Satan

The doctrine of a principle of evil supposes there to be a supernatural being that fell from heaven who tempts mankind in the earth and torments their wicked souls in hell -- theologically referred to as the devil and person-ologically referred to by the name Satan. The word Satan that appears in the English scriptures is an untranslated Hebrew verb meaning to “obstruct, oppose”. 1 It is left untranslated and capitalized as a proper name solely based on the bias of the translators; the ancient Hebrew written language made no distinction between uppercase and lowercase letters.

Garden of Eden

Adam and EveIt is commonly believed that the serpent in the Garden of Eden represents the devil in some way or another, however, the only way to come to that belief is through inferring it into the creation narrative.

No Old Testament writer says, Moses by the serpent, Genesis 3, meant a fallen angel...Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 21

There exists no explicit declaration that the serpent is even an angelic being.

Moses in no part of his writings, gives us any information about an angel who fell from heaven and had become a devil. Let any one read the five books of Moses, and he must be convinced that such a being is not once mentioned by him under any name.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 21

The most that the serpent could have been was a very cunning animal.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.Genesis 3:1 NKJV

No intimation is made that an evil being shape-shifted into a serpent or that the spirit of such a being inhabited a serpent. A stronger case can be made that the serpent was simply an animal that spoke in the same manner that a donkey did in Numbers 22:28.

However, if the serpent were a being of any kind it is strange that God never questioned it on account of its actions. Adam and Eve had to give an answer for what they had done, but the serpent never did. It is very possible that the serpent was not a being, but simply the personification of Eve's lust.

But each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed.James 1:14

Job

One of the more credible places where it is supposed that proof of the existence of an evil being appears in is the book of Job. And even though it may speak in poetical language and begin on the premise that an evil being exists, it doesn't mean that one actually does exist, or that it is promoting such a notion.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.Job 1:6 KJV

It is unclear whether the sons of God or the Adversary (also translated Satan) are angelic beings or men. There are many people who will contend one way or the other, however, all we can truly say for certain is,

For as many as are led by the spirit of God, these are the sons of God.Romans 8:14 YLT

The notion of there being an evil being actually existing came from the ancient philosophers who assigned good effects to good causes and evil effects to evil causes; or good effects to a principle of good called God and evil effects to a principle of evil called the devil.

Since nothing can come into being without a cause; and since that which is perfectly good cannot be the cause of evil, then there must exist a distinct principle in nature, as well for the production of evil as of that which is good.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 186 This belief in good and evil powers had its origin in the fact that man was surrounded by what he was pleased to call good and evil phenomena. Phenomena affecting man pleasantly were ascribed to good spirits, while those affecting him unpleasantly or injuriously, were ascribed to evil spirits. It being admitted that all phenomena were produced by spirits, the spirits were divided according to the phenomena, and the phenomena were good or bad as they affected man. Good spirits were supposed to be the authors of good phenomena, and evil spirits of the evil - so the idea of a devil has been as universal as the idea of a god.Ingersoll, Robert, The Gods and Other Lectures pp. 34-35

In the land of Uz, where Job was from, these where the philosophies of the day, but it wasn't the philosophy of Job who assigned the cause of all effects both good and evil to God.

What, shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.Job 2:10 KJV

When speaking of his afflictions Job says,

The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.Job 1:21 KJV

And these concur with Isaiah 45:7,

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.Isaiah 45:7 KJV

It is clear that Job never thought that the source or the originator of the events that caused all his afflictions to be anybody other than God even though it is presupposed in the first two chapters of the book that an Adversary was.

Indeed, we think it has been established, that the account of Satan in the first two chapters of Job, was introduced for the express purpose of refuting such opinions.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 65

The only Adversary that actually existed was God. God acted as an adversary to Job in order that Job might be tested; in a similar way that God acted as an adversary (or Satan) to David (see 1 Chronicles 21:1 and 2 Samuel 24:1 KJV).

Isaiah 14:12

It is often inferred that the Lucifier named in Isaiah 14:12 is in fact Satan.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!Isaiah 14:12 KJV

Below is commentary from Adam Clarke that provides reasonable exegesis regarding this passage.

