How the Devil Hides in Religion

Devil Hides in Religion

Has the American church given the devil a place to hide?

Nobody I know has ever taken a photograph of the devil, and we couldn’t find a recent snapshot to use on the cover of Charisma this month. The only images we located were paintings, drawings and a few sculptures—all based on artists’ notions of what the Evil One must look like.

I certainly was not inclined to pursue an interview or a photo-shoot, since I really don’t care to see Satan in person. But for the sake of journalistic accuracy I need to inform our readers that the red-faced monster we featured on our cover is probably not a realistic depiction.

Most of us tend to think of the devil as a grotesque creature: a half-man, half-reptile with forked tongue, goatee, black fingernails and creepy, Darth Vaderlike voice (and bad breath of the sulfuric variety). He’s like all the things we feared most when we were kids: Dracula, Freddy Krueger or any twisted character played by Vincent Price. Kids today might give the “Most Like Satan” award to the dark wizard Saruman from The Lord of the Rings films.

But the issue for us is not whether the devil has pointed ears or carries a pitchfork. Regardless of his real appearance, he is a master of disguise. That’s what makes him so dangerous.

We Christians are always on the lookout for the devil’s work. But it seems we spend way too much energy looking in the wrong places for his fingerprints.

A few years ago, for example, some Christians worked overtime to inform parents about the evils of Pokémon, claiming that Satan was plotting to take over the minds of children by using a Japanese cartoon. That was only after another group of Christians circulated a warning that a major U.S. household-products company was controlled by devil worshipers. (It wasn’t.)

Today, many believers act as if the Harry Potter books are hell’s primary tools to infiltrate our families with witchcraft.

I don’t buy that. Satan is much more subtle.

The apostle Paul, who wrestled with plenty of demonic powers in his day, told us that we must know our enemy in order to outwit him. One thing we must understand is that the devil’s primary target is the church­—so he snoops around there a lot.

He comes “as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14, NASB) and is an imposter who claims to speak for God. He can mimic piety. He’s OK with choir robes, clerical collars and the whole Sunday morning routine. He knows how to dress to fit in.

He detests genuine praise music that exalts God, but he’s fine when he can turn worship into dead formality or manipulate it in a fleshly way to glorify the performer. He hates the Bible (because he must bow to its authority), but he has impressive knowledge of the Scriptures and can twist them to create false doctrines.

He despises preachers, but if he can tempt them to embrace greed or arrogance (or lure them into denominational politics), he can use them like puppets on a string. He hates it when Christians love each other, so he uses every trick in his bag to trigger jealously, strife, divorce and painful church splits.

The apostle Paul didn’t seem too concerned about the devil’s influence in pagan culture. He was much more alarmed that Satan had infiltrated the church without anyone’s knowing it.

“Who has bewitched you?” he asked the Galatians (Gal. 3:1). He told the Corinthians: “I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3).

Has the American church given the devil a place to hide? Satan thrives on religious hypocrisy. He also loves backbiting, pride, greed, selfish ambition and hidden perversion. As long as we tolerate such things, we create an atmosphere of spiritual compromise that attracts the enemy and gives him a safe haven.

Religious people don’t even realize they are part of this evil plot. But radical Christians who are full of the Holy Ghost must go on the offensive, chase Satan down, invade his territory and liberate his captives. When our masked enemy is faced with a church that walks in genuine love, Christlike humility, bold authority and biblical faith, he must tuck his scaly tail between his legs and run.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org). You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His latest book is Fearless Daughters of the Bible.

This article was taken, in full, from Charisma Magazine.  You can find the original article here.

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New U.N. Report Erases All Doubts: Iran Is Developing Nuclear Warheads And The Missiles To Deliver Them

Please take a moment to read Joel’s blog on this subject.  We’ve all known the Iranians have been developing nuclear weapons even though they’ve gone before the world and protested otherwise.  If you are an American or a Jew, beware because those in power in Iran have vowed to wipe the Great (America) and Little (Israel) Satan off the face of the earth.  Anybody who thinks that Iran will develop nuclear weapons capabilities and then not use them is deluded and foolish.  

