of God shall beat and melt and bring them into that figure God has assigned them by the flaming touch of the Deity. This process is so that nothing of the diabolical and venomous evil of sin shall remain. For such (sin) cannot be reckoned to be as everlasting as God since it is undeniable that it must have its end. Therefore, God has prepared a stronger antidote than the awakened poison, and it will make a cure through all God’s own created beings . . . . . . .
“But when God created the angels and they branched out distinctly, then they found that their might and strength was so awakened that they could not fathom the nature and consequences of it. Hereby the band of pure eternal nature being broken in them and the eternal forms separated, darkness and wrath got superiority over the Light and Love in them. This was nothing other than an imperfect act of a created being after the work came out of the Creator’s hand perfect. So that this confusion and disorder arising from an impotent creature cannot be greater than the Love and omnipotence of the Creator. Thus it cannot be so fixed and unchangeable as to never again be altered.
“For even the supernatural might of the Will in them is not now natural and eternal but outside of nature and temporary. It subsists upon their own creaturely and sandy foundation which they themselves have formed and not upon the immoveable Rock that was before all ages. Therefore, whatever they have builded upon their own foundation, with that which is preternatural (outside of nature) and temporary in them, must fall. But that which is natural and eternal (which is a tendency in the will to God) shall again spring and exert itself from the pure and perfect essence that remains unchangeable in them, even though presently it remains under the veil and covering of darkness. End of Quote by Jane Leade from The Everlasting Gospel pg. 32-34 and 35-36. If you haven’t yet read this writing, write and ask for it.
The question, “If Satan was created a murderer from the beginning,” that is, from the time he was first created, how does God then restore that which was never lost? — becomes an enigma unanswerable. Only what has been lost may be restored, but in the case of Satan, if he was created evil, there is nothing to restore and evil cannot be removed. We are told that Jesus, “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution (restoration) of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” — Acts 3:21, is to restore all things. Well, if He is to restore all things then Satan must be restored also, to which Colossians 1:16 & 20 also very clearly testify. But he cannot be restored if he never fell, if he never suffered a loss.
Satan cannot be annihilated, for annihilation does not eradicate but merely changes the form, leaving us with no way to be entirely rid of evil, and yet there shall eventually be no vestige of sin to be found anywhere in God’s universe. We are told that Jesus must remain in the heavens until the restoration of all things. So in order for all things to be restored, then Satan must have in some way suffered a loss, or a fall from another place. Do we have anything, either in type or the word of God to support such an idea? I believe we do. We have already cited Revelation 12:9, which states that Satan and his angels, were cast out of heaven. As to a type, Nebuchadnezzar is an excellent type of not only Satan, the king of Confusion (Babylon) but also of his fall and restoration.
We are told that there came a day when Nebuchadnezzar became lifted up with pride and because of it lost his kingdom and was driven out from men and was given the mind of a beast. For seven (ful ness) years he was humbled and made to eat grass like a beast. After seven years had been fulfilled, he “lifted up his eyes unto heaven” and his understanding returned to him. He then blessed the most High God (El Elyon–the God of the Melchizedek priesthood) and praised and honored Him. At the same time that his understanding returned to him, we are told that his glory and his honor and brightness was also restored to him, and an excellent majesty was added to him. It couldn’t be more clear that this is a picture of Satan, who, upon being lifted up with pride, was cast down and became a beast until the fullness (seven) of times was passed over him. Then his glory and his brightness as well as all he had known before was restored to him along with his kingdom, that he might know that God rules in the heavens and in the affairs of men.
This subject is not a new or recent one for me. Back in 1968 I began to inquire of the Lord about it and found that I was not quite satisfied as to the true answer of who and whence is Satan. I spent at least six years arguing with the folks at one church in Oakland, CA who believed that the carnal mind was Satan. And George Hawtin was right; the only thing we settled in those six years of arguing was “the flowers.” While I did not believe that Satan was the carnal mind, I still was not sure just what it was. I never changed their mind in the least and they surely never changed mine an iota. In fact, I wasn’t at all sure of where I was headed with this article even as I began writing it. Betty and I joked about writing an article without knowing the conclusion of the matter. But as things now stand, I am at last convinced that the Devil is, in fact, a fallen angel/spirit which is incarnated in or through the carnal mind and must, at some time, be brought to a restoration and that he never was created a Devil but suffered a fall into that which made him a Devil. It is out of this that he must eventually be reconciled according to Colossians 1:16 and 20, and be restored to his original place by the blood of Christ’s cross.
I find that I have no quarrel with those who believe otherwise than I do. If I should find that my conclusions prove to be wrong at some point in the future and I receive additional light on the matter which is at this time withheld, then I will not hesitate writing another article on this same subject stating why I have backed away from my original position concerning the Devil. But as of now I am convinced of what I here write, even though it may contradict accepted thought.
WHO AND WHENCE THE DEVIL [Larry Hodges] 1