Overland Monthly / OV298 - Satan's Ambition-Jesus' Ambition
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OV298 Satan’s Ambition—Jesus’ Ambition
By C. T. Russell Pastor New York, Washington and Cleveland Temples and the Brooklyn and London Tabernacles
(In this issue Pastor Russell begins a series of articles relative to Satan—his origin, his present occupation and his future prospects. We feel confident that our readers will not only greatly enjoy this series of articles, but be profited thereby.)
NONSENSICAL traditions handed to us from the Dark Ages have greatly confused the people of God on every Bible subject; for instance, Satan has been pictured grotesquely, and as presiding in some far-off torture chamber. He has been represented as superintending the tortures of the non-elect of humanity.
The Bible account has been wholly ignored. Instead of the Bible’s representing Satan as a repulsive being with hoofs, horns and forked tail, it tells us that he was created an angel of a very high order in the early part of creation—one of the "morning stars"—"a covering cherub."
Doubtless for centuries he lived in fellowship and communion with Jehovah, but when "iniquity was found in his heart" estrangement became rapid. Jesus says that He saw "Satan fall like lightning from heaven"—so quick was the descent from Divine favor and esteem.
Satan’s First Great Lie.
According to the Bible, Satan’s primary sin was an ambitious pride. He imagined he could direct the affairs of the universe, in which he might set up a separate dominion and try out his schemes. When Divine Power created Adam and Eve, and bade them multiply and fill the earth, Satan saw his opportunity to put his ambitious schemes into operation. The holy angels would not think of rebelling against Divine authority to co-operate with him in his schemes; but here was Adam, an inexperienced man, who might be deceived into disobedience to God, and thus be won over to Satan and his designs. Through him he saw his way to an earthly empire in which his will would be done, as Jehovah’s will is done in heaven.
Thus it came about that when God instructed Adam and Eve in respect to the fruits of the Garden of Eden, and forbade their eating of one certain kind of fruitage, and put a penalty upon disobedience, then Satan, through the Serpent, lied to them. He told them that their Creator wished to keep them in a measure of slavery; that the fruit forbidden them was the very fruit necessary to their highest development; that so far from doing them injury, it would be a boon, and make them as wise as God Himself. Satan intimated to them that God did not wish them to be as wise as Himself, but desired to hold them in the slavery of ignorance.
OV299 The thirst for knowledge and the doubt of God’s wisdom and love came before our first parents as a temptation, and they yielded; they disobeyed. This was sin. And it brought upon them the penalty God had foretold—"Dying, thou shalt die." The dying process began immediately, but so strong was the perfect man that even in the imperfect surroundings of the accursed earth outside of Eden he was able to prolong his dying 930 years.
Satan obsessed, or took control of the Serpent, and so guided it that it spoke the deceptions to our first parents. It is not even necessary to suppose that the serpent spoke with an audible voice. Quite likely, as our adage goes, its actions spoke louder than words. It partook especially of the fruit forbidden to our first parents. The fruit did not kill the serpent. On the contrary, Mother Eve perceived that it was wiser than any other of the beasts of the earth. By its actions it declared to her mind that God had misstated the facts when He told them that the eating of that forbidden fruit would bring death to them.
Satan’s Plot Thickens.
When Satan beheld Adam and Eve outcasts from Eden, and perceived that gradually the penalty, "Dying, thou shalt die," would come upon mankind, weakening them in mind, in body and in morals, he should have been convinced of the folly of his course.
But no, an evil course of pride, once entered upon, leads further and further astray.
Instead of surrendering to the God of all grace, Satan became more defiant. Instead of repenting of the lie by which he had injured a race, he added to it, still seeking to lower God in the eyes of humanity.
Apparently, Satan sought so to alienate and demonize mankind that a perpetual barrier would be raised in their hearts against the Almighty, and that thus humanity might be hindered from ever again coming into fellowship with God, no matter what provision God’s mercy or grace might make for their return. For six thousand years Satan has been carrying on his wicked work of slander and misrepresentation of the Divine character and purposes.
Satan’s Next Device.
