The Conspiracy Begins
"Psssst -- YO! Evie! Over here! Didn't I hear God talking to you about this tree the other day?" Evie, strolling through the lush garden in the cool of the morning, responded quickly to the speaker, the most beautiful of all the creatures that shared the garden with her and Adam, her mate.
"Why, yes. As a matter of fact, He gave us all kinds of good information. Why do you ask?"
"Oh, well, you know, I thought I heard Him say something about dying if you ate the food from this tree I'm sitting in. Did he REALLY say that?" A look of concern clouded the face of the multi-hued serpent as he slyly asked this question.
"OH YEAH" answered Evie. "And besides that, He said don't even touch it".
When satan entered into the serpent in the garden, and began to speak to Eve about what God had said, notice several things (read Gen. 3:1-6). In verse 1 we find that satan quoted the Word spoken by God concerning eating of the trees in the garden. While satan managed to hold intact the meaning of God's Word, he subtly altered the wording to create a moment of confusion. Eve answered in verse 2 correctly (compare Ch.2:16-17). Notice, however, that in verse 3, Eve, trying to clarify things, ADDED HER OWN WORDS by saying "neither shall you touch it". Hook and bait presented, victim swallowed, and then PUT HERSELF IN THE FRYING PAN. How many times do we, or others, add to or take away from God's Word in our attempts to "clarify" or "make clear" some particular meaning? God did not say "you can't touch the tree", only "you shall not eat of it"...or else.
"Aw, come on, Evie. SURELY you won't DIE! He knows that in this fruit is KNOWLEDGE. Take a bite, and your eyes will be opened, and you'll know more than ever before, and you'll be JUST LIKE GOD". Can you imagine the thoughts running through Eve's mind? "Just think, if I know what God knows, then I can be more like Him, and I do love Him, and I do want to be more like Him, so I guess it�s ok". I can imagine that at this point, satan has discerned the gleam in Evie's eyes, and has been doing a special polish job on the 'ole apple, because Eve SAW the fruit, and that it LOOKED good and pleasing, and it was something to be DESIRED.
Whoa!!! Chomp, chomp, and instead of being "as God", they became "as satan", full partakers of his sin and iniquity. In these few verses we can see not only the beginning of a conspiracy that will continue until the end, but the METHODS of seduction that have never changed. The only purpose of satan and his conspiracy is to "kill, steal, and destroy" people, particularly those in the church. If he can accomplish this, then the world which in general is condemned right along with him, will never have the opportunity to hear the Gospel from a believable source.
The methods by which his conspiracy will be fulfilled are apparent. First, USE the Word off God. Take it out of context, change the arrangement of the wording, leave out or add to one little thing to make it sound different. Cast doubt upon the meaning of a particular word or phrase, but somehow, bring the Word into play. Second, lead the use of the Word to a point where some kind of appeal to the SENSES is made.
By causing a person to depend in some way upon one or more of the physical senses, we then tend to pay more attention to what our senses are saying. By being so "sensible" about things, we then operate or "walk" by sight, and NOT BY FAITH. Truly James put it well when he said "this wisdom comes not from above, but is EARTHLY, SENSUAL, AND DEVILISH". (James 3:15).
In the garden, satan instituted the use of these practices to further his conspiracy, and continues to this day. Numerous examples can be found throughout scriptures where he has employed these devices. He even had the gall to try them out on Jesus! Fortunately for us, Jesus, as The Word, KNEW the Word so well that he could instantly spot quotations taken out of context, or implications of false meaning. He also knew what the final result of heeding such falsities would be. "You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and did not abide in the truth, because THERE IS NO TRUTH IN HIM. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own; for he IS A LIAR, AND THE FATHER OF ALL LIES" (JOHN 8:44).
When Jesus spoke these words to the Pharisees, He established a number of points. First, that from the very beginning satan was a liar, and continues to this time. Second, that it is impossible for satan to tell the truth, or be truthful in anything, because there is NO TRUTH IN HIM. Third, that the things satan says speak either of himself, or the things that he alone desires.
Let us here assume certain things, based on scripture. Satan, having been in heaven with God (Ezek.28:14), KNOWS that God is Truth. Satan, being intelligent (Ezek.28:12 && 17) KNOWS that what God speaks, He means, and what He speaks He WILL DO. Therefore, satan has knowledge of, and understands full well, that HE IS CONDEMNED, CAST OUT OF HEAVEN,, AND WILL BE CHAINED IN DARKNESS FOR A THOUSAND YEARS,, AND THEN INTO A LAKE OF FIRE. For satan, there is NO REPENTANCE, FORGIVENESS, OR SALVATION. The Word of God HAS BEEN SPOKEN concerning this. Then why, you may ask, does he do all these horrible things? Because he is being true to form. He was a murderer from the beginning, so he continues murdering, knowing that he is only destroying others, not helping himself. He is the father of lies, so he continues lying, knowing full well that it will only destroy others, not help himself. NOTHING that satan does can change his appointed end, but that doesn�t stop him from doing evil anyway. I guess he thinks that the more company he has in hell, the better off he will be. How can we possibly conceive of such a depraved mind?
