Christian Churches of God

No. 43





The Devil’s Designs

(Edition 2.0 19940723-19991006)


The struggle between the spiritual forces in which the Church finds itself involved is mentioned. The types of Satanic or common lies that are advanced to undermine the Faith are examined from a biblical viewpoint.





Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369,  WODEN  ACT 2606,  AUSTRALIA




(Copyright © Christian Churches of God 1994, (ed. 1997), 1999 Wade Cox)



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The Devil’s Designs



In the New Testament a number of themes appear again and again. One of those themes which colours much of the thinking and writing of the authors whose works are preserved in the New Testament, is that Christians are in a battle with spiritual powers. There is a very real and very powerful war occurring on this planet today. It is being waged between the forces of light and truth and those of darkness and error.


However, the battleground of this war is not physical – that is, it is not about control and ownership of any particular piece of territory or landmass on this globe – at least, not at this time. Rather, the battleground is the human mind and heart – the intellect and the emotions of humanity.


The weapons being deployed in this battle revolve around ideas, systems of thought, ideologies and attitudes. On the one side there are the "good guys" – the forces of light – God our Father, Christ our brother and captain, and the spirit of God. On the other side is the enemy – the forces of darkness – Satan, his demons and his evil spirit. Also engaged in this battle are Christians. Though the overall victory has been won by Christ and the tide of history has been irreversibly turned in favour of the forces of light, there are many subsidiary battles being fought out in the lives of individual Christians. This has been the case since the days of Christ's initial victory and will continue to be the case until his second coming.


Each of us is engaged in this battle on a daily basis. We have been equipped for our mission with the spirit of God – a spirit of love, power and a sound mind – and the Bible, which is the sword of the spirit and sharper than any 2-edged sword. If we stumble in fighting, our captain is there to aid us and provide reinforcements, but still we must have our part in the battle.


The battleground is our mind – those things we think and believe and the ideas we hold to be true and base our lives upon – and our emotions and attitudes which impel us to act on what we believe.


Now the captain of the opposing side, the enemy Satan, is both cunning and crafty. He is a master strategist. His aim is the destruction of our spiritual potential. He will stop at nothing to defeat us. He knows every game plan and battle tactic there is to know. He knows and will use every dirty trick in the book and every dirty trick not in the book to overcome us. He is a deceiver and ruthless in his ambitions and behaviour. He already has most of humanity under his deceptive power:

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world--he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (RSV)


1John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one. (RSV)


2Corinthians 4:3-4 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. (RSV)


Ephesians 2:1-2 And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. (RSV)


Christians are warned in numerous places not to be complacent about Satan's activities. Complacency is a certain recipe for spiritual disaster and defeat:

1Peter 5:8 Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. (RSV)


2Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (RSV)


1Corinthians 10-12 Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (RSV)

Hebrews 2:1 It is therefore necessary that we should pay all the more attention to what we have been told. Otherwise, we may well be like a ship which drifts past the harbour to shipwreck. (Barclay)


Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (KJV)


Now, as mentioned, one of our weapons is the Word of God. In it we are given vital clues as to how our enemy operates:

2Corinthians 2:11 [We must be ready to forgive] to keep Satan from gaining the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (RSV)


These designs are expanded upon elsewhere:

1Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, (RSV)


Ephesians 2:1-2 And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. (RSV)


Satan, through his demons promulgates a body of doctrines, or a systematic body of false ideas and concepts that will destroy us if we are subverted into believing them and then acting on them. Further, as it has often been explained in the past, Satan also broadcasts attitudes and subverts people in that way.


We will examine some of those statements and conversations attributed to Satan in the Bible. In these statements, Satan reveals elements of his battle strategy and, in effect, condemns himself out of his own mouth. By studying these statements, we can gain insight into his methodologies and his twisted but subtle way of weaving deception. By understanding these things we will be better equipped to deal with him and his agents of darkness, as and when we are confronted with them in our daily battle of Christian living.


