We have begun a study on what is perceived to be a very fascinating passage of Scripture in Ephesians 6:10-18. Two weeks ago we saw the warning that Paul issued to Christians to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Last week we began looking at some of the tactics or schemes that Satan utilizes to interfere with God's plans in the world and ruin the lives of those who are members of Christ's church.
Jesus said that he is a liar and the father of lies, that is he is the origin or the source. Jesus went so far as to say "there is no truth in him." Then we identified at least 6 ways in which he practices deception:
A. He seeks to undermine the character and credibility of God
B. He perverts God's truth through false teachers, doctrine & miracles
C. He convinces people that the Christian life is too hard
D. He entices men with the promise that sin will satisfy
E. He twists the truth about himself to gain an advantage
F. He blinds the minds of unbelievers to the gospel
I'm sure we could come up with more ways in which he deceives but I think these are sufficient to help us with our guard. The second one we considered was
2. Satan attacks us through
One of his main purposes is to "divide and conquer." He instigates division in the church by using false doctrine and false teachers, he uses unbelievers planted within the church and he will even use self-centered, carnal Christians to disrupt unity within the body of Christ.
There is a third tactic I want to speak of this morning, but I suppose I should mention that what we're highlighting today is closely related to the first two. You may notice that his schemes can bleed into one another and we dealt with this briefly but I think its worth digging a little deeper.
3. Satan attacks us by confusing
This connects to the other two tactics because he deceives for the purpose of confusing doctrine and one of the reasons for confusing doctrine is to create division and pull people out of range of biblical truth. This particular point has everything to do with the Word of God. Turn to I Tim.4:1-6. Here Paul warns Timothy of this method of confusing doctrine when he writes
1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
And look at verse 6
6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.
Now turn over to II Tim.2:14-18
14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, 18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.
One of the primary responsibilities for the pastor and elders is to teach sound doctrine to stave off the false doctrine that may creep into the church and cause confusion. Remember that was one of the last things Paul told the Ephesian elders in Acts 20.
Peter also made reference to this danger in his second epistle :
15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation--as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (II Peter 3:15-18)
So let me give you of few of the ways that Satan confuses doctrine among the brethren. He will attempt to
a. Add to the Scriptures "One of the ways cults get started is by distracting men from the authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures so that they seek other revelation. Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon is a perfect example of foolish and futile attempts to add to the Word of God. Today there is a campaign by Mormons to promote their cult as a bona fide Christian denomination. Anytime a religious leader goes outside of Scripture to find God's will you'll find a cult.
The Catholic Church has given such unquestioned authority to their popes that they can actually speak with the authority of God. Included as equal authority to Scripture is their established church tradition.
Then there are other prominent Christian "Bible teachers" who claim to receive revelation from the Lord through what they call "a word of knowledge." Maybe you've seen them but the fact of the matter is that anyone who claims to receive extra-biblical revelation implies that the Scriptures are insufficient to reveal God's will to us, which is a contradiction of the Word itself. II Tim.3:16,17 says
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
That means that everything you need to know God, to know His will and to serve Him can be found in Scripture. When you have men going outside of the Bible, claiming that God is speaking you throw the door wide open to doctrines of demons.
b. Satan also deletes from the Scriptures "This is, in essence, what the liberal scholars do, like the infamous Jesus Seminar. They brazenly strike out certain biblical truths such as the literal Virgin Birth of Christ, his bodily resurrection, the doctrine of hell, and all of the miracles He did. They have determined in their own foolish wisdom that the Bible falsified 82% of what He said. I suppose, if they aren't working on it already, they'll produce their own version of the Bible that eliminates everything they think Jesus didn't say.
Our third president, as great a leader as he was, is known for taking a Bible and cutting out all the miracles because he couldn't believe them and came up with his own version of the Bible that ends with Jesus buried in the tomb.
c. Satan denies the inerrancy of the Scriptures "Along with the liberal scholarship of the 20th century came the denial of inerrancy. Certain sections of the evangelical world began to say in effect, that while the Bible was indeed inspired, it was not necessarily inerrant. This said one could accept at face value all the spiritual and moral statements in the Word of God, but must carefully examine for possible human error the scientific, historical, and geographical statements.
But the danger of such conclusions is that if the Bible can't be trusted in those areas then who's to say that it is without error in those matters of faith? So can you see why Satan would use such a tactic? This would be an invaluable tool in corrupting the truth and confusing people so they could pick and choose what they want to believe.
d. Satan misinterprets the Scriptures "By doing this, he has led people to believe all kinds of heresy. Things like:
(1) One must be baptized to be saved, based on Acts 2:38
(2) That one is saved by faith plus works, based on
James 2:14, 24, or that he has to obey the
10 Commandments or just do the best they can
(3) That one can sin away his day of grace, based on
(4) That God desires to keep all Christians in perfect
health and make them wealthy, based on Matthew 8:17
and 3 John 2
(5) That a believer may achieve sinless perfection here
on earth, based on 1 John 3:9
(6) That speaking in tongues is the sign of the baptism
of the Holy Spirit, based on Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14
(7) That homosexuality is demonstrated in Scripture by the
love relationship between David and Jonathan.
We could go on because the list is pretty extensive of faulty doctrines that have been developed through misinterpretation or taking Scripture out of it's context.
All misinterpretations come from either human error or satanic influence, and probably more often than not the latter is involved. Paul told the Corinthians in II Cor.11
1 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly--and indeed you do bear with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity* that is in Christ. 4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted--you may well put up with it!
Something else Satan has used to confuse doctrine is to introduce the idea that doctrine doesn't matter . . . that it's nothing more than boring academics and that what is important is your worship experience. The claim is that doctrine divides and you know what? They're right! It divides truth from error!
Dear people, if you aren't sure of what you believe than your are going to be susceptible to Satan's deceptions. If you aren't sure what we believe as a church then you need to ask me or one of the elders or deacons for a copy of our doctrinal statement. The very reason a doctrinal statement was drafted and adopted is the importance of sound doctrine.
Beloved, be warned of the enemies schemes . . . Satan will attack through cunning deception, through creating division, and through confusing our doctrine. Know what you believe.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does
not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (II Tim.2:15)
Isn't it interesting that when Satan sought to tempt Christ, He used the Word of God to resist him. Know the Word people . . . know what you believe . . . know why you believe it. If anyone is confused about what you believe, you need to come see me.
Don't be ashamed . . . let me help you get grounded in sound doctrine. Don't fall prey to his scheme of confusing your beliefs. Without doctrine, Satan corrupts the mind of the believer.