Knowing that you yourself were about to die, would you purposely set out to drag down to death as many people as you could? Truly, the mind set of satan is a working definition of a "reprobate mind". "Rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. WOE TO THE INHABITERS OF THE EARTH, and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having GREAT ANGER, because HE KNOWS THAT HE HAS BUT A LITTLE TIME LEFT". (REV. 12:12).
Scripture speaks plainly to three common problems concerning the believer; snares, error, and heresy. To understand what each of these means, let us look at both dictionary definitions, and scripture.
The word snare was understood in old times, as well as these, as being something placed (and usually baited) in such a way as to entice, and then to entrap something. The purpose of the snare, of course, was to lead to the eventual destruction of that which was snared. In the light of scriptures (see note 1 at end of chapter) we can easily see then that a snare is ANYTHING that MAY BE the cause of injury or destruction, whether ourselves, our church, or THE CAUSE OF GOD. Paul, in writing to Timothy, clearly emphasizes that the devil places snares in the way of the believer. We can be sure that these snares are cunningly devised and carefully laid traps that have but one purpose; to destroy the believer, their testimony, and subsequently their ability to speak to others about Jesus. As we look back over the past few years at the numbers of preachers and ministers that have fallen into various snares of the devil, and the resulting loss of testimony, we need to consider especially about how the unsaved world reacted. Do you think such goings on brought them any closer to God? Or did it make them more skeptical about "religious" things? Paul, writing to the Romans, absolutely condemned this type of behavior and hypocrisy within the church, saying that because of such actions, the "name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because off you..."(Rom.2:24).
When considering "snares" though, keep in mind a very important fact. The devil may have concocted the snare just for you or someone else, and made sure that it was baited with just the right enticement, and even placed it right in front of you, but he DID NOT MAKE YOU TAKE IT! We take the bait, and fall into the snare, because just like Evie, we SAW, it LOOKED (or sounded) good, and we DESIRED. Many times the devil will place a snare for us, we see and then reject it, but he keeps on placing it (or some variation of it) in front of us, counting on our inability to stand firm, recognizing it for what it is, and KNOWING THE RESULT OF TAKING IT. I am sure the devil absolutely screams with joy whenever he can ensnare a Christian, and destroy their testimony. That's one less witness to worry about, one more "church" falling into disrepute, and hundreds or even thousands of gentiles turning further away from God and His salvation. It would behoove us to become "of full age, those who by REASON OF USE have their senses EXERCISED to discern between good and evil" (Rom.55:124). Time to get to the sirloin steak and quit sucking on pablum.
Paul also makes clear (2Tim.2:26) that believers so ensnared by the devil may RECOVER THEMSELVES from that snare. How, you may ask. In vs.25, Paul stipulates that God (via His Spirit) will give to the individual wisdom and knowledge of the snare for the purpose of repenting. When we do something wrong, the Holy Spirit begins a work of conviction within us, showing us plainly that whatever it is, it is wrong in Gods sight. And, if we acknowledge the wrong, and repent of it, "He is just to forgive us of our sin". In the beginning of falling into a snare, the convicting work of the Holy Spirit allows us to recover ourselves. Should we REJECT this conviction, though, we move into the next stage, that off error.
Error is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as:
- 1. "an act, belief, or assertion that UNINTENTIONALLY deviates from what is correct, right, or true."
- 2. "The condition of having INCORRECT OR FALSE knowledge."
- 3. "The act or instance of DEVIATION from an accepted code of behavior."
As we can see, error essentially then is something that is unintentional, caused by possession of facts or knowledge that is not correct or true. Oftentimes, we may do something that is wrong, having succumbed to the temptation of a carefully laid snare, and begin receiving some conviction or question as to whether it is right or wrong. Error begins at the point where we, because of something we have heard or been taught, reject the initial conviction, and continue IN THE BELIEF THAT IT IS ALRIGHT. Believing that something is OK based on what someone else has said, or done, or taught, does not make it right. Being sincere about a belief resulting in action of some type does not make it right. Gautahma Buddha, I am sure, was sincere in his beliefs. So also was Mohammed, Hitler, Josef Stalin, and many others throughout history. But that DOES NOT MAKE THEIR BELIEF RIGHT, TRUE OR CORRECT IN THE SIGHT OF GOD.