O Lucifer, son of the morning - The Versions in general agree in this translation, and render הילל (heilel) as signifying Lucifer, Φωσφωρος, the morning star, whether Jupiter or Venus; as these are both bringers of the morning light, or morning stars, annually in their turn. And although the context speaks explicitly concerning Nebuchadnezzar, yet this has been, I know not why, applied to the chief of the fallen angels, who is most incongruously denominated Lucifer, (the bringer of light!) an epithet as common to him as those of Satan and Devil. That the Holy Spirit by his prophets should call this arch-enemy of God and man the light-bringer, would be strange indeed. But the truth is, the text speaks nothing at all concerning Satan nor his fall, nor the occasion of that fall, which many divines have with great confidence deduced from this text. O how necessary it is to understand the literal meaning of Scripture, that preposterous comments may be prevented! Besides, I doubt much whether our translation be correct. הילל (heilel), which we translate Lucifer, comes from ילל (yalal), yell, howl, or shriek, and should be translated, “Howl, son of the morning;” and so the Syriac has understood it; and for this meaning Michaelis contends: see his reasons in Parkhurst, under הלל (halal).Adam Clarke Commentary on Isaiah 14:12

Isaiah 14 is a “parable against the king of Babylon” 2 yet no where does it explicitly say that it is referring to a supernatural being. In fact, more modern translations entirely do away with the name Lucifier altogether.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, that didst lay low the nations!Isaiah 14:12 ASV

Furthermore, to say that the king or the kingdom of Babylon has “fallen from heaven” is to say that it has fallen from among the nations who had the most glory on the earth. No where in Isaiah 14 do the words Satan, devil, or angel occur -- those notions are all inferred into these passages.

Revelations

The book of Revelations is thought to complete the story of Satan, fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle, and connecting the dots between the serpent and Satan.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.Revelations 12:9 KJV

If we take the verse above literally it is not difficult to see how such an interpretation could be made, but it is important to understand that that verse is not meant to be taken literally. In fact that verse and even the whole of Revelations is not a literal telling of past events, but a figurative foretelling of future events. The beginning of the book of Revelations confirms it,

A revelation of Jesus Christ, that God gave to him, to shew to his servants what things it behoveth to come to pass quickly; and he did signify [it], having sent through his messenger to his servant JohnRevelations 1:1

Revelations is a sign, a prophecy, of things to come -- but the story of the devil is said to have already happened before the creation. References that are said to the chronicle the story of the devil in both Revelations and Isaiah are contained in prophecies. Yet prophecies foretell the future and the story of the devil is so far in the past that it is in the past before there was a past, it is said to be a creation before the creation, or a supernatural creation prior to all that is natural. The truth of the matter is that the great dragon, old serpent, and so called Devil and Satan mentioned in Revelations is simply the personification of evil not the story of a person or principle of evil.

The Tempter of Mankind

Satan is identified as the tempter in the Gospels 3 and it is thought that he first tempted Eve, even tempted Jesus, and now goes around tempting all of mankind. But how can a natural being such as man resist the temptations of a supernatural being? Man has no inherent power where by he can resist a supernatural being, yet he is commanded by God to resist it. Even if a man were to flee, he cannot outrun a spirit.

If pure mother Eve could not resist such a temptation, how can it be expected her corrupt offsprings can resist any temptation?" Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 26

Not only does Satan tempts every man, but he is said to be the source of all evil, even of the evil that exists in man. But if the devil is the cause of our evil thoughts and desires, then surely he must have the ability to inject that evil into our minds. Though it would seem strange that God would give such power to his adversary, over that of man, and yet unjustly require the consequence of the adversary's actions at the hand of man.

God must be very merciful to the devil, to excuse him so long a time from eternal misery, yet send all the Sodomites there when he burnt up their city.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 337

For the devil to be cause of every man's sin he must have a incredible power reviling that of God even the omnipresent ability to tempt multiple people simultaneously all around the globe. With all these powers the devil is supposed to have it is no wonder that,

The devil, with many people, is much more feared than God.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 191

According to the scriptures, it is always the lusts of men which cause them to sin and not the devil.

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man: but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed.James 1:13-14 ASV

James 1:13-14 above is the clearest passage concerning the subject: it does not use parables, or prophecies, or even personification.

