In this series of posts we have been considering some of the ways Satan attacks us. I’ve been putting these into broad categories beginning first with pleasing seductions. Then in the last post we began to consider what I’m calling deceiving delusions. The first one we’ve already considered. We’ve seen from Scripture that one way Satan does this is by insinuating doubts into our minds about the truth.
Moving on now consider , secondly, that Satan attacks us with deceiving delusions by inspiring false teaching and heresy. In reading your Bible have you ever noticed how often false teaching is associated with the activity of evil spirits? For example, Paul writes in 2 Cor. 11:3-4, “But I fear lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Notice, Paul seems to join together here the preaching of another Jesus and the receiving of another gospel with the receiving of another spirit. Notice what he says in vv.13-15 of that same chapter, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore is it no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” Paul speaks here of the deceitfulness of false teachers who seek to present themselves as apostles of Christ and he refers to these false teachers as the ministers of Satan.
There are many other passages in the N.T. where we find heretical teaching associated with the activity of Satan and evil spirits. In 1 Tim. 4:1, Paul says, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” Heretical teaching is referred to as the doctrines of demons and as being instigated by deceiving spirits. The apostle John speaks of this often in his epistles and in the book of the Revelation. For example, in 1 Jn.4:1 he says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but, test the spirits, whether they are of God. “ What does he mean by these spirits? Well he tells us, “test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Certainly we are living in a time in which Satan has been very active in this area of instigating and propagating false teaching. This happens by means of television, through the internet, through the printed page, in seminaries and even in professing Christian pulpits. We need to learn to look beyond and behind false teachers to the one who is the source and mastermind of the confusion and deception they promote. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
There is at least one other way Satan promotes deceptive delusions. He does so, thirdly, by sometimes enabling false teachers to perform, what the Bible calls, lying wonders. In other words, the Bible indicates that sometimes false prophets are enabled by the power of the Devil to perform miracles by which they deceive both themselves and others.
Jesus said in Mt. 7:22ff that on the day of judgment, “Many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name.’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” Notice, Jesus never disputes their claims to have cast out demons and to have done wonders in His name. He never disputes that but he says, “I never knew you, you who practice lawlessness.” In Mt. 24:24 our Lord gives us this very solemn warning, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
Let us learn from this that there is nothing more foolish than to believe that a man must be a true man of God, and to accept what he teaches, simply because supernatural phenomena seem to accompany his ministry. To do that is to play right into the hands of the devil. I fear there are many in our day who are being deceived by lying wonders. The real test of anyone who professes to be a man of God is how does his personal life and how does the doctrine he teaches, line up with God’s Word.
When, for example, you see a man like Benny Hinn on television, the question is not whether people are really healed under his ministry. That’s not the question. Of course, many times with “faith-healers” the so-called miracles performed are nothing but hoaxes and fakes. But that may not always be the case. There is such a thing as the power of Satan! There is what Paul refers to in 2 Thess. 2:9, as that which is, “according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders”; not necessarily lying in the sense of being fake wonders, but wonders by which men are seduced into believing lies. So even if people are really healed, and even if miracles and wonders are really performed, that doesn’t mean the man is a true man of God. Our Lord has warned us not to be deceived by this kind of thing for there will arise false prophets in sheep’s clothing who show great signs and wonders and deceive many into embracing damning heresies.
I’m simply seeking at this point to give an overview of the many ways Satan seeks to attack us. So far we have considered two categories: pleasing seductions and deceiving delusions. In the next post on this subject we’ll take up a third category of temptations.