A majority of the New Testament addresses false teachers within the church. Passages such as 1 Timothy 4:1-2, 2 Peter 2:1, and Romans 16:17-20 talk about false teachers, doctrines of demons, destructive heresies, and deceiving spirits. Hebrews 13:9 comes with the warning to “not be carried away with various and strange doctrines.” Jesus even warned against the false prophets in Matthew 7 saying, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
will be led away into destruction. Think of the imagery of the ravenous wolves. This is why we are also called throughout scripture to be discerning. We are to always judge what is taught to us against what is in the Scriptures, just like the Bereans did (which implies we must first know what the scriptures say). We are even told to test the spirits to see what is truly from God because not all “spiritual” things are from God.
But Satan, as the father of lies and the great deceiver, is much shrewder than we give him credit for being. He knows that even the least knowledgeable person of the scriptures could detect certain heresies as blatantly false. So he is trickier than that; he works like the old saying “stealing the sausage one slice at a time.” It is the slow deception of the truth that leads us down the bigger path towards the false , thus, the title of this post: the subterfuge of Satan. Subterfuge is defined as “deception in order to achieve one’s goal.” In order to see how Satan is going to deceive us, we have to think about what his goal is. What is Satan’s end game? To lead as many people away from God and out of God’s presence as he possibly can. That is his single mission. How does he achieve that? Deception. Satan even parades as an angel of light for the express purpose of deceiving us. Before we see what takes us out of God's presence and away from God, we must see what makes us in God's presence and with God. According to John 14:6, the only way to God is through Jesus. John reiterates that point in 1 John 5:12: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” And Romans 10:9 tells us, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” So anything that is different from that truth will accomplish Satan’s goal. If he can get you to take one step away from that truth, then Satan wins. If he can pull you away from confessing Jesus is Lord, away from believing that God raised Him from the dead, and away from thinking that the only way to God is through Jesus, then Satan has deceived you with false doctrine unto your destruction. How does he deceive us into that?
How does Satan do that with us now? Well, we have a plethora of denominations that alter that core true doctrine of who Jesus is and what Jesus did. Some denominations say that Jesus wasn’t really God. If He wasn't God, then His sacrifice on the cross was insufficient. Many denominations say that you are saved by faith plus man’s traditions, man’s rituals, or man’s effort. They say if you do these steps or repeat these words then you can find forgiveness. They are just like the Judaizers adding to the work Jesus did on the cross as though it were insufficient, as though our effort has something to do with our salvation. But Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us that it is only by grace through faith that we are saved, but it is not by our works, specifically so that we cannot boast in our salvation. It is only through the work Jesus did on the cross that we can boast, not in ourselves. Many denominations say that any path to God is valid. They don’t want to claim the exclusivity that Jesus claimed. When Jesus said that no one comes to the Father but through Him, Jesus was excluding all other religions as false and unacceptable to God. It doesn't matter how sincere or nice another religion is, it is equally abhorrent to God because it does not all on the name of Jesus for salvation. In each of these denominations, Satan has twisted scripture to lead people astray from true doctrine, which will lead to their destruction.
Some denominations even twist scripture to make it approve of sins in which they want to persist. They redefine the words clearly written in scripture so they can call “good evil and evil good.” They think since grace abounds we have no need for the law. But the law is useful, as Paul says in 1 Timothy 1, to show us our sin. He says the purpose of pointing out sin is to draw us to repentance. That is why in 1 Corinthians 5 Paul tells the church to call out one man’s sins so that “his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” The reason for identifying his actions as sin was so that the man’s spirit may be saved. What if Paul had never called that sin? The man would have persisted in that sin to the glory of his flesh but to the destruction of his soul. That is exactly what Satan wants. Satan twists scripture, so that we redefine sin, so that we may satisfy our flesh, but destroy our souls.
Yes, we are commanded to love one another. I am certainly not saying that we are not to do those things to help “the least of these.” But we are also commissioned to go and spread the Gospel because telling others about Jesus is showing love. So if you are going into the communities of the least of these to give them physical aid but never speak about Jesus, then you are missing the point of why Jesus sent us out. In Matthew 28:19 He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” Yes, showing love and meeting physical needs should be a part of that. But the whole point is to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey His words. Many churches reference Acts 1:8 for their model for mission. But that doesn’t tell us to pick a cool beach spot for our youth group to hand out bottled water. It tells us to be witnesses of Jesus to the world. Being a witness involves speaking. We are to tell people about Jesus first and foremost. Satan has won if he can convince us that we only have to be kind or show love and not speak the name of Jesus. Satan knows that we don’t have to teach false doctrine to prevent others from reaching God, we just have to neglect to tell them the true doctrine.
Imagine if in a war, our military was so focused on arguing over the color of their uniforms and which food was better to have in the field that they neglected to actually attack the enemy. Meanwhile, the enemy was busy plundering and slaughtering the local village and kidnapping our own military’s families. That sounds insane but that’s exactly what the church does when it becomes preoccupied with things indifferent instead of focusing on the lost and dying world around us. When we do that, not only do people die without salvation, but the enemy slips in and steals the minds and hearts of our children because we were too busy boycotting something to teach our children the fundamentals of their faith. We were too busy entertaining our children at church to educate them in the basic logic of Christianity. We were too busy making Christianity fun and palatable for the masses to give believers any depth of scriptural knowledge.
