Brother Beebe: - I see by Signs for Dec.15, 1845, that brother Mitchell of Alabama requests my views of 1 Timothy 3:6 – "Not a novice; lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil." I have never had any special light on this text; my views must, therefore, be such as arise from a comparison of this with other Scriptures according to my understanding of them. Sickness in my family, with my being much from home, prevented for a time my attending to this request.
The subject of which the Apostle is here treating, as seen by the context, is that of the qualifications which he mentions is that of being a novice, and the reason for its being such is assigned in the text proposed for consideration. A novice, properly signifies, one new-made a disciple, or new-born into the gospel faith. Such persons have not experienced enough of the warfare within, nor of the wiles of the devil, to serve as a proper ballast and to prevent them, if too much prompted and flattered in the church, from becoming inflated and top-heavy.
But Brother Mitchell more particularly inquires about falling into the condemnation of the devil. 1st. What is intended by the condemnation of the devil? I presume no one will seriously entertain the idea that condemnation here, as referring to the devil, is to be taken in an active sense; that is, the devil sitting as judge will condemn him for being lifted up with pride. Neither do I think it will be supposed that the devil will comparatively condemn him as being worse than himself; as our Lord said the Ninevites should condemn that generation Luke 11:32. How else, then, can we understand this than in a passive sense; that is, as the condemnation into which the devil is fallen, or to which he is adjudged? This, therefore necessarily involves in it the idea that the devil, like Adam and his posterity, is under condemnation; hence also it involves the idea that the devil was originally under the law, and therefore a creature of God.
Again, the Apostle speaks of this condemnation of the devil as a something known. He may have referred to some particular sentence of condemnation passed upon the devil and handed down by tradition, and now first confirmed by the spirit of inspiration in Paul; as was the case about Michael and the Devil's disputing about the body of Moses, as recorded by Jude, verse 9. But, I am inclined to the belief that this relates to the state of the devil as understood among the disciples, and as referred to in a different form in other portions of Scripture. Thus Jude refers to the angels which kept not their first estate, as being reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, &c.
I, with some others, understand these angels to be those evil spirits called devils. So our Lord spake of the Devil not as having never been in any other state; but, as having not abode in the truth as though that was the first estate in which he was created. And why? Because, there is no truth in him; Christ, or the Truth, having been no more implanted in him by the Spirit, than he was in Adam in his first creation. Christ says further of him, "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father of it" John 8:44. Such appears manifestly to be the condemnation into which multitudes of young upstarts have fallen, having been lifted up with pride and self-conceit; their minds evidently being chained down under darkness as to the truth revealed in the Scriptures and are retailers, if not manufactures, of false systems of religion, or lies. And even there are persons whom some of us have known, who, when they first commenced preaching, appeared to know something of the truth experimentally, but being much flattered and caressed, began to go off into the popular current; and now their minds seem entirely dark as to the authority and import of God's revelation, and are the strenuous advocates for what we understand to be doctrines of devils, or false doctrines, of which the devil is the father.
Now, in my opinion, these have fallen into the condemnation of the devil; how long they will remain there is not for me to say. Such, therefore, I give as my opinion of this text in connection with those others; and I give it only as my opinion, though the text (I Tim.4:1 & 2), "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the last times some shall depart from the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy," &c., I think tends to confirm the correctness of this opinion. When they depart from the faith they give heed to seducing spirits, as in themselves or in others, and to the doctrines of devils, and, of course, they fall into the same condemnation, under darkness and falsehood.
My brother, if we have been kept from this condemnation, may the same grace continue thus to keep us. Yours, &c.,
Centreville, Fairfax County, Virginia,
From: SIGNS of the TIMES: Vol. 14 (1846)
Select Works of Elder Samuel Trott
pgs. 330 - 332