Life's cycle makes it clear that death is a natural event that
man (through his own devices) cannot escape. God's word makes it clear
that death happens to all people; it also explains the reason for the
existence of death, stating that it is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23).
The human race would have been locked into this path of death if it had
not been for the sin-covering death of Jesus which declares God's
righteousness. An objective of this article is to explain the manner
in which Jesus' death declares God's righteousness.
Jesus -- The strong man who defeated the devil.
As a mortal being, Jesus was a special person. The Bible states that
he perfectly imitated God. Jesus in response to Philip's request to see
the Father says "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father".
(John 14:9) and in a speech to the Jews that "I and the Father are
one" (John 10:30). Note that this oneness refers to a oneness of
mind, which is made clear by Jesus' desire for this oneness to exist
in all believers (John 17:21-22).
As the son of God, Jesus was unique. Paul said of Jesus "For in
Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" (Col. 2:9).
He also says that Jesus is "...the radiance of God's glory and the exact
representation of his being." (Heb. 1:3). These things can be said of
no other person. Jesus inherited God's nature because he is the son of God,
making him a very special person.
Whatever efforts we make, it is obvious that our salvation is achieved,
not through our own efforts, but as a result of the salvation achieved for
us through Jesus Christ. In fact, God had to send Christ to achieve what
man could not do as a result of human weakness:
These words from Paul to the Romans teach us that Jesus' mission involved
the condemnation of sin in sinful man. We are also told that his most
important mission was to destroy the devil:
The death of Jesus on the cross enabled mankind to move closer to God.
Paul describes Jesus as our peace. Once again, it is plain that the
peace won for us was won as a result of the death of Jesus:
This reference to Jesus' destruction of the middle wall of partition
(to bring man nearer to God) is quite interesting. It is a reference to the
curtain that separated humanity from the most holy place within the tabernacle
under the law of Moses. The most holy place was special to the extent that the
most holy man in Israel (God's high priest) could not enter unless invited.
The penalty was death for contravening God's rule on this issue.
The curtain was an essential feature of the tabernacle. As a barrier
between God and man, it impressed upon humanity that all were sinful and
that sin separated man from God. Matthew describes the death of Jesus and
the simultaneous destruction of the curtain within the tabernacle:
Jesus prayed to God, asking to be released from the impending death on
the cross (Matthew 26:39-42). In destroying his desire to continue his
life, allowing himself to suffer a painful death, he conquered the desire
of natural man and was obedient to God, making it possible for mans'
eventual salvation. Jesus did more than draw nearer to God as a result of
his crucifixion of the natural human desires that separate God from man,
he totally destroyed the barrier, making a path for those who choose to
follow in his foot-steps:
It is believed that the following four statements reflect the Scriptures
quoted to this point:
- Jesus came to destroy the devil.
- Jesus came to destroy the barrier between God and man, enabling man to draw near to God.
- The curtain within the temple that was destroyed upon the death of Jesus
represented the destruction of this barrier; it also represented all human
flesh, including Jesus' flesh.
- Jesus came to destroy "sin in sinful man" (Romans 8:3).
Based on these four points, it can be seen that the barrier between God
and man that was destroyed by Jesus is the devil mentioned in Hebrews 2:14.
It is also evident that the curtain represented the flesh possessed by natural
man (Hebrews 10:19-20). The conclusion is that human nature is the devil
that separates God from man.
The term "devil" is used to describe the human nature and its adversarial
attitude towards God. It is this adversarial attitude that establishes a
barrier between God and man. Jesus destroyed the barrier in his life and
death. He always did that which was pleasing to God, being totally free from
sin or transgression, yet at the same time, he possessed the nature that made
him susceptible to transgression -- he possessed our nature.
Believing that the "devil" is an inherent aspect of human nature explains
why Jesus was sent with our nature in his mission to destroy the devil. For
those who believe that the devil is a super-natural god of evil, why was it
necessary for Jesus to share our nature in order to be able to destroy the
The belief that Jesus was sent with the nature to conquer human nature
does not detract from the fact that (as a mortal man) he was totally
obedient to God and totally free of transgression. His appearance as a
mortal man made his mission more difficult and his achievements more
What does the term "Satan" mean?
The understanding explained above is supported by events recorded in the
Bible. Paul's dealings with Ananias and Saphira is an example:
Paul's words show that the heart of Ananias was filled by Satan. They
also show that the evil thought was conceived within the heart of Ananias.
As the evil thought was conceived within Ananias' heart, it is evident that
the source of the sin came from within the man, not from an outside source
such as a supernatural god of evil. The fact that the heart is identified
as the devil and the source of sin shows that it is man's nature that is
the power of sin that is opposed to God.
When Peter attempts to divert Jesus from the course that he knows that
he must take, Jesus rebukes Peter. Jesus refers to Peter as "Satan." A
consideration of this comment sheds light on the meaning of the term Satan:
Accepting that those who view Satan as a powerful source of evil able
to draw man away from God shows that those who hold this view understand
man is torn between serving God and Satan. Jesus words to Peter indicate
that Satan is drawn away by man. This shows that the popular understanding
Why did Jesus refer to Peter as Satan? The word "Satan" means
"adversary." Peter was opposing Jesus in his efforts to serve God. The
word Satan is used in both the Old and New Testaments. The same word is
used in the Old Testament to describe the devil (1 Chronicles 21:1 &
Job 1:6), the angel of the Lord in his role as an adversary
(Numbers 22:22), and also to describe king David as a possible adversary
to the Philistines (1 Samuel 29:4)
Difficulties created as a result of believing in a super-natural devil.
Belief that the devil is a supernatural being whose objective is to
entice people to sin is not compatible with Bible teaching. Some of the
difficulties are listed below.
This article was written by Peter. He can be contacted at
- It alters our concept of salvation.
- If the devil is a fallen angel, God's gift of eternal life is devalued
because this belief means that being immortal is no guarantee of immunity
to sin, which God has guaranteed us. Luke 20:35-36 states that those
who are accounted worthy of eternal life will be immune from death. This is
only possible if people are also immune from sin -- "The wages of sin are
death", Rom 6:23. Portraying the devil as a fallen angel also contradicts
the Scripture and makes Scripture contradict itself. It says that angels
are immortal and that the devil will be destroyed.
- Belief in a supernatural devil contradicts very plain Scripture teaching
on the origins of sin. Romans 4-7, compare Acts 5:4 with James 1:13-15,
"Sin entered the world through one man" (Rom 5:12. No mention of any devil).