Does Satan REALLY exist?
In my article "Does God REALLY exist?" I showed that God really DOES exist--by definition. Does that mean that Satan also exists by definition? YES! But in order to understand how the original authors of the Bible defined Satan, we must first unscramble some present-day misconceptions which have kept most people from recognizing how Satanically inspired concepts have been affecting their lives.
a. As externally observable "elemental forces in nature", the authors of the Bible referred to the force which creates life out of dust as "the Lord", "the Creator", "the Almighty", "the Father", or simply "God". The opposing force in nature, which tends to turn life back into dust again, is referred to in the Bible as "the serpent", "the devil", or simply "Satan" (which literally means "one who opposes, obstructs, or acts as an adversary").
b. But the authors of the Bible carried their observations a significant step further than that. Rather than limiting their observations to the effects which those two forces have "in the outside world" as a physicist would do, they extended their observations of the effects which those two forces have into the internal "logical" workings of the human mind, by observing the effects that various popular concepts (which they referred to as "spirits") had on the motivations and conduct of the people around them. Of the various "spirits" which they observed in action (such as "envy" "lust", etc.), the one which eventually became known as Satan was first described in Genesis 3 as the serpent-like spirit that (continually) attempts to persuade mankind to differentiate between "good" and "evil" based on criteria other than the "Tree of Life" criteria of God's two most fundamental commandments (Matt 22:37-40).
c. If we abstract the "fruits of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" and the "fruits of the tree of life" out of our perceptions of God, we would end up with a concept that is presently referred to as "Mother Nature" or simply "nature." Nature is generally thought of a being neither good nor evil. It just does what it does. Predators kill and devour their prey and may themselves be killed and devoured by other predators, but such instances are viewed as simply being part of the many "cycles of life" which exist in nature. That's how it was with mankind until the early church ("Eve") taught mankind how to differentiate between "good" and "evil" concepts relative to the commandment to love their neighbors as themselves (because they wanted mankind to "see the world as God sees it"). Unfortunately, as described in Genesis 4, it was an experiment that went awry, because their offspring began to use criteria other than the commandment to love their neighbors as themselves as a basis for their conclusions regarding what is "good" and what is "evil". On one hand, what they did produced all sorts of "evil fruits" and suffering for mankind. On the other hand, it also led to the establishment of civilization as we know it. Cain and his ideological descendants went on to become "city-builders" or what we would presently refer to as "secular society". Seth and his ideological descendants tended to follow a different path, fulfilling the role of Abel as "spiritual shepherds" or "servants of God." (Luke 3:38) Since the descendants of Cain became irrevocably "hooked" on believing in the "fruits" produced by the "trees of knowledge of good and evil" which they continually created for themselves, in order to keep the world from "going to hell", the descendants of Seth have been doing the best that can ever since then to convince mankind to also believe in the "fruits of the Tree of Life" (knowledge obtained by following God's two most fundamental commandments).
d. For most of us in today's world, "Mother Nature" seldom interferes with our personal lives except when hurricanes, blizzards, or diseases infringe upon our daily schedules. But the spirits which the original authors of the Bible referred to as "God" and "Satan" effect our lives nearly every day in a wide variety of VERY PERSONAL ways. Unfortunately, since our religious leaders are still failing to teach the "Gospel of the Kingdom of God" as taught by Jesus Christ, most people these days either "haven't got a clue" or have at best only a "foggy notion" of how those spirits (and their progenies) are effecting their own lives and the lives of those around them. For them, the concept of Satan has been misconstrued into being something unreal, like a "Hollywood special effect" or a "little red man with two horns and a pronged tail." In order to understand the full implications of our present situation in this regard, we must look back into history to see how and why such misperceptions evolved.
