By C. T. Russell Pastor New York, Washington and Cleveland Temples and the Brooklyn and London Tabernacles
(This is the Second of a Series of articles from Pastor Russell’s pen respecting Satan’s origin, his present occupation and his future prospects.)
WE ALL KNOW that the holy angels of Heaven are free from the blights which cause sorrow on earth. In Heaven there is no sighing, no crying, no dying, no sickness, no heartaches, no headaches, no insane asylums, no funerals, no doctors. On earth these things are so familiar that many assume that they always have been and always will be.
And yet, without a question, we all acknowledge that the same God who made such a splendid provision for the angels is the God of humanity, our Maker. Why should He have done so differently with two creations of His own family—His own creatures, His own children?
The Bible explains that the reason for the difference between God’s treatment of mankind and His treatment of the angels is that the human family became sinners, depraved, alienated, through the disobedience of Father Adam; that the entire race of Adam is mentally, mortally, morally and physically impaired; and that these impairments are all incidental to the curse, or penalty of sin; namely, "Dying, thou shalt die." #Ge 2:17—margin.
Satan the Murderer.
Jesus declares that Satan is responsible for the death of our race. He is the greatest criminal of all history, and is to meet his fate—soon. He was the murderer of our first parents, and by the laws of heredity we all lost our lives through his terrible deception.
Satan persuaded Mother Eve that God, who cannot lie, had lied to her; that the declaration, "Dying, thou shalt die," is an untruth; that man could not die; that he had some inherent life that even God himself could not interfere with. He persuaded her that God had a selfish motive in making the death threat, in telling the lie; that God wished to keep her and Adam in ignorance; but that, by obeying himself, they would become like God.
Man’s sentence was carried out. Our first parents were driven from Eden, that they might no longer have access to its life-sustaining fruits, that they might come under the penalty, "Dying, thou shalt die." There never was a sentence, Thou shalt live in eternal torment and be tortured by devils. All such misrepresentations are slanders of the Divine character, purpose, and Plan, intended to dishonor God and turn mankind away from Him.
Satan the Incorrigible.
For all these six thousand years Satan has maintained his attitude of enmity toward God and antagonism toward all the Divine arrangements, laws and regulations. God, all-powerful, could have restrained Satan at any moment if He had chosen. The fact that He has allowed him to remain and to practice to some extent his evil work assures us that the results will justify the course pursued by the Almighty.
In the sight of the holy angels, the vicious, scheming, plotting, deceiving, lying murderous spirit of Satan has been fully manifest; and by and by the whole world of mankind, now subject
OV304 to his deceptions, will be fully recovered and fully informed respecting them. God undoubtedly sees that the permitting of sin to take its course will eventually bring to the world, to angels, and to the Church, a wider knowledge of good and evil, of right and wrong, than could have been communicated to them in any other way.
Satan, evidently always hopeful that he might outwit the Almighty and accomplish his purpose, has especially labored during the past nineteen centuries. When he could not seduce the great Redeemer to disloyalty to God, he sought to put Him to ignominious death, only to find that in this he had fulfilled the Scriptures. Later, in persecuting the Church and in bringing in damnable heresies, through seducing spirits inculcating doctrines of demons, Satan has sought to turn the hearts of all against the Heavenly Father, and to mislead them in respect to the Divine character and Plan.
Sin’s Wage is Death.
Our great Creator has one Law for His Empire: "The wages of sin is death; the gift of God is eternal life." Satan was given this gift; but it was conditional—dependent upon his obedience. From the moment of his rebellion he was worthy of the sentence of death. But it was not decreed. Time was given him to see the folly of his course.
Century after century increased Satan’s spirit of opposition to God and to righteousness. Even the terrible disaster of sickness, sorrow and death which he has brought upon mankind swerved him not from his evil course. Even the death of the Savior for the redemption of the race moved him not to sympathy and pity. His heart seems to have become the more hardened in proportion as he has seen manifestations of Divine love and pity. This is an illustration of the general trend of sin—to hardness of heart.
