R.G. Lee and the Devil

Title: R.G. Lee and the Devil
Category: Theology
Subject: Satan

[Editor's Note - Dr. Johnny Sanders shares an interesting bit of history from the Southern Baptist denominational, theological and educational struggle over whether one should believe the Bible and thus believe in a personal devil. Sanders recounts one of his experiences and a letter he received from the late Dr. R.G. Lee on the matter]

"A friend and I had written to a number of SBC pastors to ask them to share their position on the subject of Satan. One of my professors has just explained why there can be no personal devil. As I remember, W. A. Criswell responded that it was sufficient to say that he believed what the Bible had to say on the subject. I was particularly pleased to receive the following letter from R. G. Lee, whom I heard every Sunday for several years. We got home from our services in time to see Dr. Lee drop down on his knee (in his white Palm Beach suit) by the right side of the pulpit and pray before preaching. I also heard him preach "Payday Someday" in person at FBC, Senatobia, MS (and later in Jackson). I used to hear him at conventions and evangelism conferences and in revivals. When you read his letter you will understand why some preachers and teachers did not like this man. You will also see why many of us loved him."

A Letter From Robert G. Lee
Addressed to Johnny L. Sanders
Dated March 1, 1962

R. G. Lee wrote:

Dear Johnny,

I believe the Bible is the divinely inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God – without any taint of error, personal in application, regenerative in power, inspired in totality – the miracle Book of diversity in unity, of harmony in infinite complexity.
Therefore, I believe what it teaches about the devil, Satan, in Job 2.

I believe he was, and is, a person – just as much as you are a person. I believe he has his wiles, his wisdom, his desires, his power, his angels, his ministers – as the Bible teaches.

I believe he is presumptuous (Job 1:6) and (Matt. 4:5-6) and proud (I Timothy 3:6) and powerful (Ephesians 2:2 and Ephesians 6:12) and wicked (I John 2:13). And malignant (Job 1:9 and Job 2:4), and subtle (Genesis 3:1 with 2 Cor. 3:11), and deceitful (II Cor. 11:4 and Ephesians 6:11), and fierce and cruel (Luke 8:29 and Luke 9:39-42 and I Peter 5:8).

I think the Devil is the one who started and keeps going the Modernist teaching and preaching and writing of our day – where some preachers and some teachers summon the Bible to appear at the bar of human reason and reduce the supernatural to ignorance and look upon the Bible miracles as legends and myths. Read II Thess. 2:9 and II Timothy 4:1)

I believe just what the Bible says in Jude – that the devil, Satan, will be condemned at the judgment along with the fallen angels. I believe that the doom of Satan is set forth just as Revelation 20:10 states.

I believe the temptations of Jesus were just as the Bible says – Jesus being assaulted by this fearful being who fell through pride (Isa. 14:12-14) – as even now the devil makes earth and air the scene of his tireless activity (Ephesians 2:2 and I Peter 5:8).

Just as Jesus was really the Son of God so Satan was really Satan – the Devil.

You can say this about the three temptations of Jesus:

1. The first temptation meant "SERVE yourself."

2. The second temptation meant "Let GOD serve you."

3. The third temptation means, "Let Me serve you."

How glad we are that temptation never loosened a moral fiber in the being of Jesus.

I hope this will be of help to you.
Yours earnestly,

Robert G. Lee