Sunday, May 5, 2013

How Should We Prepare to Resist Satan's Deceptions?

We know that Satan is the deceiver of the whole world (Revelation 12:9, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, Revelation 20:7-10, Revelation 20:2-3). We know that a great worldwide deception is coming with the beast and false prophet and with great signs and wonders (Revelation 13:4-17, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). We know we are warned to be careful that we ourselves are not deceived (Matthew 24:4-14, 24-25).

We are also to bear witness to the truth and preach the true gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the world (Matthew 24:14, Ezekiel 3:16-21, 33:1-11, Proverbs 24:11, Isaiah 58:1, Matthew 28:18-20, Revelation 12:11).

How should we prepare to meet, to resist, and to counter Satan's deceptions? How should we prepare to answer his lies?

Should we study Satan's prophecies in order to know what lies he will tell so we can prepare to answer him? Should we study pagan prophecies to know how he will twist things so we can prepare an answer that will show the fallacies of what he will teach?

We play a dangerous game if we think we can know or "figure out" what lies Satan will teach based on ancient pagan prophecies and then prepare our answers based on those prophecies. For that may be exactly what Satan wants us to do.

It is an old trick. Make the enemy think you are going to attack at one point, then come at him from a different direction. The United States, Great Britain, and Canada did this with the 1944 invasion of Europe in World War II. We made Hitler think we would land our armies in the Pas of Calais. Instead, we landed at Normandy.

Satan may teach lies based on past pagan prophecies or he may deceive the world with entirely new and different lies. Do we want to play the game of trying to oursmart him about the details of how he will deceive the world by studying his prophecies, contrary to God's instructions in Deuteronomy 13:1-3, Leviticus 19:31, Deuteronomy 18:9-14, and Leviticus 20:6?

There is a better way to prepare ourselves to resist Satan's lies and to show the fallacies of his lies to the world.

We are to study the truth of God's word, the Bible, and make it a part of us. Our faith in God's word will protect us from Satan's lies, and our knowledge of God's truth and the Bible will prepare us to preach the truth to the world and give an answer to those who question us. It is the truth that protects us, and it is the truth we should study and believe and live.

"I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth" (John 17:15-19).

"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple" (Psalm 19:7).

"But He answered and said, 'It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" ' " (Matthew 4:4).

"But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:14-17). Notice that the word of God can make us complete, and thoroughly equipped for every good work. That doesn't sound like we need Satan's prophecies to be completely equipped to do God's work.

"If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken)..." (John 10:33).

" 'For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,' says the Lord. 'But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word' " (Isaiah 66:2).

Jesus Christ is the word of God in person. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God" (John 1:1-2). "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). "He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God" (Revelation 19:13). The Bible is the Word of God in print. We are to feed on Christ, the Word of God, till His words abide in us. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7). "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me" (John 6:57). We are to study the Bible, regularly read it from cover to cover, spend more time with Bible study, prayer, fasting, and meditation than with TV, movies, and games. Then, when a situation comes up where we have to know how to apply God's word to make a decision or to know what to answer, the Holy Spirit will help bring to remembrance the things we have read and studied. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). "But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit" (Mark 13:11).

Bible study combined with godly faith and obedience is the defense agaist Satan's deceptions, not studying Satan's prophecies.

We must prove what we believe from the Bible and believe and obey God's word more than men, more than tradition, and more than our opinions and human desires. If we do that, God will give us the wisdom to know how to answer any lies that Satan comes up with.

Look at our past experience. When we were in Worldwide, who went along with the changes and who stayed faithful to the truth? And how did those who stayed faithful to the truth accomplish that? By studying false prophecies and doctrines? I don't think so.

Did those who went along with the changes do so because they proved the truth from the Bible and believed and obeyed the Bible? I think not. Rather, those who never did prove the truth in the Bible were the ones most likely to be deceived. Those who studied and obeyed God's word in an attitude of faith and who PROVED the truth from the Bible, and who had built the habit and character of always looking to the Bible for answers, were never in danger. They didn't resist deception by studying Catholic or Protestant theology. They resisted deception by knowing the Bible.

The man who reads Deuteronomy 13:1-3, Leviticus 19:31, Deuteronomy 18:9-14, and Leviticus 20:6 and fears God and His word enough to obey these passages by avoiding non-biblical prophecies is safer from Satan's deceptions than the man who has so little respect for God's word that he disobeys those passages and studies pagan prophecies to try to know Satan's deceptions ahead of time. Why? No man by his own strength alone is able to resist Satan's deceptions, but only the man whose spiritual strength is from God will be able to resist Satan's deceptions, and God helps those who obey Him. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments" (Psalm 111:10). "But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word" (Isaiah 66:2). How can a man who lives by every word of God and trembles at God's word ignore Deuteronomy 13:1-3, Leviticus 19:31, Deuteronomy 18:9-14, and Leviticus 20:6?

Christ in the temptation in the wilderness countered Satan's temptations, not because he knew Satan's prophecies, but because He knew the scriptures (Matthew 4:1-10). His defense was the word of God and His faith in that word.