A certain time has been fixed in the Divine Program for the execution of this great murderer. He must first witness the undoing of all his work. He must behold how the light of the knowledge of the glory of God will sweep away all the delusions which he has fostered, and will emancipate humanity and lead to the anthem, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
The Scriptures do not inform us of where Satan will be during the period of his bondage, during the period of his restraint from doing evil—during the thousand years of Messiah’s Reign. It merely informs us that at the conclusion of that period he will be loosed again, that he may bring a trial and a test upon the human family, then perfect in the flesh. Their number, we are told, will be as the sand of the seashore—a world full. They all will have enjoyed the full benefit of Messiah’s Reign—Restitution to all that was lost—to full human perfection. The earth, brought to perfection, will be as the Garden of Eden—the Garden of the Lord, Paradise restored.
Why Will Satan Be Loosed?
The Bible answer is that God desires to prove, to test, all of the human family. They will have had a knowledge of sin, a knowledge of God’s goodness, a knowledge of human recovery from sin to death. But the question which God would decide with them is, Have they so learned the lesson of the sinfulness of sin and the bitterness of its results that they would hate sin and love righteousness—that they would be obedient to God, trusting Him where they could trace Him and where they could not? Any who after all the experiences they will have passed through would not be absolutely loyal to the Lord to the very core in word, in deed and in thought, would not be dependable—would not be worthy of eternal life, which God purposes only for those who have demonstrated fully established characters in harmony with the Creator’s.
As to the nature of the test we are not informed. We are merely told that Satan will be loosed that he may
OV305 tempt all mankind. We may be sure that the temptations will be along the lines of full submission to the Divine will. The Scriptures imply that when Messiah shall deliver up the Kingdom at the close of the Millennium, the government of the world will become a republic, in which each person is a king, and one of these kings chosen by vote to be the administrator of the affairs of the government.
All Will Be Tested.
Let us suppose as an illustration that mankind would be expecting such a change of government at a particular time. Let us suppose that God had allowed them to misunderstand some feature of His Plan, and thus to expect the change of government at the wrong time. Here would be an opportunity for a test upon all. A question would arise which would tend to cause a division amongst all mankind. Some might be inclined to say, The time for the change has come, and it should be made; and those who are retaining the government are in error. So believing, they might make a demand upon the earthly representatives of the Divine government that a transfer should be made, and that the world should become a Republic instead of remaining a theocracy.
Others of mankind might say: Nay, we are debtors to God for all that we have. We may have misunderstood the time or some feature of the Divine purpose, but we are very happy, very thankful to God, very appreciative of the blessings we are enjoying.
If God wishes to make a change in the government, well and good. If God wishes that the present government shall hold over indefinitely, all well and good. We refuse to join with those who are proposing a demand for the transfer of the government.
Something of this kind would seem to be implied in the figurative expressions of #Re 20:9. "The camp of the saints and the Beloved City" would seem to represent the earthly phase of the Kingdom, and the encompassing of the camp would seem to imply a protest. Such a division of sentiment would show clearly how many had fully learned to commit everything to God and to trust absolutely in the Divine supervision of their affairs, and how many, after all the great lessons of seven thousand years, would still be inclined to take matters into their own hands—world-wide.
Destruction of Satan and All God’s Enemies.
The denouement here and elsewhere pictured is that there came down fire from Heaven and devoured them—Satan and all those who took the side of self-will and who indicated a measure of disloyalty and unfaithfulness.
Many are the Scriptures which seem to tell us of the final destruction of Satan; as, for instance, #Ro 16:20, which declares that God will ultimately bruise Satan under the feet of the Church, thus associating the Church, the Body of Christ, with the Lord, the Head. This corresponds with the Divine statement in Eden that ultimately the Seed of the woman would crush the Serpent’s head—ultimately destroy the Serpent and all that he stands for: namely, sin and rebellion against God.
Thus, eventually the wages of sin and death must be meted out to any wilful, persistent rebel against the Divine Law, whether he be an outward rebel or one secretly disloyal.
The lesson is one for all of God’s people and for the whole world. If we know the Spirit of the Lord in respect to sin, happy are we if we conform our lives thereto.
Let us mark well the course that will ultimately lead to Satan’s destruction. Let us mark well also the course of Jesus, which led to the highest glory. Which example shall we follow? Shall we in humility walk in the footsteps of our Redeemer, and become His joint-heirs, or shall we take the other course of pride, and thus become disciples of the Adversary, and reach his doom?