Times are changing!  Open your eyes and see!  He who has an ear, let him hear!

Blessings!

This Present Darkness…

Periodically, I will go back and re-read books that I find valuable or entertaining.  In keeping with this tradition, I’m about to start reading This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti again.

The Bible tells us that what we deal with on a daily basis is not physical in nature; rather, it is spiritual.  Failing to understand that basic truth can cause all kinds of problems in your life.  There is a war going on for your soul and you will always be a casualty if you don’t know you’re in the cross-hairs of the enemy!  Paul clues us in to this foundational truth about life in his letter to the Ephesians:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12 (ESV)

Our struggle is against whom?  President Obama?  Republicans/Democrats?  Blacks, whites, neo-nazis, or Al-Queda?  No.  We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood.  We struggle against spiritual forces.  So many times we set our aim on people, not realizing all along that there is more at play than what meets the eye.  Did you ever stop to think on the higher reality that those who cause us difficulty and harm, though responsible for their actions, are under the influence of evil spiritual powers?   I really wonder how many of the ailments we see plaguing society are really caused by spiritual influence rather than physical imperfections (split personalities, depression, suicide, ADD, homosexuality, abortion, sexual perversion, etc…).  Saying that they are influenced by the spiritual does not give license to condone or practice these activities, but it can shed light as to the source of the problem.  Dealing with these types of problems with medicine will never work if they are spiritual in nature.  This is not to say that there are not true medical conditions out there that can be treated, but you have to admit that the concept of a spiritual root is provocative and worthy of serious consideration.  Along the lines of this train of thought, if there were demons present and active in the time of Jesus, did they pack up shop and call it a day when he ascended to heaven?  I think not!  That begs to question, “Where did they go?” and “What, if anything, are they doing now?”  I submit to you that they didn’t go anywhere and are just as active today, if not more active.  But I digress….

Notice that Paul gives a hierarchical listing: rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers.  Just like any modern military, there is an order to Satan’s forces, each with increasingly higher power and authority to work their evil.  Notice that Paul also clues us into the where: the heavenly places.  Where is that?  Those are the places you cannot see but exist nonetheless.  We now know from science that we live in more that four dimensions.  Four you say?  Height, depth, width, and time make up the four observable dimensions, but there are others that are not directly perceptible.  Science is confirming what the Bible has said all along.  Even though we cannot directly perceive the heavenly realms with our eyes, they exist and are populated with both good and evil beings.

The concept of evil and even the use of the word is largely missing in our sophisticated, humanist view of the world at large.  But make no mistake, just because we don’t use the word or acknowledge its workings, evil is present, alive, and on the move in the world today.  Christians accept the reality of the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  If we can accept that each person of the Trinity is actively at work in the world today, then how large a leap of logic does it take to realize that Satan and his angels are hard at work in the world as well?

Sometimes it takes a vivid illustration to make this point and This Present Darkness will snap you out of any sleepy illusion that you may hold regarding the world of the spirit  and give you a fictional, but very thought-provoking view of what it looks like behind the scenes in the realm of the spiritual as it collides and interacts with what we see in the physical.

There is a war raging all around you.  Not consciously making a choice for one side or the other will not prevent you from becoming embroiled in the fray.  The war is real, the stakes are high, and you cannot escape it!  If your eyes are not open to this reality, then I pray that you take the time to explore my claims so that you can prepare and equip yourself to be the active warrior and not an unknowing victim.

Fortunately, the hard part is already done for you:  Jesus died according to the scriptures, was buried, and rose on the third day according to the scriptures.  Putting your faith in him and believing that only he has the power to cleanse you of your sin (another word we do not use much today), break you out of the chains of your current bondage, set you free, and make you a new man or woman truly alive as you were created to be is the solution.  And he will also give you the power to stand against the tide of evil washing over the face of the earth…the power to stand against this present darkness!