Some may justify reading pagan prophecies by quoting this passage and similar ones: "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is" (Mark 13:33). "And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" (Mark 13:37). "Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times" (Matthew 16:3). But "watching" primarily refers to staying spiritually alert and close to God. Notice this passage: "Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, 'Sit here while I go and pray over there.' And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, 'My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.' He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, 'O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.' Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, 'What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak' " (Matthew 26:36-41). What kind of "watching" was Christ talking about? What kind of watching did He want His disciples to do? Watch world news on TV? Go to the public square or marketplace to hear what is going on in other parts of the world? No, they could not go to where world news was being discussed because Jesus said, "stay here". Besides, Jesus was not trying to hear world news. He was praying. That was the kind of "watching" Christ wanted His disciples to do. He wanted them to pray, to seek God, to be spiritually alert and aware.

There are certainly signs of the times we can be aware of, and this can include world news as well as history. But it does not include studying and learning about that which God has forbidden, that is, the occult and demon inspired prophecies.

Some may justify using pagan prophecy because Paul used pagan writings. "Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you....for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring' " (Acts 17:23-28). "One of them, a prophet of their own, said, Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.' This testimony is true" (Titus 1:12-13). But there is a big difference between pagan writings and pagan prophecies about the future. There is a big difference between ordinary opinion writing from non-Christian authors, and non-Christian writing claimed to be inspired by the spirit world, claiming to predict the future beyond what human opinion and reasoning can guess or estimate. Paul refers to a statement by pagan poets, but that is not the same as going to the occult, to demon-inspired prophecies about the future. Nor is the statement about Cretans a pagan prophecy - it is simply a human observation, though it is made by one who is called one of their prophets. Likewise, today we are free to read newspapers, editorials, history, poetry, etc. - but not the occult, magic, demonism, witchcraft, astrology, and demonic-inspired prophecies about the future. If the pope makes a speech against abortion, it is not wrong to listen to it. If he makes a speech against big business, likewise, it is not wrong to read it. But if a religious leader claims to have a vision from God, a dream, or some spirit speaking to him, revealing the future, but we know that man does not believe and follow the Bible, we should not study or spread his "prophecy".

Some say this passage justifies reading Satan-inspired prophecy: "...lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Corinthians 2:11). Let's look at the whole passage to get the context. "But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). Notice the plural of the word "device". Satan has more than one device, he has devices. And Paul said that he and the Corinthians were not ignorant of Satan's devices. They knew about them, no doubt from Paul's instructions and from their experience fighting temptations.

What was the particular device or devices that Paul is warning about? It was something Satan could use to take advantage of the Corinthians, that is, cause them to sin. What was that device? Paul just instructed the Corinthians to forgive the one who had sinned and repented. If they refused to do so, they would make themselves vulnerable to Satan's devices. Lack of forgiveness would be one. God will only forgive the Corinthians as they forgive others. "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15). Satan accuses the brethren day and night before God (Revelation 12:10). If the Corinthians refused to forgive, they would give Satan something to accuse them of. Satan could say before God, "They refuse to forgive, so how can You forgive them?" By harboring resentment, they distance themselves from God and weaken the influence of the Holy Spirit in their minds, leaving them open to more of Satan's influence and temptations to sin. By focusing too much on the faults of one person, they would tend to compare themselves with that person, thinking they are better than he, and would not examine and humble themselves and continue to work on their own faults as they should (2 Corinthians 10:12, 13:5). Moreover, the effect on the person who repented but was not forgiven by the congregation would also be damaging. He could be discouraged and feel that God had rejected him, and that feeling of discouragement could tempt him to return to the same kind of sin, feeling, "What's the use?" Those are some of Satan's devices Paul could have been talking about.

But Satan has many devices. Here is another one.

Satan can try to cause someone to compromise with God's law and God's instructions, God's word, just a little bit. It can be in the spirit or the letter. He can help the person justify it by putting the suggestion in his mind that it will do good in the end. He will think he is helping someone by compromising with God's law. Maybe he can help God's work that way, he thinks.

Examples: If I lie to that person, I will protect his or her feelings, and that is good. Or, if I fudge my timesheet a little bit at work to get paid more, I will have more money for an offering for God's work. Or, if I use a little bit of foul language at work, I can get along better with the other people and they will accept me, then sometime I may be able to teach them God's truth. Or, if look at a picture of Jesus when I pray, that will better help me to visualize Him and God will seem more real to me, and that will help me to pray and get closer to God.

Or, if I study pagan prophecies, prophecies inspired by Satan, contrary to God's instructions to avoid that kind of thing, I will have a better understanding of how Satan will deceive the world later, and I can prepare myself and others in the Church with answers to his lies. Moreover, if I teach pagan prophecies, I will get more attention from the people in the world who find that kind of stuff fascinating, and I can use that attention to preach the true gospel to them.

There are a thousand and one justifications Satan can pump into our minds for a hundred and one little compromises with God's law and way of life.