Satan is called the deceiver and the father of lies. His whole business is convincing you that the truth is not true. And he will resort to any means necessary to accomplish that goal. Be mindful of your adversary! He prowls around like a roaring lion seeking those whom he can devour. Don’t let that be you or your children. Be alert and watchful. Guard your mind, taking every thought captive. Demolish every argument he uses. Use the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God, to attack the enemy. Take up your armor and go to battle for the kingdom of God. Be deceived no longer.
Several weeks ago I participated again in the sidewalk ministry outside of a local abortion clinic. I have been out there a few times before, but this one was a drastically different experience. The abortionist was there. And the parking lot was full. It was the most depressing and heart-wrenching experience to know what was happening inside that building for so many lives. And it bothered me even further to see the interference from the abortionists to prevent us from reaching out to those women and those babies. I think that is one of the most disturbing realities about the abortion industry (and yes, it’s an industry because they are only concerned with making money off the slaughter of innocent lives in the womb). These abortionists and abortion activists parade around calling themselves “pro-choice” but that is the last thing those people are interested in. You should think about that next time you vote and the next time you discuss this issue. I so often hear people say, “Well, no one wants people to abort, but it should be available.” But that is NOT the reality. These clinics and abortionists want very much for these women to abort, so much so that they hire people whose only job is to prevent women from changing their minds. They have quotas to meet and Cadillacs to buy. They want more people to abort. So you as an individual may hope that women don’t abort, but the ones you are empowering to do so don’t think that way.
The very goal of these clinics is not to give women a choice, but to convince them to abort. Ironically, the definition of the word choice is the act of choosing among a variety of options. So a choice can only be made when someone is given all of the information about all of the options. But these women are not presented with that. In fact, the abortionists and “pro-choicers” devote their lives to preventing that. They don’t want the woman to have a choice – they want them to abort. It is bad enough that society even allows for abortion to be an option, but it is even worse when you are told that is the only option.
The truth is that abortion should never be the option because there are a plethora of options that don’t involve murder. That is precisely what the sidewalk ministry is all about – actually giving those women the choice of life, not just for their babies but for them as well. When a woman chooses to end the life that is growing inside of her, she will have to deal with that physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually for the rest of her life. That is why the statistics are staggering about suicide attempts, depression, and substance abuse for post-abortive women. Stopping abortion not only protects the next generation but this generation, and the pro-life sidewalk ministry is devoted to protecting all life. So the pro-life ministry focuses on ways to help these women so they do not make the destructive devastating choice of abortion by showing them other choices. If it is finances that are the issue, they will pay for whatever the need is. If it is medical care that is the issue, they will find that and pay for it too. If it is an abusive relationship, they have helped get women to safe shelters and out of those situations. If it is the burden of raising a child, they will find someone for adoption (and many of them on the sidewalk are ready and willing to adopt). But consider what those choices provide. Life. For both. Love. For both. What do the abortionists provide? Death. Destruction. Despair. Depression. Why is that the only choice they want to give to those women? And they dare to say they are for women’s rights?!?
Why do I think they are not allowing this choice to be given to women? Because I have witnessed firsthand how they silence the one voice of hope and help that is being offered to them. They have escorts (who are more accurately described as deathscorts) who are paid by the clinic to usher the women in from the parking lot. They hide these women under an umbrella to shield them from our signs. They blast a stereo at these women to shield them from our voices. Ironically, they sing children’s songs to drown out our pleas for the life of those children. They yell in our faces with video cameras if our toes touch their grass, crying out about trespassing, while they are gleefully escorting babies to their death. They are MURDERING children inside that building but are more concerned about trespassing. I have never seen such hatred toward life, or towards myself, as what I witnessed that day. I have never been flipped off so many times in my life, flipped off for trying to offer to pay for someone’s medical expenses – and even for just offering those people a free doughnut.
I have never seen firsthand the powerful hold that Satan has on those people’s hearts. One of them told me that she didn’t care about those babies because she doesn’t believe in God. But you know, even atheists know murder is wrong. Even atheists think killing innocent people is wrong. You don’t have to believe in God to see that. With believers, I do always go back to the Biblical passages about how God knits us together in the womb and how He knows us and called us from the womb. However, even if you don’t believe that, you can see what we know from science. We see when this little life has a heartbeat and has a nervous system – at 5-8 weeks after conception! We can see when this life forms toothbuds and fingernails. We can watch this little life suck its thumb in utero. We can see when this life moves and kicks. We can watch this life respond to external stimuli. We encourage mothers and fathers to talk to the baby and play soothing music to the baby because it can recognize their voices and be calmed by the sound. And yet, here are these people, dancing and laughing as they escort women into a building where they will be told this is their only option. And then they take money from these women to invade the sanctity of this womb and literally tear apart this little life, limb from limb.
On this particular day, I invited a dear friend to come along and join me on the sidewalk. I asked him if I could share his thoughts from this experience because he summarized it so well:
People, this is going on EVERYWHERE. And in many places the hatred and vitriol against the pro-life people is even worse than here. How have we continued to allow this to go on in our society? How are we still silent about confronting evil? How are we still debating whether this is wrong or not? This is not a battle against political parties or opposing opinions. This is not an intellectual debate. This is a spiritual battleground for the hearts of people. Where are you in this battle?
Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world's darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.