By Amos Binney and Daniel Steele
In the New Testament the word devils is frequently and erroneously used for demons, that is, evil angels. Ps. 78:49; Matt. 4:24; Luke 8:27, etc. Hence the phrase, The devil and his angels, Matt. 25: 41; Rev. 12:7,9, the former denoting the chief or prince of devils. Matt. 12:24.
The general belief of the Church has always been that these are apostate angels who were expelled from heaven, or some probationary state, for rebellion against God. The tradition of their fall is in all countries and in all religions, and is clearly taught in the Scriptures. Job 4:18; John 8:44; I John 3:8; II Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; Rev. 12:7-12.
Those who reject this opinion are not uniform in their faith on this point. Some suppose that by the devil is meant a personified principle of evil; others, the wicked dispositions of men; and others, any enemy.
These three errors conflict with and destroy each other, and this very warfare is no mean (92. What do the Scriptures say of devils and demons? What has been the belief of the Church respecting them? What of the tradition of their fall? What of those who reject this opinion? What of these errors?) evidence in favor of the scriptural account of a real, personal devil. Let us consider:
1. Some persons were tempted who had no propensity to evil, namely , Adam, Gen. 3: 13; Christ, Matt. 4:1.
2. Some have possessed many demons. Luke 8:2, 30. And these were transferred from men to beasts. Luke 8:33.
3. Acts, attributes. and passions are ascribed to the devil and to demons. I Sam. 16:14, 23; Luke 8:31; 22:3; James 2:19; I Pet. 5:8.
As to their names, they are usually called demons; the head or chief of whom is distinguished by other titles, such as Satan and Abaddon, in the Hebrew, and Devil and Apollyon, in the Greek. He is also called the angel of the bottomless pit. Rev. 9:11. Accuser. Rev. 12:10. Belial. II Cor. 6:15. Adversary. I Pet. 5:8. Beast. Rev. 19:19. Beelzebub. Matt. 12:24 . Deceiver. Rev. 12:9. Dragon. Rev. 12:7. God of this world. II Cor. 4:4. Liar and murderer. John 8:44. Prince of this world. John 12:31. Prince of the power of the air. Eph. 2: 2. Serpent. Rev. 12:9. Tempter. I Thess. 3:5. And Wicked One Matt. 13:19, 38. (93. What is the testimony of Scripture? What particulars of this? Their names?)
Some of the devil's devices used to ruin men are noted. Gen. 3:1-13; II Cor. 2:11; 9: 3,14; Job 1:6, etc.; Matt. 13:19-39; John 8:44; 13:2; Acts 5:3; II Thess. 2:9; I Tim. 4:1-3; Rev. 16:14.
Since all mankind are tempted of the devil, it is made their duty to watch, and so resist his devices as not to be overcome of him. I Cor. 10:12-13; II Cor. 11:3; Eph. 4:27; 6:11-18; II Tim. 2:26; James 4:7; I Pet. 5:8-9.
Christ himself being manifested to destroy the works of the devil, I John 3:8, was tempted in all points as we are, and has given us an example of successfully resisting him, Matt. 4:1-11, and will help those to like resistance who seek it of him. I Cor. 10:13; II Cor. 12:7-9, Heb. 2:18; 4:15-16; Rev. 12:9-11.
All that is said of their numbers represents them as very great. Eph. 2:2. They are so many that a legion, 6,000, were in possession of one person. Mark 5:9. Hence we may suppose that they outnumber the human family on the earth. This explains the apparent omnipresence of the tempter.
Their names denote their nature, and their employment corresponds. Rev. 20:2; Matt. 4: 1; (94. What are some of the devil's devices? What is our duty respecting them? Numbers? What do their names denote?) Matt. 13:38; Luke 8:12 , 22:31, John 13:27, Acts v:3; II Cor. 4: 4; Eph. 2:2; I Tim. 4:1; I John 3:8; Rev. 12:9. They can do nothing without God's permission. Judges 9:23; I Kings 22:22; Job 1:12; Matt. 10:1; II Thess. 2:11.
They will be restrained during the millennium, but afterward, for a short time, released, and then finally punished. Rev. 20:1-10; Matt. 25:41.
The mediatorial work of Christ does not include them. Matt. 25:41.
The same principles of interpretation which eliminate a personal devil from the Bible would lead to the denial of the existence of any invisible being, not excepting that of God, and also to the rejection of the main truths of the Bible. Exod. 5:2; Job 21:14, 15; Ps. 14:1; Jude 4; II Pet. 2:1; 3:3-5.