Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Gary Petty] You may believe that Satan exists. But if you believe that he can’t influence you, you’re already deceived.
If God and Satan are in a battle for the minds and hearts of human beings, look at the world around you. It looks like God’s losing. How else can you explain war and poverty, hatred, religious strife, I mean, political craziness and evil? Satan the devil, who is he? What is he? For a lot of people when you say the word Satan they think of that sort of half-goat, half-human being with the red skin that sits on your shoulder and tries to whisper in your ear to do bad things, right? How about you? Do you actually think that Satan exists? Do you think he can affect your life? The Barna Group, which is a research group, asked a sample of American Christians if they believe that Satan is a real being. Almost 60%, and these are Christians, almost 60% of Christians agreed with this statement. Satan is not a living being but a symbol of evil. Is this the devil of the Bible?
The Bible teaches, and we’re going to talk about this today, that Satan or the adversary, that’s what that means, is very real. Now according to the Bible Satan confronted Jesus Christ when he was on Earth. In the book of Revelation the Apostle John teaches that the devil “deceives the whole world.” The Apostle Paul makes two really incredible statements about Satan. One, he appears as an angel of light, and the other is, and this is remarkable this one, he’s the god of this age. You see, the Bible, this book, the source of Christian knowledge, it teaches and it’s very clear that Satan is a real being. Now what does Paul mean when he says that Satan is the god of this age? Is he understanding the reality of Satan, who he is, his agenda, how he is actively involved in trying to turn you against God? It’s important if you’re ever going to understand authentic Christianity. Now, there is a question we’re going to have to answer here throughout the program. And that is if Satan is the god of this age, does that mean he’s somehow overthrown God?
How did he become the god of this age? What does Paul mean? Well, today, we’re going to explore the relationship between God and Satan and Satan’s influence on humanity by looking at how the devil deceives people with four great deceptions. Now the first of Satan’s great deceptions is the one that’s sort of most obvious here. He wants us to believe he doesn’t exist, he’s not real. When you read the Old Testament you find that Satan was one of the great archangels that were created by God before actually He created human beings. And he was brilliant, he was talented, and it says he was beautiful. Now like all of the angels, Lucifer, because that’s was his name then, Lucifer, had free will. And he could choose to serve God, to follow God’s way, or not to follow God. To go the opposite way, which is what we call evil. Serving God and loving others wasn’t enough for Lucifer. He thought it was demeaning. He thought that he had a better way. He actually wanted power and control over God’s creation.
Back in the 1600s John Milton wrote the famous poem, “Paradise Lost.” Now the poem is not an accurate account of biblical heaven and earth. It doesn’t record actual conversations between God and Satan. It’s fiction. But it does capture in some of its lines something interesting about Satan, something that reveals something about his nature. And one that I’ve always thought interesting is when Satan makes the comment, “It is better to reign in hell than serve in Heaven.” This is sort of a remarkable insight into the archangel who became the adversary of God. He’s so filled with self-pride that he finds serving God and God’s way of loving others as repulsive. Now Satan doesn’t deny the existence of God. He knows God exists. I mean he has seen God in His glory. He has been on that sea of glass before the throne of God. He shouted in excitement as did all the angels when God created the physical universe. He simply hates how God thinks. He hates His mercy, he hates His judgment, and he hates God’s love for us.
Now the existence of Satan explains evil and you may even believe that he affects evil criminals, right? He affects mass murderers, people who commit hate crimes, maybe people who participate in voodoo, but he can’t affect you right? He can’t affect you. Well this brings us to the second of Satan’s great deceptions. Satan has little influence on people. Okay if he can’t get you with the first one, “I don’t exist,” his second one is going to be, “Yeah, but he can’t hurt me. He can’t affect me. I’m a step ahead of him. He only affects evil people. He can’t affect me. I’m okay.” Well look at something that the Apostle Paul wrote here that’s very important in this discussion of Satan. We’re going to be looking at the New Testament and what we discuss here. To the church at Ephesus, these are Christians remember, he’s writing to a church, he says, “And you He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.” In other words he tells these people you were dead. God made you alive. That’s the He here is God. He made you alive. You were dead.
You couldn’t get out of your sins and your sins were going to kill you. But notice what he says next because remember who he’s writing to, because this applies to all Christians even to today. “In which you once walked according to the prince of the power of the air, the Spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” This prince of the power of the air he influences human beings with thoughts, emotions, and in that influence we become a little bit like him. Notice this next sentence, “Among whom also we all,” and Paul includes himself, we all have to admit, we all have been influenced by Satan, more than we realize. He says, “Among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. And were by nature the children of wrath, just as the others.” We were by nature like him, angry, self-willed. Human nature, the problem with human nature is we’ve become a little bit like this god of this age. You see Satan wants you to believe that he doesn’t influence normal people but think about what we just read.
