Before making the case for the personification of evil, perhaps it would be best to define just what personification is: http://www.dictionary.com has it: the attribution of human nature or character to animals, inanimate objects, or abstract notions, especially as a rhetorical figure. | That is assigning personality traits and a name to something, in this case, evil. i.e. Satan, Lucifer, father of lies, the serpent in the garden, Old Dragon, roaring lion, etc. so that it might be examined as another person with whom we may or may not want to associate ourselves.
Now that that is cleared up, these are questions that must be answered beyond a reasonable doubt to prove the existence of Satan as an individual spiritual being. Unless it can be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that Satan is a person and not a personification, then our entire concept of the source of sin and death and evil in this world must be reexamined to get to the truth of its origin.
Beginning in Genesis 1:27-28:
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
God’s command to man must be defined if we are to understand his duty before God in the beginning. Little has been done beyond the assumption that we know what being fruitful and multiplying means to God. But do we? (Strong’s #6509, ‘fruitful’ is grow and #7235, ‘multiply’ is be in authority)
Next there has been some discussion of the term ‘replenish’. (Strong’s #4390 consecrate) It has even been the basis of the idea that Satan destroyed the first creation and Adam was given the task of rebuilding it to its intended glory. But can that reasonably be?
Next is the command to ‘subdue it’. (Strong’s #3533 is conquer, subjugate which means to ‘overcome by force’) Which (to me) utterly begs the question:
What was there in the creation God pronounced “very good” that required of Adam that he ‘overcome by force’ something in it?
The key to this answer lies in the last phrase of the verse, ‘over every living thing that moveth upon the earth’. We assume that understanding this to mean everything outside of himself is the intent. The problem with that assumption is that it utterly fulfills the old wisdom of what assuming anything ends up doing: it makes an ass out of u and me! (Ass-u-me) How so?
Man is the only morally accountable being God revealed in the creation account. That is what it means to be created in the image of God and bear His likeness. We are morally accountable because we were given the laws: thou shalt and thou shalt not referring to the way we are to conduct our interaction with God and with man. God revealed no other creature that was given such law. All other creatures listed in the creation account are subject only to the laws of nature.
The Word of God, His revelation to us, concerning that accountability is the very first thing He revealed and the very first thing we reject in our understanding of that revelation! We reject it by assuming that subduing all the rest of the creation is what was meant when in point of fact the only thing that really mattered was that we bring ourselves into absolute submission to the will of God each and every time we are tempted to defy Him.
He created us to be at the top of the list of ‘every living thing that moveth upon the earth’! Not absent from it! Adam failed. He failed willfully and willingly to obey God’s command never to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What is that fruit? It is the idea that Adam could decide for himself what was good and what was evil. Could it have been an ‘apple’ that he took a bite of? Sure! But taking the bite proved the condition of his heart and as Jesus said in Mark 7:
18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;
19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
I know that this was given in answer to the objection to eating food sacrificed to idols. But Jesus went beyond the physical to the spiritual truth of the matter. That is what we are all called to do! Eternal life is a spiritual truth!
How does this all apply to the ‘Personification of Evil’?
The answer to that does not begin with the Serpent in the Garden. It begins with the creation of Eve! I see the leap to conclusions and the name calling and the dismissal of everything up to this point that this fool has written! Please, give me one more minute to make a point.
20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
We can imagine the physical activity here rather easily. But what is the spiritual outcome? Yes, there have been many commentaries that say Eve was taken out of the side of Adam indicating she was his equal, and all that is correct as far as it goes. But let’s take it a step farther.
Eve was created. But she was not created from the dust of the earth as was Adam. She was created out of Adam. She was a distillation of his nature and created to be his ‘help’, ‘meet’ for him. (Strong’s #5858 for both!: aid, help)
It was Eve who saw that the fruit was good for food, pleasant to look upon, and good to make one wise. She was deceived, Adam was not. (1st Tim. 2:14) Eve was in the transgression but it was Adam’s disobedience that brought the curse of sin upon all mankind.
Romans 5:13 states:
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
(The parenthetical phrase begun in verse 13 continues through verse 17.)
Why? Why did Adam sin? Given the source of sin described by Jesus in Mark 7, how are we to understand God’s declaration of His creation as ‘very good’? There are only two possibilities. One is that it was a moral certification. If that was the case, then for Adam to sin against God, he would have to change his own nature from one of absolute moral submission, to one of utter moral rebellion. Or two, it was a declaration of fitness for purpose. As a declaration of fitness for purpose we have to trust God to reveal to us what that purpose is. Did He? Did God reveal what the purpose of His creation is? Yes! He did!
In the end, the bride of Christ will join Him in eternity. The bride of Christ will exhibit one overwhelming character trait that cannot be denied. We will be holy as He is holy. Holy means separate. It means to set one’s self apart from something. God reveals only one trait that He holds to the superlative, His holiness, and we are to be holy as He is holy. So, what did he set Himself apart from in eternity? Evil! How does He define evil? He defines evil as the ultimate worship of self. He defines evil as pure selfishness. The fruit of the Spirit, each of them, are manifestations of selflessness.
Adam sinned because he sought the throne for himself. He did not care that if he said ‘No’ to Eve, God could and would forgive the transgression. He cared only that he decide, and he would rather die than submit and obey.
The only way for man to be willingly and willfully holy, which is the purpose of God for his creation, is for man to see for himself, individually, first hand, leaving no room for doubt that to put self before everything else, is to reject the spiritual meaning of life. That is the life that God blew into the nostrils of man.
Adam, the man of flesh, the elder, must be subdued by the younger Adam the man of Spirit, to live in holiness. That is what Adam the elder, rejected and by doing so brought death to the younger. It is the younger that must then be born again in each of us. It is the younger that must learn and exercise holiness against the strength and wiles of the elder. In doing so the purpose of God is served in this creation. In doing so the ultimate plan of God will come to fruition. It is in trying to understand this that the question of ‘free will’ must be addressed and the truth of it accepted.
The revelation of evil as the serpent in the garden, Satan in the book of Job, the devil tempting Jesus, all of its manifestations in this world, form the personification used in Scripture to allow us to externalize who we are in the flesh. Who of us wants to admit that we absolutely would have been screaming, “Crucify Him!” with wholehearted enthusiasm had we been standing in the crowd when Pilate said he could find no fault in this man? Which of us wants to believe as Paul did that ‘I am the chiefest of sinners’?
Personification is the only reasonable way to rightly understand the evil spirit of this world. Evil must be subdued within and shunned without. It must begin in our own hearts and minds. It must be given no quarter in precisely the same way Jesus gave it no quarter. He answered His temptation the same way we must: It Is Written…! Holiness puts God on His throne.
Every argument for the person-hood of Satan, demons, the devil, evil, et al. can be better answered, and its presence in Scripture understood, by seeing the idea personified. Describing them as a persons is used by God to convey spiritual truth just as using the four types of ground in the parable of the sower conveys the spiritual truth of the four types of reception the Word gets in the hearts of men. We do it all the time in plays and stories to make concepts of good and evil easier for children to understand.
I close with these words of Jesus so that those of you with ears to hear may begin to understand: Matthew 13:10-13
10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
Externalizing evil is always easier than facing its truth within us. God knows that, Satan does too!
Also, you may, as you read the passages above in light of the Strong’s definitions I have inserted, come to the shocking conclusion that God’s revelation becomes much more revealing of His ultimate plan!
The question you must ask yourself at this point (if you really care) is: Do I still believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Satan is a person?
The sequel to this is examining the truth of how regeneration must, of necessity and beyond a reasonable doubt, precede faith!
May all who read this be blessed.