Your reaction to the statement that forms the title of our contribution to this department of our magazine for this month will depend upon who you are.
This title will make a different impression upon the believer than it will upon the unbeliever. It will bring forth a different reaction on the part of the conservative believer than it will on the part of the liberal. It will bring forth a different reply from one who loves God and His kingdom than from one who is one of Satan’s tools and representatives here upon this earth.
Most of our readers, we trust, because of the nature of those who seek such a magazine as ours, will respond with a, “Brother, you could not be more wrong!” There may be those who are ready to pick up pen and write a strong challenge: “Prove it!” There may even be those who shake their heads, not only in complete denial of the fact stated in this title, but also in a certain pity for the one who could make a statement of such blatant heresy!
Yet there may be some with a somewhat milder reaction, who would only respond with the criticism that this is a lot of wishful thinking rather than actual fact. The statement might even move some of these to ponder on the matter, harboring in themselves somewhat of a desire that the devil’s life be snuffed out for the good of the Church. This in turn might lead them to some wonder as to the result and advantages for the Church to have the devil put to death.
There are, as well, those who are in full agreement with the statement and would be no more shocked by it than by that more awful statement of blasphemy that “God is dead!” These—and they are in the church—have for years been saying that “the devil is dead,” employing different words and coming with another approach to the matter. These have boldly declared that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are mere myth, and have presented their own philosophy of a “Theistic Evolution” whereby man was not created as the Genesis account has it, but evolved from the lower animals through divine guidance over a billion some years.
In this connection we cannot help but ask, since Scripture says that man was created a little lower than the angels, where the origin of these spiritual beings fits in that whole theory of man’s origin. If we were created a little higher than the angels, they could, perhaps, be the missing link. It would be a little more honorable and less humiliating to believe that than to have to speak of a great-great-great grandfather who was an ape! Or, we ask, Have the angels evolved from man? Are we the link between them?
But calling these first eleven chapters of Genesis a myth rather than actual fact denies the fact of a devil being there in the serpent to tempt Eve. That the devil actually is a person, and that this person ever lived is then ruled out completely. No, all this is myth. It is fiction, not fact. The devil is dead, yea, rather, there never was such a creature. And the title above is wrong, then, because one who never existed cannot be said to have died.
Please note, anyway, that we placed the statement in quotation marks. We did this, not because we can quote anyone as ever having said this about the devil, but because there is so much taught today—besides this “Theistic Evolution”—that in effect does say exactly that. And the purpose of these lines and reason for our title is to show that many maintain today doctrines which do imply that the devil is dead.
Of course the statement is not true! Unless you are speaking of spiritual death. The devil is spiritually dead. Created as a sinless angel he fell into sin in heaven before man was tempted by him to do so here on this earth. And by spiritual death we mean the utter inability to do anything that is pleasing in God’s sight; the incapability of doing what He considers righteousness; the complete lack of power to serve God consciously and willingly in love. In that sense the devil is dead indeed! And in that sense our title will stand, and the whole Bible stands behind that statement and reveals it in all its awfulness. But in the sense that he is powerless to do his satanic work, to tempt, to seek to destroy the church of God, to lead men in the development of sin, and to hold man in the way of the lie, he is far from dead. He is a very powerful force. In fact he has never had a sick day in his life. He has never had to curtail his work because of some physical affliction. He is a spirit who slumbers and sleeps no more than the holy angels of God do in heaven. And in his devilish work he would exactly like to have you and me believe that he is dead. That is the diabolical part of it all. He is willing to decrease and appear to be dead in order that his cause of hatred and rebellion against God may increase in the human race. He would like to have us believe that he is dead as far as the true picture of him as found upon the pages of Holy Writ is concerned. He would like to have us see him as the friend he posed to be unto Eve, full of concern for mankind and of good advice for us. That “wicked-old-devil” picture he would like to have destroyed; and he would have us see him as one who can improve our lot and bring us to those higher heights that the pride of life within us craves.
But, really now, does not the position that God is dead mean that the devil also is dead? If God is dead, then certainly the devil is also dead. Otherwise we take the blasphemous position that the devil is God! If the holy, supreme Being Who brought all into existence lost His life in the struggle to make something good out of a fallen human race, then that unholy spiritual being who introduced sin to the human race is now in His place as God! If God has failed, and now is dead, His enemy has taken over and is in His place as God. If, however, God is dead because there really are no spiritual beings, either good or bad, then again Satan is dead, yea, really never existed except as a myth that the first eleven chapters of Genesis moved some “silly” people to accept as fact.