Everyone has been deceived by Satan and influenced by Satan. So therefore it is normal to be under his influence. That is what normal is. All of us normal people, you know, we’re not the evil people, not the crazy people, all of us normal people are under Satan’s influence, because we all think we’re normal don’t we? Only abnormal people, those who have given their lives to God to be freed and saved and recreated, can be freed from Satan’s influence. So I hope you’re beginning to understand. You may believe that Satan exists but if you believe that he can’t influence you you’re already deceived, you’re already deceived. Now we do have a study guide that we’re offering today, “Is There Really a Devil?” Because we can…we’re only scratching the surface here. This is important to get this. It explains in detail about what the Bible says about Satan’s origins, where he came from. One of the first sections is called “The Enemy of Mankind.” And then there’s a section in here called, it’s titled “Did God Create a Devil?” I’ve asked that question all the time.
Why would God create a devil? He didn’t. He chose to go a certain way and that’s important. And this study guide goes into much greater detail on the subject of Satan that we can’t in this program. Now you can get your free copy of, “Is There Really a Devil?” by calling the toll-free number on your screen if you’re watching or going online to beyondtoday.tv, or you can download a free copy, or you can order it. We’ll mail it to you. But it’s free. And it’s very important, and it covers a lot of detail about Satan.
Now, this brings us to the third of Satan’s great deceptions. And I want you to really listen to this one. Faith replaces obedience. Faith replaces obedience. I’m going to read from something that’s in the study guide that we’re offering. Satan, because I just love the way this explains it, “Satan is the master of misrepresentation. He’s the world’s greatest advertiser, packaging his product so it seems attractive and appealing while in reality it’s poisonous and deadly. He wants his clients to see him as good, beneficent, and trustworthy. He wants his product, sin and rejection of God, to appear enticing, inviting,” and this last statement is “and he is usually quite successful.”
He’s very good at what he does and that is to sell us a bill of goods, to sell us a way of thinking and a way of feeling and the actions that’ll actually take us away from God. And you know what? This deception has crept into Christianity. Satan is trying to deceive us into thinking that our thoughts and our actions don’t matter as long as you simply believe in Jesus, right? Just believe in Jesus the rest doesn’t matter. And this is a misrepresentation of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament James had to deal with the same problem, the same problem, and he makes this statement, “You believe that there’s one God, you do well, even the demons believe, and they tremble.” That has to be one of the most sarcastic statements in all the Scripture. Oh, you believe that there’s one God. Well, that’s really, really good. Even the demons believe that and it scares them.
And that’s a sarcastic statement because it’s so powerful. And that is part of the deception that Satan does and unfortunately, it’s part of what’s become normal in Christianity. Now a minute ago I said the word sin. I was involved a number of years ago, there was an ad agency that was helping to you know, preachers, how to present your material on television. And one of the things that came out was, “Don’t use the word sin. They’ll turn you off.” Oh, I just said it. Sin, actions and thoughts, emotions that are against God. Sin is offensive to God and is supposed to be offensive to us, including our own sins. Corrupt human nature influenced by Satan enjoys sin, it defends sin in spite of the consequences, and here’s the thing. We don’t want to hear about it because I’ll feel judged. You can’t understand salvation if you don’t understand sin. So we’re going to talk about sin. Because one of the greatest deceptions is it doesn’t matter. It does matter.
Let’s read here in what Paul says to the church at Corinth. He writes to the church of Corinth breaking in a little bit here into a thought but he says, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.” He says, “If there are people who don’t understand, if they don’t understand the gospel, the truth about Jesus Christ, about God’s plan of salvation, they are dying, and here’s why. Whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God should shine on them.” The god of this age.
Now this brings us to a problem that I mentioned at the very beginning of the program. This doesn’t mean just because Satan’s called the god of this age, it doesn’t mean that he has somehow overthrown God. I mean God allowed the first humans to be exposed to Satan so he could learn how to choose, they chose evil. And you know they got kicked out of the Garden of Eden and you and I have been influenced by him ever since.
