|Series Theme: Spiritual Warfare|
Title: 2. The Enemy - His Activities - a) Deception
This page starts to look at some of the enemy's activities as detailed in the Bible.
Having identified Satan and his demons, we now move onto the things he does, the strategies that he uses.
Any Christian becoming aware of the principles of spiritual warfare MUST become aware of the primary strategies or activities of the enemy if they are to stand against them.
The first of those is DECEPTION
1. Was this Satan?
In the Old Testament there are two passages of scripture that have puzzled scholars down through the years, because although they seem to be describing an earthly figure, they also seem to go far beyond mere human beings. Scholars believe the following two passages refer to Satan:
1.1 Isa 14:12-17
1.2 Ezek 28:11-19
2. What is Deception?
From these passages (if they do apply to Satan) we see he became proud and then became a deceiver in Eden. We will look at what happened in Eden and see what he did there.
Read Gen 2:9,15-17 & 3:1-6
Note in the N.T. some references to Satan's deceiving tactics:
2 Cor 2:11 … speaks of Satan trying to outwit us with his schemes .
2 Cor 11:13,14 ... speaks of Satan masquerading as an angel of light.
1 Tim 2:14 ... referring back to Eden, saying it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
3. How does it appear?
Deception is us being led to believe wrong things.
It is a battle in the mind, often brought to us by Satan using others:
4. How do we deal with it?
Remember, Satan's strategy is to fool you into
THAT is deception!
The crucial test therefore, is does this teaching conform to the whole counsel of the Bible, or is it simply a doctrine promoted by using a few proof text quoted out of context. This is the style of the cults and is to be avoided.
4.2 Distinguishing between spirits
The Bible speaks about the gift of “distinguishing between spirits” (1 Cor 12:10).which may be defined as “a supernatural knowledge of the source of activity, whether it be divine, demonic or human”. This comes as an impartation of knowledge at the moment as to the origin of what is before you, e.g.
NB. It is suggested that when the occult predicts the future:
4.3 Specific Biblical Teaching to Discern
1 Jn 4:1
i) The TEST OF the Lordship of CHRIST
1 Jn 4:2,3 / 1 Cor 12:3
ii) The TEST OF CHARACTER
1 Cor 14:1-3
iii) The TEST OF FRUITFULNESS
Each of these “tests” are to be applied with wisdom, looking to God first to give understanding. They are not to be applied mechanically.
5. Forms of Deception
Remember, Deception is being led to believe in something that is untrue, e.g.
5.1 Believing in a false religion, cult or sect
Michael Green in his excellent book, “I Believe in Satan's Downfall”, suggests the signs of a counterfeit religion, based on Paul's letter to the Colossians's. The following are those tests in simplified form:
5.1.1 A human inspired philosophy
Col 2:8 - is it a merely human philosophical system, or does it accord with the revelation in Scripture?
5.1.2 A substitute reconciliation
Col 2:9 - Christ is the only link between man and God. Does this system provide a substitute which, in reality, is no bridge and leaves people at a distance from God?
5.1.3 A ring road round Calvary
Col 2:13-15 - is the Cross avoided or is it central to salvation?
5.1.4 A bogus ceremonialism
Col 2:11 / Col 2:23 - does it lay emphasis on initiation rites and undue ceremonial that have to be worked on or is it the simple trust & reliance on the shed blood of Christ?
5.1.5 A shallow moralism
Col 2:20 - in 2:16-23 Paul attacks those who sought to mortify the flesh, to beat it down by rules and rituals to obtain a form of spirituality. This is often seen in false religions or cults. Goodness comes through the holy love of Christ within
Col 3:5 - in 3:1-11 Paul attacks those who were licentious, having removed all the restraints. Again, these are often seen in cults. Holiness comes through the holy character of Christ within
5.1.6 An undiscriminating mysticism
Col 2:18 - are there claims to special mystic revelation beyond the Bible that detract from it by superimposing mystical experiences instead?
5.1.7 A hateful exclusivism
Col 3:11 - is it an open secret or an exclusive club?
5.2 Believing in something that is contrary to the truth revealed in Scripture
While all of the above fall into this category, sometimes (and more commonly) the enemy simply leads the individual (rather than a whole group) astray by getting them to believe a basic untruth, e.g.
6. So what more can we do about it?
In 4. above we have considered submitting to the Bible, testing the spirits, and tests through Scripture, so how can we finish off with some practical helps for ourselves as individuals?
The following is a simple strategy:
“The leader should understand how often ideas pass themselves off as virtues. Stinginess often excuses itself under the name of frugality, while extravagance hides itself under the name of generosity. Often inordinate laxity is mistaken for loving kindness while unbridled wrath is seen as the virtue of spiritual zeal”
(Gregory the Great)
“The lifelong process of mortifying sin (putting it to death when we spot it - Rom 6:11,12) involves a gradual detection process by which the particular forms in which sin expresses itself in our lives… are uncovered to our view”
“the structure of sin in the human personality is something far more complicated than isolated acts and thoughts of deliberate disobedience… it is.. an organic network of compulsive attitudes beliefs and behaviour deeply rooted in our alienation from God”
When we understand that we are redeemed sinners, we see that when we come to Christ we start a lifelong transformation process (2 Cor 3:18) whereby our thinking and behaviour are gradually being transformed.
Because we were tainted through and through by sin, we have been deceived in our thinking and the sanctification process involves light being shed in that thinking.
We must stand against Satan as he seeks to prevent that happening by seeking to bring further deception, and we do that with the help of God's Spirit within us.