In response to the Fallacies of the Self-existence of Satan （2）
1. To re-establish God’s absolute holiness: So that when people ask themselves: “Where do evil spirits come from?” they will be alerted to the fact that the Holy Spirit and the evil spirit should never be said to come from the same source! The Holy Spirit, who is absolutely good, cannot produce an evil spirit, which is wholly wicked; neither is it possible that the appearance of Satan has anything to do with God. However, according to the traditional view of the origin of Satan, all things have only one source, namely, the Creator and True God. In other words, the most Holy True God is also the initial source of all things, including evil spirits, Satan and lies! This is contrary to the statement “in [God] is no darkness at all” (1 Jn. 1:5). The only way to resolve this issue is to exclude Satan’s existence from God’s creation, thus completely separating him from God.
We begin by questioning the assertion that to accept that 'God has to be the evil spirit's source is to go against the nature of God: for there is no evil in Him’ (1 Jn. 1:5). Clearly, God is the source of man, evil or good. Thus, is it not true that acknowledging God as being the source of an evil man is to go against the nature of God: for there is no evil in Him?
We believe that God is the maker of all things on the basis of John 1:3: "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made". Now, we distinguish between source and maker with the following example. Consider the statement: 'If the broken pot is not self-existent, then the potter has to be its source’. If we take similarly as self-evident the statement: 'All pots were made by the potter', can we logically deduce then that the potter made a broken pot? Certainly not! No, the logical certainties are that the potter made the pot, and the potter is the source of the broken pot, but the potter did not make a broken pot. In the same way, the logical certainties from the first statement and John 1:3 are that God made the spirit but did NOT make the evil spirit.
Thus, to say that 'God has to be the evil spirit's source’ implies that it goes against the nature of God: for there is no evil in Him (1 Jn. 1:5)' is wrong because one would then have to assume that God made the spirit evil in the first place. To allow for the supposed logical deduction, one must assume that the evil spirit in question has not changed in his existence in rebellion from its time of creation to its current state. That exactly is not what we have preached all along. This is what we have preached: God made the spirit. He made him good. However, he chose wickedness (He sinned from the beginning). This teaching does not go against the nature of God: for there is no evil in Him (1 Jn. 1:5)'. This teaching follows logically from John 1:3.
2. To re-establish God’s absolute love for His children: The Lord said: “They hated Me without a cause”, “He who hates Me hates My Father also”, “It hated Me before it hated you”, “Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (Jn 15:18-25). Therefore, Satan’s hatred towards God’s children derives from Satan himself. It is inevitable that the saints meet with Satan’s attacks (for they are no longer of Satan). The encounters between the saints and Satan are “wars” (initiated by Satan); it is erroneous to say that God tries the saints through Satan (who hates even God) (Satan is passive in this case). If we think about it, Satan hates God the Father; why would he then listen to God? The Bible clearly records that Satan is God’s enemy, so why would God use His enemy to try His own children, whom He has purchased with His precious blood through much suffering? Our compassionate God would never use His enemy, Satan, who hates Him and is absolutely evil, to fulfill His great love for His children! On the contrary, our Father has sacrificed His life to deliver His children from the dominion of Satan, and has protected them from the corrupting power of the evil one with His precious blood!
We do not believe that God makes use of Satan to train up His people in a way that a person would invite his friend to help accomplish a task for him. For a start, it has never been the view of the church that God uses Satan to achieve His purpose. Rather, when Satan tries to disrupt the work of God, His will triumphs on an elevated level. For example, the intention of Satan to crucify Jesus was to destroy Him, but through His death God's plan to save was achieved at His resurrection.
'Trying the faith of the saints by Satan' is an incomplete notion that lacks elaboration and clarification. It purports to portray Satan as being a tool of God existing in a regimental relationship between a soldier and his commander, with a task to perfect the faith of the saints. This alternative view struggles in its naiveté to make a dent in the common understanding that God can make use of situations, such as the one in Job, to advance His purpose on His servant at the cost of Satan's scheme to destroy him.
God's will is always higher than that of any other who exists or that has existed, be it earthly or heavenly. Whatever He sets out to do, He would bring it to pass (Isa 14:27; 43:13; 45:23; 48:3; 55:11). Though, on the earthly plane, at times, it may appear that His will is thwarted by some unfortunate events, human weaknesses and sins, yet He would still accomplish it (Ps 33:9-11; Jb. 23:13-14; Dan 4:35). One example is Joseph (Ps 105:17). This fact also proves that His covenant with Abraham would never fail (Ps 105:8-12). No one can resist His will, not even Satan (Jb. 9:12; Rm. 9:19). When one fails to see how God's purpose can triumph, one can take consolation in the knowledge that there are always different dimensions to the will of God.
