|Posted on October 25, 2013 at 6:00 PM||comments (0)|
Posted on October 8, 2013 at 11:45 AM
Most of us dislike people who are always trying to control us, manipulate us, or “manage” us by devious, underhanded ways. We don’t usually object, however, to honest influences, or to above-board argumentation, and there is a place for discussions in which each person is free to voice his or her opinions without fear of ridicule or rejection.
But Satan is a different matter. He is a schemer! He was a schemer and a manipulator from the very beginning. He is by “nature” a liar and “the father of the lie” (John 8:44), as the original Greek puts it. The very first mention of Satan in the Bible depicts him as a liar (Genesis 3:1-6). He approached mother Eve, a woman who had absolutely no concept of falsehood, of deception, or of “sin,” and persuaded her with a lie to eat the forbidden fruit. But, to be honest, what Satan said to Eve was not absolutely false, although it was a lie! When he told Eve, “You surely will not die!” he was saying a “half-truth.” God had indeed said that if Adam and Eve ate the fruit they would die (Genesis 2:17), but Satan twisted the meaning of the word “die.” By the word “die” God had meant one thing, and Satan pretended that He had meant something different. Eve, being “deceived” (I Timothy 2:14), ate the fruit and “died” immediately, spiritually, according to the meaning which God had intended. She began to die physically when she was expelled from the Garden of Eden and separated from the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22-24).
How then does Satan frame his efforts to deceive?
First and foremost, Satan attempts to convince us that “sin” does not really exist. This idea seems to have been accepted by some in the church of Christ at Corinth. They were saying, “All things are lawful for me” (I Corinthians 6:12). They appeared to be saying this in the context of morality, that maybe it was all right to “be joined to a prostitute” (6:16). Paul referred again to their statement when he discussed how some of these Christians were continuing to “partake of the table of demons” (I Corinthians 10:23). These new Christians were continuing to frequent the pagan temple while at the same time partaking “of the table of the Lord” (10:21). We are not told why they kept going up to the pagan temple. Was it simply to eat the food which was “sacrificed to idols” (10:18-19), or was it to engage the temple prostitutes, as some of them had obviously done before becoming Christians, having considered this to be a religious activity?
Satan has not changed this very successful tactic! Even today, he would have us believe that what one does with one’s body is not a problem, that there can be no wrong, no sin, since there is really no such thing as “immorality.” Just a few years later, after Paul’s death, the Gnostics would begin to propagate the notion that “we have no sin” (I John 1:8; 2:4), denying that their immoral acts were sinful. Peter spoke of these false teachers in these words: “Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words” (2 Peter 2:2-3). “For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:18-19).
Since the early 1960s, we have witnessed a modern revival of this Gnostic error, in what has been called “Existentialism.” This widely accepted philosophy asserts that there is no God, and, therefore, no moral authority above the individual person. Each person makes his own choices, his own decisions. He is his own moral compass, his own guide. “All things are lawful for me,” is their concept. Liberal, God-denying university professors borrowed this philosophy from the French and taught it to their students in Ivy League universities and in left-leaning schools such as the University of California at Berkley. The philosophy was also propagated through popular works of fiction, from such authors as Jean-Paul Sartre, in France, but by many American writers as well.
A second tactic used by Satan is that of incrementalism. This is defined as the “advocacy of a policy of political or social change by degrees” (Webster). We have certainly seen this over the past few decades in America. Consider the movies that are offered today. I can remember when it was taboo to use in a movie even the mildest form of profanity. The producers of the great film Gone with the Wind decided to risk using the word “damn” at the very end of the film, knowing that it would offend many, but believing that they could get by with it, and get by with it they did! As I recall, however, they would not allow youths under a certain age to see this movie! Furthermore, in the 1950s and 60s, “bedroom scenes” were strictly behind closed doors! Today, nothing is left to the imagination, and children are permitted to see almost any movie, with or without parents. But these changes have come by degrees, slowly, stealthily, so that we are amazed, almost surprised at the changes that have occurred.
Jesus taught a parable about how “while men were sleeping” the devil came and sowed “tares” among the “wheat” (Matthew 13:25). Among other things, our Lord was warning us to be vigilant, to be on guard, lest before we know it, Satan will have done his dirty deeds among us, “while we were sleeping.”
A third tactic that Satan uses is to make evil look good! We talk about “sugarcoating” things! Satan is the super sugarcoater! Car dealers use pretty girls in short shorts to promote their cars! “Sex sells!” Lifting up his glass, a party goer exclaims, “Let the good times roll!” Alcohol enlivens and makes a party really rock! I have seen, as a child, the so-called “good times” that drunks have! But Satan shows us only the “good times.” He doesn’t describe the real tragedy that follows closely behind the person who “sleeps around,” who uses “recreational” drugs or who abuses alcohol.
Paul wrote, “We are not ignorant of [Satan’s] schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). What I have written above only touches the hem of the garment of these “schemes.” I pray that we will “wise up” and be alert and on guard, so as to recognize them in time to avoid them!
Donald R. Taylor