Gen. 3:1 π Job 1:16 π Isa. 14:12-15 π Isa. 14:14 π Ezek. 28:11-17 π Dan. 10:13 π Dan. 10:20 π Mt. 6:13 π Mt. 8:26 π Mt. 23:5 π Mt. 23:15 π Mt. 23:33 π Mt. 24:24 π Mt. 25:41 π Lk. 4:1 π Lk. 4:5-7 π Lk. 8:31 π Lk. 8:33 π Lk. 11:18 π Lk. 11:21-22 π Jn. 1:1 π Jn. 3:6 π Jn. 8:41 π Jn. 8:44; 2nd; 3rd π Jn. 12:31 π Jn. 14:30 π Jn. 16:11 π Jn. 17:15 π Acts 26:5 π Rom. 2:22 π Rom. 2:28-29 π 1 Cor. 10:19-22 π 1 Cor. 10:20 π 1 Cor. 10:21 π 1 Cor. 15:24 π 1 Cor. 15:28 π 2 Cor. 4:4 π 2 Cor. 11:14 π 2 Cor. 11:15 π Gal. 6:8 π Eph. 2:2 π Eph. 6:12; 2nd; 3rd π 1 Ths. 3:5 π 1 Tim. 3:6-7 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π 2 Tim. 3:5 π Jas. 2:19 π 2 Pet. 2:4 π 1 Jn. 1:6 π 1 Jn. 3:8 π 1 Jn. 5:19 π Jude 6 π Jude 9 π Rev. 2:9; 2nd π Rev. 2:13 π Rev. 2:20 π Rev. 2:24 π Rev. 12:9 π Rev. 12:10 π Rev. 12:11
Ere we can apprehend the meaning of the urgent call to overcome, sent to His people by the Risen Lord through His Apostle John, it is necessary that we should unveil the Prince of darkness and his kingdom.
Our first question must be - who is the Prince of darkness, and where did he come from? The Scriptures give but veiled glimpses of his origin and home, for their purpose is more expressly to reveal God in His character, and His Christ as the Redeemer of men, with the history of the redeemed from the Fall of Adam in Eden, their way of salvation through the Cross, and their eternal destiny, when Christ shall have "abolished all rule and all authority and power" ( 1 Cor. 15:24 ) contrary to the reign of God, and God Himself shall be All in All. ( 1 Cor. 15:28; top )
It is generally understood that Isaiah the prophet referred primarily to the Adversary of God and man, when he said, "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer [literally, Day Star]! ...you have said in your heart...'I will exalt my throne above the stars of God...I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the lowest depths of the pit." ( Isa. 14:12-15; top ) "We can never quite understand how it could be that among the angels there should come the thought of self. There was one into whom pride entered. He saw the wonderful glory of God in him, and began to exalt himself. He gathered others around him, and whither did this lead? It changed these angels into devils of hell. It made the fiery flames of heaven into flames of hell - the same flame, but separate from God." (Rev. Andrew Murray)
The Lord Jesus, speaking of the devil to the Jews, said that he "does not stand in the truth" implying at some previous time he had been of different character. "He was a murderer from the beginning" said the Lord ( Jn. 8:44 ), the word "beginning" being the same word used in John 1:1 , and the Apostle again repeats the expression later saying, "The devil has sinned from the beginning." ( 1 Jn. 3:8 ) There was a moment, then, when Satan left the "truth," and sin was found in him. There are many who think that that the lament of the Lord God over the fall of a being "full of wisdom and perfect in beauty," an "anointed cherub," dwelling upon "the holy mountain of God," and walking "up and down in the midst of the stones of fire" ( Ezek. 28:11-17 ) refers to the fallen angel - but whether or not this is so, sufficient is said to show that back in the past ages a terrible catastrophe occurred amongst the angels of God, because one glorious being admitted into his heart the thought of self, and said, "I"! "I will ascend," - "I will exalt my throne," - "I will ascend," - "I will be like the Most High," and when he fell other angels fell with him, some of whom were left at large with him, but others who "did not keep their proper domain," but "left their own abode," ( Jude 6 ), were cast "down to hell and committed to pits of darkness, to be reserved for judgment." ( 2 Pet. 2:4; top )
It seems clear therefore that the Prince of darkness is one who was once a beautiful archangel of the highest rank in heaven, but he fell from the truth, and became the very embodiment of a lie. "There is no truth in him...he is a liar, and the father of it," said the Lord ( Jn. 8:44 ), and the various names by which he is described in the Scriptures reveal still more of his position and character. Fallen though he be, he is called by the Lord Jesus no less than three times by the title of "Prince of this world," ( Jn. 12:31 , 14:30 , 16:11 ), thus plainly recognising his authority, and his official position of rule over the earth. That he is a high personage of rank and power we learn from Jude, for he wrote that "Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you." ( Jude 9 ) He is also called the "god of this age" ( 2 Cor. 4:4; top ) for men obey and worship him, even unconsciously, when they do not obey and worship the Creator.