According to the Scriptures, Satan was disappointed that his subjects were dying, and was resolved to remedy this matter. Hence his next step was to inoculate the race with a fresh strain of life, vitality—vigor from the angels, who had never shown any symptoms of death. These, possessed of the power to materialize—to assume human bodies—were encouraged by Satan to violate the law of their being and the law of their nature—to misuse their materializing powers. Satan’s word to our first parents, "Ye shall not surely die," must be upheld. By hook or by crook he would strive to fulfil his word, and to make the Almighty the falsifier.
The allurement was successful. Many of the angels heeded God’s adversary and indulged themselves in the pleasures of sin. Of this matter we read in #Ge 6:2.
Those angelic sons of God saw the daughters of men—that they were fair, beautiful, and took of them for wives such as they chose, and started human families—all contrary to the Divine arrangement of their being, wholly misusing their power of materialization. Satan’s course seemed to prosper. God’s time to interfere had not yet come. He would allow disobedience and a certain degree of liberty that it might eventually illustrate to all certain great principles and lessons respecting the divine character, plan and arrangements, designed for the good of all God’s creatures.
The children of this combination of angelic vitality grafted upon the human stock were a race of giants—physically and intellectually superior to the condemned and dying race of Adam. Being begotten and born under purely lustful conditions, and in
OV300 violent opposition to the Divine will, this new race of giants retained nothing of the image or likeness of God. They were brutish, sensual tyrants. Under them the human family would soon have been exterminated; for we read respecting conditions that God perceived that the earth was full of violence, and that the thoughts of men’s minds were only evil continually. God’s wisdom saw that it would be best to blot out entirely that order of things, and to start a new arrangement. The deluge accomplished this.
Thenceforth those angels who for centuries had lived in sin were restrained from materialization and separated from the holy angels, being confined to Tartarus, or earth atmosphere. Meantime, instead of starting a new race of men, God carried over Noah and his family of seven. These constituted a new start for the Adamic family. And the statement that they
OV301 were perfectly generated and that they had no angelic adulteration, assures us of the solidarity of our race, and that the Redemption price paid for Adam includes every one of us; under the Lord’s arrangement that "As all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive."
Satan’s Great Defeat.
This was the first defeat that Satan had met with—the first great manifestation of Divine power in opposition to him. But still it only partially stopped his program. The liberties of himself and his associate fallen angels were thenceforth restricted, limited, to earth. No longer had they the privilege to roam the Universe. Furthermore, no longer were they permitted to assume a human form by materialization. They still, however, had their original perfection of organism and their general liberty. Satan thus had opportunity for assuming that God had done all that He was able to do in the way of restraining and opposing him.
Adapting himself to the new conditions, Satan and his fallen host attacked mankind in a new way after the deluge. They would poison the minds of humanity against God.
They would declare that Satan’s original lie was the truth, and that God’s statement was a lie.
They would try to prove to mankind that the dead are not dead—that they merely changed their condition from a lower to a higher one, and that they are more alive than ever. Whoever would come under the influence of this their teaching, would discredit God’s statement—would "believe the lie," would think of a dead man as really advanced to a higher station instead of having fallen into death.
Men, persuaded that the dead are alive, could easily, on the basis of that error, be led to believe that the dead were suffering torments, and the thought that God would authorize and permit such torments would tend to brutalize mankind, and tend also to stop them from thinking of God as gracious, merciful and sympathetic. Thus, alienated from God in their mind, they would be more amenable than ever to Satan and his associates in evil. Then, too, upon the basis of this falsehood, this deception, other errors could be introduced. Some could be taught respecting a purgatory and respecting the possibility of escape from purgatory under certain terms and conditions.
All this would tend to bring about the slavery of the human mind, and make possible further inroads by the evil spirits.
St. Paul refers to these doctrines of demons, and styles them also "strong delusions, that they should believe a lie," because they had less pleasure in the truth. These strong delusions have been operating in the world for now more than four thousand years. Can we wonder that they have gained a strong hold upon humanity? Can we wonder that they are to be found in every corner of the earth—among the savage Indians of America, among the blacks of Africa, among the millions of India, China, Japan? We cannot wonder at this, especially when we remember the Apostle’s statement, "We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with wicked spirits in high (influential) places."