"God is against you"

It has been said that Satan uses "almost true" intellectual propositions to appeal to reasonable people. His most effective work is not done in casinos, bars or strip joints. It is done in the minds of men. He is a destroyer of truth. He is a liar from the beginning. He is a “pusher” –not simply of drugs, marijuana, or alcohol – but of false propositions. He promotes addiction to lies. We see his lies in the opening chapters of humanity's existence on earth in Genesis 3. Satan approached Eve in the guise of a serpent and began his attack.

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?" (RSV)


Satan here is casting doubt on what God had instructed Adam. God originally said:

Genesis 2:16-17 You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 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 die. (RSV)


Satan however twists this around to suggest that God had told Adam that he and Eve were not to eat of any tree of the garden. The Living Bible paraphrases this as:

Genesis 3:14 So the serpent came to the woman. 'Really?' he asked. "None of the fruit in the garden? God says you must not eat any of it?" (Living Bible)


What Satan did here was far subtler than just casting doubt on what God had originally instructed Adam. What he was really doing was introducing a perverse concept that God is against you. "God is a cosmic sadist", suggested Satan. "He has put you here in this garden full of luscious fruits and then told you not to eat any of it. What a tyrant he is! How cruel and unmerciful!" Satan not only introduced doubt as to what God really said, but also imputed evil motives to God.


Eve, in her response correctly remembered that God had made a difference in what could and could not be eaten, but her reply shows that she had already become infected with the negative imputations hidden in Satan's question:

Genesis 3:2-3 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.' (RSV)


God had not said that Adam and Eve were not to touch the fruit. He had only said that they were not to eat it. Eve misrepresented God by adding, "Neither shall you touch it". In effect, she had conceded some of the truth to Satan's "God-is-against-you" position.


Now this is very significant. God had originally offered Adam and Eve access to the entire garden “From every tree you may freely eat ...”. He had been almost totally permissive in his instructions. There was only one tree, which was off limits. In effect God was assuring them, "I am for you. Yes, they are all yours! Go ahead and enjoy them to the full. Experience and enjoy. Don't hold back". He had in effect given His positive encouragement to the delights of the garden. There was only one sin Adam and Eve could have committed and that was to eat of the forbidden tree.


Satan however reversed this positive, permissive approach of God to imply that God was against Adam and Eve. "God has placed you in this garden only to deny you any enjoyment of it. What a cruel hoax". Unfortunately, Eve swallowed the attitude and her thinking was subverted. However, Satan still pushes this line today in various forms.

·      God is against you and doesn't want you to enjoy life.

·      He gives commands and instructions that are burdensome and difficult to bear.

·      It is no use trying to make a success of any project because it will not succeed anyway.


Of course this devilish doctrine stands in complete opposition to God's true nature and motives. God is not against us, but for us:

Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (KJV)


Psalm 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. (KJV)


Romans 8:31-32 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (KJV)


The outcome of this evil doctrine in all variants is tragic. Some have become convinced that God's ways are burdensome, and difficult to bear. This is particularly so with regards to the Sabbath day, the New Moons, the Holy Days, tithing and so forth. Christ and John directly opposed this line of thinking:

Matthew 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (RSV)


1John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. (RSV)


It contributes to a lack of sincere and humble gratitude on our part towards God and Christ for all they have done and are doing for us. The absence of gratitude is one of the telling signs of our age:

Romans 1:21 For although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. (RSV)


2Timothy 3:1-2 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, (RSV)


It stands in sharp contrast to true Christianity:

1Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (RSV)


The spirit of resentment

Also implicit in Satan's false doctrine of "God-is-against-you" is the spirit of resentment and bitterness, both of which are forms of anger in a person. This is a chronic problem among people today, both in and without the Church of God. Many, many people harbour deep resentments about things done to them in the past. Some resent decisions their parents made, or decisions made in their lives by the Church, and some resent the behaviour of past employers.


