We are continuing our study of 1 John and for this morning we are only going to be looking at the last half of verse 8 and talking about, The Devil’s Destruction.
This passage, 1 John 3:4-9 consists of two short parallel sections, each of which contains three things. We looked at the first section two weeks ago and last week we looked at point 1 in verse 8a.
1. A definition of sin (vv. 4, 8); Sin is lawlessness (v. 4) Sin is of the devil (v. 8a)
2. A statement about the purpose of Christ's work (vv. 5, 8) Christ came to take away sins (v. 5) Christ came to destroy the devil's works (v. 8b)
3. A statement about the implications of Christ's work for the Christian life (vv. 6, 9). No one who abides in Christ sins (v. 6) No one who is born of God sins (v. 9).
Last week we looked at the first half of verse 8:
The one who commits sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s works. 1 John 3:8 CSB
Last week we discussed, 1. Who or what is the devil? 2. When is the beginning that the devil sinned from?
We saw that at a point in time, before he created the world, Yahweh created other gods, lesser gods and angels to be part of His family, His divine council. The Hebrew Bible describes a divine council under the authority of Yahweh, the God of Israel. While the divine council of Israel and its neighbors share significant features, the divine council of Israelite religion was distinct in many important ways. Yahweh is a unique God, but He is not alone.
How does this teaching on many gods square with texts such as:
I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, Isaiah 45:5 ESV
"I am Yahweh, and there is no other"—was an ancient biblical slogan of incomparability of sovereignty, not exclusivity of existence. It was a way of saying that a certain authority was the most powerful compared to all other authorities. It did not mean that there were no other authorities that existed. We see this same phrase in:
Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures, who sit securely, who say in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me; I shall not sit as a widow or know the loss of children”: Isaiah 47:8 ESV
Here the ruling power of Babylon is proudly claiming in her heart, "I am, and there is no one beside me." The power of Babylon is not saying that there are no other powers or cities that exist beside her, but that she was the ruling power. Yahweh uses that phrase, "I am Yahweh, and there is no other," not to deny the existence of other gods, but to express His absolute sovereignty over them. Yahweh is "God of gods and Lord of lords" (Deut. 10:17).
Last week we saw that there are no passages in the Tanakh where the word "Satan" refers to Yahweh's divine archenemy, none! We saw from the passages that we looked at in the Tanakh that the technical term "Satan" does not always applie to the same supernatural being, a single Satan. "Satan" is attached to several different beings.
We didn’t look at this last week but as we go through the Tanakh we come across several names of other spirit beings. There are many gods and many Satans and what we see is that some of the gods become Satans. Let's look at a few:
Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the LORD, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Ezekiel 8:14 ESV
Ezekiel observes women performing the ritual of mourning for the deity Tammuz. These women are worshiping a Mesopotamian god at Yahweh's Temple in Jerusalem. They are breaking the first commandment.
There are at least 24 pagan deities seen in the Tanakh, some we are familiar with, and some not so much; Gods such as Baal, the Canaanite deity:
The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit. Jeremiah 2:8 ESV
How about Molech, the god of Ammon:
You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. Leviticus 18:21 ESV
Worship of Molech often included child sacrifice. 2 Kings 23:10 indicates that children were sacrificed to Molech under King Manasseh. We may see another god in:
Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem! Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”; Isaiah 28:14-15 ESV
"We have made a covenant with death"—the word "death" here is from the Hebrew word, "maveth," which is the ordinary Hebrew word for death, but it is also the proper name of a Canaanite underworld god (Mot), the enemy of Baal in a Ugaritic epic. The proper name, not the common noun, should probably be understood in this text. The Israelites thought their covenant with this satan/adversary of Yahweh would save them.
Let me give you one more extreme example, that I mentioned last week:
The leech has two daughters: Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, “Enough”: Proverbs 30:15 ESV
You see any demons in there? The Hebrew word for "leech" here is aluqah. This word only appears here in the Hebrew Bible. Strongs says of aluqah: "Feminine passive participle of an unused root meaning to suck." Brown—Driver—Briggs says of aluqa: "noun feminine leech (perhaps Aramaic loan-word; vampyre—like demon)." Aluqah may simply mean "leech," but since aluqah occurs in Arabic literature as a name of a vampire, this creature and her two daughters may be referring to a demon. These are a few examples of the 24 gods/demons found in the Tanakh.
