By deceiving delusions I’m referring to lies by which Satan seeks to draw us to sin and away from God. Jesus speaking of the devil in Jn. 8:44 says, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks lies, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” Satan is a liar and one of the primary ways in which he attacks us, and attacks the cause of Christ, is by the promotion of lies. He deceives men by lying delusions. Let me mention some of the ways Satan does this.
First of all, he does this by insinuating doubts into our minds about the truth. The Bible indicates that Satan and his evil spirits, in some mysterious and unexplained way, have the power at times to make suggestions, or to interject thoughts, into the minds of men. It was said of the betrayal of Christ by Judas that, “the devil put it into his heart” (Jn.13:2). The same is said of Ananias in Acts 5:3 where Peter said to him, “Why has Satan put it into your heart to lie.” There are what the Apostle Paul calls in Eph. 6:16 the fiery darts of the wicked one that he shoots at us. And the scriptures indicate that one of those fiery darts…one of the things that Satan or his evil spirits sometimes do, is insinuate doubts into our minds about the truth.
Now this is something else we see at the very beginning when Satan tempted Eve. I noted it in the previous post. Gen.3:1, “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed, said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” God never said that, at least not in that way. What did God say? Gen. 2:16, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat.’” The emphasis of God’s words was upon all of the trees from which they could eat freely, with just one exception. v.17, “’But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” Satan, in a very subtle way, turns it around and puts the emphasis upon what God would not allow Adam and Eve to do. He distorts what God actually said about the trees of the garden. But notice at this point, he doesn’t openly contradict God. He just makes the suggestion, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” He was seeking to insinuate doubts into Eve’s mind about the goodness of God.
Initially Eve met the first attack with truth. Gen.3:2-3, “And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” You’ll notice she does add something though to what God said. She adds, “nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” Now that may simply be an expression of the full import of the command as she genuinely understood it, or it could indicate that already Eve is willing to play loose with God’s Word.
But now Satan comes back and he insinuates another doubt about what God said and this time more bluntly. v.4, “Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.’” You see, Eve had never once doubted or questioned God before. But the serpent comes in with his fiery darts and he begins to insinuate doubts about what God had said and doubts about God’s goodness.
Brothers and sisters, have you not found that to be so at times in your own experience? Here you are in a perfectly happy mood when suddenly this thought comes to you unexpectedly; this doubt about God or about some aspect of God’s truth. Or maybe you’re reading something, or you hear something, and this awful doubt is suggested to you. Well remember from the beginning the devil has been tempting men with these fiery darts of doubt. Doubts about God and his ordering of the affairs of your life or doubts about various things God has said in his word. He shoots at the saints his fiery darts of doubt.
Satan even attacked our Lord in this way. At his baptism in the Jordan, the Father spoke to Jesus from heaven declaring, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” But then immediately after that, when He was driven into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, Satan insinuated to our Lord that He might not really be the Son of God after all. He said, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” You claim to be the Son of God, you think you’re the Son of God, well if you really are, why are you starving out here in the desert? If you’re really God’s Son turn these stones into bread. You see, there was a mixture there of seeking to draw our Lord to sin by a pleasing seduction or enticement…the appeal to his appetite and hunger…and then also by the subtle attempt to insinuate doubt and to challenge his awareness of his unique identity as God’s Son.
There is a very striking and dramatic example of this in the case of Peter when he tells Jesus, “Lord. you’re not going to die.” Do you remember? In Mt.16 Jesus asked His disciples “Who do men say that I am?, and various answers were given. “But who do you say that I am?, Jesus replied.” Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Wonderful, so far so good but then Jesus began to tell his disciples about His upcoming sufferings and death. Jesus knew that the commission given to Him by the Father was to lay down his life for the sheep. He knew that the primary purpose for which He came was to suffer and to die on the cross for sinners. But when he began telling his disciples about his death we read that, “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord, this shall not happen to You.” And immediately Jesus rebuked Peter but in a very strange way. Do you remember what he said? He said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Now was Jesus saying that Peter was really Satan in disguise? No, but at that moment Satan was making use of Peter’s words to seek to insinuate doubts into our Lord’s mind about his mission. Jesus had come to die, but Peter questions it and says, “This shall not happen to You!” And it was the devil who was using this to tempt Christ. But our Lord immediately resisted his suggestion and said, “Get behind me, Satan!”
So this one of the ways Satan sometimes attacks the people of God: he insinuates doubts into our minds. It may be directly or indirectly through the words of other people. All of this should remind us that you must never conclude when you’re sometimes attacked by these doubts this means that you’re not a Christian. When Satan throws his fiery darts of doubt at you, those doubts can only hurt you if you embrace them and welcome them and nurture them. If you hate them and resist them and fight them, don’t let them shake your assurance. This is something Satan sometimes seeks to do.
There are at least two other ways Satan tempts us which fit under this category of deceiving delusions. These will have to wait for the next post.