The fallen archangel is moreover described as the "prince of the power of the air," ( Eph. 2:2 ), meaning wicked spiritual powers dwelling in the aerial heavens, for the "Satanic confederation has its seat in the atmospheric heaven - in the spaces above and around our world." (Seiss) It is significant too that the word used to describe this kingdom in the air, means thick and misty, in contrast to bright and clear air! (Pember) That the "prince of the power of the air" has authority to wield the forces of the air we seen in the history of Job, for at his bidding lightning fell from heaven to consume the flocks of the faithful servant of God. ( Job 1:16 ) It is significant also that when the Lord Jesus arose from His sleep in the storm on the lake He rebuked the winds and the sea ( Mt. 8:26 ) - surely "The malignant spirits of air and water which had combined to excite the storm." (Pember) In relation to his attacks upon the children of men the Prince of this world is called the "Tempter" ( 1 Ths. 3:5 ), because it is his fiendish delight to tempt others from loyal obedience to God, as he once fell away himself! And he is named "the devil" ( 1 Tim. 3:6-7 ) - in the original, a word never used in the plural, and always, and only, of Satan himself. "The Hebrew name Satan occurs in the New Testament thirty-five times interchangeably with the Greek Diabolos, which is also used thirty-five times. The word Diabolos signifies separator and slanderer," (Blackstone) or "malignant accuser." Satan is the great separator, and he separates by slandering. He separated the race of man from God in Eden, and ever since he has been separating men from each other, with hatred, malice, envy and jealousy, therefore when the veil is drawn aside in the Apocalypse from the unseen world, he is specially named as the "accuser of the brethren" ( Rev. 12:10 ) who is cast down by Michael and his angels from his place in the air, and overcome by the redeemed on earth as they testify to the "blood of the Lamb" ( Rev. 12:11; top ), and yield their lives to the death of the Cross.
In the same unveiling of the conflict in the unseen realm around this planet we find him also described as "The great Dragon," the "old serpent" - probably from the form he took in Eden ( Gen. 3:1 ) - and the "deceiver of the whole inhabited earth." ( Rev. 12:9; top )
That the Adversary still has the kingdom of the world under his rule, is unmistakably shown in his attack upon the Lord Jesus in the wilderness of temptation. The Lord was led under the constraint of the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be "tempted of the devil" ( Lk. 4:1 ), and after other temptations, we read that the devil showed Him "All the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in a moment of time. And the devil said unto Him, 'All this authority I will give you, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours." ( Lk. 4:5-7 ) "Worship before me"? What a daring condition to put to the Son of God. The fallen archangel is craving for worship still, for did he not say before his fall, "I will be like the Most High"? ( Isa. 14:14; top )
The extent of His claim to "all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth" the Son of God did not deny, and later the Lord plainly speaks of Satan's kingdom, not only in the kingdoms of the world, but in the fallen race of men. When some charged Him with casting out demons "by the Prince of the demons," the Lord said, "If Satan is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand?" ( Lk. 11:18 ) And He adds that "the strong man fully armed guards his own palace," until "a Stronger than he" comes upon him, and sets his captives free. ( Lk. 11:21-22 ) "Deliver us from the evil one" ( Mt. 6:13 ) the Lord taught His disciples to pray, and in His High-Priestly prayer on the eve of His Cross He prayed for them that they might be kept "from the evil one" ( Jn. 17:15; top ), for none knew more than He the extent of His power, and his malignant hatred to all who escaped his rule.