Besides, when the Scriptures trace crimes to their source in plain language, they never refer them to the devil, but to lust within men.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 129

Over time the notion of an evil being lead some to believe that one actually existed and that belief changed the way they spoke about every source of evil, in that, everything became personified as the evil deity.

Whatever is calculated to seduce men to sin, is represented by the sacred writers under the figure of a living agent, called the evil one-- the adversary--the enemy--the devil, and satan.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 164

By implying that the evil cause for all our evil effects is a supernatural being of great evil, we shift the blame away from ourselves and toward something which we are powerless to stop and in affect become helpless.

From our mother Eve to the present day, all men who listen to the lies of their own lusts, contrary to God's commandments, have found that the ways of transgressors are hard. ... But while lust is the true cause of all the mischief, an imaginery being has been invented and believed in, to bear the blame of it.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 128-129

Zoroastrianism

The theology that there exists a principle of evil named Satan warring against a principle of good called God is found in the far east religions even before the time of Christ.

Some of the ancients, as the Persians, thought that there were two independent principles in nature, one the author of good, and the other of evil.Priestley, Joseph, Discourses relating to the evidences of revealed religion p. 191 The Persians then had one good being or god, and also one evil being. Or, as Prideaux observes, “that is to say God and the devil.” Christians in this are perfectly agreed with them, for they believe in one God and also one devil. Again; the Persians believed, that these two gods were the authors of all good and evil in the world. In this also Christians agree with them, for all good they ascribe to God, and impute all evil to Satan or the devil... But again, the Persians believed, that there was a continual opposition between their good god and evil god, and that this should continue to the end of the world. Then, the good god shall overcome the evil god, and thence-forward each of them shall have his world to himself, that is, the good god his world with all good men with him, and the evil god his world with all evil men with him. Christians contend, that there is a continual opposition between their God and the devil, and that this opposition shall continue to the end of the world. Then, God is to overcome the devil, and from that time hence-forward, God is to have his world and all good men with him, and the devil is to have his world, and all wicked men with him. Such are a few of the leading points of similarity between the ancient Magian faith and the faith of Christians in our day.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 60 Some of the Persians thought, that there were two gods, of different natures, the one good, called Horomazes, and the other evil, called Arimanius, the one resembling light, and the other darkness; and that in the medium between these was Mithras, who was therefore called the Mediator.Priestley, Joseph, Disquisitions relating to matter and spirit p. 317

And the Magian faith is the root of the Zoroastrian religion which was religion in Babylon which became Persia.

The Jews were carried away to Babylon, and spent seventy years in captivity. Here, the Magian religion, revived and improved by Zoroaster, prevailedBalfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 66

In Babylon the Jews first learned and were lead to believe that there existed a god who was the source of all woes apart from God Almighty. And as can be seen in the New Testament, the Jews even after having returned to the land of Israel, still ascribed evil effects to an evil supernatural being which is translated as Satan.

The fact is, the Jews knew nothing about the devil until they went to Babylon.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 116

And while those beliefs may have existed at some point among the unlearned Jews, the belief in a devil is not part of the Jewish religion.

In mainstream Judaism there is no concept of a devil like in mainstream Christianity or Islam. Texts make no direct link between the serpent that tempts Eve in the Garden of Eden from Genesis and references to a Satan in the first book of Chronicles and in Job. In Hebrew, the biblical word ha-satan (השָׂטָן) means “the adversary” or the obstacle, or even “the prosecutor” (recognizing that God is viewed as the ultimate Judge)Devil, Wikipedia

Superstition

The belief in the existence of the power of the occult has become to be regarded as superstitious and Satan is part of that system.

The horrors of witchcraft were all born of an ignorant belief in the existence of a totally depraved being superior to nature, acting in perfect independence of her laws; and all religious superstition has had for its basis a belief in at least two beings, one good and the other bad, both of whom could arbitrarily change the order of the universe.Ingersoll, Robert, The Gods and Other Lectures pp. 60-61 But while people are generally agreed that witchcraft was all a piece of superstition and do justice to the devil in freeing him from all blame about it, yet they still continue to believe in his existence and extraordinary powers... Strange, beyond measure strange, that our fathers should so completely discard witchcraft as a superstition which the Jews imbibed from the Canaanites, where no devil was known, and yet continue to believe in the devil, a superstition which the Jews imbibed at Babylon many ages after.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 179 How is it possible that man should have any clear conceptions of natural truth, when his understanding is constantly insulted with a thousand incongruous and nonexistent relations, such as ghosts, witches, and devils, which perpetually disturb the imagination, and draw the rational faculties into the vortex of fancy and fanaticism?Palmer, Elihu, Principles of nature Gb. 206-207