As we look at the intertestamental literature, or "Second Temple Literature," which is the books written by Jews between Malachi and the time of Yeshua things begin to change. In this literature Satan begins to take on an evil persona, and we also see that there are many satans.
The Pseudepigrapha writings can give us insight into the Hebrew thinking and in some cases help us in understanding what we find within Scripture. One of these writings is the Book of Enoch. Ten fragments of The Book of Enoch have been found at Qumran in the "Dead Sea Scrolls," it is known to have existed in its present form since at least the 2nd Century BC. The Book of Enoch, chapter 69:4-12, lists five satans. This is a rather lengthy passage but worth the read:
And these are the chiefs of their angels and their names, and their chief ones over hundreds and over fifties and over tens]. The name of the first Jeqon: that is, the one who led astray [all] the sons of God, and brought them down to the earth, and led them astray through the daughters of men. And the second was named Asbeel: he imparted to the holy sons of God evil counsel, and led them astray so that they defiled their bodies with the daughters of men. And the third was named Gadreel: he it is who showed the children of men all the blows of death, and he led astray Eve, and showed [the weapons of death to the sons of men] the shield and the coat of mail, and the sword for battle, and all the weapons of death to the children of men. And from his hand they have proceeded against those who dwell on the earth from that day and for evermore. And the fourth was named Penemue: he taught the children of men the bitter and the sweet, and he taught them all the secrets of their wisdom. And he instructed mankind in writing with ink and paper, and thereby many sinned from eternity to eternity and until this day. For men were not created for such a purpose, to give confirmation to their good faith with pen and ink. For men were created exactly like the angels, to the intent that they should continue pure and righteous, and death, which destroys everything, could not have taken hold of them, but through this their knowledge they are perishing, and through this power it is consuming me. And the fifth was named Kasdeja: this is he who showed the children of men all the wicked smitings of spirits and demons, and the smitings of the embryo in the womb, that it may pass away, and [the smitings of the soul] the bites of the serpent, and the smitings. Enoch 69:4-12
So, there were many other gods, there were many enemies of Yahweh. There was a spiritual battle going on in the heavens between Yahweh and the gods.
It seems as if this god, this watcher, now known as satan, has turned against Yahweh and in the first century is ruling over Rome and trying to destroy Yeshua and God's people. So, this is who the devil or satan is. He was a watcher turned bad, he was a member of Yahweh’s divine counsel turned bad.
The second half of verse 8 talks about his destruction:
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 ESV
The second half of this verse parallels 3:5,
You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 1 John 3:5 ESV
I said that 1 John 3:4-9 consists of two short parallel sections, each of which contains three things. In 8b we see the second point, A statement about the purpose of Christ's work (vv. 5, 8) Christ came to take away sins (v. 5) Christ came to destroy the devil's works (v. 8b).
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil”—this is the first time we see “Son of God” used in this letter. It is used six times after this giving us a total of seven uses in this letter. This title refers to Yeshua’s divinity, his unique oneness with God the Father. In Hellenistic religion there was talk of divine sonship via human cohabitation with a god; the offspring would be a “son of a god.” Caesar Augustus was alleged to have divine parentage as the result of his mother’s impregnation by a snake in the temple of Apollo (Suetonius, Augustus 94). In a religious setting where the gods were both numerous and essentially human in their characteristics, the notion of a human attaining some semblance of divinity is hardly startling. Very different is the idea of Yeshua’s divine sonship. He is the one and only:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV
“Only” is the Greek word monogenes. The use of this e word “only” is important because it is only used 5 times in the New Testament of Christ as the Son of God, and it is used this way only in the writings of Lazarus: John 1:14; 1:18; 3:16; 3:18; and 1 John 4:9.
