PART 5 THE INVISIBLE FORCES
PART 5 THE INVISIBLE FORCES
HOW DOES THE DEVIL DECEIVE BELIEVERS TO STOP FOLLOWING THE LORD?
Once an unbeliever has responded to the gospel and has become a new creature (a new creation), the Devil and his forces have another primary goal in mind.
This is found in the book of Matthew.
Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
I’m sure that after the Devil decided to rebel against God inwardly and then outwardly by means of a failed coup that he knew at some point in time, there would be a day of reckoning. Scripture tells us that he, along with the fallen angels, would be cast into a place called the lake of fire? Exactly, when the Devil found out about this future consequence is uncertain. But I’m sure he must have thought to himself; how can I convince God not to execute this judgment?
Is it possible that he reasoned if he could coerce Adam and Eve to enter into human perception in the Garden of Eden that God wouldn’t send all of the fallen human race, including himself and the forces of evil, to this place of eternal torment?
Let’s go to the book of Genesis and read about the Devil’s deceitfulness of persuasion to get Eve to disobey God’s command to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Suggested Reading: Genesis 2:8-25; Genesis 3:1-24
Genesis 2:15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
Adam, whose name means red, was the first man whom God created. He was created out of the dust of the earth, and hence his name. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and gave him dominion over all the lower creatures. The place where he would ultimately reside would be called the Garden of Eden. While there, he would dress it (preparing and enriching the soil, and in distributing the seeds and training the shoots in the way most favorable for the full development of the plant, and especially of its seed or fruits26) and keep it (guard or protect it). This beautiful and uncorrupted geographical area had many plants, flowers, trees, and animals in it.
Was the idea conveyed to Adam to keep (to protect) the Garden related to keeping the animals from eating the produce, or was this idea related to a spiritual adversary?
Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Adam was asked by God to give names to all of the animals in the Garden. He was provided with a helper named Eve, who was formed from one of his ribs. God gave them one prohibition; that’s it. It’s interesting to think that there were no other prohibitions, but only one. Surely the both of them would have no problem obeying this one command.
God told Adam that of all of the trees, there was only one of which both of them should not eat the fruit thereof, that being of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Furthermore, if either of them ate of this tree, then he/she would surely die. The word die means dying thou shalt die. This speaks of a double death. Thou shalt not only die spiritually, by losing the life of God, but from that moment thou shalt become mortal, and shalt continue in a dying state till thou die27 physically.
Do I think that Adam fully understood the consequences for eating of this tree? I would say that he did to some degree. How could someone grasp the concepts of spiritual or physical death since neither had ever occurred as far as humans were concerned?
What would it mean to lose the life of God? It would mean that Adam would live a life that was devoid of God’s instructions, of God’s presence, and of God’s perception about everything. In other words, he would become self-directed, self-centered, and self-empowered. Everything would be about him. He didn’t know what this would be like, but would he really want to find out?
What would it mean to die physically? Again, he didn’t know what this would be like. Would he want to take a chance and forfeit the continuum of his life in the Garden of Eden?
The next thing we know is, there is a serpent on the scene talking to Eve. There was nothing said by her in response to the snake, such as, how are you able to talk? Maybe it was because it really wasn’t a snake at all, but simply a figurative description of the creature known as the Devil. We know that in the book of 1 Peter, the Devil was also called a lion, and in the book of Revelation, he was called a dragon. If indeed this was the Devil in his splendor as a cherub, why didn’t she say to him, who are you? I have never seen you before. Could it be that she had seen him at other times in the Garden, having talked to him on other occasions?
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
Genesis 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
This serpent is described as being more subtle (an intent to deceive) than any beast of the field. He brought up in conversation the prohibition that was given to both of them by God of not eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. How did the Devil know about this prohibition? Somehow, he must have heard it.
Eve’s reply to him intimated that she was aware of this prohibition. The Devil said to her that what God had said about you dying if you eat of this particular tree, was not true. But rather, there is something that you will receive that God doesn’t want you to have. This must have gotten her attention. What is it that I am missing?
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
He goes on to tell her that what will happen in actuality is the opposite of death, in that her eyes will be opened (having attained higher wisdom). Then, he continued to pour on the deception. He said that God knows that when you enter into this state of higher wisdom, you will have become as gods (as divinity, as God, like Him), knowing good and evil (implying a fullness and accuracy of understanding such as was competent only to Elohim28). Wow!
If you disobey Him and do what I say, you will be as wise as God himself. You will also have His essence. What do you think? There is more waiting for you.
