Devil, who is the?
The "devil" is a NT term referring to the basic sinful
tendency inherent in human nature, and is used to label individuals or human
powers who are false accusers or slanderers. It is quite often used as a
personification of sin or opposition to God as manifested in some human or
power. Therefore it is incorrect to claim that "the devil" is a rebellious
fallen angel who brings sin into the world, and who deceives mankind into
following that way that leads to destruction.
- The word "devil" (Greek diabolos, one who throws things against) is found
only in the New Testament, but is used to personify the OT idea of the
rebellious human heart, as the following references show.
- The human heart,
ie, mind, is the source of evil thoughts (Mar 7:21; Gen 6:6; Pro 6:14; Jer 4:14;
17:9; 23:26; Psa 64:1-6). Thus Scripture points to ourselves, not a fallen
angel, as being the source of all temptation.
- Each person is tempted when he
is lured and enticed by his own desires (Jam 1:14; cp 1Jo 2:16). If that person
yields to the temptation of his own passions, he sins (Jam 1:15) and is labeled
"of the devil" (1Jo 3:8). On the other hand, not to yield is described as
"resisting the devil" (Jam 4:1-4,7). Similarly, to withstand the wiles of the
devil is to put off being corrupt as through deceitful lusts, and living in the
passions of the flesh, following the desire of body and mind (Eph 2:3; 4:22,27;
- That "the devil" means "the tendency of human nature to sin" is well
illustrated in the life of Christ. Since Jesus shared our human nature, he was
tempted in every respect like ourselves (Heb 2:14; 4:15). His temptation "by the
devil" in the wilderness (Mat 4:1-11) is readily understood as being prompted by
his own thinking and desires (eg, hunger pangs, sensationalism, human glory: cp
1Jo 2:16). Never giving in to his own human will made Jesus sinless (Mat
26:38-42; 1Pe 2:22; Heb 4:15), and thus he overcame sin by the sacrifice of
himself (Heb 9:26; 10:4-10; cp Rom 8:3). In other words, by figuratively and
literally crucifying the flesh, Jesus destroyed the "devil" in himself (Heb
2:14; 1Jo 3:8; Gal 5:24; 6:14; Col 2:13-15; Joh 3:14).
- The betrayer Judas is
called a devil (Joh 6:70). Being a thief greedy for money, Judas decided to sell
out his Lord; this is described as: "the devil put it into his heart" (Joh 12:6;
13:2; cp Luk 22:3-5). Similar expressions are used in connection with Ananias
(Act 5:3,4), Elymas (Act 13:8-10), and the murderous Pharisees (Joh 8:44). Other
passages of similar character are: Jam 3:15; 1Ti 3:6,11; 2Ti 2:26; 3:3; Tit 2:3.
Roman and Jewish persecuting powers are also personified as "the devil" (1Pe
5:8,9; Rev 2:9,10; 12:3,9,17; cp Mat 2:16; Act 4:26,27).
- The Bible nowhere
refers to the origin of the devil, and those verses which are sometimes used to
suggest that it does (like Isa 14:12 and Eze 28:13) plainly refer in picturesque
language to arrogant human powers, in the first case Babylon, and the second