Last week we saw that in Job the "sons of God" (beney 'elohim) were divine beings, watchers, members of the Divine Counsel. So how can Lazarus say 5 times that Yeshua is the "only Son"? How could Yeshua be the only divine son when there were other sons of God? The answer to this is that “only” is an unfortunately confusing translation, especially to modern ears. The translation “only Son” seems to contradict the obvious statements in the Tanakh about other sons of God. And the translation “only begotten” implies that there was a time when the Son did not exist—that He had a beginning. In the Unseen Realm Heiser writes,
The word monogenes doesn't mean "only begotten" in some sort of "birthing" sense. The confusion extends from an old misunderstanding of the root of the Greek word. For years monogenes was thought to have derived from two Greek terms, monos ("only") and gennao ("to beget, bear"). Greek scholars later discovered that the second part of the word monogenes does not come from the Greek verb gennao, but rather from the noun genos ("class, kind"). The term literally means: "one of a kind" or "unique" without connotation of created origin. [See The Unseen Realm, Michael S. Heiser, chapter 4]
So monogenes means: "one kind, unique or only" (i.e., the only one of its kind). There is no other Son of the God who is holy—utterly unique. His conception by the Holy Spirit was without male human agency. His relationship to God is unparalleled because he had been “with God” and “came from God” in a sense true of no other human ever (1:1; 8:42). He was sinless (3:5). There is no other Son of God who is a Son of God in the same way that Yeshua is the Son of God. Only this one. All other sons of God referred to in the Scripture are either created or adopted.
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil”—verse 5 says, “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins”— "appeared" is the Greek term phaneroō, which means "to bring to light so as to make clear." Verses 5 and 8 are parallel and both use the term in the passive voice, which speaks of Christ being truly revealed in His incarnation. During his earthly life and ministry as he revealed himself to his disciples and to the world.
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil”—John gave us a reason why Yeshua came in 3:5 “He appeared in order to take away sins”. Now, John in this parallel passage puts it this way: that He might destroy the works of the devil.
The word “destroy” here is luo. Strong’s says of luo, “A primary verb; to ‘loosen’ (literally or figuratively): — break (up), destroy, dissolve, (un-) loose, melt, put off.”
In the Gospel of John this word is used both literally and figuratively. In John 1:27 it refers to a literal loosing of one’s sandal-thong, and in John 2:19 to a destruction of Yeshua’s physical body:
Yeshua answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19 ESV
This was understood by the hearers to refer to physical destruction of the Jerusalem temple. In John 5:18 it refers to the breaking of the Sabbath, in John 7:23 to the breaking of the law of Moses, and in John 10:35 to the breaking of the scriptures. The verb is again used literally in John 11:44 at the resurrection of Lazarus when Yeshua commands that he be released (i.e., untied) from the graveclothes with which he was bound. In our text in 1 John 3:8 the verb means “to do away with, destroy, bring to an end, abolish.”
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil”—what are the works of the devil that Yeshua came to destroy? John said earlier that Christ appeared to take away sins (3:5), something he achieved by offering himself as an atoning sacrifice (2:2; 4:10). He also says that Yeshua’s blood (death) cleanses his people from all their sins (1:7, 9). We can safely infer that through his atoning death Yeshua dealt with the problem of human sin and in so doing destroyed the works of the devil.
It is my understanding that the “works of the devil” was to separated man from Yahweh. We see this in Genesis 3:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 ESV
So, we see here that it was the "serpent" who tempted them. I believe that this "serpent" was a divine being, it is not a member of the animal kingdom, but a member of the divine council. This watcher chose to oppose Yahweh's plan for humanity by prompting humans to disobey Yahweh, so they would either be killed or removed from Eden, Yahweh's council and family.
Let's look at the text in Genesis 3:1, "Serpent" here is from the Hebrew word nachash, which, according to Hebrew scholar Michael Heiser, "Is most likely a triple entendre, which is a word or phrase that has three different meanings at once. The root of nachash is (noon, het and sheen), which is the basis for a noun, a verb and an adjective in Hebrew. If you take nachash as pointing to the noun, the word here would mean: 'serpent.' This is a valid translation, but you must keep in mind that 'serpent' is not a member of the animal kingdom.
