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THE expression, "The wages of sin is death," is one which refers to the Divine Law in its general application. These words are not applied to angels, but to the children of men. To them, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 6:23.) This sentence or penalty of death was not pronounced against the angels, either before their sin or subsequently, so far as the records show. They, therefore, are not under such a sentence. The only sentence placed upon them was exclusion from God's favor and from the company of the holy angels, and to be restricted in their intercourse with humanity. They are now suffering the penalty put upon them.
If we should inquire the reason why God should deal differently with the angels than with mankind, we might say that, evidently, he has been making a great example or setting a lesson in his dealings with the human race, showing what would constitute the extreme penalty of wilful sina sin against light and the Divine command. No such Divine command, so far as we know, was given to the angels. They received a law in their nature; they perverted that law; they were created on the heavenly plane and they used their power for another purpose than that for which it was given. But in man's case matters were different: Adam knew definitely what was the command of the Lordthat he should not partake of the forbidden fruit; if he did partake of it the penalty would be death. This was a fair proposition and well understood.
However, God is not unkind or unjust toward men, and we may in some respects say that the dealings of the Almighty with the human family have been more gracious than with the fallen angels. Let us see: These angels, condemned to exclusion from the righteous, have undoubtedly had a terrible time for the past 4,000 years. At least, any of them who had any love for righteousness or sympathy with righteousness and preserved to any extent their proper standard of character, must have had a fearful time in their intercourse and dealings with those more depraved or fallen. We must assume that some of them, especially since our Lord's death on the cross and his resurrection, have striven to do God's will and have been opposed to everything that would be contrary to his will, and that they would be subjected to severe torment from the others, to all sorts of evil communications, etc. We know that some of these wicked spirits take opportunity to exercise themselves thus toward those of humanity who come under their power, and so we must suppose that these same evil, fallen spirits would be against those who would favor righteousness.
We must suppose, therefore, that for several hundreds of years at least, some of these angels have been suffering severely for their attempt to obey God under the conditions in which they have been for so long. Even though they are blameworthy, we think they are suffering a great deal more than humanity, because in Father Adam's case it was a matter of more or less suffering for 930 years, but at the close of the 930 years his sufferings were at an end; neither did he have to endure torment from demons during the 930 years. Now if we would compare 930 years of the angels' experience with Adam's 930 years, we would think that his experience was the more preferable. Adam was given to understand, too, vaguely, that a Redeemer would be provided, while the angels were kept in suspense and did not know what was God's purpose respecting them, and for more than 4,000 years they could but wonder what the outcome would be. During all this long period they have suffered more than any human being could suffer. God thus shows the variety of his wisdom and his knowledge and power under various circumstances and conditions.
He could have dealt with mankind in a somewhat similar way as with the angels, and merely put certain restrictions upon them, but he chose to make an illustration in mankind, for the benefit of angels and men, to show what would ultimately be the character of his dealings with all his creatures. And now since these repentant angels have had a sufficiency of punishment for their disobedience, an opportunity for release is to be granted to such as will stand their test faithfully, in the "Judgment of the Great Day." We understand that those angels who will not then desire to live righteously, will be cut off in death, the Second Death, and those who remain faithful will be restored to their former standing. Thus God's wisdom is manifest in the whole transaction.
Now regarding the second part of the question, as to our Lord's death having any effect relative to these angels: We see no way in which the redemption provided by God through Christ applies to the angels, as Jesus died for the race of Adam only. Justice never pronounced a sentence of death against the angels as far as any record shows, but merely pronounced a certain penalty against them for the course they took, and God will not restore them to his favor without a full, complete test. They will never recover their former standing otherwise, and those who do not stand the test will, in the end, receive the death penalty.
So, then, our thought is that the only way in which Christ's life had any effect upon them was as an illustration [R4664 : page 263] of the principles of Divine dealing. They have had the opportunity to see that God is just and by no means clears the guilty; and they can see, too, that in the case of the guilty race of man God has had mercy, has provided for them a Redeemer, and that all who are under condemnation of death are to be released from that sentence. This is all a provision of the grace of God in that he sent his Son to be the Redeemer of the world of mankind and to give them an opportunity of being restored to his favor.
The question is suggested, could it be said that any of those fallen angels who have for a time, some perhaps for many centuries, lived separate from sin and striven to do God's will and suffered persecution from the wicked spirits, have a share in the sufferings of Christ?
We answer that they could not be said to be sharing the sufferings of Christ, because only the Body of Christ can share in these sufferings. It might, perhaps, be said that they have, in a way, been suffering for the sake of righteousness, but that would not be the proper expression, we think, but, rather they are suffering on account of their sins. If they had been righteous they would not have needed to suffer, but it was because they did wrongbecause they sinnedthat these sufferings were brought upon them.
A question might present itself in respect to this text. "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." (Col. 1:19,20.) We do not understand this passage to intimate, in any sense of the word, that "the blood of the cross" had anything to do with the salvation of the angels. It was the Father's good pleasure that in Christ all fulness should dwell, in the sense that he should have complete authoritynot merely authority over man, but over all thingsboth heavenly and earthly. It was the Father's pleasure, originally, that through him he would reconcile all things unto himself. Man was out of harmony with God. It was God's will that Christ should harmonize man with God. And these fallen angels were out of harmony with God and it was God's will that they also should be brought into harmony. Everything out of order was to be placed in order. Jehovah has entrusted it all to Christ to set right, just as a King might say to his Minister of State or his General, "Now you attend to this whole matter, putting down all insurrection wherever it is; see that no rebellion is left; bring everything into subjection, so that there will be peace and order throughout my entire domain." So likewise the Father tells the Lord Jesus to put everything in order as his representative, in respect to things earthly and things heavenly.
This work of reconciliation was made possible only "through the blood of his cross"; not that the blood of his cross was necessary for the effecting of all this reconciliation, but the blood of his cross was necessary so far as he was concerned; only by his proving faithful unto death, the death of the cross; only by such display of faithfulness, could our Lord be determined to be the right one to accomplish all these things. So, then, the blood of the cross had not merely its effect upon mankind, but the primary effect was upon the Lord Jesus himself, because he received the first blessing from the blood of his cross.
Another blessing from the blood of the cross was its imputation to the Church, the household of faith, to enable them to become joint-sacrificers with him, by participating in his sufferings; and the third blessing from this blood will be as respects the world of mankind during the Millennial Age. And it is his own exaltation through this that gives him rightful authority in God's Plan to be the one to execute God's purposes during the Millennial Age. This is the One who is to be the blesser of angels and men; he is to have full control of things both heavenly and earthly.