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Satan’s Deception in the Church Age

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(By Mark Fontecchio)

The Devil’s boots don’t creak. This old Scottish proverb contains an element of truth that is echoed throughout the Word of God. The Apostle Paul boldly proclaimed, “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, and one of his main strategies is deception. Using this approach he is capable of sneaking up on the saints of God to lead them astray.

Satan’s global plan of deception for mankind began in the Garden of Eden. Satan, through the use of a serpent, approached Eve without revealing himself to her. His approach was subtle and came with a question. It is in Genesis 3:1 that we see he questioned God’s instruction by asking, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” When Eve correctly restated God’s instruction, Satan took it a step further. Satan sought to lead Adam and Eve astray by directly contradicting what God had told them. Further, he questioned God’s motive when he said, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:14-15). These lies from Satan were meant to deceive Eve, leading her to eat the forbidden fruit. The account of the serpent in the Garden of Eden illustrates the typical line of attack from Satan. He seeks to slander the holiness of God while deceiving men about their relationship to God.

Church Age

During the Church Age, Satan has continued the widespread usage of deception. Paul warned Timothy, “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). Deception will continue to compound as the Church Age progresses. His deception has a purpose; it is leading to a time when the Antichrist will take control of the world. The Antichrist will rule with lies and dominating brutal force. Those who oppose him and his rule will lose their lives (Rev. 17:6). Satan is preparing the people of this world for this time by leading them into deception.

This fits perfectly with the descriptions we have of Satan in the Word of God. Speaking of Satan, Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). Merrill Tenney reminds us, “The devil is a murderer and a liar. He seeks to deprive life and distort truth” (Tenney 1981, 96).

The actions of Satan stand in direct opposition to the Lord Jesus Christ. Shortly before the cross, Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The Lord Jesus Christ came to offer life and to reveal His truth to mankind. Satan, however, is having the opposite effect on mankind. Paul warned, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Cor. 3-4). Satan is also the promoter of the counterfeit religions of men, and he champions distorted worldviews (Col. 1:13; 2:6-10; 1 John 2:15-17). The conflict between Satan and Christ is continuing to build during this present age. The climax will be at the Second Coming of Christ. The Apostle John instructs, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:1-2).

Satan is the, “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). We are also told that the, “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). The Devil is the god of this age and his deception is pervasive.

There can be no doubt that we are living in the last days. The Apostle John referred to the time we are living in as, “the last hour” (1 John 2:18). Paul referred to this time as, “the last days” and warned that:

perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Tim. 3:1-5).

It is paramount to the life of the believer to know what Satan is doing during this present evil age. The Apostle Paul contrasted the behavior of the unredeemed in this age with how the man of God should respond (2 Tim. 3:1-17).

During this age there is a battle for truth that is taking place. Satan’s goal is nothing less than deceiving the whole world (Rev. 12:9). “His power lies in deception, and by his lies the whole world is deceived about God (2:20; 13:14; 18:23; 19:20; 20:3, 8, 10; 2 John 7; cf. Rom 1:25)” (Johnson 1981, 517).  It is for this reason that Paul wrote to Timothy, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).

The battle centers squarely on the written Word of God. Satan blinds people to the truth of God’s Word. He attacks the authority, inerrancy, integrity, and inspiration of the Scriptures. His goal for believers is to rob them of their confidence in the Word of God, taking away our foundation for life and godliness. He tries to show that the Bible has no purpose today, but it should be the foundation for our faith. The Devil has twisted and corrupted the Christian faith to the point that it no longer reflects the faith once delivered to the saints in Scripture. The subtle corruption of the Christian faith has a dramatic impact on the teaching ministries of the Church. Much of what is now being taught within churches often denies the truth of God’s Word. Men and women are departing, “from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).

Satan seeks to propagate his message with lies. He attempts to trap or ensnare Christians with his deceit (2 Tim. 2:26). Christ is seeking to establish His people in His truth (John 17:17). Yet, Satan’s attacks upon Christians goes even further. Satan tempts believers to sin (1 Thess. 3:5; 1 Cor. 7:5). He is also the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). Satan:

is the god of this age. His dominion is in the air, he is the Prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2). Our present conflict as believers is ‘against principalities, against authorities, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against the wicked spirits in the heavenlies’ (Eph. 6:12). Satan as the accuser of the brethren has access even into the presence of God (Gaebelein 2009, 239-240).

Let it not be said that Satan is passive in this battle. He actively opposes believers, which is why Peter instructed, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).

Our Response

With great confidence we can know precisely how to respond to the attacks and deceit of Satan. First, we must be on guard. The Apostle Paul warned, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). “Paul was warning the believers not to be taken in by any philosophy that does not conform to a proper knowledge of Christ” (Radmacher 1999, Col. 2:8). This involves guarding the doctrines of the Lord Jesus Christ that have been given to us in the Word of God (1 Tim. 6). We are also told, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Comfort comes from knowing of our standing in Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. John reminded, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). As we abide in Christ and His Word we see through the fog of deception that covers our world today!

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The Holy Bible: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

Gaebelein, Arno C. The Annotated Bible, Volume 9: James to Revelation. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009.

Johnson, Alan F. "Revelation". In The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 12: Hebrews Through Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981.

Radmacher, Earl D., Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999.

Tenney, Merrill C. "John". In The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 9: John and Acts. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981.


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