2. WHERE THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH WENT WRONG:
Elaine Pagels provides an excellent historical overview of the evolution of mankind's identification of Satan in her books "Adam, Eve, and the Serpent" and "The Origin of Satan" (both published by Vintage Books, a division of Random House). She points out, for example, that the word "devil" actually means "blocker" or "impeder" in Greek. If you are really interested in such matters, you should read those two books to check these points out for yourself.
a. Anyhow, in those two books Ms Pagels describes the rather chaotic manner in which the documents which presently comprise The New Testament came into being, and how they came to be accepted as "canonized." In the later half of the 1st century, the teachings of Jesus Christ were "spreading like wild fire" throughout the Roman Empire, in spite of serious opposition (and at times DEADLY persecution) by some Jews and Romans in those days. Those early Christians took God's two most fundamental commandments SERIOUSLY and found it remarkably easy to inspire others to do likewise (remarkable, considering that such loyalties could lead to possible death in a Roman arena for refusing to worship the Roman Emperor or his gods). They literally "bet their lives" on the reasonable expectation that "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (i.e. for those who seek and follow the truth relative to the commandment to love their neighbors as themselves). (Rom 8:28) And, like Jesus, most of them defined "spirits" (popular concepts) rather than people as their "enemies" or "adversaries". (Eph 6:12).
b. During the 2nd century, the creators of what became known as the Roman Catholic Church began consolidating various writings regarding Jesus and establishing a Roman army-like 3-tier command and control structure (of bishops, priests, and deacons) over the churches in various Christian communities. Some early Christians vehemently objected to such efforts, but since most people in those days were illiterate, it made sense to many others to support such efforts. It also provided some degree of protection against persecution from the Roman government. However, it didn't take long for Satan to "bruise the head" (Gen 3:15) of this newly created super-church.
c. While they were attempting to decide which of the numerous writings about Jesus were "legitimate", the founders of the Roman Catholic Church got into serious (heated) debates which various groups of Christians which where later referred to as "Gnostics". The Gnostics recognized (correctly) that the Creation and Garden of Eden stories in Genesis 1-4 were designed to be interpreted allegorically, because if you interpret those stories literally, you would have to conclude that God lied to Adam and Eve when He told them "for in the day that you eat of it [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil], you shall surely die." For some reason, at least in those of their writings which have survived to this day, the Gnostics seem to have completely overlooked the guidance which Jesus Christ provided for properly interpreting those stories in an allegorically manner (i.e. the symbolisms Jesus used in his parables, and Matt 22:37-40). Therefore, although they were following the first of God's two most fundamental commandments by honestly trying to seek the truth, they ended up with some "really wild" allegorical interpretations that seriously damaged their credibility. To distinguish their views from those of the Gnostics, the early leaders of the Roman Catholic Church began referring to themselves as "orthodox" ("straight thinkers"). Then they began labeling the Gnostics as "heretics" (which interestingly means "one who makes a choice"). Finally, for the sake of organizational tranquillity, they expelled all Christians whom they considered to be Gnostics from their newly created so-called "catholic" Church. By doing so, those early church leaders implicitly adopted two Satanically inspired doctrines which have plagued that church (and mankind) ever since. They violated the first of God's two most fundamental commandments by: 1) Excluding Gnostic Christians from their definition of neighbor, and 2) making a " virtue" out of gullibility (degrading the value of truth) by insisting that their so-called "literal" interpretations of those Genesis stories were the "truth"-even if they didn't make sense. From that point on, they no longer considered it important to REALLY seek the truth relative to the commandment to love their neighbors as themselves; they were no longer following God.
d. Rather than seeking and teaching allegorical interpretations of the scriptures that DO make sense when viewed in terms of the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (as Jesus did), those "orthodox" leaders began teaching that the glaring inconsistencies in their "literal" interpretations of the scriptures where "divine mysteries". Eventually, their successors began teaching that the popular concepts which the authors of the Bible referred to as "spirits" were somehow "supernatural beings" with "supernatural" powers (even though the word "supernatural" is never used in the Bible). Such teachings required (and encouraged) some degree of gullibility on the part of their listeners, but they worked quite well, actually, for recruiting new members to the Church. The Satanic problem created by this was that once those people became convinced to regard gullibility as a "virtue", that made it easy for them to be persuaded by Satanically inspired religious or political leaders to support (or even commit) UNGODLY acts supposedly "for the sake of God."