The words of the Apostle John also emphasize the universality of the rule of the prince of this world, for he writes, "the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." ( 1 Jn. 5:19 ) - it is sunk in the darkness which is his sphere, and is under the rule of the "world-rulers of this darkness." ( Eph. 6:12; top ) The word of God speaks with no uncertain sound in this vital matter, but how unwilling men are to believe the truth. The Scripture makes no distinction between high and low, or between cultured and ignorant, when it states that the "whole world" - heathen and Christendom - lies "in" the realm of the evil one.
In Africa, China, India, and all other heathen lands, the one whose spiritual senses have been awakened is keenly conscious of the sovereignty of the prince of darkness, for there the deceiver of the whole inhabited earth is daring in his tyranny, holding men and women in gross and open sin. In civilized countries, where the people are more Christianized, or are to a certain extent familiar with the Scriptures, the god of this age needs must veil his working, but his rule is just as real. In these last days however, he is beginning to more openly manifest himself as the prince of the world. He covets to be recognised, and still to usurp the place of God in the world. He is familiarizing people with his name. In fashion's realm serpents have been the favourite ornaments of dress, while palmistry, clairvoyance, planchette, and other means of intercourse with the spirits of evil, are abounding and increasing on every hand. In fact, by every possible means the enemy of God is seeking outward recognition as the prince of this world, with all men subject to his power.
The Adversary has not only his kingdom, but he has also his organized government, which the Apostle Paul describes as "Principalities...Powers...Sovereigns of this present darkness" ( Eph. 6:12 C.H.), and glimpses of the hierarchy of evil are clearly given in many parts of sacred writ. We read of "Satan's throne," where "Satan dwells." ( Rev. 2:13 ) Of "his ministers" ( 2 Cor. 11:15 ); of his "principalities" and his "powers," and of his hosts of "spirits of evil" in the heavens. ( Eph. 6:12 C.H.) Daniel's account of his interview with the messenger from God also reveals that these Principalities and Powers of Satan are given charge of specified countries, for the Satanic "Prince of Persia" withstood the heavenly messenger, who said that on his return he would again have to meet with the same Prince, together with the "Prince of Greece." ( Dan. 10:13 , 20; top )
Satan therefore reigns over an aerial kingdom of hierarchies and spiritual powers, and a kingdom on earth in the world of men, and he governs by means of an organized government. "Principalities" who rule over various lands; "Powers" who are placed by him in positions of authority - angels of the devil (see Mt. 25:41 ), consisting of those who chose to follow him into sin when he rebelled against God - and the demons, who are thought by the vast majority of early Christian writers to be the spirits of the dead, who bore a bad character in this life, and who now crave some relief from their restless existence by entering the bodies of men. We read that they even preferred to enter the bodies of swine, rather than be cast out into homeless wandering again, or into the place they manifestly dreaded, called the Abyss. ( Lk. 8:31 , 33; top ) They are, at any rate, plainly described as wicked spirits who are under the complete command of Beelzebub their Prince.
But as we read let us not forget that all these hosts of evil are compelled to acknowledge the Sovereign Lord of the Universe! Unbelievers in God are alone to be found on earth, for although the powers of evil deceive men, and keep them in darkness and unbelief, they themselves "believe and shudder" ( Jas. 2:19; top ), knowing that they are reserved for judgment in the day of the Lord.
In his organized government the Adversary has also a religion for those whom he can delude and deceive, and he has methods of cultivating communion with himself, showing his perfect mimicry of the worship of the true God, and His Son Jesus Christ.
In the Apostle Paul's first letter to the Corinthians one aspect of Satan's religion is revealed as we are shown what idol-worship actually means. The Apostle explains that in itself, as wood, or stone, or metal, an idol is "nothing in the world," but he makes it unmistakably clear that the demon at the back of the wood and stone is an awful reality. He pointed out that sacrifices offered to idols were really "sacrificed to demons," therefore they who would walk in fellowship with God must "flee from idolatry," lest they would hold "communion with demons." They dare not take the "cup of the Lord," and the "cup of demons"; partake of the "table of the Lord," and of the "table of demons." ( 1 Cor. 10:19-22 C.H.; top) The matter was vital to the Corinthians, as it now is to native Christians in heathen lands, for ofttimes the meat offered for sale in the marketplace was meat which had first been offered to idols, and some of the Corinthian Christians had accepted invitations to feasts celebrated in the temple of heathen gods - feasts which were acts of idolatrous worship. But the Apostle knew that the spirit-forces behind the outward idol-worship were very real, and so he urges that not in the remotest way must the child of God have contact with the powers of darkness through these things, even to please their friends, or because to them the idol itself was "nothing in the world."
