When I was in college a friend of mine had a satanic bible, so I read it. Unlike a Christian Bible, there are more than one version, and they are not all the same, or so I have been told. This ‘bible’ essentially explained that you do not have to do bad things to be satanic, you just have to do what you want. Essentially it encouraged you to be completely selfish and to feel good about prioritizing your desires above all else. This is the exact opposite message of the Christian Bible, where we are to be willing to lay down our lives for others, and to have a servant’s heart in every situation.
In the Christian Bible we are given glimpses of interactions between man and demons, and sometimes satan. Let’s take a look at these verses. Like the satanic bible, most of these interactions are not straight forward, but a deception, occasionally using what seems to be right to trick us into what is not good. For this reason it is good to be prepared, lest we too are deceived.
In the garden we see Eve interacting with the serpent. We are told he deceives her, and see a subtle twisting of the words of God’s commands. She is under the impression that she may not touch the fruit without consequences, which was not a part of the original command to Adam. She sees the serpent in the tree, presumably showing her that nothing is happening when he touches everything she may not. She is also told that God does not want her to be like Him, knowing the difference between good and evil. This is true, as God wants her to trust and follow Him, and not to try to be a ‘god’ unto herself, which He knows His creation will not do well when they try to be good all on their own. The serpent however makes this arrangement seem evil, as if God is depriving her of something, when God only wants to protect and provide for His creation. The serpent also implies that the eating of the fruit will not result in death. This is a half-truth, as the fruit will not immediately kill her, but it will start the process of aging and lead to an eventual death. The problems here: Overstating God’s laws so that the person believes them to be a lie when they realize the overstatement (which they do not realize is an addition to God’s actual law) is incorrect. Making God’s laws seem like they are depriving you of something good, when in actuality they are keeping you from consequences and a harder life. And, half-truths, making something seem like it is a lie because someone subtilty misrepresents it. Examine your life. Do you resort to these tactics? Do you fall for them? Demon-proof your life a little better by realizing that these things are not the way God wants us to interact with the world.
In Matthew 4 we see Jesus interacting with satan in the desert. Satan is able to quote scripture, including Psalm 91 which was believed by the people of this time to ward off demons! (Their was a reference to demons repeatedly causing the issues listed in some Greek commentary like versions of the time.) Satan quotes scripture, but he quotes it in isolation and misapplies it. Jesus counters with verses which contradict satan’s biblical references showing satan that his interpretation is in error. Quoting scripture out of context and not balancing scripture with scripture is another ploy of the devil to throw us off the right path. There are a lot of things we wish the Bible said, because they fit with a life view we currently enjoy, or may have been taught by well meaning people we love. But if your interpretation of scripture clearly contradicts passages which occur elsewhere you need to examine your views closely and be open to changing your mind. The fact that satan can quote scripture, especially one people recited to keep him away, shows us that merely quoting scripture is not good enough. Those who cast out demons are those known as servants of the Most High God. Being a believer is your protection, not recitation and repetition of words, no matter how inspired they are. Trust God, not a formula to keep the demons at bay.
In Acts 16: 16-18 we meet a demon possessed slave girl who is shouting that Paul and his companions are servants of the Most High God. What she is saying is the truth, but the timing of this revelation is not proper, and Paul drives the demon out as he becomes exasperated with her actions. In Dan 10:13 we see a fallen angel blocking the archangel Michael and holding up God’s response to Daniel’s prayer. Demons use the truth, but rush or delay God’s timing. There is a time and a place for everything. Rushing the process when it is not God’s timing is not good either. Make sure you have the patience to wait for when the timing is right, but also the courage to be ‘strong and courageous’ when God calls you to act. The devil wishes to mess up God’s timing as well as His plans. Discerning when God wishes you to go forward leads to a more rewarding life!
While demons do cause disease, throw the possessed into danger (such as a fire), make people violent or prone to sin in scripture, the tactics that we typically fall for are much more subtle. And lastly, remember, godly people are selfless not selfish. The teaching I see most twisted in this respect is where Paul states that a wife’s body is her husband’s and the husband’s body belongs to his wife. 1 Cor 7:4 What most people see in this verse is that the wife is not to say no to the husband when he desires her. This is a very selfish interpretation of this scripture. Instead it should be read as a spouse should treat the other person’s body the way they would want to be treated, making sure there is pleasure for the other and not forcing the other person into situations they are not comfortable with. While not depriving a spouse is part of this thinking of the other, like everything else in scripture both people are to have a servant’s heart type attitude, only wanting what is best for the other and not what is ‘best for themselves alone. It is not ‘your body is mine so I can do what I want with it,’ but ‘your body is precious to me as if it were my own so I will take the best care of it I can and ensure it has everything it needs and desires!’ It’s a subtle, but very profound difference that turns a marriage into something wonderful.
Pride is also a condition we all suffer from at times that makes us want to be better and have more than others in ways that are not good. 1 Timothy 3: 6 warns us not to put a novice into an exalted position as pride may cause him to eventually fall. This can occur in a Christian life when we use our Christianity to make us feel superior as well. Jesus rebuked the leaders of His time for this one, and it is an easy sin to fall into. One of my Jewish rabbis who I like to listen to once remarked that he wished the large donors would sit in the front in the seats they are given in recognition of their donation instead of sitting in the rear. They were causing more trouble in the synagogue by showing false humility, than they would have been if they had taken the seat of honor that had been assigned to them! Their false-humility was actually a source of getting more kudos and raising their status. True humility would have meant keeping anyone from knowing what they had done… Knowing our true worth is good. We cannot help others by saying we are not competent when we actually are! When we have pride however we are not open to correction and we cannot learn any further as we need to be better than everyone else. Our goal is not to help, but to lord it over others so that we look better than they are. Apollos was already a great teacher, yet he submitted to Priscilla and Aquilla and learned even more! Can you imagine a much celebrated visiting preacher going to the home of a parishioner and listening to a wife and her husband while the presumed to teach him more about scripture? (Acts 18) This is the humility we are shown in the New Testament of the early church leaders who rebuked each other, placed young Timothy over an assembly and considered him an equal, and implored people with reason rather than dictate orders even though they were leaders with authority from God. This is the humility we need to be showing as we raise up the next generation as well.
So, here we see the devil’s tactics:
1. Overstating God’s rules which makes them seem incorrect or foolish.
2. Making God’s laws seem restrictive and the cause of deprivation in our lives.
3. Half-truths that seem to be correct but are not.
4. Quoting scripture out of the context of the whole scripture to make what is not right seem correct.
5. Messing with God’s timing. Rushing into things, or delaying are both not the best for a blessed life!
6. Pride: Making us want to be better than others rather than a servant to all.
July 21, 2019