e. In 381 AD, in flagrant disregard of Jesus Christ's instructions in Matt 10:14 to merely "shake the dust off their feet and leave" those who refuse to heed their message, those two ungodly doctrines led the Roman Catholic Church to persuade Emperor Theodosius to make "heresy" a crime against the state, thereby enabling the Church to use the "tools of Cain" to execute Christians who disagreed with them, just as the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem had done to Jesus. That in turn led various leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in the centuries which followed to instigate wars in Europe, bloody "crusades" in the Middle East, large-scale massacres of Templar and Cathari Christians "for the eradication of heresy" and numerous deadly persecutions Jews, Muslims, and alleged "witches". Although many in the Roman Catholic Church served God well during those centuries, even today the Roman Catholic Church's claims to represent God are still seriously marred by those ungodly acts. The Satanically inspired misdeeds of those who claimed to be fighting a "supernatural" Satan have led to such a great loss of credibility that most people today no longer believe that Satan, as described in the Bible, even exists.
g. Another problem created by those two Satanically inspired doctrines was that those very same doctrines could also be used against the Roman Catholic Church itself. Over the centuries, usually when the Roman Catholic Church became widely (and correctly) perceived as being "apostate in the eyes of God", large chunks of the allegorical "catholic body of Christ" used those doctrines themselves to justify breaking away to become the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, Church of England, etc. They "excommunicated" the Roman Catholic Church, one might say. In most cases, these new denominations left some of the Satanically inspired teachings of their former church behind, and then proceeded to create new (often deadly) ones of their own, apparently because they never clearly understood what Jesus was talking about when he referred to "The Kingdom of God", and they weren't concerned enough about the value or truth and love to figure it out.
3. HOW TO RECOGNIZE THE INFLUENCES OF SATAN:
a. "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them". (Matt 18:20) In this statement, Jesus made it clear that the Kingdom of God that he was teaching is an INTERPERSONAL religion (because it is based on the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself). This makes it easy to recognize and distinguish between the influences of God and the influences of Satan at all levels of endeavor (in the family, at work, in town, and at the state, country, and global levels). As Jesus taught in his parable about the Good Samaritan, "neighbors" are those whom you can help, when needed. To recognize the influences of Satan, all you need to do is to look at the concepts which people are espousing, look at the results of those concepts, and then evaluate those concepts and results relative to both of God's two most fundamental commandments (i.e. become a part of the Kingdom of God by seeking and following the truth relative to the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself-without placing any restrictions on you definition of neighbor).
b. For practice, here's what I recommend: Make it a point to watch at least three televised sermons, each by a different priest or preacher--preferably, one representing a "conservative Christian" point of view, one representing a "liberal Christian" point of view, and a third somewhere in between) Draw a vertical line down the center of a piece of paper and briefly note the concepts or arguments which you perceive as inspired by God on the left side of the line, and the concepts which you perceive being inspired by Satan on the right side of the line. If you have any doubts that our well-known TV personalities who claim to represent God would teach concepts that are inspired by Satan, ask yourself questions such as the following:
Are they advocating violations of the FIRST of God's two most fundamental commandments by (among other things):
---- Advocating that we place restrictions on our definition of "neighbor"?
---- Claiming that Christ's teachings should NOT be applied to (i.e. subordinated to) some vague concept like "matters of political concern"?
---- Advocating that we should worship flags or place our faith in "national sovereignty" (the bloodiest idol ever created by man!)? [Keep in mind that our "pledge allegiance" is to one nation UNDER God.]
---- "Selling" an image of Jesus as a "personal savior" without ever explaining what it REALLY means to be a part of the Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus Christ?
Like that serpent in the Garden of Eden, such "soothe-saying" preachers are telling only HALF of the truth! By failing (or refusing) to teach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus Christ, they are giving Satan all sorts of ideological room to literally "rule the hearts and minds of people all over the world." If the churches in Germany had been teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus Christ in the 1930s, Adolph Hitler would NEVER have been able to attract a significant following (THIS is God's answer as to WHY the "holocaust" happened!). In today's world, if you teach your sons and daughters what it REALLY means to be part of the Kingdom of God, you'll never have to worry about "losing" them to some radical religious cult, because it won't take them long to recognize the ungodly aspects of their teachings.
Are they advocating violations of the SECOND of God's two most fundamental commandments by (among other things):
---- Advocating that we hate "those bad guys over there" (as opposed to ungodly concepts)?
---- Advocating physical violence or other ungodly measures against people who don't share their own views.
---- Using "Am I my brother's keeper?" type arguments as Cain did, after he murdered Abel and lied to the Lord about it.