Though terrible things might have been done to us, and we might have been misused or mistreated, and though opportunities might have been lost, and precious years might have been squandered, resentment is an emotion we cannot afford to harbour. If we hold on to resentments they will develop into bitterness, and ultimately lead to our spiritual defeat at the hands of the Enemy. Satan knows this and hence the reason why he works so relentlessly to stir up feelings of resentment and its end result of bitterness in us. Paul warned us of this design or scheming of Satan:

Ephesians 4:26-27 If you are angry, be sure that it is not a sinful anger. Never go to bed angry – don't give the devil that sort of foothold. (Phillips)


Hebrews 12:14-15 Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" spring up and cause trouble, and by it the many become defiled; (RSV)


Undoubtedly, it was through similar malicious whisperings that Satan managed to subvert a third of the Host into rebellion against their Father, God. Thus, Satan reveals himself as not only a sower of doubt and a spreader of evil imputations, but also the author of resentment, anger and bitterness. It is important to understand the subtleness of Satan's doctrines and attitudes in this area.


"God is a liar"

Having established a beachhead in Eve's thinking, Satan pressed home his advantage:

Genesis 3:4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die.' (RSV)


Of course, as we recognise, Satan was selling Eve on the doctrine of the "immortal soul". But subtler than his lie of inherent immortality, was his subtle suggestion that "God is a liar. He cannot be trusted. His Word is not true".


What Satan was doing was offering an alternative epistemology. Epistemology is defined in the dictionary as the study of knowledge. Satan was, in effect, offering Eve an alternative body of knowledge or truth. There is, he implied, another authority more final, more "true" than the word of God himself. Hence, we reach the confusion, which existed in Pilate's mind in the days of Christ, “What is Truth?" This can also be stated as, "Whom can you trust? What can you believe? What final authority is there?” Satan’s subtle answer to these kinds of questions is that truth is anything but the word of God.


Today he offers his many alternatives to truth:

·      Relativism - truth is ever changing

·      Subjectivism - truth is purely personal

·      Empiricism - truth is only what we can see

·      Existentialism - truth is encounter experiences

·      Rationalism - truth is purely syllogistic (that is, what we can reason).

·      Platonic Idealism - truth is completely abstract.

·      Phenomenalism - truth is events.

·      Pantheism - truth is synonymous with creation.

·      Psycho-physical Monism    - truth is a blend of the seen and unseen.

·      Pragmatism - truth is whatever works.

·      etc.


Satan's lies stand in contrast to the witness God has given us in the Bible:

John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. (RSV)


2Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is inspired by God [Greek, theopneustos, which comes from theos (God) and neustos (breathed)] and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a man's life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God, and fit him fully for all branches of his work. (Phillips)


Scripture is the only solid foundation upon which to build our lives. Without it we become stranded in a quagmire of human reason and subjectivity. Without it there are no standards – no right, no wrong. This, of course, is the line that Satan pedals. We need to take heed to ourselves that we do not drift into deciding for ourselves independently of God's Word, what is the correct course of action in any situation. Our lives, and every problem and decision we face in our lives, need to be based on Scripture, either in the letter or in principle and spirit. The Bible needs to dictate our behaviour and responses to all matters of life. The standards and examples given in the Bible must be those things by which we measure our spiritual growth and maturity.


"From Lesser to Greater Error"

In making this statement to Eve, Satan also reveals an important clue as to how he works. Satan works by first establishing a beachhead – a concession by us to some error he wants to introduce into our thinking. From this point of weakness, he moves to an even greater conquest. He presents his goals and objectives from the perspective that he is devoted to our happiness and welfare. It was out of his "magnanimity" that he felt it "necessary" to alert Eve to God's evil motives and what she was missing out on. He promised freedom from death but had murder in his heart.


So it is that Satan will work on us in numerous ways. He will always exploit those weakest chinks in our armour in order to defeat us. For example, take the issue of gambling. Maybe someone is bored with life. Maybe they wish they had more money to pay off a debt or take an exotic holiday. Maybe they wish they were lucky or could attract the acclaim of others by their achievements. So they start buying lottery cards. They only cost a couple of dollars, and there is the chance of winning back 10 or 20 times as much.