Of course, there must be some channel, some theory, some attempted proof given in support of Satan’s lie. Of old it was accomplished by witches and necromancers. These pretended to communicate with the dead and to get from them answers to the questions from the living. Thus by continued deceptions in accordance with Satan’s original lie, mankind was kept from knowing the source of these instructions and the demons, the fallen angels, were permitted to inveigle mankind, thus binding them more closely than ever with fetters of ignorance and superstition.
So far as the world in general was concerned, God permitted this, intending
OV302 eventually to deliver mankind; but in the case of Israel, God’s favored nation, He especially intervened to shelter them from the attacks of the adversary, by special laws and regulations prohibiting mediumistic operations of the evil spirits. He did this by warning Israel against having anything whatever to do with those who had familiar spirits—witches, necromancers, wizards, etc. Under penalty of death, none of these were to reside in Palestine.
Some of them, however, risked the penalty and did reside there, as evidenced by King Saul’s visit to the Witch of Endor, when he desired to communicate with Samuel, the Prophet, who was dead. Of course, Samuel was dead, and neither Saul nor the witch could revive him. But the evil spirits could impersonate Samuel; and that they did so, is the record. They caused the witch to see certain things, which she described to the king, and which he interpreted to himself. Thus was the error propagated even in God’s special nation—separated from all others of the world to be His people.
Jesus Cast Out Demons.
In the days of our Lord, we find that many of the people had been dabbling in Spiritism, and had come under the influence of the fallen angels to the extent of obsession, and some of them to the extent of being possessed by evil spirits, who did their thinking and talking for them, merely using their human organs as their servants.
This would seem to have been the alternative to materialization. If the fallen angels could no longer materialize, they would do the thing next to their preference—they would get control of the mind of some individual and thus have control of his body.
In all such cases it would appear that the victim, becoming a tool of the evil spirits, is frequently caused by them to say and to do things indicating depravity greater than he or she had before the obsession began. The tendency of all such things seems to be toward licentiousness. In the days of Jesus and His Apostles, according to the Scriptural accounts, they cast out demons from many people, some of whom had more than one. One man had a legion. Many physicians know well that some who are apparently insane are not really so as respects any brain disease. They merely are obsessed, possessed of evil spirits. When several of these gain control of one man, they make his life unbearable by the conflicts which they establish, especially operating along the auditory nerves.
Throughout this Gospel age, Satan and his demon legions, operating through dreams, mental impressions, etc., have so thoroughly deluded the masses of mankind that nearly all believe Satan’s lie, and only an extremely small minority believe the Word of the Lord. The process of supporting the lie continues. Writing mediums, trance mediums, tipping mediums, black art, theosophy and occultism in general—all support the theory that a dead man is more alive than a living one. In the symbolical language of the Book of Revelation, all nations have been made "drunk with the wine of false doctrine."
Those who discern the falsehood have learned a great lesson—to put confidence in the Word of the Lord and not in human imaginations. This great lesson, ere long, will be taught to all, and we may assume will surely justify the Lord’s course in permitting Satan’s lie to flourish so thoroughly and for so long a time. We know not certainly what further terrible experiences may come to man as a result of believing the lie of Satan instead of the Word of God, but certain Scriptures seem clearly to imply that this age is to end with some great catastrophe which will demonstrate the wisdom of those who hold fast the truth and the folly of those who neglect it.
OV300 WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS
"WHAT a friend we have in Jesus," Sang a little child one day; And a weary woman listened To the darling’s happy lay.
All her life seemed dark and gloomy, All her heart was sad with care; Sweetly rang out baby’s treble, —"All our sins and griefs to bear."
She was pointing out the Savior Who could carry every woe; And the one who sadly listened Needed that dear Helper so!
Sin and grief were heavy burdens For a fainting soul to bear; But the baby singer bade her "Take it to the Lord in prayer."
With a simple, trusting spirit, Weak and worn, she turned to God, Asking Christ to take her burden, Owning Him as her dear Lord.
Jesus was her only refuge, He could take her sin and care, And He blessed the weary woman When she came to Him in prayer.
And the happy child, still singing, Little knew she had a part In God’s wondrous work of bringing Peace unto a troubled heart.