Yet the very appearance of these heresies only show how full of life the devil really is. It likewise reveals how urgent the call of Paul that we put on the whole armour of God that we may be able to withstand the wiles of the devil. It is, after all, his work that has brought us to this “new morality” and “situation ethics” which likewise as to their implications say that the devil is dead.
Nothing is wrong anymore. The situation determines what action one is wise in taking so that his flesh may enjoy its lust. The law of God is an antiquated thing that really never worked, and in fact never should have been accepted by man. There really is no sin. There are inconvenient and foolish deeds. There are actions of men that bring sorrow to some and deprive them of their possessions and even of their loved ones. There is crime. But this is not sin before God. This is not some activity within man because he has fallen under the power of the devil. No, God is dead, and Satan is dead; and if we do not want to be dead, we had better ignore all these laws and rules and regulations and live it up, get high, get our full fling out of a life, which is all too short, for all the pleasures that the flesh craves.
And the “Social Gospel” that many in the church are preaching is likewise a denial of the devil’s existence. Sin as an act of rebellion against God is ruled out as the cause of all our social injustices and inequalities. The cross, which, according to Colossians 2:15, is the victory over the devil and his host, is covered up with a lot of so-called psychology that finds some situation, some environment, some experience in a person’s early life that has set him on a course that brings him to violence and criminal acts against man. The solution to the problem of the misdeeds in the world is not traced to the fall of man, is not found in the removal of guilt by the blood of the cross and in power of the Spirit of Christ. Instead it is found in some counseling that will bring out that horrid experience, slay that “devil” that plagues a person, fills him with obsessions and fears and criminal tendencies. The solution to the problem is found in giving that man what his flesh craves. Do not bring him the Word of God and its truth that we are all conceived and born in sin, deceived by Satan and under the power of the lie. Do not bring him the infallible counsel of God’s Word to be content, to be patient in adversity and to look for the same Christ Who died for the sins of His people to return and usher in the perfect kingdom. Instead propose billions of dollars and free gifts to satisfy—what cannot ever be satisfied—the cravings of the flesh of these who threaten to riot and perform deeds of violence to get what their flesh craves.
The devil is not behind it all, not at least as a spiritual person. Man is the devil. We need go no further or deal with no deeper problem than the nature and “character” of man alone. There is no spiritual world of sin behind all man’s misconduct and “inhuman” deeds against mankind. Conquer the man, win him over by your gifts and education and social reform programs, and you have solved the problem.
We must also be very careful of that much-used statement, “Christ is the Answer!” There is truth in that statement, but it is a very misleading statement, and as used by many it is the lie. The answer to all of man’s problems is in Christ, and apart from Him there is no hope for lasting peace and true joy. But let us beware first of all of the idea that He is the answer for all men, or that He came to present the whole human race with a way out of the mess into which this very-much-alive devil tempted us, and we willingly plunged ourselves. And by all means let us beware of falling into the error of “preaching” Christ as the answer on this earth and in this world. Just listen to much that is spouted forth today by those who have closed the Word of God and taken the position that the devil is dead. Christ is the answer to our economic, political, social problems, and if we only give Him a chance we can get lasting peace in this generation, put down crime in our streets, do away with hunger and poverty. The Kingdom of heaven, then, is coming on this earth rather than, as Scripture teaches, on the new earth, in the new Jerusalem that comes down from God out of heaven. See Revelation 21:1-3. That is the new postmillennial view. We prepare this world for Christ to return to it. We by our education, science, social reforms, peace programs and arms or disarmament talks bring forth that kingdom of heaven and make this earth ready for Christ’s return. Actually, of course, all this serves to bring forth the kingdom of the Antichrist which acknowledges no devil, no sin before God, but has the Antichrist sitting in the place of God, calling himself God, II Thessalonians 2:4.
Say not by your deeds then that the devil is dead. Then in your life he is not dead but actually the conqueror, the victor. Stand in the awful consciousness that he is alive, and heed then the words of Paul, “Put on the whole armour of God that ye may withstand the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11. By all means see him defeated by Christ, but recognize him as the power that still rules your flesh; and rejoice in the promise of God that we find in Romans 16:20, “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” And you can have that joy and the hope of that promise only as you reject the idea that the devil is dead, and instead see him as the prince of this world.