Perhaps a person wins a bit, loses a bit, but then feels challenged to try something more ambitious and so begins to follow the races or the lotto. Over time the stakes become higher. For some, the sin never progresses much further other than the fact that it continually wastes their funds as a regular habit, much like smoking. For others it develops into a compulsion that begins to consume not just $5 or $10 weekly, but hundreds and even thousands of dollars and leads to debt, depression, covering up, lying and so forth.


This is true of most sins. Murder begins with frustrations and jealousies and evolves into resentment, anger, bitterness, hatred and finally, murder. Gossip begins with the "well intentioned" passing on of "necessary information", but ends as a corrosive habit that divides and causes mistrust and anguish. The same is also true of substance abuse. As someone once said, no one was ever lured into alcoholism by having presented to him the picture of a hopeless drunk retching in the gutter.


So we must always be wary of giving Satan an advantage over us. As we saw earlier in the Phillips translation of Ephesians 4:27, going to bed angry can give the Devil a foothold into our emotions:

Ephesians 4:26-27 Never go to bed angry – don’t give the devil that sort of foothold. (Phillips)


The same is true for any other sins we care to mention.


"There is no destiny"

Having established a beachhead in Eve's thinking and presented to her the bald proposition that "God is a liar", Satan moved to seize victory in the battle. He said:

Genesis 3:5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (RSV)


In effect, Satan was presenting Eve with the following line of reasoning:

"Let's face it Eve. In God's sight you are nothing. He clearly made you in this limited fashion because He just wants to use you and Adam as His slaves. He knows that if you were to eat of this fruit, you would become like Him and be able to run your affairs on your own. That's why He doesn't want you to take of it. But I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be this way. The name of the game around this place is autonomy. The only answer to this kind of oppression is to strike out on your own. Assert yourself! You won’t die – and what's more you will become just like God, and will put yourself on His level of knowledge and reasoning. You'll be able to run your own life based on your own experience and knowledge."


However, implicit in Satan’s line of reasoning was the false doctrine that there is no human destiny. Satan had already imputed that God is a cosmic sadist and that He is a liar. But now he introduced the subtlest line of reasoning of all, that there is no purpose to human existence. Of course, from Satan's perspective it was vital that he advance this doctrine and, indeed, convincing Eve of it was the goal of his conversation from the outset. The reason, of course is that there is a purpose to human existence, and that purpose involves the abolition of the condition of being the accuser/adversary (Satan) and the healing of the breach in the Family of God.


We are well aware of the incredible human destiny that awaits our fellow humans and us after the resurrections. We are to be transformed into spiritual Sons of God, made equal to the angels, and to inherit all things under the leadership and control of our elder brother, Jesus Christ:

Hebrews 2:5-8 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, "What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou carest for him? Thou didst make him for a little while lower than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet." Now in putting everything in subjection to Him, he left nothing outside his control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. (RSV)


Romans 8:14-17 All who follow the leading of God's Spirit are God's own sons. ... You have been adopted into the very family circle of God and you can say with a full heart, "Father, my Father'. The Spirit [itself] endorses our inward conviction that we are really the children of God. Think what that means. If we are his children then we are God's heirs, and all that Christ inherits will belong to all of us as well! Yes, if we share in his sufferings we shall certainly share in his glory. (Phillips)


Revelation 21:7 The victorious shall inherit these things [new heavens, new earth, new Jerusalem, etc.], and I will be God to him and he will be son to me. (Phillips)


The Bible teaches a most exalted purpose for which God created humanity. This purpose is to become like God Himself, to partake in His uncreated and eternal life, and to share with Him the rulership of the universe. It is this destiny, which Satan seeks to deny.


Today, Satan is no different. He has convinced multiple millions that there is no purpose to life. Man is merely matter in motion; the end result of billions of years of blind chance. But even for those of us who know and believe there is a purpose for human life, there is a danger in this doctrine of the Devil. That is if we lose sight of the comparative difference between this life and the life to come.