What Eve seemingly didn’t realize was that the state of perception or wisdom that she and Adam were already abiding in was the state of higher wisdom than what the Devil claimed God was holding back from her.
Genesis 3:6-7 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
The Devil wanted Eve and Adam to forfeit their spiritual connection with God as he had done and live a life that is separated from any kind of divine influence. So, Eve thinking that there was personal gain from eating from the forbidden tree, decided to eat of its fruit. After which, she gave it to her husband, who, seemingly without hesitation or questioning, also ate of it. All of a sudden, something drastic took place in both of their lives. Immediately, they discovered that they were naked (with the destruction of the normal connection between soul and body through sin, the body ceased to be the pure abode of a spirit in fellowship with God29).
Genesis 3:23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
Instead of Adam and Eve remaining in a place of drawing closer to God, they were now sent out to a place where divine judgment was forthcoming. Life as they knew it would never be the same. Continuation of life in the Garden would be replaced with the termination (the end) of life outside of it. The relative easiness of the Garden producing fruit would be replaced by the hard labor of planting and cultivating fruit outside of it. They were removed from a place of peace and God connectivity to a place of human contention and heartache.
This is the ultimate story of betrayal, of someone who pretended to be your friend and seemingly had your best interests at heart but who ultimately was plotting behind your back your spiritual and physical destruction.
This is what we have learned from this story about the Devil’s insidious intentions toward those who are following the Lord.
- He attempts to convince Christians not to follow God’s directives because following what God says will cause them to be deprived of something that will benefit their personal desires.
- He attempts to convince believers that there will be no consequences from God if they choose not to follow His instructions.
- He attempts to convince God’s people to make decisions that are based on the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
- He wants the occupation of their mind not to be centered on God’s Word.
- He wants to take them out of the place of rest and peace in the soul.
- He wants to inhibit their spiritual communion with God.
Quite a story.
I think that the general idea or theme is this. The Devil promotes everything about self, period. He doesn’t see any value in anyone following God. He probably believes that he should be able to live the way he chooses without any consequence from Him. In other words, he probably has concluded that he has free will, which he does, that allows him to think, speak, and act the way he chooses, and that God in judging him by sentencing him to the lake of fire was unfair and unjust.
I wonder how many people think this way. Live and let live for tomorrow might never come. If only life was that simple, but it isn’t. Unfortunately, there is a heaven, and there is a hell. There is a place where those who believe in God as He was revealed in each dispensation will abide forever. There is also another place where those who don’t believe in God as He was revealed will abide forever.
What is the determining factor in order for someone to enter heaven? Heaven, a place of holiness, can only receive those who are holy. How does a person become holy? They become inwardly holy by receiving the Spirit.
In the Old Testament, it was the belief in Jehovah (Yahweh) as He revealed himself to mankind.
During the time when Christ lived on the earth, it was the belief in Him as the Messiah.
During the time following Christ’s ascension into heaven and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on His disciples on the day of Pentecost, it was repenting to God the Father and believing in his Son Jesus Christ, who being one of the members of the Trinity came to earth in the form of a man being born of a virgin; lived a sinless life; was condemned to death on the cross; paid the penalty for the sins of the whole world thus satisfying God the Father’s justice and providing forgiveness (wiping away their record) for these sins; rose again after three days, and ascended into heaven as proof of the Father’s acceptance of His payment.
In the Garden of Eden, man’s communion with God was lost. Following man’s banishment, it has been God’s desire to see this communion be restored. This is the conflict of the ages.
Why is the Devil so persistent in inhibiting people from believing in God? What’s in it for him? What’s in it for him is acquittal? What else could he want but his sentence to the lake of fire thrown out of court?
Now that we have learned how the Devil deceives believers from following God, the next question we will attempt to answer in the following chapter is this.
Why does the Devil wage war against believers?
WHY DOES THE DEVIL WAGE WAR AGAINST BELIEVERS?
Now that you are a believer, you might think, I’ve got it made. I am God’s adopted son. I have a new nature. My eternal destiny, heaven, is secure. I have one of the members of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, living inside of me. I’m all set. The Devil can’t touch me. Unfortunately, the former statement is not the case.
Believe it or not, we are the Devil’s arch enemies here on earth. Before we answer why this is, a better question would be, what is our purpose now that we have become a born-again Christian? If we can determine what this is all about, this might help us to understand why the Devil vehemently opposes us. With that said let’s attempt to answer the following question.