But if we yield to this device of Satan, what we don't see is that a little bit of compromise sets us up for bigger sins later. When we sin, even a little bit, we weaken the influence of God's Holy Spirit in our minds. We might "grieve" or "quench" God's Spirit that way (Ephesians 4:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:19). When we sin, we draw farther from God, and we are weaker spiritually, thus less able to resist more of Satan's temptations. When we compromise a little bit, we damage our conscience and we are more likely to compromise more in the future (1 Timothy 4:2). We build the habit of compromise. Sin leads to more sin. Sin, even a little sin, affects our minds and damages our character. Sin, like leaven, grows (1 Corinthians 5:6, Galatians 5:9).

When we compromise with God's law, we open the door for Satan, maybe just a crack, but that is all he needs. From there, he can push the door open wider as he leads us to sin more and more. Former alcoholics understand the mental process involved. For some of them, just one small drink can open the door, and it can be downhill from there.

How should we prepare to be ready to give an answer and to give a defense for what we believe (1 Peter 3:15)? We do it through Bible study, believing God's word, proving the things we believe from the Bible, and striving to live the truth day by day. Then we can trust God to help us remember the scriptures we need to know the truth and to give an answer when the need comes (John 14:26, Mark 13:11). That is how Jesus answered Satan's temptations (Matthew 4:1-10). That is how faithful members responded to the changes made in Worldwide after the death of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. Not by reading pagan prophecies.

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1). Could this be a prophecy about someone we know?

How foolish we are if we think we can escape being deceived by "doctrines of demons" by "giving heed" to them, by studying them. Study Satan's lies to know the truth? How stupid!

By the way, does it seem strange that one who claims to be a true prophet of God would have to look to pagan prophecies to know in advance what kind of lies Satan will use to deceive the world? Would God not reveal that directly to His prophets?

So we have a contrast. There are two ways a person can attempt to prepare to resist Satan's future worldwide deceptions.

Here is one method, the method that might be preferred by someone who extensively researches Satan inspired prophecies to know the future:

1) Research every non-biblical prophecy in history you can find that seems to be inspired from the spirit world, but not of God. Work hard at it. Study Satan's prophecies and teachings. Go to libraries, invest in rare books, visit other cities and countries to seek out every non-biblical and pagan prophecy you can find. Immerse yourself in the teachings and writings of the prophets of every false or odd religion you can find. Learn all about them. Become an expert in these things.

2) From those non-biblical prophecies, accumulate quotes and passages that can serve either of these two purposes: a) they can give us clues as to the exact lies Satan will inspire the beast and false prophet to teach to deceive the whole world, when the time comes, and b) they can provide interesting, fascinating accounts of the future that people will love to listen to and read about, juicy details that God does not give us in the Bible, yet are very interesting and MIGHT be true.

3) Write about these prophecies and teach them to the public and to the Church of God in books, video messages, articles, and blog posts. But use them two ways. Use them to attract attention from the public, then take advantage of that attention to teach the true gospel from the Bible. The second way is to use them to teach the Church of God, and the public too, what lies Satan may promote in the future so we can be prepared ahead of time to resist these lies and to answer them. Thus, we will not be caught off guard by Satan's future lies and deceptions because we will have heard them before and we will be familiar with them and will have time to figure out why they are wrong (assuming Satan pulls no surprises and sticks to the same lies he has always taught).

Here is another, contrasting method, preferred by those who tremble at God's word:

1) Obey God's commands to avoid the occult given in Deuteronomy 13:1-3, Leviticus 19:31, Deuteronomy 18:9-14, and Leviticus 20:6. Avoid reading or hearing pagan, non-biblical, Satan or demon inspired prophecies about the future. Strive to live by every word of God and to fear God and tremble at His word. Above all, do not teach Satan's prophecies, which God has forbidden, to others in the Church of God or in the world, lest you cause others to sin.

2) Strive to live by every word of God and feed on Christ. Immerse yourself in the Bible. Read the Bible cover-to-cover many times in your life, and study the Bible for doctrine. Prove every important doctrine you believe from the Bible, and believe the Bible more than any man or minister, more than any Church of God leader, more than your traditions, and more than your own opinions. Let the Bible correct you in everything, and be willing to grow in knowledge as God teaches you more in more in the Bible. Put everything you learn from the Bible to practice as a way of life. Know the truth of the Bible in every area of life, whether it be prophecy, child rearing, marriage, work, or anything.

3) Trust God, that as you obey Him, He will help you with every temptation, test, and challenge and will protect you from deceptions because you believe and obey what He says. Trust that when questions and issues come up, God will give you the wisdom and understanding you need to handle them. Through His Holy Spirit, He will bring to mind the scriptures you need to remember to answer Satan's deceptions, whether you know in advance what Satan will say or not (John 14:26, Mark 13:11). Trust God also that he will open doors for you to preach the gospel or to support the preaching of the gospel without using Satan's prophecies, but using prophecies from the Bible only.

Which method do you want to use? It's your choice.

Here is a link to a related post in this blog on this same subject:
"Do Not Cause Others to Sin", April 28, 2013, link:

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