More Deadly Than Witchcraft
From Satan's Ten Most Believable Lies
Satan carries on an activity more dangerous than witchcraft and more subversive than astrology. As terrifying as those practices may be, they will never compose his ultimate weapons. They are external. Witchcraft, for instance, is certainly dangerous, but it deceives only a few. Ouija boards, black magic, sorcery, and the like, lead to dreadful spiritual consequences, but their victims are limited.
The most potentially rewarding activities of Satanhis deadliest influencesare not overt and public. Rather, the covert, the hidden, activities of the devil constitute his greatest accomplishment. With witchcraft, orgies, séances, and demon possession, he has captured thousands. With false doctrine, he has subverted millions.
The dangers of these twin activities of his infernal majesty, the overt and the covert, are pointed out to us in a prophetic warning from the pages of the New Testament. The apostle Paul, in his letter to Timothy, carefully warns us, now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1, NSRB). Here the overt activity of the evil one is seducing.
Seducing spirits lure some from the path of rectitude with the promise of physical ecstasy. Satans representatives function as spiritual prostitutes, basically by appealing to the lust of the flesh, seducing the naive and the vulnerable to the point that they forsake their faith. Sex appeal with religious overtones is a diabolically clever one-two punch that Satan has thrown at the unwary.
The Bible gives us a telling description of those who combine sex appeal and false religious teaching.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way they have gone astray These are springs without water, and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. (2 Peter 2:1-3,10,12-15,17-19, NASB).
In the light of this Scripture, the function of witchcraft is revealed. Not quite so obvious but equally satanic is the role of the religious huckster who promotes a magic snake-oil version of pseudo-Christianity. Seducing spirits do the overt work of Satan.
Pauls warning to Timothy also notes the nature of the covert working of Satan. That deadly, hidden work is the production of doctrines of demons. A doctrine is a categoric statement of belief. The use of the word doctrines, therefore, implies a satanic system of belief that appears to be categoric, appealing, andworst of alltrue. The production of attractive doctrinal falsehoods is the most deadly activity of the enemy of God in the world today.
Christ warned us that Satan was a liar from the beginning and the father of lies (John 8:44). At this point, we do well to remember that the cleverest liar makes statements that sound most nearly like the truth. The father of lies will surely present assertions that sound blessedly true and are only proved false when analyzed in depth. The most subtle created being in all the universe is Lucifer. The cleverest set of lies that he has ever produced is the satanic system of doctrine. With his doctrines, he presses quiet arguments upon reasonable men, appealing to high intelligence and mature sensibilities. Every person who is not a Christian believes one or another demonic doctrine as the first principle of his life. Many Christians, though saved by believing the truth, have been rendered spiritually impotent through accepting, along with the truth, a doctrine of Satan.
It is interesting and even titillating to consider the overt activities of Satan. It is surely of more value, however, to study the doctrines of the devil and the biblical answer to these frightening subversions. Subversion, incidentally, is a good word for all of this, for it literally means to undermine the truth, or, less than the truth. A proposition that is slightly less than the truth is a far more treacherous lie than the clenched fist of categoric denial.
An understanding of sound doctrine is the most important single form of knowledge for the Christian. In order to understand and refute the doctrines of the devil, we must first know sound, biblical doctrine. The apostle Paul admonished Timothy to give attendance to doctrine and to take heed continually to the importance of it, reminding him that this attention would save both him and his hearers. Few activities could be more valuable on the part of the church of Christ than a return to the careful study of biblical doctrine. It is the necessary prelude to prayer, more important than experience and any other aspect of the Christian life. Indeed, no statement about prayer, experience, witnessing, the Holy Spirit, or the nature of Christ can even be understood without a reference to sound Bible doctrine.
The reason for this is clear; sound doctrine is that set of definitions without which nothing else can be understood. The preaching of Christ was doctrinal (Matthew 22:33; Mark 1:22; Luke 4:32). We are to obey from the heart that form of doctrine delivered unto us (Romans 6:17). We are to be conscious of offenses contrary to the doctrine of Christianity. (Romans 16:17) We are to teach no other doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3). We are to give ourselves to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:10) and to good doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6) We are to concentrate on reading, exhortation, and doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13).
Scripture says further, Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine (1 Timothy 5:17) That the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed (1 Timothy 6:1). Exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine (2 Timothy 4:2). For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3). Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers (Titus 1:9). Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son (2 John 9).
In the light of the clear teaching of Scripture, it is frightening to hear a Christian speaker naively declare that what we need today is not more theology and doctrine by more experience! Such assertions indicate a shortage of biblical understanding. They are not only untruebut dangerously untrue. They pave the way for satanic activity.
Sound doctrine is the basis or the understanding of every other aspect of the Christian life. Without it, no Christian can communicate with another. Indeed, without it, the Christian is made vulnerable to the subversion of the doctrines of his infernal majesty, the devil.
An understanding of sound doctrine make it possible for us to perceive unsound doctrine. The Bible contains a number of clear statements by the devil himself of his doctrine, the false doctrines of the universe. From his assertions, we can understand the doctrines that the devil may use to subvert us. This kind of an understanding will mean that we never again need be ignorant of his devices, the most deadly of which is doctrinal subversion.
When Paul warns Timothy of the possibility of doctrinal subversion, he is not speaking of weird people who represent the lunatic fringe of aberrant religion. The stringy-haired fanatics or the sweaty emotionalizers are not the object of Pauls concern here. He is warning reasonable, thoughtful, Christian people. He has in mind people of enough interest to study religious things. He is referring to individuals with a general knowledge of the Bible. Some knowledge, at least, is necessary before one can wrest the Scripture to his own destruction.
It follows, of course, that a general knowledge of the Bible does little good. Who of us have not heard about people who are members of grand masters of some mystical organization, that quote an obscure verse from Ecclesiastes and thereby make the claim that their views are Bible-based? Tragically, a high percentage of the individuals who attend our churches are woefully devoid of a knowledge of Scripture. Their knowledge is simply not sufficient to give them a reason for their faith or to equip them to defend the gospel. Alexander Popes warning that a little learning is a dangerous thing applies not only to philosophy but even more emphatically to Christianity. The lunatic fringe of Christianity is well populated by people who picked up some verse of Scripture many years ago and have been attempting to live on it ever since.
We must know the details of Scripture, the whole of Scripture, and the doctrines of Scripture. No one who does not know the Scripture in detail can claim to know the Scripture at all.
When discussing the dangers of satanic doctrinal subversion, the Bible is clearly warning thoughtful people. Let no one say, I dont claim to be a witch, a prophetess or a magician; therefore, I am not really vulnerable to satanic activity. Think again. The witches and the magicians provide Satan with some fun and games along the way, but his real activity is subverting the insiders, the reasonable, and the semi-studious with false doctrine.
To believe the wrong thing is far more serious than to do the wrong thing. Ask yourself: How many doctrines of the devil do I really understand? With how many have I already been subverted?
Doctrinal subversion is more deadly than witchcraft.
Satan's Ten Most Believable Lies