Whenever man strays away from, or sins against God, he gives ground to Satan to work (Gen 4:7; 1 Jn. 3:21). For this reason, this world of sin is under the sway of Satan (1 Jn. 5:19). Elder John states that Satan is an accuser who accuses us before God day and night (Rev 12:10). Today, he can no longer do so because of the atoning blood of Jesus, through which we are cleansed (Rev 12:11). In a normal circumstance, the evil one could not touch us (1 Jn. 5:18). However, if we live in sin, God will return us to the devices of the evil one. Restraint on Satan or protection on us is thus removed. In this way, Satan could bring harm to our spiritual lives (1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim 1:20). Judas and the couple Ananias and Sapphire are such examples.
The heavenly rules governing the operation between God and Satan are sometimes beyond our comprehension. The story of Job is a good example. The Lord Himself prompted the exchanges with Satan regarding Job.
There is a limit to our understanding of God's wisdom (Isa 40:28; Ps 147:5). We speak what the Bible teaches. For example, Satan sinned from the beginning, for he was proud. This is a truthful statement. However, there are things the Bible does not talk about. For example, God created the universe to defeat Satan. This claim is unbiblical.
3. To re-establish the everlasting sovereignty of God and His boundless omniscience and omnipotence: The self-existence of Satan does not put him on an equal footing with God (Dualism), neither does it mean that he is able to exist forever! To define God’s omniscience and omnipotence by such statements as: “Before the creation, God must have known that this light bulb would blow tonight” is to trivialize God and is utterly meaningless! The boundless omniscience and omnipotence of God concerns the spiritual realm: He can destroy even Satan who is self-existent (1.5 monism) and cast him into the fiery lake! Imagine, if the Creator “only” has to overcome created beings who have sinned, why would He need to be “omniscient” and “omnipotent”? Even a three-year-old child can easily destroy the things he has created, can he not? Compare the two statements: “God overcame the angel who sinned (or the created being who sinned)” and “God overcame Satan, who was self-existent”. Which statement manifests better the absolute omniscience and omnipotence of God? As for God’s incomparable and eternal sovereignty, that has been completely revealed through the process of creation and the destruction of His enemies (cf. Is 41:25-26; 46:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:24-26; Rev 20:10-15).
‘Satan does not have an equal footing with God’ is inherently flawed if Satan is self-existent. First, being able to self-derive existence like God puts Satan to be on par with the infinity of God. The erroneousness of the theory further complicates itself when it is suggested that Satan being a self-existent being has been destroyed or defeated by an another self-existent being, namely, the Lord God. The reason is that a self-existent being cannot be destroyed. Also, there is no reason for two unrelated or independent self-existent beings to fight against one another to a bitter end. After all, there is nothing common between them.
The Bible teaches that God has counted all the stars (Ps. 147:4; Isa. 40:26) and has also numbered our hair (Mt.10:30; Lk. 12:7). Are these too trivial a thing for God to know? Not only it tells us that He is very mindful of His creation, but also, He is omniscient. To use “before the creation, God must have known that this light bulb would blow tonight” is to blur the point of God knowing beforehand that His creation would sin.
Omniscience and omnipotence are the intrinsic nature of the Lord. For God to know that His creatures would sin, does not in any way reduce His infinity. It all the more shows that He is the only self-existent God, which is in line with the teaching of the Bible (Isa. 45:5-6).
4. To explain God’s plan of creation: God had prepared Christ even before the creation of the world, for the purpose of destroying the works of Satan (1 Jn. 3:8). This shows that Satan’s works were already in existence before God’s creation. Since this was so, his existence was unrelated to any of the things created by God; he can only have been self-existent. Furthermore, all things were created through Him and for Him; therefore, there is a definite relationship between God’s creation and the destruction of Satan. The moment God called forth light from the darkness, He overcame Satan, the ruler of darkness! When Satan is thrown into the lake of fire, the first creation will have completed her task and will pass away. A new heaven and a new earth, where death is no more, will then come down from heaven.
We now turn to explain the incarnation of Christ to destroy the works of Satan (1 Jn 3:8), as the recent interpretation of this phrase seems to be a key plank in the new belief. First, the claim to back up this new teaching is that the existence of Satan has nothing to do with God. There is an underlying internal contradiction in this belief. If there is nothing between the two self-existing beings, then why should there be an ongoing war between them. If they had co-existed in the eternal past, then is there a need to get rid of one another? More seriously, is that what the Bible teaches?
Looking at the statement of John carefully, we see that he has not written of things or works beyond the scope of human existence. The focus of the passage is the need to be rid of sin in man's relationship with God, with a reference to what had happened to Satan serving as a warning to us not to tread on his path: 'Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God' (1 Jn. 3:4-9).