Generally speaking, possession of facts or knowledge that is not correct or true is brought about by WHAT SOMEONE ELSE SAYS, OR PRESENTS TO US AS TRUE AND CORRECT, or OUR OWN MISUNDERSTANDING OF IT. Obviously, then, we should take the time to check out what others say, or as Paul states "STUDY to show ourselves approved...rightly dividing...the WORD OF TRUTH". When we will do this, we then can correct the error. Error in scripture (see endnote 2) implies basically the same thing, adding that possession of knowledge NOT IN CONFORMITY TO GODS WORD had resulted in DEVIATION FROM HIS WILL.
I will say here, that such error usually begins with our own desire to learn more about God. When we don't understand something, we then tend to rely on someone else to "show us the light", not really knowing if what we are told or taught is really correct. Fortunately, we can also be recovered from error, although this usually requires the intervention of someone else (Jas.5:19-20) because we have ignored the first conviction of the Holy Spirit, and have continued in error. Should we, after having ignored this conviction AND being show our error IN ACCORDANCE WITH SCRIPTURE, continue on with that error, we move into the realm of heresy.
Heresy is a word that is hard to use, especially in today's time. Many of Christendom's most popular preachers and teachers love to accuse others of being "heretic hunters", and making fun of what they say. Many also have the attitude that they are above being held accountable for their misinterpretation of scripture, believing that they are anointed with an understanding that far exceeds anyone else. Paul Crouch of TBN has even said "to hell with them" in referring to anyone who doesn't go along with what he does. (Sounds very scriptural and loving to me.) The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, paints a very clear and convincing picture of not only the state of mind (reprobate) of the heretic, but also of the condemnation and judgment that awaits them. Ungers Bible Dictionary defines heresy (Gr. Hairesis, a choice) as being "a chosen course of thought and action...doctrinal departure from revealed truth". We can see then, that heresy is a WILLING departure from the truth, and is a natural extension of error. We could say, I suppose, that heresy is error continued after the error is pointed out. While scripture speaks to recovery from snares and error, evidencing the long suffering, patient and merciful nature of God, heresy is treated differently.
Peter and Paul, addressing the issue (endnote 3), clearly show that an heretic NEVER knew God to begin with, regardless of their profession of faith. Such people are under complete condemnation, their judgment is reserved for them, and "slumbereth not". While I do believe that God would grant forgiveness to them if they TRULY repented, it does appear from scripture that there comes a point in time when this is no longer possible (Rev.2:21 & 22:11). Neither you nor I may accurately say when that time occurs, but Paul does give us a guideline in 2Tim.3:10, where he says "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sins, being condemned of his own action" (see also Mat.18:15-17 & 2Cor.13:2)
Prior to summarizing the "modus operandi" of satan's conspiracy, I would like to point out that there have been, through the centuries, many men and women led and inspired by God to greater insight into His Word that have been a great inspiration to us. Without some of their guidance, many things of God would be hard to understand, and therefore much more susceptible to interpretational error and misunderstanding. At the same time, though, no one of us should accept another's writing, or listen to another's teaching or preaching, or adopt a doctrinal stance without first CHECKING IT OUT to see"...whether these things be so" (Acts17:11). This, my friends, is part of the battle, and to be prepared for battle we must FIRST put on the armor and pick up the weapons with which God has so amply provided us. This armor, and these weapons are to be found between the covers of ONE book, the Bible, the inspired and PROFITABLE Word of God. "For ALL scripture is given by the INSPIRATION OF GOD, and is PROFITABLE for DOCTRINE, for REPROOF (read that, Paul Crouch!), for CORRECTION, for INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS: so that the man of God may be PERFECT, thoroughly FURNISHED UNTO ALL GOOD WORKS" (2Tim.3:16-17).
Satan will, as in the past, continue to use tried and proven methods of deception upon us to further his nefarious ends. Here is a summary of those methods:
- 1. He will USE the Word of God.
- 2. He will DISTORT the meaning of the Word.
- 3. He will APPEAL TO OUR SENSES (it looks, tastes, feels or sounds good-lust of the flesh & eyes-1Jn.2:16)
- 4. He will appeal to our PRIDE (you can be the same as God).
- 5. He will appeal to our DESIRE TO LIVE 9the pride of life).
- 6. He will make us think that WE ARE HELPING GOD. >
- 7. He will make us think that we CAN BECOME GOD(s). (The Luciferian sin, Isa.14:12-14).
All of this, mind you, he will do by USING OTHERS TO WORK ON US.
- 1. Ex.23:23; Jude 2:3; Job18:10; Rom.11:9; Ps.91:3, 106:36, 119:110; Luke21:35; 1Tim3:7; 2Tim.2:26; Prov.13:14; Jer.5:26, 18:22; Isa.8:15, 28:13, 42:22.
- 2. 2Pet.2, 3:17; 1Jn4:6; Jude11; Jas.5:20; Mat.22:29, 27:64; Jer.23:13; Ec.5:6; Isa.32:6
- 3. Tit.3:10; 1Cor11:19; Gal.5:20; 2Pet.2:1.