If you were to take it as a verb, it would mean: 'deceiver' or 'diviner.' So nachash could imply a 'deceiver.'" This option also fits the story. As an adjective it would mean: "bronze," or "the shining one." In our text it is "ha nachash" (the Shining one). Luminosity is a characteristic of a divine being in the Hebrew Bible and in the ANE texts, luminosity is not the characteristic of an animal or a man. This is a divine being, not an animal or man. Would Eve carry on a conversation with a snake? I don't think so, but she would talk to a divine being. Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of God, they were very familiar with these divine beings.
So what we have in Genesis 3 is a divine being, not an animal, but a throne room guardian, a saraph, a serpentine being, one who was part of the divine council in Eden decides to deceive humanity to get rid of them; to get humans removed from Eden, from Yahweh's council and family. Why? Why does this divine being want man kicked out of Eden? I think the Scriptures hint at pride or jealousy.
There are parallels between Genesis 3, Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-19. The passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel are about evil tyrant kings, “Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre” (Ezekiel 28:12). The pride of these kings is described in terms of an ancient story about a divine being who fell from paradise due to rebellion against Yahweh. These accounts reference Eden directly in Ezekiel's case, and indirectly in Isaiah's case.
In Genesis 3 the nachash (the serpentine, shining one, deceiver) was in the Garden of Eden where Yahweh walked. Notice what Ezekiel says:
You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. Ezekiel 28:13 ESV
These stones elsewhere describe the brightness of Yahweh's throne. So, whoever this is talking about is in Yahweh's Temple, His throne room.
You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. Ezekiel 28:14 ESV
"Anointed cherub"—anointed is the word mashach, which may mean: "anointed," but it may come from a Semitic homonym, "to shine" (The shining cherub). Cherub and Seraphim are the same, in Assyrian it is a throne guardian. Brown- Driver- Briggs definition is: an angelic being, a guardian of Eden. The "cherub" serpent figure is in "midst of the stones of fire," which is the divine counsel. In this text Eden is called a garden and a mountain:
“Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. Ezekiel 28:12 ESV
Hebrew scholar, Michael Heiser, says, "signet of perfection"—could mean: "serpent." In Semitic at times the "M" at the end of a noun is silent. It's called the enclitic mem. If that is the case here, we have het, vave, tav, which would be: "serpent of perfection." In Isaiah 14:12 we have:
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! Isaiah 14:12 ESV
"O Day star, son of Dawn"—is "Helel ben Shachar," which means: "the Shining one." Lucifer is the Latin vulgate translation of Helel (shining, a luminous being).
You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; Isaiah 14:13 ESV
The "mount of the assembly" is the home of Yahweh, the place of the divine council. This divine being seeks to usurp Yahweh. We saw last week in Job 38 that the sons of God are described as the stars.
This being talked about in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 was in Eden, he was a member of the divine council. This being tempts man, and man sins, he falls and is removed from Yahweh's Temple. He is put out of the Garden. Man is separated from Yahweh. But then we have a promise from Yahweh:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15 ESV
Eve's seed, a human being, will come and fix what Adam has done. A deliverer will come who will destroy the works of the devil. But until he comes man is banished from the presence of Yahweh.
The fulfillment of this promise in Genesis 3:15 is what we see in our text:
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 ESV
The purpose of Yeshua’s manifestation in time and flesh was to "destroy" (aorist active subjunctive of luō), which means "to loose," "to unbind," or "to destroy." Yeshua did just that on Calvary as we saw in 3:5.
When Christ dies, he is perfectly innocent (in him there is no sin 3:5). His death is to bear the guilt and punishment of our sins, not his own. And when our punishment falls on him, it is taken away from us. That's what propitiation means. God's justice is satisfied. He loved us enough to put his own Son forward to absorb the punishment we deserved so that he could demonstrate that he is just and faithful in dealing with sin and merciful in dealing with sinners. This is the great Gospel. This is our great salvation. Christ dying in our place, and propitiating God — removing his righteous anger from us. So, in him there is now no condemnation. The “works of the devil” to separate man from God have been destroyed.