Be blessed!

The Tiny Book of Jude…

I was listening to 66/40 this week and last and it happens to be on the book of Jude.  I thought I would share some commentary on the book of the Bible by my favorite author, Chuck Missler.  The following excerpt is taken from his Learn the Bible in 24 Hours Book.

The epistle of Jude is just one chapter, but is full of surprises!

Jude was the half brother of Jesus.  He also was an unbeliever while Christ was alive, but became a believer after the ressurection.

In this letter, Jude attacked apostasy and argued for his readers to contend for the faith because some people would fall away.  He argued against subtle perversions which included at least two basic denials: denying grace by turning it to lasciviousness (just because we have liberty in Christ does not give us a right to sin); and denying our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

Apostasy will lead to certain doom, and he used three examples: Egypt, the angels in Genesis 6 (see previous post on this), and Sodom. He also pointed to three apostates by using the examples of Cain, Balaam, and Korah; and then emphasized the utter falsity of these teachers by using six awful metaphors.

An analysis of 2 Peter deals with many of these same things, but in Peter they are future tense; in Jude they are past tense.  Apparently the prophecies in 2 Peter were fulfilled by the time Jude wrote his letter.

In light of the fact that apostasy has been foretold, Jude told his readers how to contend: they should build, pray, keep, and look.  And they should support those who contend. 

Jude focused on the certainty of judgment, and he used an extremely provocative example:

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.  Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
     Jude 1:6,7

Jude argued that these false teachers were going to be judged.  Then he linked the errors of Sodom and Gomorrah in “going after strange flesh” with the angels in Genesis 6.  (The Scripture always confirms the truth by two or three witnesses, and 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6,7 refer to the angels in Genesis 6.)

Here is something extremely provocative – Jude quotes a prophecy given by Enoch.

And Enoch, also the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints , to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
     Jude 1:14,15

Jude was quoting this prophecy of Enoch, as it was presumably familiar to his readers; but let’s stop and realize what was going on.  The oldest prophecy uttered by a prophet, uttered before the Flood of Noah, is a prophecy of the Second Coming of Christ.

But Jude did something else that should disturb us.  He chose a bizarre example to make his case.

Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.  Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
     Jude 1:8,9 

Here again, Jude alluded to some background familiar to his readers, but which has been lost to us.  First of all, the fact that there was a dispute between Michael and the devil regarding the body of Moses is a surprise.  Where did that  happen?  And why would Satan want the body of Moses?

In any case, the point is that even when Michael was contending with Satan, he didn’t speak evil of Satan.  He said, “The Lord rebuke you.”  Jude would tell us to not speak evil of dignities, and he chose Satan himself to make the point.  Don’t speak evil of him; don’t rail directly against him.  Let the Lord deal with him.  If you are ever confronted with a demon, rely on the authority of Jesus Christ.  Don’t try to confront a demon on your own.

Have You Ever Wondered? (Part I)

Have you ever been reading the Bible and come across a passage that makes you say “Hmmmmm…” to yourself?  This occurs frequently with me, and here is a passage that evokes that thoughtful sound more than any other:

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.  And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he [is] flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore [children] to them.  Those [were] the mighty men who [were] of old, men of renown.
      Genesis 6:1-4 NKJV

What?  Sons of God?  Took women?  Had children?  Did I read that right?  These are the questions I asked of myself when I first read, then re-read again and again this short passage.  Of course I asked my Sunday school teacher about it and the response I got went something like, “Mark…the sons of God represent the Godly lineage of Seth while the daughters of men represent….”   “What???” I thought to myself….  How do you get that interpretation from what the scripture states quite plainly?  Well, here is a more studious look at that passage.  Why look at this?  Well, there are two reasons that come immediately to mind.  First, we don’t fully consider the lengths to which Satan will go to corrupt what God has made or to make things very difficult for those who will follow truth.  Secondly, it is simply just interesting.  Enjoy!