After you have done this for while, you'll be amazed at how easy it is to recognize concepts which are inspired by God, inspired by Satan, or otherwise neutral in that regard. It may even seem like you are witnessing "the voice of God" coming out of people's mouths at times and "the voice of Satan" coming out of their mouths at other times. That's how Jesus and the early Christians viewed the world. (Matt 16:22-23) But in today's world, such terminology implies a "supernatural" and therefore "unreal" connotation, so I prefer to simply describe such statements as being either "satanically inspired" or "inspired by God" . Conclusions like these can be readily verified by anyone who applies God's two most fundamental commandments to them (i.e. The "scientific method" can be reliably applied to solve human relations problems when you use God's two most fundamental commandments!).
4. CASTING OUT DEMONS.
Hollywood portrayals of demons as having "supernatural" characteristics and powers are delightfully (or frighteningly) entertaining, but such portrayals are also quite misleading. Demons (derived from a Greek term meaning "spirit energies") are really nothing more than popular concepts, usually Satanically inspired popular concepts. Although not really "supernatural", they are real enough to influence people's attitudes and conduct in very noticeable ways. Consider the spirit (or demon) of "national sovereignty" for example. There are many who are quite willing to kill people (or even be killed themselves) for the sake of that one (and many do). Would they do that for something that is unreal? When Jesus and his disciples went around "casting out demons", they weren't doing anything "supernatural". When they noticed people "speaking with the voice of Satan" as described above, they taught those people what it REALLY means to be a part of the Kingdom of God and pointed out that what they were saying was based on assumptions that were Satanically inspired. Once those people recognized that what the disciples were telling them was true, they ceased believing in those Satanically inspired assumptions, and hence those evil concepts ("spirits" or "demons") no longer had any power over them. (John 8:32) For those who were already familiar with the Jesus' teachings, all the disciples had to do was to relate Jesus' name to an ungodly concept, and "poof" that demon was "cast out!"
5. ARE SATANIC INFLUENCES DEADLY?
They most certainly are. Consider, for example, the horrendous genocide that occurred a couple of years ago which clogged the rivers and lakes around Rwanda with dead bodies. That awful situation would have been stopped long before it got that bad if it had not been for the political successes achieved by various national-sovereignty-worshipping "Christian right" organizations which had been seeking to financially (and politically) cripple the United Nations' ability to successfully conduct peace-keeping operations. Similar human catastrophes occurred in Bosnia, for the same reasons, until President Clinton stopped them. We'll no doubt see other awful situations like those occurring in the next few years if our religious leaders don't start taking God's two most fundamental commandments SERIOUSLY!
As illustrated in my article "What is the concept of national sovereignty" on this web site, the Christian way of viewing the present world situation is AT LEAST as valid as the "worldly" ways of viewing our present world situation. The BIGGEST difference is that the Christian ways of viewing situations invoke the "all things work together for good" effect and nearly always point toward practical actions which can be taken to help solve such problems in a PEACEFUL and LASTING manner. The "worldly" ways of viewing the situation often do not; they may even perpetuate problems or make them worse. Unfortunately for millions of people, our news agencies are inclined to publish only worldly points of view. I've encountered numerous instances where they have unilaterally decided to DENY THEIR READERS an opportunity to even consider proposed solutions which conform with God's two most fundamental commandments.
SERVANT: "Boss, I've got some good news and some bad news."
SERVANT: "Remember that guy who claimed during the Vietnam war that God's answer to the world's prayers for peace was for religious leaders to use St. John's Book of Revelation to destroy the popularity of national sovereignty?"
BOSS: "Yes, I vaguely remember something like that."
SERVANT: "Evidently, he was largely ignored by churches, news agencies, and politicians everywhere."
BOSS: "That's a relief. What is the bad news?"
SERVANT: "The bad news is that at least 20 million men, women, and children have been killed since then because his message was largely ignored by churches, news agencies, and politicians everywhere..."
After considering such things, can anyone still have any doubts that Satan, as defined by the original authors of the Bible, is in fact ideologically "ruling the world?"
Jesus Christ summarized what needs to be done in Matthew 24:14, "And THIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."
www.onesalt.com (one grain of salt)
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Last modified on Friday, May 03, 2002