Difficulties

Hitler depicted in WW2 propaganda posterFirst step to war is demonization of the enemy [^4]In our present day it is difficult for some to accept the possibility that Satan does not exist - to the point that many would say that it is impossible for God to exist without Satan. One of the causes for this may be because a belief in the devil and demons are highly ingrained in the common philosophy and speech of the world. This can be clearly seen by our demonization of our enemies.

The characterization of an individual or/and group as an enemy is called demonization. The propagation of demonization is a major aspect of propaganda. An “enemy” may also be conceptual; used to describe impersonal phenomena such disease, and a host of other things. Throughout religious theology, “the Enemy” is typically reserved to represent the human tendency to do evil, often personified as a malicious deity, such as the devil or a demon.Wikipedia, Enemy

In the middle east, the United States is often seen as the Great Satan and the United States often sees every Arab as a demon or terrorist. Some of the enemies of the United States that have been demonized include Hitler, Castro, Chavez, Saddam Hussein, Ahmadinejad, etc. And the demon propaganda makes it that much more difficult to determine the truth concerning the actual character of these public individuals.

Further Reading

Most of the material and quotes in this article come from the book Three Inquiries by Walter Balfour. It gives a thorough presentation of the arguments against a fallen angel named Satan and completely explodes the popular superstition that Satan refers to an actual being.