But as the Days of Noah were, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.
     Matthew 24:37

Genesis 6
1]      And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
2]    That the Son of God saw the daughters of men that they were fait; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

Sons of God = Bene HaElohim (Hebrew)
•    translated consistently when used in the Bible as angels every time.
•    Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7
•    Luke 20:36
•    Septuagint
•    Book of Enoch (for historical reference only)
•  
Daughters of Adam = Benoth Adam (Hebrew)

Daughters of Adam, not just Cain.  Adam had daughters (Gen 5:4): that’s where Cain got his wife!

“took…of all they chose”: doesn’t sound like the girls had much choice in the matter…

3]    And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
4]    There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

Hebrew:
Nephilim: “the fallen ones.”
Nephal: “to fall, be cast down to fall away, desert.”
HaGibborim: “the mighty ones.”

Septuagint (Greek):
gigantes (giants)
gigas = “earth-born”

Geneges is the same word used in Greek mythology for “Titans,” creatures emerging from interbreeding of the Greek gods with human beings.  Genea, means “breed,” or “kind.”  The English words “genes” and “genetics” come from the same root.

These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

tamiym = “without blemish, sound, healthful, without spot, unimpaired”

New Testament Confirmations


And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.  Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

     Jude 6, 7

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
     2 Corinthians 5:2

The Greek word is oiketerion, habitation.  Used only twice: Jude 6 and 2 Corinthians 5.

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the world, but saved Noah…
     2 Peter 2:4, 5

Tartarus: Tartarus is the Greek term for the “dark abode of woe”; the pit of darkness in the unseen world.

Two Views

The commonly taught “Lines of Seth” view emerged in the 5th century but has no Scriptural support.

The “Fallen Angel” view was the view of the ancient Hebrew scholars and also the view of the early church. It was confirmed in the New Testament (Jude 6, 7; 2 Peter 2:4, 5) and it prevails among conservative scholarship today.

Furthermore, the ancient legends of Sumer, Assyria, Egypt, the Incas, the Mayans, Gilgamesh, Persia, Greece, India, Bolivia, South Sea Islands, and the Sioux Indians all bear reference to this phenomenon.

“Angel” View: B.C

•    Traditional Rabbinical literature
•    Book of Enoch (2nd Century)
•    Testimony of the 12 Patriarchs
•    Josephus Flavius
•    Septuagint (LXX)

“Angel” View: Church Fathers

•    Philo of Alexandria
•    Justin Martyr
•    Irenaeus
•    Athenagoras
•    Tertullian
•    Lactantius
•    Amrose
•    Julian

Modern Scholarship

•    G.H. Pember
•    M.R. DeHaan
•    C.H. McIntosh
•    F. Delitzch
•    A.C. Gaebelein
•    A.W. Pink
•    Donald Barnhouse
•    Henry Morris
•    Merril F. Unger
•    Arnold Fructenbaum
•    Hal Lindsey
•    Chuck Smith

The Stratagems of Satan

•    Corruption of Adam’s line: Gen 6
•    Abraham’s seed: Gen 12, 20
•    Famine: Gen 50
•    Destruction of male line: Ex 1
•    Pharaoh’s pursuit:  Ex 14
•    The populating of Canaan: Gen 12:6
•    Against David’s line: 2 Sam 7

Post-Flood Nephilim

•    “…also after that…”: Gen 6:4
•    Rephaim, Emim, Horim, Zamzummim: Gen 14, 15
•    Rephaim often translated “dead”: Ps 88:10, Prov 1:18, 9:18, 21:16, Isa 14:9, 26:14
•    Arba, Anak & his 7 sons (Anakim),    Num 13:33

Encountered in Canaan

•    Og, King of Bashan: Deut 3:1, Josh 12
•    Goliath and his 4 brothers: 2 Sam 21:16-18

Unsparing Commands
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
     1 Samuel 15:3

Ineligible for Resurrection?
They [Rephaim] shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.
     Isaiah 26:14

Notes excerpted from Chuck Missler on The Nephilim