Angels and Demons

Q/A Friday: Please Explain I John 3:8

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (I John 3:8)

John says that “the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” The question is simply, “The beginning of what?”

I personally think this little phrase gives us some help on the biggest obstacle to Christianity: the problem of evil and where it comes from.

  • Option #1 – The devil sinned from the beginning of His own creation. There are some who teach that the devil has always been evil, but we can reject this option quickly because the Bible tells us he fell, which implies he was sinless before he was expelled from heaven (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28). Also, if God created the devil with sin, it makes God the author of evil.
  • Option #2 – The devil sinned at the time God created the heavens and the earth. Because we do not have a “date” for the account of Genesis 1 and the devil’s fall, we don’t know if they happened right after each other or what. This could be the case, but we cannot be for sure.
  • Option #3 – The devil sinned when man sinned. Some argue this because John refers to the Devil as the serpent in Eden (Revelation 19-20), but the serpent showed up in the Garden with evil intentions – before Adam and Eve sinned – implies he had already been sinning.
  • Option #4 – The devil sinned between His creation and when he was kicked out of heaven. When this sinless Lucifer conceived an evil thought and tried to unseat God and was kicked out of heaven, that was the beginning of evil.

Now, I know this is not a complete answer to the problem of evil, but I believe it does give us a little help. Sin came into the world when Satan brought it with His own fall. God did not make evil.

Those that are of Him who brought sin into the world with his own fall are those who are practicing sin.

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Should I Be Afraid of Demons?

Demons are not dumb. They are not illiterate. They are not unaware of a sovereign God. They are “intellectual believers” of who Jesus is. Just because demons cannot steal our salvation or bring any lasting harm to the Christian does not mean they are idiotic and lack real power.

For example, demons know that Christ is the Son of God (Mark 1:24-34; 3:11-12; 5:7). They knew that Paul and Silas were servants of God when Paul and Silas were imprisoned (Acts 16:17). When an exorcism was taking place in Acts 19, they resisted the name of Christ. Demons also believe that God is unified in the trinity (Jas 2:19).

Demons are very intelligent. You might even say, they are theologians (albeit false ones), but they understand some of the most basic Christian doctrines.

And this is one of the reasons demons are of concern. They know just enough truth to twist, distort and re-define God’s truth. Demons are “running around the world” promoting idolatry and errant religions (I Cor 10:14-21; I Tim 4:1). Demons are even likely having influence over a number of human governments around the world (Eph 6:12).

C.S. Lewis says,

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”

Demons are alive and well in our world today. What can or should we do about it?

First, if you know the Lord Jesus Christ, have no fear of them (I John 5:18). They cannot habitate or possess a Christian (II Co 6:15-16). There is no clear example in Scripture of a genuine believer ever being possessed by a demon.

Second, don’t think you have preeminent power over demons. Only Jesus has that authority. While you have examples of the apostles casting out demons in the N.T., that power did not originate with them, but it was bestowed upon them for a short time. The ability of a person to cast out demons (an example of performing miracles) ceased in the apostolic age.

Third, don’t assume anyone who is caught up in sin is demon possessed. In fact, the very last conclusion we should draw about anyone acting in an evil way is that they are demon possessed. No doubt, demon possession exists today, but it rarer than we realize.