Here, John is talking about two modes of existence. One is of God and the other Satan. He teaches that to sin is to be disobedient to God (i.e. God's law), which is one key message of the passage. In this context, the works of Satan are those that cause humankind to sin, works beginning with the Tragic Event in the Garden of Eden. It takes a wild stretch of the imagination to read that John was writing about the works of Satan against God on the same footing of existence by linking with the phrase 'the devil has sinned from the beginning'. The idea of Christ having manifested does not occur in verse 8 alone. It is first stated in verse 5, which qualifies and sets the perimeter for the explaining of verse 8. Undoubtedly, the works are concerned with those that trap us to sin, and these are what Satan has devised. God's incarnation is intended to take away sin (works of Satan). If Christ had not come, then there would not have been salvation for us.
The advice John gives is that we can be victors over sins. He is saying that we can do it, for we are given the capacity to remain good in Jesus Christ, if we submissively allow His seed (word) to remain in us (1 Jn. 3:9). Truly, unlike Satan, with the practice of righteousness, we can make a gaping difference. John says Satan sinned from the beginning, meaning at one point in the expanse of the beginning (Gen. 1:1), he chose to deviate from the path of righteousness, the order that God had set for all in the realm of the Spirit. Satan was the first one to go against God.
In his pride, Satan overestimates himself and always thinks that he can get the better of God. Satan is utterly wicked and self-deceived. The first lie he told was to himself - that he was better than God: 'You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own resources for he is a liar, and the father of it' (Jn. 8:44). Here, John not only speaks of the stubborn rebellion of the Jews, he also most crucially exposes the works of Satan to deceive human beings with lies, which have drawn them away from listening to God (Jn. 8:45-47). With regard to human beings, this is what Satan has been doing since the creation of the Garden of Eden. Jesus does not in any sense imply Satan is self-existent.
5. To clarify concepts within the faith: Since the Lord has taught us to pray that “[His] will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, we cannot say that all things that happen on earth are in accordance with the will of God. Because if everything, whether good or bad, takes place according to the will of God, there would be no need for us to ask that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven! Moreover, since it is said that God claims victory over Satan “in the end”; we cannot claim that Satan is completely controlled by God “now”, for why would God need to battle against Satan and destroy him if he were already under God’s control?
The confusion here is that this part of the Scripture is for man to abide to. That is why Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. This should not be placed upon the shoulder of God. Man should learn to pray in such a way that His way is to be fulfilled in life, more so in His church. It is not about if His will can come to pass or not on earth. It is about the duty of man toward God, i.e., to realise His will. Ponder over the prayer of Jesus before His crucifixion, "Father, if it is your will, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours to be done" (Lk 22:42). Jesus learned to be obedient in His prayer to God's will, to become the author of salvation to those who believe (Heb. 5:7f). Why confuse such a wonderful piece of teaching, and tie it into the self-existence of Satan.
A prayer that reaches God is one that focuses on fulfilling His will on the part of every single believer and the church. Upon doing His will, His Kingdom will surely be established. This is the crux of the Lord's Prayer. To do that, one must be concerned over three aspects of life. First, the issue of daily bread must not become one that prevents one from drawing close to God. For that purpose, Jesus says, 'Seek first His Kingdom and righteousness, and the rest shall be added unto us' (Mt 6:33). Second, it is about our dealings with others. Forgiveness must become the forefront of our relationship with one another, just as Christ has also forgiven us. Third, one must be aware of the snare of temptation, not to be captured by the evil one.
6. To distinguish clearly between God and Satan, holiness and wickedness: God had purposed to destroy the works of Satan even before the creation (1 Jn 3:8). However, going by the traditional ideas of Christianity, it appears that God works closely with Satan and often needs Satan to accomplish His divine work (the testing and salvation of the believers). It also seems as though God never rejects any of Satan’s requests. Just look at the people of the world - all they do and think about daily is evil. Now if this were to be measured according to the criterion that ‘unless God is willing, Satan will accomplish nothing’, then God must give Satan permission over a hundred million times a day to go ahead and entice the whole world into thinking and acting evil! This strongly contradicts the truth: “What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness; what communion has light with darkness; and what accord has Christ with Belial (another name for Satan)?”
The traditional belief does not advocate that God works closely with Satan. This is an assumption intended to downgrade the reliability of the teaching of the church. We believe that, sometimes, God can make use of situations in which Satan works to triumph over him and to reveal the higher purpose of God. Cases include Joseph, Jesus and the Smyrna Church.
The people of the world are in sin. They are under the control of the evil one. (Eph. 2:1-3). This is a natural consequence of being in sin. They give themselves over to the wicked one to work feverishly in their hearts. This has nothing to do with God. On the contrary, those who are in God, Satan does not touch them (1 Jn. 5:18).
The problem here is not with the traditional belief of the church. Quite clearly, it is the problem with the proponents of the self-existence of Satan. Without a shadow of doubt, the confusion here is the result of wandering away from the right path.