He became our adversary, just like he’s the adversary of God, and he’s trying to pervert our relationship with God. But Satan’s influence is limited by God. He can’t do anything that God doesn’t allow him to do. God is still God. Satan being the god of this age doesn’t change who the true God is. The true God is still the true God. He’s still the sovereign over His kingdom. But what this helps us understand is you and I can only begin to be healed from our damaged nature. We’re all damaged because of sin and because of what Satan has done to us. We can only be healed when we begin to realize that the answer to our failures, our restlessness, our angst is to reject Satan’s influence on our lives. And this means you have to repent of the harmful destructive sins that you have committed against God and the laws of God. There I said it again, but you can’t get healed until you understand the disease and sin is the disease.
You also must accept that your nature, how you think, how you feel, our actions, our motivations are influenced by the prince of the power of the air. Listen to this, you can never truly know and trust God until you know yourself and you don’t trust yourself. You’ll never make this connection to God until you understand I’m the problem. The problems in our lives will never get better until we recognize Satan’s deception and how he’s misrepresenting God.
Once again I do want to mention “Is There Really a Devil?” This free study guide that we’re offering today explains how Lucifer became Satan and how he deceives the world but more importantly how you and I can resist that temptation, that deception, by drawing close to God. The understanding of the reality of Satan will give you insight into the evil of the world that you live in. Now you can get a free copy of “Is There Really a Devil?” by calling the toll-free number on your screen, or going to beyondtoday.tv, you can download a copy, you can read it online, you can order a copy, but get it. It’s real important.
Now, the fourth of Satan’s great deceptions is one that’s actually taught in many Christian pulpits. And that is, now this one we’re going to have to work through, this is tough, God’s love accepts everyone. We all know that God is a God of love, right? The reason we buy into this one, the reason we buy into this is because we need God’s love. We’re all designed to need His love. We want His love. And the truth is God does love everyone, but God does not accept everybody. Anyway what do you mean he doesn’t accept everybody? Think about this a minute. This is one of the basic concepts of Christianity. The reason Jesus came and died for us, because without his sacrificial substitute for us, for our sins, we are not acceptable to God. That’s basic to Christianity, right? Jesus Christ came and died for us because we’re not acceptable to God. If we were acceptable to God, he wouldn’t have had to come and die. So Christianity is based on God loves us, but we’re not acceptable. He has to make us acceptable.
And receiving God’s forgiveness means that we also have to submit to obeying Him, submit to having Him change our nature, to remove these aspects of Satan’s nature. Let me read something from Jesus, okay? Let’s go right to the teachings of Jesus Christ. This is in the Sermon on the Mount, one of the most important sections about Jesus Christ in the entire gospels. I’m going to be reading from Matthew. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives His most important teachings, and this is what He says here, “Enter by the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction. And there are many who go by it, because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it.” In other words He says, the way I’m teaching you is hard, it’s narrow, it’s difficult. Christianity in an evil world is not easy. That’s another false idea. But I want to go on a little further here. Now, remember, this is Jesus, because we’re looking at His words. Now I want you to listen to what He says.
He says, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of Heaven.” Wait a minute, God has accepted me. I know He’s accepted me because I call Jesus Lord, and Jesus says, “Many will say Lord, Lord,” and He says, “You’re not going to enter the kingdom of Heaven.” I don’t know about you, that worries me a little at times, like wow, I better make sure I understand what Christ wants from me. He finishes this little sentence with, “But he who does the will of God my Father in Heaven, but who does the will of my Father in Heaven, that is the one that becomes acceptable.” He extrapolates more in this when He says, “Many will say to me in that day,” He’s talking about the day of judgment, when everyone appears before Jesus Christ, “Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’” So people will stand before Jesus Christ and say, “But I went to church, and, boy, we had a great praise band. We did it right. We sang. We praised. I saw my minister cast out demons one time. I went to India on missionary work. Here I am.”
Surely that’s acceptable. And Jesus says it’s not. Because here’s what He says He will say to them, “And then I will declare to them,” boy, this is scary, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” You know what? This message of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount needs to be thundered from every pulpit, and it’s not, and we need to thunder it from every pulpit. This is what we should be saying. Why? Because Jesus said that He will reject, He’s not talking about pagans here, He’s not even talking about atheists… He says, “I will reject people who say I am Lord,” and why? Because they do not do the will of the Father, they have lots of religion but they practice lawlessness. Now, let me say something here. It’s true that no one is saved by the 10 commandments. I mean, you’re not saved by the law. Salvation comes through the life, blood, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in Jesus’ own words, we just read them, He says if we believe in Him and then don’t respond to Him then He will deny us. We’re not acceptable to believe and not respond.