Often we become distracted by the present, and lose sight of what is really important. When we are stuck in a seemingly impossible problem, we may well ask ourselves, "Is it worth it? Where is God? Why is He so distant?” The issue, however, is not really, "Where is God?” but "Where is our thinking?" We are the ones who are allowing the present issues to be of greater weight in our minds than the eternal purpose God has in store for us.

2Corinthians 4:17-18 We have our troubles, but they are transitory and unimportant, and all the time they are producing for us a superlative and eternal glory, which will far outweigh all the troubles. And, all through it, it is not the things which are seen but the things which are unseen on which our gaze is fixed, for the things which are seen last only for their brief moment, but the things which are unseen last forever. (Barclay)


Another way this doctrine can be manifested is in compromise with the pleasures of sin. In this case, the enjoyment of the moment outweighs any sense of long-term commitment to our destiny and we lose sight of why we are on earth in the first place. The Bible admonishes us to look to the examples of those who have gone before in the faith, and denied themselves the fleeting delights of sin for a greater and eternal future:

Hebrews 11:24-27 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered abuse suffered for the Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.


Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. (RSV)


"The spirit of slander"

In weaving this false doctrine before Eve, Satan also displayed an aspect of his perverse character we must take note of: He is the Slanderer. Satan lives on slander, gossip, rumour, character assassination and accusation. In the account of Satan's creation and downfall in Ezekiel 28 there is an interesting twist in the Hebrew to what is recorded on how sin developed in him when he was still the Covering Cherub:

Ezekiel 28:14-16 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, 0 covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. (KJV)


Verse 16 opens with by the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned. The NKJV translates this as by the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned. The word of interest in this passage is merchandise (KJV) or trading (NKJV). In the Hebrew this is rekulla meaning traffic. It is derived from rakal meaning to go about. The "interesting twist" is that there is another word deriving from rakal, which is rakil, which means slanderer. This term appears six times in the Old Testament (Lev. 19:16; Jer. 6:28, 9:4; Ezek. 22:9; and Pro. 11:13a, 20:19a). It is translated as talebearer or gossip, but the intent is slanderer,

Leviticus 19:16 You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbour: I am the LORD. (RSV)


The implication in Ezekiel 28 and the account of Satan appears to involve a dual meaning. Through literal trading, the city of Tyre became a city of robbers and thieves and filled with violence. But in the anti-type of Lucifer or Satan, the meaning appears to be that it was through the abundance of his slandering, his going about and gossiping and starting false stories about God, that he was filled with violence within (hatred towards God) and thus sinned.


Today, Satan is the source of this kind of destructive behaviour among men and women, and even children, when (figuratively) he whispers in their ears and urges them to spread false tales about one another. Satan is the accuser of the brethren:

Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” (RSV)


One of Satan's most powerful weapons in his battle is to trap Christians into doing his bidding by gossiping about one another and accusing each other of things. It's literally like causing the army of God to begin fighting against itself. Gossip is a disgusting sin. It is extremely serious in God's sight. As we saw in Leviticus 19:16, to gossip or slander is considered by God to be taking a stand against the life of our neighbours – be they in or out of the Church:

Leviticus 19:16 You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbour: I am the LORD. (RSV)


Gossip and slander are at the heart of many things, which the Lord hates:

Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things which the LORD hates, seven which are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers. (RSV)


Gossip and slander are violations against God's commands and equal to murder in His sight. They do not spring from a wellspring of love and outgoing concern for others, but from the perverse nature of Satan. Jesus warned us:

Matthew 15:18-19 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. (RSV)


Matthew 12:33-37 Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! how can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (RSV)


James, the brother of Jesus, also warned against the same destructive nature of gossip and slander:

James 3:8-12 But no human being can tame the tongue -a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish? Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. (RSV)


It has been said that before we gossip, accuse and point the finger, we need to consider carefully what the fingers on our hands look like. For the one finger we point out at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at us. It has also been said that, when we make assumptions about others and say things against them, we need to consider the composition of the word "assume". "Assume" is made up of ass, u, and me. When we assume something about another person, we are invariably going to make an ass out of u (you) and me.