Like many things in the Transition Period the "already but not yet" tension also relates to the destruction of the devil’s works. The devil was defeated at the Cross, but he was still active in the world until the full consummation of the Kingdom of God at AD 70 when he was destroyed.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Yeshua the Christ be with you. Romans 16:20 ESV
The Greek word used here for “crush” is suntribo, (soon-tree'-bo) it means: "to crush completely, i.e. to shatter (lit. or fig.):—break (in pieces)".
When is it that Satan is to be crushed? It's at the second coming. Paul said here to the Roman Christians that it would happen shortly. Remember, audience relevance. I believe that Satan is a defeated foe. I believe this, because I believe in inspiration. The writer of Hebrews said:
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, Hebrews 2:14 ESV
The Greek word for "destroy" is katargeo: "to be (render) entirely idle (useless), lit. or fig.:—abolish, cease, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, bring (come) to naught, put away (down), vanish away, make void."
This word, katargeo is used 44 times in the New Testament in 26 verses. In these verses it is translated: "loosed (from the law Romans 7:2), make void, without effect, destroy, delivered, put down, put away, done away, vanish away, bring to naught, abolished, and ceased."
Let's look at just a few of its uses:
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:26 ESV
Spiritual death was destroyed at the second coming.
and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Yeshua, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 2 Timothy 1:10 ESV
In commenting on Hebrews 2:14 one writer said, "Satan has been destroyed, but we are still tempted by him, and must resist him." What does that mean? If (spiritual) death is abolished, do we still die spiritually? If the law is taken away, are we still under it? NO! Satan has been destroyed!
Another commentator said, "Is the devil destroyed? Do you think he has quit working? If we mean by this eliminated, obviously the answer is 'No.'" Bishop Pike said about the devil, "If there be such, he is still doing very well, as anyone reading the daily papers can know." Do we get our theology from the daily paper or from the Bible?
Was Christ a failure in this mission? Most Christians act like he was, they're still all worried about the devil. I think we want him to still be around, so we have someone to blame for our sin. Many Christians have the Flip Wilson mentality — "the devil made me do it."
According to my Bible, Satan is a defeated foe. You might ask what about all the evil in the world? If Satan is destroyed, why do we still have so much sin and temptation?
James says, "every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed." Man is totally depraved, we battle the flesh, we battle evil men with corrupt world views, we battle the effects of sin. But Yeshua has conquered the Devil, and this was completed when the Old Covenant came to an end.
In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:13 ESV
The book of Hebrews was written at around 67 AD. At this time, the Old Covenant was still in effect, but it was ready to pass away. It passed away in AD 70 in the destruction of Jerusalem. The destruction of Jerusalem is described as the passing away of Heaven and earth. In the New Heavens and earth, the New Covenant, Satan is destroyed.
And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, Revelation 20:7-9 ESV
Near the end of the last days, the devil is loosed and stirs up the nations against Jerusalem. Verse 9 says they surround the "beloved city", which is Jerusalem, and Jerusalem is destroyed.
Notice the events that take place here, Satan is cast into the lake of fire:
and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10 ESV
The Old Covenant is ended:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. Revelation 20:11 ESV
The judgment takes place, and death is also cast in the lake of fire:
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:12-15 ESV
When the Lord returned; the Old Covenant ended, Satan and death were destroyed, and the New Covenant is fully consummated:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. Revelation 21:1-3 ESV
Remember that God himself has told us that the New Jerusalem is the New Covenant in Galatians 4:24-26. Satan was “the god of this age” the Old Covenant age ended at the return of Christ, and when the age ended satan ended. The works of the devil have been destroyed, man through faith in Christ is no longer separated from Yahweh. Yahweh now dwells with man. We are the New Jerusalem, We live in the presence of Yahweh. We have access to the throne of God 24/7.