The Spiritual Battle for Truth
|By: Mike Gendron; ©2000
|The battle for the eternal destinies of souls is ultimately an unrelenting spiritual conflict between God’s truth and Satan’s lies. How well do you know the schemes and tools the enemy employs to thwart God’s plan of redemption? Mike Gendron examines this critical conflict using the lens of Scripture.
The Spiritual Battle for Truth
Satan and his kingdom of darkness stand in direct opposition to God and the glorious light of His Son. On one side, you have Satan directing an organized host of demons attempting to thwart God’s plan of redemption. On the other side, you have God calling His elect out of the world, into His Church, through the power of the Gospel and His Spirit. As prince of the world, Satan holds sinners captive with his lies. As Savior of the world, Jesus sets sinners free when they hear and believe the Gospel truth.
Satan has been profoundly successful in deceiving multitudes in the name of Christ because his servants appear as ministers of righteousness. They wear high priestly garments and religious collars and carry boastful titles such as “most reverend,” “right reverend,” “his excellency,” and “Holy Father.” He influences ministers to spend less time preaching God’s Word and more time tickling ears with lies that appeal to the flesh.
His strategy appears to be “good” from a worldly perspective. That’s why it’s called “deception.” By uniting everybody as he did at the tower of Babel, he can build his worldwide counterfeit church. His method is to tear down walls of doctrine. Satan knows doctrine divides unbelievers from believers so his goal is to get rid of it. Today we see believers engaging in dialogue with unbelievers in order to come to a “consensus” over the Gospel. Many highly visible and influential Christian leaders are encouraging unity with Catholics in order to advance world evangelization.
Questions that beg to be answered about Satan can only be found in Scripture. How has he been so successful in blinding people from the light of the Gospel? What is his goal? What are his strategies and tools to achieve his goal? We must shine the light of God’s word into this mystery of darkness to see how Satan operates. The Bible tells us “false prophets” (Mt. 7:15; 24:24); “heretics” (Tit. 3:10); “false teachers” (2 Pet. 2:1); “false apostles, deceitful workers” (2 Co. 11:13); “evil workers” (Ph. 3:2); “antichrists” (1 Jn. 2:18); “evil men and seducers” (2 Tim. 3:13) and “deceivers” (2 Tim. 3:13); spread his “ damnable heresies” (2 Pet. 2:1) and “doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). They do this by means of “another gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4) “worldly principles, philosophies and traditions of men” (Col. 2:8). We must not be ignorant of these schemes of the devil lest he take advantage of us (2 Cor. 2:11).
The Nature of Deception
For deception to be effective it must appear to be essentially true. If deception is to be so seductive that even the very elect would wonder if it is of God, it must have some biblical truth and be accompanied by signs and wonders. Heresies cannot thrive without a pretense of Scripture. Those who distort Scriptures still rely on the inherent authority of God’s word to give credence for what they say. A classic example of this is when Satan used Scripture to tempt Jesus (Mat. 4:1-11). Sometimes a very thin veneer of truth is all it takes to cover a deadly lie. Pure falsehood very seldom deceives anyone. Thus the more truth that is mixed with error, the more effective it becomes in deceiving people. As a result, the most effective counterfeit is the one that most closely resembles the truth. The deadliest deceptions come in the name of religion. People are persuaded to believe they are serving God when, in truth, they are really serving Satan.
We can see that in the different religions Satan uses to blind the world from the Gospel. Although there are thousands of religions they can all be divided into 3 groups.
- Those who deny there is only one true God—Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, New Agers, and polytheists.
- Those who believe in one God but deny the deity of Jesus Christ—Jews, Muslims, and Jehovah Witnesses.
- Those who believe in the deity of Jesus Christ but reject the Gospel of Grace—Roman Catholics and many liberal protestants who teach another gospel. All of these are on the broad road that leads to destruction.
Satan’s Attack on God’s Word
Satan’s ambition is to take the place of God and receive the worship and obedience of all creation. In the final judgment those who perish following his doctrines will share his fate in the eternal lake of fire. In the wisdom of God, He has granted Satan tremendous power to carry out his schemes to demonstrate the falsehood of his claims.
Not surprisingly, Satan’s strategy is to attack the word of God by repudiating its authority, sufficiency and message. Satan must keep unbelievers from gaining access to the Word of God because it is the imperishable seed that imparts spiritual life and converts the soul (1 Pet. 1:23; Psa. 19:7). When sinners hear and believe the word of God they become children of God and are set free from the grasp of Satan (Eph. 1:13-14). Isaiah wrote, “Without the word people cannot know the true God or discern truth from error for they are not a people of discernment. Therefore their Maker will not have compassion on them and their Creator will not be gracious to them” (Is. 27:11). For this reason Satan blinds the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). On the occasions when an unbeliever is exposed to the word of God, but does not understand it, Satan can snatch it away before it takes root.
Satan repudiates the authority of God’s Word with the philosophy and traditions of men. In Roman Catholicism, papal infallibility and tradition have usurped God’s authority. The mingling of the word of God with the traditions of men is a very effectual tool in Satan’s hand. Whenever the truth of God is corrupted by human tradition God’s word is nullified of its power and purpose.
Satan repudiates the message of the Bible by distorting and perverting it. The Lord Jesus Christ used strong words to renounce the Pharisees for perverting God’s word for their own agenda. “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:44). We must recognize that religious leaders, who preach lies as the Pharisees did, are guilty of the same sin of Satan—being an instrument of deception. All false teaching about God and salvation find their origin in the father of lies. The perversion of God’s word to promote infant baptism is one of the deadliest of all errors. Many go to their grave believing water baptism made them children of God. Had the church always required faith before baptism this error would never have progressed. One error usually leads to another. After the devil tempts people to distort one Scripture he will tempt them to tamper with another and there will be no end to it. Ultimately, false teachers list all their distortions in a Catechism. The Catholic Church has also distorted the message of God by removing the 2nd Commandment from their new Catechism.
The Roman Catholic Church repudiates the sufficiency of Scripture by adding to God’s Word. They have added infallible dogmas, including revelations about Mary’s Immaculate Conception and assumption into heaven. Rome has also added the Apocryphal books to the canon of Scripture.
Satan’s Tools for Success
His primary tool is deception and he uses it to seduce humanity with cleverly created counterfeits that divert people’s attention away from the truth. His most powerful tool is the lie. By deceiving mankind, he blinds sinners from God’s only provision for sin. His intention is not to make evil as bad as possible but to make it as deceptive as possible. He does this by taking what is good and esteemed among men and creating clever counterfeits. Many of his counterfeits have “a form of godliness while denying its power.” Satan’s counterfeits seek to cloak or pervert the identity of Jesus Christ while compromising the Gospel of salvation. The most deadly counterfeit is the counterfeit gospel of works. It teaches that salvation is based on what sinners do for God rather than what God has done for sinners through Jesus Christ. One of Satan’s greatest lies has been convincing man that he must work for his salvation. This nullifies the grace that could save him. “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Rom. 11:6).
What are believers to do in light of knowing the devils schemes? First, recognize God has provided all that we need to be victorious in this spiritual warfare. Christ asked His Father to protect believers from the evil one (John 17:15) and gave us the armor of God (Eph 6) so that we would proclaim, defend and practice the truth. Second, recognize Satan’s power and influence is limited. Finite beings and can do nothing outside of the permissive will of God. Christians can take comfort: “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world is” (1 John 4:4).