Chapter 35 - Who Is Responsible For Evil According To Paul?
As we travel through the Apostolic Testimony, it is notable that the references to Satan, devil, demons, evil spirits, unclean spirit, and familiar spirit are significantly reduced from the number of references we have discussed in the Gospels. The “letter” of Romans is precisely that; a letter. It is written to all those in Rome who are called Saints. In this letter and the letters that follow, we are given a clear look at where evil, sin, wickedness, and deception come from. We don’t even need to look too closely to find there is no supernatural Satan in the Apostle’s world. Finding what causes those things that are typically credited to Satan will shed a whole new light on the concept.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he gives many clues as to where the origin of sin is and who is responsible for sin and rebellion against God. Many of these references do not even speak of a “satan” or “devil” but they comprehensively lay out the facts. The facts reveal that man is responsible for being wicked. The wickedness of man’s heart is an overriding philosophy found in Paul’s instruction. And to magnify the heart of man as the source of wickedness is to elucidate the fact there is no evil cosmic being that is the source of evil.
We notice in the first chapter that Paul speaks of men as holding the truth in unrighteousness when he denounces the recipients of his letter. Those who have not received God’s truth are without excuse for their rejection of a Creator who has revealed himself in the invisible things from creation. I agree that Paul’s tone sounds a little harsh and judgmental at times, but nonetheless, Paul is pointing the finger of blame for rejection of God at men and not at Satan. Paul speaks of those who knew God but decided not to glorify Him and became vain in their imaginations. This in turn led to the darkening of their foolish heart. Listen to Paul in the following verses then we will discuss his statements further.
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Does Paul Claim Satan Corrupted The Glory Of God?
Here Paul tells us it was man who changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man. Simply put, man made God to be less than He is by worshipping things created by God. Man not “satan” is responsible for this change. Because of this desire, which came out of the heart of man from the imaginations of man, Yahweh allowed them to be lost and let them go ahead and choose uncleanness. God didn’t poke His nose into man’s desire to worship the creation; He let them take the path they wanted. A path that became the status-quo for the fools who followed the lusts of their own hearts. Did you see that? There it is again. The heart is where the lusts are that cause man to flounder in uncleanness. And God actually let man go off in his own wicked choices. We are told so often that Satan is the father of lies but here Paul informs the Romans that these men who became vain in their imaginations only to receive a darkened heart, not only were given up to uncleanness because of their own lusts in their hearts but are responsible for changing the truth of God into a lie.
Paul is so clear on the fact that the heart of man and the lusts of man are the source of sin and rebellion that he doesn’t even mention a character known today as “Satan.” A mythical Satan is not responsible in the least for man’s choice to dishonor their own bodies and worship things created. Paul goes on to tell the Romans that those who did not desire to retain a knowledge of God and did not continue worshipping the Creator over the creation, were given over by God. They were left to their own path and desires.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Is It Their Mind Or Is It Satan That Led Them To Do Evil?
The reprobates whom Paul is writing about were entirely responsible for what they let happen to their thinking. Paul doesn’t give even a hint of supernatural, cosmic force acting on the minds and hearts of man to bring a state of being deceived. The direct inference is that men made choices because of their wicked lusts and thereby abandoned trueknowledge of God. Consequently, He “gave them over,” which is a difficult term to understand but it could mean He didn’t pursue them in the same manner He might pursue one who is trying to make righteous choices. They will run the course of their choices, which have the potential to ruin them, and when they hit bottom in any area of their life, they will usually turn back to seeking Yahweh. This is the case particularly in one who previously knew God, as Paul says these reprobates did.
Understanding the idea, that when one chooses wickedness, he or she is often given over to that wickedness, we will see how sin is used to turn a person to the Creator. This giving over of a person to their own reprobate mind becomes an opportunity in a sense that will often run full circle throughout their life. Ultimately, as they are sifted they may turn back to God. This “reprobate” condition of the mind is the adversary that a person is left to deal with. As has been discussed extensively in the previous three volumes of this work, the word satanas and thus the English word Satan, simply may mean adversary and refer to another person or to a state of mind, physical illness, or to a person’s anti-God beliefs. Elsewhere we are told about the one who rejects the truth. It is prudent to hand them over to “Satan,” as Paul puts it.
To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Master Yeshua
Knock Knock… “Delivery for Uh…Satan”
What does it mean to say a person is to be delivered to Satan? Does it mean the cosmic fallen angel will now get his chance to twist a person and possibly drag them to Hell? Or is there a better way to understand this statement? This is simply a manner of stating we might as well let one go ahead and do things their way because if they live long enough the consequences of their choices and actions might be so difficult they may decide to turn from their error. Not only does Paul tell us these reprobates are the inventors of various evils; he lets us know they are a very impulsive and decadent group. So much so that they make a mockery of the fact they are harming others. They are not only doing things that are worthy of eternal penalty but they are causing others to do that which is worthy of death according to Yahweh. Paul speaks about this in the following passage.
30 [They are]Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Paul’s theology can be seen in the first chapter of Romans. He understands completely it is not a “satan” deceiving and inventing evil. Nor is there a “satan” changing the image of God into something corruptible or changing the truth into a lie. It is man who does all these things because it is man’s heart and will where rebellion to Yahweh originates and flourish if man is not careful to retain a knowledge of God. We are somewhat insulated when we endeavor to recognize God’s right to be worshipped and obeyed in the manner which Yahweh Himself has laid out for man.
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