It does us good now and then to consider a subject that may at first seem obvious, and to meditate on it for a moment. Often life keeps us so busy that we don’t stop to spend time thinking about some things that have great consequence in our life. It is a godly endeavor to consider for a few moments Satan’s devices and methods of attack, and I believe that after considering this initial lesson we can learn a further lesson from it. First we will examine a basic lesson about how Satan works, and we will follow that with a look at how he uses the same tactic in a slightly different way today.
Beginnings: Satan’s devices
…Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (II Corinthians 2:11)
When we consider the first time Satan comes upon the scene in scripture (in the garden of Eden), what was his attack method? Did he come around saying, “I am Satan! All hail the mighty Satan! Worship me!”? No. His approach was to mix truth with lies. He intertwined God’s word with falsities, appearing to quote what God had said while leaving things out and adding some to it.
Let us look closely at what God said and how Satan twisted it. What did God say to Adam?
…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. (Genesis 2:16-17)
When Satan showed up, he deceived Eve. But what did Satan say specifically?
…And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (Genesis 3:1)
Is that what God said? It sounds similar, but by changing the wording, at least three important details are lost:
- God told them specifically of which tree they were not to eat;
- God told them what the consequences would be if they did eat of that tree;
- and God’s gift was free. Even though he was not obligated to provide Adam & Eve with any food, God through his grace provided them all of the other trees and allowed them to freely eat of them.
Deception occurred by leaving out details. God was very specific on purpose. In order to practice deception, Satan twisted what God had said.
What happened next?
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. (Genesis 3:2-3)
We notice here that Eve added something which God did not say. God mentioned consequences for eating the fruit, but not for touching it.
Let us read on. What we see in the next portion is that Satan moves from simply twisting God’s words to directly contradicting them.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 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. (Genesis 3:4-5)
God said they would die; Satan said they would not. Satan has now introduced a direct contradiction to God’s word.
And we know what happened next.
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. (Genesis 3:6)
Let’s get an overall view of what happened. Through a series of incremental baby steps, Satan led the woman sufficiently away from God to the point she made a decision to eat of the fruit, and to give it to her husband. (We fully recognize in light of I Timothy 2:14 that Adam himself was not deceived in the fall; he was responsible for what happened. However, that fact is not central to the point we are considering in our study.)
As the first step in Satan’s “baby step” approach, the word of God was slightly altered. Next, it was added to. Then, it was outright contradicted. By that time, the child of God had moved far enough away from the original words of the Lord to be deceived. Brothers and sisters, Satan used an effective tactic, and it still works against the children of God today.
Today: A written attack
What is different today about how Satan works? He still practices deception, yet something has changed. Adam and Eve had the verbal word of God, while we have God’s word in written form. If Satan’s attack was in verbal form in the garden where the word of God was given verbally, how does it stand to reason that his attack will be today when the word of God is written? Would Satan not recognize that the most effective attack he could make against the children of God today would be to twist God’s holy scriptures—the Bible—in order to lead us astray?
I’d like us to consider a vital question for a moment: What if Satan wrote a bible?
If Satan wrote a bible, his approach (just as in the garden of Eden) would not be to say, “All hail the mighty Satan! Fall down and worship me, for I am Satan your king!” No, dear ones; he is subtle and crafty. II Corinthians 11:14 says that he deceives us by transforming himself into an angel of light.
If Satan wrote a bible, his bible would appear at first glance to be the word of God, but instead it would be an imposter which would lead God’s poor little children astray.
Why do we see so many books on the market claiming to be the word of God today? Are they all the word of God? Are there that many different ways of saying the same truth, or could it be that there is one truth and there are many ways of twisting it into a lie? One of my favorite quotes is “Truth ain’t like a bunch of puppies running around and you get to pick your favorite.” Truth is truth. It is absolute.
Did you ever pay special attention to the oath taken by witnesses in court? They are asked to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” If we consider this court oath in detail for a quick moment, we might see that it is worded in a particular way for a very special reason.
In court, a witness who knows something but holds it back hasn’t told the truth. Deception can be practiced by purposely leaving things out. So, the oath given asks the witness to swear to tell the whole truth. Truth is complete, not partial.
Next, a witness who tells the whole truth but adds lies to it hasn’t actually told the truth either. Truth contains no lies. The oath says that the witness must tell nothing but the truth (i.e. not add anything to it).
The oath asked of witnesses in court says specifically to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” because truth by its very definition doesn’t have versions. By contrast, there are many different ways of deceiving; deception does have versions.
Truth may prove us to be absolutely wrong, and so in our human nature we sometimes don’t like truth. But there it is. Truth is truth. II Peter 3:16 speaks of those who wrest (twist) the scriptures unto their own destruction. Man by nature likes a “revised” word of God because it makes truth more palatable and gives him loopholes. Is this not the same error into which the Pharisees had fallen and of which our Lord continually warned us?
Though we are given a new nature when we are born from above, we still have our sinful nature with which to contend. [“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other” (Galatians 5:17).] Like the Pharisees or any other human being, our flesh likes to get its way, and so our tendency is to shift things around (including God’s word) to ensure that we get our way. But throughout God’s word we see the concept of submission being taught. God expects us to submit to the authority of his word, whether we like what it says or not. We ought not search for a “version” of God’s word that suits our personal notions, but rather to take it as it is.
The table below shows various Bible verses from three “versions” claiming to be the word of God. Key differences are highlighted in red text. I present these verses for your consideration. Does one of the three versions stand above the others, magnifying our God and our Lord Jesus Christ and calling upon us to repent, while the others omit important doctrinal points?
Who decided that reading the word of God should be easy anyway? Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God “is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”, not of them that look for shortcuts and loopholes to make it easier. II Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” A workman! Studying the scriptures is work. One has to wonder what God thinks of people who take something he said we need to work for, and try to make it into something that doesn’t need much work.
Why do I state that the manuscripts are corrupt from which the NIV, NASB, and others like them come? I could supply evidence here, but others have done more research and a better job of presenting it than I ever could. I recommend www.1611kingjamesbible.com/manuscripts.html as a starting point. The site presents what can be a confusing topic in a way that those of us who are new to it can understand.
Look into this subject, dear brothers and sisters. Do not simply take my word for it. It is easy to dismiss this without doing the research. Yet, II Corinthians 11:13 warns us about deceitful workers who purposely try to lead us astray. We must be on guard.
My uncle told me a story about a livestock show where sheep were being shown. The sheep weren’t smart enough to know where to go when it was time for them to be shown, so a trained goat would lead the sheep from pen to pen. It reminds me of what our Lord said in Luke 16:8… “for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Often, the children of this world (the goats) can be great intellectuals and lead us as the children of light (God’s sheep) in a wrong path if we are not cautious. Do not follow the crowd. Do not believe the lies.
Much more could be said, but perhaps enough has been presented to stir interest in studying this subject further.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you… (Matthew 7:7)