Because as James said faith without works is dead. And Satan wants you to believe that God accepts you and wants you to stay just the way you are. Here’s what I want you to do, before you even get the study guide I want you to go to Matthew 5, 6, and 7, I want you to pick up your Bible and I want you to read what Jesus Christ actually said. Not the fake Jesus you hear about. Read what He actually said. You may be surprised. You may find out you’ve been deceived. Now we’ve looked at four of Satan’s deceptions, how powerful are these deceptions. Now it’s very interesting. In the book of Revelation, at the end of the book of Revelation, we have in Revelation 19 and 20 we have Jesus Christ coming to this Earth, to set up God’s kingdom on this Earth. And we find that Satan is bound. I mean God has complete power over Satan. They really aren’t in a battle of the souls of men. God allows Satan to be the god of this age until Jesus Christ brings another age, and then he’s not the god of this age anymore. He has no power, just what God lets him do.
Now according to Revelation what happens is Christ comes back, sets up the millennial Kingdom. At the end of the millennium, Satan has loosed again. Satan is allowed to influence human beings again. And you know what’s amazing? Satan deceives people into trying to overthrow Jesus Christ. It’s in Revelation 20. Here’s this, we see this power of Satan’s deception. After 1,000 years of peace and prosperity, and one religion, and no wars, and no pollution, no hatred, all because Jesus Christ is reigning on Earth visibly from Jerusalem, Satan will deceive people to thinking God doesn’t know what He’s doing. Now, I want to remind you to order your free copy of, “Is There Really a Devil?” because this is an in-depth study of Satan’s fate and there’s a fascinating section here called “The Fall of Satan’s Kingdom.” You and I right now live in Satan’s kingdom but only because God lets him have it for a while. You can get your free copy by calling the number on your screen or going to beyondtoday.tv where you can download it, you can read it online, or we will send it to you free.
Now, I want to end today by actually reading something that the Apostle Paul writes. And this is back in Ephesians. We read from Ephesians here a few minutes ago. Here Paul says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Paul says there’s something only God can do. You know, none of us can save ourselves. None of us can change our nature. None of us can resurrect ourselves, none of us on our own defeats Satan. We can’t defeat Satan on our own. That’s part of the lesson we’re learning here. So, he says here, “Remember where you get your might from. It is from God. And put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The wiles of the, see he’s real. And then he says this, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.”
He says we think this battle is with this little funny creature that sits on our shoulder, remember the cartoons, you know, there’s a devil here and an angel here, and they’re trying to get the cartoon character to do good or evil. We think it’s that simple and it’s not. There’s a prince of the power of the air who is the god of this world, of this age, and he influences according to the Apostle Paul, all of us. There’s a battle going on for your mind, and it’s going on all the time. It’s a battle going on for my mind, and it’s going on all the time. Jesus Christ is coming back to bring light into the darkness of this age. He wants individuals right now to be called into this relationship with God to be individual little lights. That’s what Christians are, they’re individual little lights in a dark and dying world because it’s going to die because the god of this age knows nothing but death. He’s failing, he’s already been defeated by Jesus Christ but in here for you and me, in here, the battle’s still going on. You’re at a spiritual battle with a powerful, unseen enemy, and it’s a battle that only God can win. So draw close to God, seek His ways in your life, and He will win the victory over Satan in your life.
[Narrator] Please call for the booklet offered on today’s program, “Is There Really a Devil?” Everything is not as it seems in our world today. We look around and see human beings doing terrible things to each other, often defying all explanation. Could it be that there is an evil force at work influencing mankind? Our free study aid, “Is There Really a Devil?” reveals the truth about Satan, that ancient creature who defies God in every way and uses human beings as pawns in his larger scheme of evil. Discover how this being operates and how you can resist his influence with the power of God. Order now. Call toll-free 1-888-886-8632 or write to the address shown on your screen. We are not without a defense against Satan the devil. God’s power is greater, and you can rely on Him to resist the devil. But it is critical that you learn how to spot the spiritual influence of evil. When you order this free study aid we’ll also send you a complimentary one-year subscription to “Beyond Today” magazine.
“Beyond Today” magazine brings you understanding of today’s world and hope for the future. Six times a year you’ll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family and Godly principles to guide you toward a life that leads to peace. Call today to receive your free booklet, “Is There Really a Devil?” and your free one-year subscription to “Beyond Today” magazine, 1-888-886-8632 or go online to beyondtoday.tv.