We see how deeply the fallen archangel has revolted from his allegiance to the Most High God, for he not only deceives, and tempts, and holds in darkness the human race, but he adds to their destruction and deepens his hold upon souls, by seeking to meet the desire for an object of worship, which lies dormant in every breast. For man was created with, and even in his fallen condition retains, his consciousness of a higher power, and the instinct to worship and adore.
But apart from direct Satanic worship as manifested among the heathen in their bowing down to idols, Satan has other ways of meeting the need for some religion, which is part of the instinct of men. The Apostle Paul writes to the Romans "You that abhor idols, do you commit sacrilege?" ( Rom. 2:22 ) as he shows that no outward rite or ceremonial fulfillment of the law, is acceptable to God, apart from the putting away of sin, and the seeking of God in spirit and in truth. ( Rom. 2:28-29; top ) Satan knows this, and therefore persuades men that outward obedience to some creed is enough, thus deluding multitudes into a false peace by causing them to rest upon an outward ceremony or form of words, whilst inwardly he keeps them in the darkness of his rule.
In the Lord's message to the church at Smyrna He spoke of those who "say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan." ( Rev. 2:9 ) It appears by this that the Adversary has not only a religion which gives him worship through material images, but that his "synagogue" - or congregation - is made up of professors of religion who are without the inward truth. The Apostle John uses plain language concerning this when he writes "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness (i.e., in sin), we lie, and do not the truth" ( 1 Jn. 1:6 ), and the most severe words that ever passed the lips of the Lord Christ when on earth, were his scathing exposures of the Pharisees. "They say and do not" He said, and "outwardly appear righteous unto men," when inwardly full of hypocrisy. He told them their actual condition, and said that they were of their "father the devil," and He called them "serpents," and the "offspring of vipers," saying that every proselyte they gained was made more a "son of hell" than themselves! ( Mt. 23:15 , 33 , Jn. 8:44 ) And yet the Pharisees claimed God as their Father ( Jn. 8:41 ) and were of the strictest sect in Israel in the outward fulfilling of the law! ( Acts 26:5 ) The Lord's strong words against the professors of "godliness without the power thereof" ( 2 Tim. 3:5 ) - the Divine energy which saves from sin - makes it therefore appear that Satan's invisible "church" is filled, not with the openly sinful, nor with purely ignorant souls, but with those who make religion a cloak whilst they are really subjects of Satan, obeying his will, and serving him all the time, as "all their works they do to be seen by men." ( Mt. 23:5; top )
But the worship of idols, and the hypocritical profession of godliness without the inward reality, are not the only aspects of Satan's religion, for in both of these men are often unconscious of their condition, and would be startled if they knew the truth. The Arch-enemy desires to have still greater possession of human beings than this, and craves the open recognition of his power and authority, with the deliberate surrender to him of the will of the soul. To obtain this, the Apostle says, he can fashion himself as an "angel of light" ( 2 Cor. 11:14; top ) to allure those he desires to win for his particular use. Probably the fallen archangel has not lost the form of wondrous beauty in which he was created, only that the light of God has gone out of him, and darkness fills his whole being, but this he can veil when occasion demands, and he desires to counterfeit the angels of God. His reward is great to all who will openly acknowledge him, and he has his "deep things" to reveal to those who fully yield to him.
The Lord refers to these "deep things of Satan" ( Rev. 2:24 ) in His message to the church at Thyatira, and the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy that the Holy Spirit had expressly told him that in the latter days the Adversary would seek to draw many away from the faith in Christ by the teachings of spirits inculcating "doctrines of demons." ( 1 Tim. 4:1 ) So that Satan has "doctrines" as well as a system of worship - a "cup," a "table," and a "Synagogue!" ( 1 Cor. 10:21 , Rev. 2:9; top ) The character of the instrument usable by the spirits should be noted, for Paul said that the teaching would be given through men who would profess to be what they were not, and whose consciences would be seared as with a hot iron, for only thus could they be incapable of felling the sinfulness of sin, and be reckless concerning the awful judgment which must come on all who wreck the souls of others as well as their own.
