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What did Jesus mean in John 8 verse 44 if there is no devil?

Was Jesus talking about a fallen-angel?

Thanks for your question:

John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Although the personification is strong, the detail prevents association with the serpent (or the devil acting through the serpent) in Eden. The serpent (or devil) deceived Eve it didn’t murder her. Adam was not deceived so the serpent did not ‘murder’ Adam.

1 Timothy 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Adam’s wilful disobedience was responsible for his own death and that of his offspring.The serpent was not responsible for the ‘murder’ of Adam’s offspring.

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners

Had the serpent (or devil) been responsible for sin entering into the world, and death by sin, Paul could not have laid the responsibility on Adam. He could not have said ‘by one man’ he would have had to say ‘by one serpent’ or ‘by the devil’.

The serpent committed no murder.

The first murder was committed by Cain. Cain was not moved by the serpent or a fallen angel to commit murder – he was moved by his own evil desires.

1 John 3:12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

Using Strong’s: ‘That wicked one’ 4190 ‘poneros’ from a derivative of 4192 (trouble, intense desire, pain). Translated in the KJV - evil 51 times; wicked 10 times; wicked one 6 times; evil things 2 times; misc 7 times.Meaning:full of labours, annoyances, hardships; or, pressed and harassed by labours; or,bringing toils, annoyances, perils; causing pain and trouble

  1. bad, of a bad nature or condition; or,in a physical sense: diseased or blind; or,in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad

1 John 3:12 is easily understood to mean ‘Not as Cain, who was wicked’

Jesus tells us where murders come from:

Mark 7:21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed... murders, 23 All these evil things (poneros) come from within, and defile the man.

Jesus picks up the killing of Abel as being the first for which the wicked men of this world (not the devil) are collectively responsible.

Matthew 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

1 John 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

As far as lying is concerned, I contend that moral culpability is necessary for what scripture means by lie. The serpent was an animal with no moral faculty. His conclusion that Eve would not die if she ate the fruit was based on faulty reasoning, The Bible does not say that it was a deliberate and malicious untruth designed to cause Eve to fall.

The serpent did not make up that which it knew to be untrue to deceive Eve. The serpent in its reasoning failed to take into account that death was the punishment for disobedience - not the physical consequence of eating the fruit.

Using Strong’s

Lie 5579 ‘pseudos’ from 5574 (to lie, to speak deliberate falsehoods) Translated in the KJV - lie 7 times; lying 2 times.

Meaning:a lie;conscious and intentional falsehood;in a broad sense, whatever is not what it seems to be; or, of perverse, impious, deceitful precepts

The first lie recorded is that of Cain. He told a deliberate untruth in an attempt avoid responsibility for his brother’s death.

Genesis 4:9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?

The greater lie is in the question ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ to which his anticipated reply was ‘no’. Men believe that they are not their brother’s keeper. It is because men won’t recognise their God-given responsibility to look after the welfare of their fellow man that they do so much evil to them.

Cain’s motivation was the evil within. We see this with Ananias:

Acts 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

‘Why hath Satan filled thine heart?’ = ‘why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart?’

To ‘conceive evil in the heart’ is personified as ‘Satan filling the heart’. It is a figure of speech meaning ‘why did you let your lust get the better of you?’

If Satan was external to Ananias there is no sense in asking Ananias why Satan had filled his heart – that’s what Satan is believed to do – Peter would need to ask Satan why he did it. If Satan is the personification of Ananias’ lust the question becomes sensible as a figure of speech.

We see the same figure used of Judas.

John 13:27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.

It is speaking of the moment that Judas’ lust got the better of him and he resolved to go ahead with the betrayal. The decision and responsibility was entirely that of Judas, there was no supernatural entity involved.

The logic of a literal devil bringing about his own destruction by betraying Jesus to die completely escapes me. Such an action demonstrates absurd foolishness.

The understanding that the betrayal was due to Judas’ lust is in line with James’ explanation:

James 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

In John 8:44 the devil was not literally their father. Christ is using a figure of speech. He simply means that they were ruled by their own desires rather than by God’s commandments. The same desires that have caused men to commit murder and tell lies from Cain onwards. Man’s lust is the ‘father’ of murder and lies.

Christ uses the term ‘devil’ to signify wickedness.

John 6:70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

Judas was not a supernatural entity; he was wicked in that he would let his lust for money get the better of him.

Murder and lying come from the evil within men not from an external supernatural entity.

Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

By living a sinless life and giving it in sacrifice Christ destroyed the devil within himself. He conquered his natural human lusts by never giving way to them. In death his natural desires died with him.

Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

He was raised from the dead with the divine nature - which cannot be tempted with sin. A nature incidentally shared by all the angels of God.

I hope you have found this helpful.

God bless,

Glenn

thisisyourbible.com

 
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