Gossip and slander are extremely serious sins in God's sight. But they are, as James noted, so easy to slip into. Before we go to say something, in fact anything, about someone else to others, we need to run it through the "Gossip Filter". In three points this is:

1.    Is what I am about to say, true? Are we certain of the things we are about to say? Do we have proof? If not, we are about to spread deception and lies.

2.    Could I say this thing in the presence of the person being talked about? If not, if we would hesitate to say this thing because it would hurt that person, then we should not say it at all. It is not showing love to the person involved to say things against them, even if true, which they are unable to defend themselves against, or which would embarrass them.

3.    Will it edify the hearers? Even if something is true, and even if it would not harm the person being spoken about, is it necessary to say it in the first place? Will it be of benefit to the hearer to learn this piece of information?


Gossip and slander are things we all need to strenuously contend against in our own lives. Satan is the author of these attitudes of heart and will use these weapons to destroy us if he can.


"Knowledge is everything"

Yet another dimension to Satan's statements to Eve in the garden was the implication that knowledge is where it is at. Knowledge is everything. Satan said:

Genesis 3:5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (RSV)


Satan is a proud and vain being. He undoubtedly had tremendous power and authority in the Kingdom of God prior to his rebellion. Some of that authority would have centred round knowledge of God's plans and intentions, which others not in the Council of God did not know about. Having that knowledge contributed to his becoming vain and proud.


Further, as was mentioned before, Satan has since developed his own body of "truth", his own body of "knowledge" which has further compounded his conceit. For Satan, dispensing this "inside information" – whether true or not – feeds his ego. We are undoubtedly familiar with this emotion ourselves. When we know something that someone else does not know, or when we have knowledge that others need to come to us in order to learn, it gives a sense of power, of being special, of being important. Satan knows these feelings and so he has repeatedly sold humans on esoteric knowledge and insight. The world is full of mystery religions – religions where the priesthood knows more than the laity.


However, Satan will attempt to sell us on a similar line. Knowledge is everything. Now it is true that God desires us to grow in grace and knowledge (2Pet. 3:18). It is true that eternal life involves having knowledge of Him as the only true God and Jesus Christ as His son (Jn. 17:1-3). But there is a difference between knowledge that saves and leads to spiritual growth and maturity, and knowledge for knowledge sake.


James wrote:

James 3:13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (RSV)


The principle knowledge God gives is how to lead a pure, righteous, peaceable, gentle, and merciful life, filled with good fruits. An understanding of prophecy, or tongues (that is, foreign languages), or other such things is not necessary to salvation. Any such additional understanding is “icing on the cake". But we must take heed to ourselves that we do not fall into the Devil's snare:


2Timothy 2:22-26 So shun youthful passions and aim at righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (RSV)


We must always bear in mind that:

lCorinthians 8:1-3 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that 'all of us possess knowledge.' 'Knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If any one imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him. (RSV)


1Corinthians 13:8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. (RSV)


If we believe we have some knowledge or insight then we must not boast in it or glory in it, but give thanks to God who gave us the knowledge. We must not fall for the Devil's snare of being elevated in pride by believing that knowledge is everything.



We have only covered a few of Satan's doctrines and his designs. There are a good many more outlined for us in the Bible (see also the paper The Judgment of the Demons (No. 80)).


We must be vigilant. Satan's goal is to subvert each one of us. He has already succeeded with most of humanity. He succeeded with a third of the angelic Host. If he can't sell us on a false doctrine, he will attempt to sell us on the false attitude or emotion, which accompanies that doctrine. He will strive to trip us up in resentments, anger, accusations, gossip, pride, forgetting our destiny, ingratitude towards God, intellectualism, and every other way possible.


His strategies are exposed for us in the pages of God's Word. It, along with the power of God's Spirit, is the weapon of our warfare. The battle lines have been drawn. How will we fight the good fight this day and every other day?