Now that we are a Christian, what should we strive for in a godly sense?
God the Father knew beforehand (foreknowledge) those unbelievers who would repent to Him for their sins and believe in His Son in their free will for salvation during their lifetime on earth. He then chose (elected) them beforehand. Furthermore, He developed a plan (called predestination) for them in time to be conformed to the image of his Son.
What does it mean for a Christian to be conformed to the image of God’s son?
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
This conformity relates to a process known as sanctification, whereby the saint is transformed in his/her inner heart life to resemble the Lord Jesus; the inner change [of such] results in a change of outward expression that reflects the beauty of the Lord Jesus.30 Therefore, a believer should strive to be transformed in their heart so that their outward expression will resemble the Lord Jesus.
What else should a Christian strive for?
Please go to 2 Peter.
2 Peter 3:18
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
The apostle Peter was instructing fellow believers to continue to make progress daily to grow (to continue to make progress daily) in grace (grace for daily Christian living, namely, the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the yielded saint and the Christian graces which are the product of His work31 being evidenced in trials and suffering) and in knowledge (by knowing Christ initially in regeneration and it continues on in one's deepening relationship with Him32; to possess just views of Christ’s person, character, and work33). Likewise, we should strive to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Is there anything else that a Christian should strive for?
Let’s take a look at Philippians 3.
Suggested Reading: Philippians 3:1-16
4-5 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
Paul said to the believers at Philippi to watch out for those who have confidence in their flesh. Those, who he was like, at one time in his life when he was born as a pure-blooded Jew, being circumcised on the eighth day, of Jewish parents, of the tribe of Benjamin, having become a Pharisee of the strictest sect of Judaism that observed the formal rules of the Law, without fault, and with zeal having persecuted the church.
7, 9 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Paul goes on to say that all of those things that he confided in, which he considered gain in self-righteousness, he now considered loss (rubbish; food scraps or dung34) in relation to the righteousness that is in God. This righteousness can only be found through faith in Christ.
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
His gain now was to know Christ more intimately by the apprehension of truth as an influencing power into the very being of him who knows them35, and the power (the power which the resurrection of Christ has, for instructing, reforming, elevating, tranquilizing, the soul36) of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings (an inward experience of identification with Christ in suffering for righteousness sake), being made conformable (conformity to the spirit and temper, the meekness and submissiveness of Christ; to His unselfish love and devotion, and His anguish over human sin37) unto his death (with the result of there being death to self and to the world so that his life might be a blessing for others).
In summary, like Paul, we should strive to:
- Appropriate truth as an influencing power.
- Operate in spiritual power that instructs, reforms, elevates, and tranquilizes the soul.
- Identify with Christ in suffering for righteousness’s sake.
- Be inwardly conformed to the likeness of Christ (to his spirit, temper, meekness, submissiveness, unselfish love, devotion, etc.)
- Be daily set apart from sin, dying unto self and to the world, so that we may be a blessing to others.
As we strive for these spiritual realities both within and without, something remarkable begins to happen. What do you think that is?
Unbelievers begin to see Christ’s spiritual qualities evidenced by us. They no longer see the person who we used to be committing fornication, adultery, repeated lies, homosexual acts, slandering others, etc. Not only so, but something else begins to be manifest according to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
What you ask, might this be? This is manifestations of the gifts or spiritual endowments of the Holy Spirit. Unbelievers begin to see the supernatural evidenced in the natural. People get healed of physical issues; miraculous events are brought forth, words of knowledge are declared, etc.
What does this open the door for? This opens the door for the presentation of the pure gospel, for the salvation of souls, for the reception of one of the members of the Trinity, for the assurance of eternal life?
Now we know why the Devil hates us so much. Because of what Christians strive for and what would be the result if they were able to appropriate what they are striving for, which would be to bring about into the lives of unbelievers’ the very perception that the Devil rebelled against. This spiritual reality is one that he operated in for a period of time before his fall. If the human race chooses God’s life, then the Devil might surmise that his sentencing by God the Father to the lake of fire is warranted. Probably not.
So, the Devil will do everything thing in his power to prevent Christians from striving to obtain spiritual blessings for themselves. How does he do this? We’ll find out in the next chapter.
29Keil and Delitzsch Commentary.
32Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament, 2000, 30 March 2015 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
36Thayer’s Greek Lexicon Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 02 April 2015 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
37Vincent’s New Testament Word Studies Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 04 April 2015 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
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