Angels: Their Nature and Ministry




It is said of a notorious robber that when he intended to commit some great depredation, he would hire men to report that he was dead. This threw the people off their guard, by allaying their fears. Thinking there was no danger, they would leave their property exposed. Then the robber would come upon them unawares, and would plunder their goods without resistance. In this manner has Satan most successfully deceived the world and decoyed the people into his snares. He has prevailed upon them to deny that there is any such being; and this wile has so far proved successful that comparatively few have any belief in the existence of a real, living, personal devil, while millions insist that there cannot possibly be any such personage. And many of these are found even among professed believers in the Bible. When they do not believe in the existence of this wily and malicious enemy, they cease to watch and guard against his deceptions and his power, and thus they easily become his prey. Said that pious woman, Charlotte Elizabeth:- ATNM 47.1

“Of all the errors into which the world has fallen, none is more fatally mischievous than the habit of overlooking the personality, the energy, the power, the watchfulness, and the deep cunning of the devil. ATNM 48.1

“By a conventional system, no doubt of his own suggesting, he is never to be named but in the act of worshiping God, or that of spiritual instruction. Any other robber or murderer who was known to be on the watch to attack our houses, would be the subject of free discourse; his habits, his haunts, his usual plans, his successful and his baffled assaults in former cases, would be talked over, and thus a salutary fear would be kept alive influencing us to bolt, and bar, and watch, and ward, with unflinching vigor, to avert a surprise. But Satan seems to be a privileged person; we learn in the nursery to fancy him a hideous caricature of human nature, with horns, hoofs, and a tail, inspiring disgust and childish fear, that wears off as we advance into youth, leaving an impression rather ludicrous than alarming of the ugly phantom that, nevertheless, continues identified with him of whom we read in the Bible. ATNM 48.2

“We do not realize his existence, his presence, his devices; and so we often do his work from sheer ignorance or inexcusable thoughtlessness about it.... It seems to be regarded a manifest impropriety to name him except with the most studied circumlocution, as though we were afraid of treating him irreverently; and he who is seldom named will not often be thought of. Assuredly, it is a great help to him in his countless devices, to be so kept out of sight. We are prone to speak, to think, to act, as though we had only our own evil natures to contend with, including, perhaps, a sort of general admission that something is at work to aid the cause of rebellion.” ATNM 48.3

All this we most firmly believe. It has been the studied plan of Satan to create a disbelief in his existence, and, where he could not do this, to so distort our ideas of him as to make them utterly false, and thus keep his real character out of sight. It is a prominent feature of Spiritualism to deny the existence of a devil. And Universalists as well as Spiritualists say that it is inconsistent with the power and goodness of God that there should be a devil. Thousands, from a lack of proper information on this point, are thus taken in this, his own great deception. If it can be proved by revelation and reason that it is not inconsistent with the power and goodness of God that such a being should exist, and that there actually is a living, personal devil, these erroneous systems will be robbed of their strongest weapon, and one of the greatest deceptions of the age will be exposed. ATNM 49.1

The various terms, Satan, Apollyon, Diabolus, or devil, are frequently found in the Scriptures, and are so used in the inspired word that the teachers of error are often put to the greatest strait to give an explanation of them. Chadwick, in his “Dictionary of the New Testament,” says:- “Some have denied the personality of the devil, and they speak of him as a mere negative evil, or as an evil disposition only. If real personal properties and actionscan determine personality of being, the devil must be a real person of vast physical power, and of awful malignity of temper.” ATNM 49.2

The whole record of the temptation of the Saviour leads us inevitably to conclude that Satan was there, as literally and personally as was the Son of God. He who overcame Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden undertook to overcome the second Adam by similar temptations. In Eden he offered them the prospect of greater good, of higher enjoyment, of more exalted position, than their loving Creator had conferred upon them. They rashly took that which appeared to be “good for food,” as a means of obtaining other benefits, though they had no manner of need of it. In the case of the second Adam, Satan tempted his appetite when he was greatly in need, and offered him also position, power, and glory. From the record of creation and of the temptation ‘of Christ, from the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, really became incarnate and dwelt upon the earth, died and rose from the dead, and ascended on high; in a word, from the entire Bible as a book of truth and of awful realities, and not of mere fancies, then we are shut up to the conclusion that the devil is a real being, possessed of power, cunning, malice, hatred to God and to everything that is good. We are warned against his power and his deceptions, exhorted to resist him, with the assurance that he will flee from us if we resist him steadfast in the faith. ATNM 50.1