Satan, on the other hand, cannot use the method of open investigation and inquiry. He would lose his case if he did. He doesn’t dare invite our questions, for the truth is not with him. And so throughout history he has used religion to silence inquiry. And then diabolically, he calls that willingness to believe without inquiry faith. Instead of evidence and truth, he substitutes force, fear, and ignorance. On top of that he piles miracles, excitement, feelings, pomp, majesty, ceremony, and mystery. And on top of all that he piles claim upon claim. All these things we must beware lest we be deceived. Let’s not underestimate his cunning. He deceived one third of the brilliant angels.
Of course, if we read the sixty-six books through, we will realize how often we have been warned to beware of such things. Jesus Himself warns specifically of Satan’s methods, in the familiar words of Matthew 24:24:
If anyone says to you then, “Look, here is Christ!” or “There He is!” don’t believe it. False Christs and false prophets are going to appear and will produce great signs and wonders to mislead, if it were possible, even God’s own people (Phillips)!
Also a little earlier in the same chapter, in Matthew 24:4-5, Jesus says:
“Watch out, and do not let anyone fool you. Many men, claiming to speak for me, will come and say, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will fool many people” (GNB).
The most unusual Bible in my whole collection is The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as Revised and Corrected by the Spirits. It is the Spiritists’ Bible. It came out in 1861. What is so remarkable about it is that it thoroughly rewrites the New Testament in support of Spiritism. In the Introduction, it claims that Jesus came down from heaven, medium that He was, and the apostles came down with Him, and they corrected all the errors in the New Testament. And then it says, “Dear Reader, trust in God who made all things after the counsel of His own will. The Holy Spirits feel much interest in this work and the spirits who corrected this New Testament desire that the world will receive this correction as coming from them directed by God Himself, which is true. Signed, Jesus the Christ.” A diabolical fraud! But look at the claim. Anybody can make claims.
John warns concerning the use of miracles to deceive. Look at Revelation 13:13-14:
This second beast performed great miracles; it made fire come down out of heaven to earth in the sight of everyone. And it deceived all the people living on earth by means of the miracles which it was allowed to perform (GNB).
Speaking of that last period of human history, Paul gives the same type of warning in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10:
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refuse to love the truth. . . (NIV).
They refuse the very thing God designed to protect them from deception. But most seriously of all, Paul warns that professed messengers of God will also be engaged in this work of deception.
God’s messengers? They are counterfeits of the real thing, dishonest practitioners masquerading as the messengers of Christ. Nor do their tactics surprise me when I consider how Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is only to be expected that his angels will have the appearance of ministers of righteousness (2 Cor 11:13-15, Phillips).
Paul’s reference to Satan suggests that the devil is still pretending to be Lucifer, the bearer of light and truth. This reminds us of Christ’s most serious words, spoken to a group of Sabbath-keeping, tithe-paying Bible teachers in His day. These Bible teachers had just denounced Jesus’ picture of His Father as satanic. Think of it! Sabbath-keepers, tithe-payers and Bible teachers were telling Christ He had a devil. And He turned to them and uttered those extraordinary words in John 8:44-45. And you can be sure there were tears in His voice when He said this:
The father whose sons you are is the devil, and you are bent on carrying out the wishes of your father. He proved himself a murderer at the very beginning, and did not loyally stand by the truth; in fact, there is no spark of truth in him. Whenever he gives utterance to his falsehood, then he gives expression to his real character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. I, on the contrary, speak the truth, and therefore you do not believe me (Kleist and Lilly).
Paul mentions forged letters being circulated, pretending to be from him and causing early Christians much distress. Look at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3:
“We ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us. . . . Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way” (NIV).
From that time on Paul signed his epistles with greater care.
John also warns of false teachers who will arise, claiming to have the Holy Spirit, and yet their claim is a fraud. 1 John 4:1-2:
“My dear friends, do not believe all who claim to have the Spirit, but test them to find out if the spirit they have comes from God. For many false prophets have gone out everywhere” (GNB).
Claims alone are no proof of the Spirit, the spirit a teacher carries needs to be tested. Paul surely agrees that we should test everything before believing. That familiar text is in 1 Thessalonians 5:21: “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (NIV). God is not afraid to be tested. That’s what is so believable about God. The reason He is not afraid to be examined is that the truth and evidence are on His side.