It is written:
1 Chronicles 21:1-SATAN [an adversary] stood up against Israel and stirred up David to number Israel.
John 13:2-Jesus and his followers were at the evening meal. The devil had already persuaded Judas Iscariot to hand Jesus over to his enemies. (Judas was the son of Simon.)
The Bible teaches that one of the ways that the enemy works against mankind is to arouse passions in order to try and lead us to sin. As such, they will work to arouse these passions and place us in situations where we will be tempted to sin against God. We see this especially in the document known as The Testaments Of The Twelve Patriarchs, which contains the ancient traditions of the deaths of Jacob’s twelve sons (who became the heads fo the twelve tribes of Israel). We learn from these works that Satan and his forces work to lead humanity into sin and rebellion against God by tempting them and working to destroy their relationships.
Genesis 35:22-And it happened, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard about it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.
According to the Testaments Of The Twelve Patriarchs:
“For if I had not seen Bilhah bathing in a private place, I would not have committed this great sin. I could not stop seeing her nakedness in my mind. I couldn’t sleep. I just had to have her. So, when Jacob and Isaac went away, and we were at Gader, near Bethlehem Ephratha, Bilhah was drunk, and asleep naked in her tent. I went in to her tent and saw her lying naked, I committed the sin, then left her lying there asleep. An angel of God revealed my sin to my father, Jacob, and he came and mourned over me, and touched her no more…. Until my father’s death I was never bold enough to look him in the eye, or stand up to my brothers, because of my reproach. Even now my conscience bothers me because of my sin. My father forgave me; he prayed for my forgiveness and healing. From that point on, I was protected, and I never committed that sin again. Therefore, my children, observe all my commands, and you will not fall into sin. Fornication destroys the soul, separates you from God, and entices you into idolatry, because it deceives your mind and understanding and will lead you to Hell before your time. Belial has destroyed many through fornication; even noble elderly men have ruined their lives because of it. Joseph kept himself from every woman, and purged his thoughts from all fornication. He found favor before the Lord and men. For the Egyptian woman did many things unto him, and called for magicians, and offered him love potions, but he purposed in his soul not to allow the evil desire. Therefore, God kept him from death. If fornication does not overcome your mind, neither will Belial overcome you.” (Ken Johnson, Th.D., Ancient Testaments Of The Patriarchs: Autobiographies From The Dead Sea Scrolls, 651-662 (Kindle Edition))
We are also told (in Testament of Reuben 6:3 and 3:3) that sexual sin is “the sin of Belial” and is said to be produced by “a spirit of fornication” (porneia) that “resides in the nature and the senses.”
Now, Reuben did not try and make excuses. He pointed out that the temptation of the evil spirit led to his transgression, and he acknowledged his own personal responsibility in doing evil. As Arnold points out:
“According to the Testaments, every individual must personally struggle against evil spirits of deceit, who are ruled by the devil, or Behar. They exploit human drives and frailties to promote their evil ends. Sexual promiscuity, in particular, is pinpointed as one of the areas of sinful activity instigated by evil spirits. In the Testament of Reuben, sexual sin is called “the plague of Beliar” and is inspired by a “spirit of promiscuity (porneia) that resides in the nature and the senses” (Testament of Reuben 6:3; 3:3). The Testament does not give the devil and his powers full responsibility for human lapses into sexual trysts; the involvement of the human mind and senses is given an equal role. In reflecting on Reuben’s incestuous sin with his father’s mistress, Bilhah (cf. Gen 35:22), the Testament places more emphasis on Reuben’s own lust and mental titillation… Nevertheless, in continuing to reflect on what he had learned from the event, he points to the devil’s involvement: “For promiscuity has destroyed many. Whether a man is old, well born, rich, or poor, he brings on himself disgrace among mankind and provides Behar with an opportunity to cause him to stumble” (4:7).” (Clinton Arnold, Powers Of Darkness: Principalities & Powers In Paul’s Letters, 68-69 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press)
Another passage from the Testament of the Patriarchs highlights how the forces of darkness take advantage of man’s weakness by arousing feelings of jealousy and hatred within him. In describing the sin he had committed in kidnapping his brother Joseph and selling him into slavery, Simeon is said to have written the following:
Testament of Simeon 2:6-7-In the time of my youth I was jealous of Joseph, because my father loved him more than all the rest of us. I determined inwardly to destroy him, because the Prince of Error blinded my mind so that I did not consider him as a brother nor did I spare Jacob, my father.
What is especially fascinating about this last passage is that the word Prince here in the original Greek is one of the same words that Paul uses in Ephesians 6:12 in describing one of the groups of spiritual beings that are trying to destroy us. One of the ways that these demonic creatures wage war against us is by trying to arouse desires within us and creating situations which will lead us away from God.
The devil and his forces can work to try and get us to sin against God and our fellow man; but the choice is ultimately ours.
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