These "teachings of demons" through false teachers acting under their control, had already begun in the first century, and seducing spirits were evidently at work in the church at Thyatira, drawing servants of God from their Lord through the "deep things of Satan." One calling herself a prophetess, was leading souls astray, teaching them to "eat things sacrificed to idols" ( Rev. 2:20 ) which, we have already noticed, was so strongly forbidden by Paul, because it meant that they who did this were laying themselves open to the inroad of Satanic power, by having contact with the wicked spirits behind the idol, through which every idolator practically had fellowship with demons. ( 1 Cor. 10:20; top ) The Lord's complaint was that the church suffered these things to be in its midst - things upon which He pronounced the most awful warning of certain judgment.
Let the children of God take heed, for traces of the subtle teaching of seducing spirits are sometimes discernible among groups of believers who seek to press on into the "deep things of God," and do not know the devices of the Adversary. But we shall refer to this later on, and will only point out here that Satan's religion - however diverse in manifestation and name - has always one clearly defined mark in the omission of the Gospel of Calvary. And by this test all "gospels" that are not the Gospel, may be recognized! The atoning death of the Son of God; His propitiation for sin; His blotting out of sin; His deliverance from the power of sin by the severing power of the Cross; His call of the blood-redeemed soul to the Cross in humiliation of self, and sacrifice for others - in brief, all that Calvary means, is emphatically repudiated, or else always carefully omitted, in the doctrines of the seducing spirits which are evolved in hell! Let everyone thus test the tenets of Theosophy, or Christian (?) Science, and all other teachings now being poured into the world by spirits of evil, who do not hesitate to appropriate fro their purposes the very language describing the effects, and blessings of the Gospel. Peace, joy, love, sacrifice, yea, and even righteousness (as far as outward right-doing is meant), are now part of Satan's doctrines, devised to deceive, if possible, the very elect ( Mt. 24:24 ), for these apparent "fruits of the Spirit" are not of the Holy Spirit, unless the Cross is accepted in its crucifying power. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" said the Lord ( Jn. 3:6 ), though it be dressed in garments of peace, and love, and joy, and he that "sows to the flesh" must "of the flesh reap corruption" ( Gal. 6:8; top ), however beautiful it may outwardly appear. To retain the "flesh" in its full strength; to glorify the "flesh" even in the way of "righteousness"; to please the "flesh" in giving it the comfort of peace and joy and happiness; to allure the flesh by promise of escape from pain and suffering, is the aim of the Adversary, but this "gospel" is the exact opposite of the Gospel of Calvary, which condemns the "flesh" to the Cross; shows its inability of producing the true righteousness which is acceptable to God, and reveals the selfishness of ever craving for peace and joy, and the self-indulgence of desiring to escape all the suffering which lies in the path of fellowship with the Lamb of God. Of the still more subtle attempts of the teaching demons to lead souls into sin, and sinful indulgence of the flesh under the delusion of fellowship with God, we cannot speak. The words of the Lord to the Church at Thyatira show whereunto the deep things of Satan lead.
It cannot be said that there is no mention of the Cross, and, in his later workings, even of the Blood of Christ, in Satan's religions teaching, but it is the Cross only as an outward symbol without the inward power, for he knows that it is only the real acceptance of the death of Christ - or Cross of Christ - which saves from sin. Alas, alas, there is no truth of God that the fallen archangel, who was once full of wisdom, has not counterfeited, and used against his Creator. Even the Cross where he was conquered by the Prince of Life, he has made a symbol of and used it as a weapon against his Conqueror. There are cities almost wholly under his sway today, above which glitter upon golden domes many symbols of the Cross, whilst the darkness of the world resting on the people, is a darkness to be felt, for sin and wickedness reign supreme.
A messenger of the Cross once drove along a street in one such city, and whilst gazing at the innumerable crosses standing out against the brilliant blue sky, there suddenly rang out in the ears a hideous Satanic laugh, indescribably mocking, as the evil one cried, "I have taken the symbol of my conquest, and used it against my Conqueror." Alas, alas, that under the "sign of the Cross," multitudes can be under the sway, and in the power, of the arch-enemy of God.
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