References

1. Wikipedia. Satan, Hebrew Bible
2. Isaiah 14:4 ASV
3. Wikipedia. Satan.
4. Documentary, Iran is Not The Problem

Additional Quotes

Three inquiries

Here Paul expressly declares, that by one man, and not by a fallen angel, sin entered the world. (Rom 5:12-14)Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 23 The Jews assert that there were two secretaries [in the court], the one being seated to the right of the judge, who wrote the sentence of not guilty, the other to the left, who wrote the sentence of condemnation.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 60 The Mehestani, who were disciples of Zoroaster, believed in the immortality of the soul, in rewards and punishments, after death, and in the resurrection of the body; at the time of which resurrection, all the bad would be purged by fire, and associated with the good.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 74 According to Jahn's account, Zoroaster disciples did not believe in endless punishment. At “the resurrection, all the bad would be purged by fire, and associated with the good” was their belief, and this accords with the opinions of some Christians in the present day.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 75 The history of the Christian church shows, that many heathen opinions were incorporated with Christianity, and increased from bad to worse, until what was called Christianity, became worse than heathenism itself. The first converts were Jews, and vast multitudes of converts were also made from among the Gentiles. Such continued to retain many of their former false opinions. When Christianity became the religion of the Roman empire, men, formerly heathen priests and philosophers, became teachers in the Christian church, so that it soon became popular, but greatly corrupted.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 92-93 The highest church [of the Zoroasterians] above all was the fire temple, where the Archimagus resided, which was had in the same veneration with them as the temple of Mecca among the Mahometans, to which every one of that sect thought themselves obliged to make a pilgrimage once in their livesBalfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 94 Many a prayer has been made for the downfall of Mahomet and the destruction of Paganism: but who ever heard a prayer made for the destruction of Magianism or the religion of Zoroaster? But why not? Is it not because the creeds of the different [Christian] sects and that of Zoroaster are very similar? From his Lord God the Pope, down to the lowest dissenter, all firmly hold some articles invented by Zoroaster.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 95-96 It has been alleged that the New Testament speaks more frequently and explicitly about the devil and satan than the Old. Let us see how this matter stands. The term satan occurs third-four times in the Old Testament, and is fifteen times rendered adversary, or by some similar word. But though it occurs thirty-five times in the New Testament, it is not rendered by any word.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 97 But it is well known, that the words daimon or daimonion, have no reference to that being Christians called the devil, but to demons or dead men deifiedBalfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 97-98 Dr. Campbell says, Dissert. vi. -- "It is a common idiom among the Jews, to put spirit before any quality ascribed to a person, whether it be good or bad, mental or corporeal. Thus the spirit of fear, the spirit of meekness, the spirit of slumber, the spirit of jealousy, are used to express habitual infirmity, which was certainly true of this woman, for she could in no wise lift up herself “for eighteen years.” This complaint medical men have called “the rigidity of the back bone.” Notice when our Lord restored her, he does not command satan to leave this woman, nor does he rebuke him, but says -- “woman, thou art loosed.” Loosed from satan? No, thou art loosed from thine infirmityBalfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 102 Well, what satan entered into Judas? I answer, the spirit of opposition to Jesus, the purpose to betray him.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 104 What is a remarkable fact, ... satan is never said to have entered into the Jews. And why not? because they had always been a satan or adversary to our Lord.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 105 What is meant by satan filling the heart, is explained to mean, Ananias conceiving this thing in his heart.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 106 Compare Col i. 13, where we read of men turned from “the power of darkness”. Accordingly some read the passage before us: “to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, even from the power of satan unto God.” The darkness of ignorance, superstition, and wickedness, were the satan from which Paul turned men, and this he did by the light of the glorious gospel of Christ.Balfour, Walter, Three Inquiries p. 108 The term spirit, is often used in Scripture as equivalent to person, or for the person himself.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 108 At Corinth, prostitution formed a part of the worship of the gods.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 110 Rev. ii. 24, “But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, (as many as have not this doctrine, and who have not known the depths of satan, as they speak) I will put upon you none other burden.” Here again it is only necessary to translate the word satan adversary, and all the idea of a fallen angel disappears. -- The deep things, or depths of satan, are the depths of the adversary. It is said that the Gnostics called their mysteries the deep things of God and the deep things of Bythus. And Lowman calls it the deep arts of deceit and error.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 114 Mr. Stuart then tell us that “the son of any thing, according to the oriental idiom, may be either what is closely connected with it, dependent on it, like it, the consequence of it, worthy of it, &c.” He adds, “every kind of relation or resemblance, whether real or imaginary, every kind of connexion is characterized by calling it the son of that thing to which it stands thus related, or with which it is connected.”Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 125 The Jews had been “murderous persons” from the beginning of the gospel dispensation. From our Lord's birth to his death they sought to slay him.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 127 The law is expressly said to have been the accuser of the Jews, John v. 45-47.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 135 But, are our orthodox brethren aware, that their faith in the devil influencing men to sin, militates against the doctrine of total depravity? What need is there of such a being's assistance? Total depravity is sufficient without him to produce all manner of wickedness. If men would be less wicked, without the devil's influence, they they are not so bad but he can make them worse: and who can tell but they might all be very good if he would only let them alone.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 145 What is not understood and believed, is little regarded, soon forgotten, and easily parted with; especially if public prejudice be against it.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 157 “It was the opinion both of the Jews and heathen,” says Whitby on this text, “that the air was full of spirits called demons; that from the earth to the firmament all things were full of these companies or rules; and that there was a prince over them who was called the governor of the world, that is, of the darkness of it.” This agrees to Zoroaster's angel of darkness, who was considered the author and director of all evil.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 171 It is a fact, that in every country where the Bible is not known, or not studied where it is known, there superstitious notions have prevailed concerning witches, evil spirits, ghosts, and the devil: and just in proportion as it has been known and studied all such superstitions have gradually been exploded and renounced by the people.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 178 With most people, reason, common sense, and the Bible, had nothing to do in forming such opinions, but they have been implicitly received by tradition from their fathers. They say they believe in them, but cannot tell why, except that they were so taught, for they have never exercised their reason or studied the Bible to see whether they are true or false. Even when a person determines to examine such opinions, his early prejudices within, and popular opinion without, overawe and deter him from giving free scope to his investigations. We speak here from experience, for these have been powerfully felt in the course of this discussion.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 181 No scripture writer ever says a word about the devil as the tormentor of any one.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 182 Error supposes truth, as counterfeit money supposes current, but is it true that every error is a corruption of truth?Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 184 By such opinions, men's attention has been turned away from the true devil within them, to an invisible, imaginary being, called the devil, without them.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 191 My object is to examine what is truth, and embrace it whatever it may be, for this only can stand, or be of any real benefit to the human race.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 228 Christians do not seem to think of any punishment in this life for disobedience to God. No; it is all carried into a future state of existence, and considered to be endless.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 249 Before the world, signifies before the age, and from the beginning of the world, means from the beginning of the age. If it be asked, what age? The answer is, the age or dispensation of the law of Moses.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 269 For since Christ sat down on his glorious throne, he has been judging the nations of the world in righteousness, and such of them as would not serve him, he has broken in pieces like a potter's vessel.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 316 It is concluded by many, that this chapter [Matthew 24,25] contains an account of the end of this world, and the day of judgement. But why is such a conclusion drawn? For certainly, though it speaks of everlasting fire, everlasting punishment, and life eternal, it gives no intimation that these are suffered or enjoyed in another state of existence.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 321 God must be very merciful to the devil, to excuse him so long a time from eternal misery, yet send all the Sodomites there when he burnt up their city.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 337 Many people seem to think, that “forever and ever,” expresses endless duration, but if duly considered we think it leads to the reverse conclusion, for the very repetition of “forever” implies, that the first forever was of limited duration.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 348-349 We can sincerely say that we have sought after the truth, and from the love of truth, for this only can stand, when all human devices in religion shall fall. If we have not found the truth, but have embraced error, we hold ourselves in readiness to attend to whatever can be said on the other side. Truth can never suffer by calm, candid discussion, but error shuns the light, deprecates investigation, and is ever ready to cry heresy, and that the church is in danger.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 355 It is evident, the New Testament writers speak of demons, and of persons being possessed with them, not as a new thing under the sun, but as a popular and common thing, and speak in the common language of the age about them.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 359 To suppose them real things, evil spirits, is not only contrary to the Scriptures, but admits that they can work something very like miracles, in tormenting mankind.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 362 The Hebrew word [satyrs] here [Isai. xiii 21] is soir, which some say mean hairy beings [bigfoot].Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 363 We may also safely conclude, that the Jews before they went to Babylon, had heard of and known something about demons, for they had sacrificed even their sons and daughters to them... But it was not until the Jews had gone to Babylon, that they learned that demons were evil spirits, or regarded them as such.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 364 The heathen ascribed all good things to their good gods, but evil things to their evil spirits [or gods]. But Job ascribed both to the true God.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 365 Dr. Campbell observes -- “that it is a common idiom among the Jews to put spirit before any quality ascribed to a person, whether good or bad, mental or corporal thus, the spirit of fear is used to express habitual fear,” etc. It is easily perceived from this, that any bad thing might be turned into an evil spirit by connecting the word spirit with it. And this was the ore easily done, if the term spirit was applide to imaginary beings, supposed to do men evil. They were personified, and spoken of as real beings, and were believed by many to have an actual existence, and could do them good or evil.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 366 It is said by Theophrastus -- “music cures many disorders of the mind and body - such as faintings, fears, and disorders of the mind.”Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 367 Maimonides observes -- “that the Jews call every sort of melancholy an evil spirit: and explains evil spirit by disease,”Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 368 Not all whom our Lord cured, were said to be possessed with a demon, but only such as were more or less deranged in their minds.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 369 It is also a fact, which is too much overlooked, that according to the person's degree of insanity, he was supposed to be possessed with the more demons or evil spirits.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 369 The ancient Jews ascribed to God both the good and the evil things which happened to them... [but] after the Baylonish captivity, the Jews ascribed great and unaccountable evils, such as madness, to the influence of evil spirits [or beings].Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 369 There is no trace of a belief in the existence of evil spirits even among the Jews, until the Babylonian captivity.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 372 It is not until the time of the exile, or shortly after it, that we find distinct traces of the doctrine, that there are angles who were once good, but who revolted from God, and are now become wicked themselves, and the authors of the evil in the world.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 372-373 They led the common people to what was, in effect, a belief in two god - a good and an evil deity; and also to entertain false conceptions of the attributes of the true GodBalfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 373 They often furnish a real hindrance to moral improvement; for instance; in seeking for the origin of sin in themselves, and endeavoring to stop its sources - instead of becoming acquainted with, and avoiding the external occasions of sin, they laid the whole blame of it upon Satan, and when they had made him guilty, deemed themselves sufficiently justified and exculpated.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 373 The Jews brought back from their captivity many opinions not found in their sacred books. Their minds were corrupted from their intercourse with the heathen, and when both Jews and heathen were converted to the faith of Christ, many false heathen notions were introduced into the Christian Church, which are not all yet pursed.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 373-374 Most express are the words of Plato - “every demon is a middle being between God and mortal man”..Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 379 “God is not approached immediately by man, but all the commerce and intercourse between gods and men, is performed by the mediation of demons.”Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 379 “The region of the air was supposed by the Pythagoreans to be full of spirits, demons, or heroes, who cause sickness or health to man or beast, and communicate at their pleasure, by means of dreams and other instruments of divination, the knowledge of future events.”Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 390 Tertullian - “The subtility and fitness of their [demons] make, enables them to enter into both the body and soul of men.”Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 390 Indeed, all great irregularities in the system of nature, of which raging madness is one, the ancients both heathen and Jews, but especially the latter, were accustomed to attribute to supernatural agency.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 393 The heathen sent the souls of wicked men to Tartarus after death, and the souls of good men to Elysium... The Jews, and others, sent all good and bad to sheol or hades.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 417 And pray, what great improvement have modern Christians made on the ancient heathens, for their hell is pretty much the same as theirs.Balfour, Walter, Three inquiries p. 418

Wikipedia

There are many human conditions thought by many to be demonic possessionWikipedia, Demonic possession The supposed existence of demons is an important concept in many modern religions and occultist traditions. Demons are still feared as a popular superstition, largely due to their alleged power to possess living creatures. There are indications that demons in popular Hebrew mythology were believed to come from the nether world. Various diseases and ailments were ascribed to them, particularly those affecting the brain and those of internal nature. Examples include the catalepsy, headache, epilepsy, and nightmares. Demons supposedly entered the body and caused the disease while overwhelming or “seizing” the victim.Wikipedia, Demon

Sir Issac Newton

And there appeared another wonder in heaven, & behold a great red Dragon [the Roman heathen Empire] having seven heads & ten horns & seven crowns upon his heads. This Dragon being the old serpent called the Devil & Satan, is that Devil who hath his seat in Pergamus, that is the Greek empire in the reign of the last horn of Daniel’s He Goat. The spirits of God of fals Prophets & of Antichrist are \[in 1 John 4\] plainly taken not for any substantial Spirits but for ye good or evil dispositions & true or fals perswasions of mens minds; & the spirits of all men who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is called in the singular number the spirit of Antichrist, & said to be come into the world as if it were an evil spirit wch was to reign therein & deceive all the followers of Antichrist. And such an evil spirit is the Dragon in the Apocalyps. By this Devils being cast into the bottomless pit +& shut up, that he should deceive the nations no more for a thousand years you may know that he is the spirit of delusion reigning in the hearts of men & by his being there called the old Serpent you may know that he is that same Serpent wch deceived EFrom this figure of putting serpents for spirits & spirits or Daemons for distempers of ye mind, came ye vulgar opinion of ye Jews & other eastern nations that mad men & lunaticks were possessed with evil spirits or Daemons. Whence Christ seems to have used this language not only as Prophet but also in compliance wth ye Jews way of speaking: so yt when he is said to cast out Devils it cannot be known by this phra those Devils may be nothing but diseases unles it can be proved by the circumstances that they are sp substantial spirits.ve. If Moses saith: There shall be not be found among you any one that useth divination, or an observer of times, \[that is, of days lucky & unlucky,\] or an enchanter, or a witch, or a consulter wth familiar spirits, or a wizzard, or a necromancer: for because of these things the Lord thy God doth drive the nations out +from, before thee: ??? +superstitious people, are apt here to understand +by these names, such men & weomen as have a metaphysical power of divining, inchanting, bewitching, conversing with spirits, conjuring, & raising up the souls of the dead: whereas these names are to be understood only in a moral sense for seducers +deceivers,, such as falsly pretend to a power of doing these things and thereby delude the people & seduce them to put their trust in +divinations by, imaginary spirits ghosts & dæmons wch is a superstition tending to idolatry. Issac Newton and the Devil

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