The great controversy between Christ and Satan will close soon, and the wicked one is increasing his efforts to defeat the work of Christ for humanity. His aim is to hold people in darkness and rebellion until the Savior’s sanctuary ministry is over. When people in the church are indifferent, Satan is not concerned. But when hearts inquire, “What must I do to be saved?” he is there to match his power against Christ and to counteract the Holy Spirit’s influence.
On one occasion, when the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan also came among them, not to bow before the Eternal King, but to carry forward his evil plans against the righteous (see Job 1:6). He is present when Christians gather for worship, working diligently to control the minds of the worshipers. As he sees the messenger of God studying the Scriptures, he notices the subject to be presented.
Then he uses his subtle skills and shrewdness so that the message may not reach those whom he is deceiving on that very point. The one who most needs the warning will be urged into some business transaction or will be prevented in some other way from hearing the word.
Satan sees the Lord’s servants burdened because of the darkness that surrounds the people. He hears their prayers for divine grace and power to break the spell of indifference and laziness. Then with renewed zeal Satan tempts people to indulge their appetites or gratify themselves, and in this way he dulls their perceptions so that they fail to hear the very things they most need to learn.
Satan knows that all who neglect to pray and read the Bible will be overcome by his attacks. So he invents every possible diversion to occupy the mind. His right-hand helpers are always active when God is at work. They will describe the most earnest, self-denying servants of Christ as deceived or deceivers.
Their work is to misrepresent the motives of every noble deed, to spread doubts, and arouse suspicion in the minds of the inexperienced. But we can easily see whose children they are, whose example they follow, and whose work they “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16; also see Revelation 12:10).
The Truth Sanctifies
The great deceiver has many heresies prepared to fit the different tastes of those he wants to ruin. His plan is to bring into the church insincere, unconverted people who will encourage doubt and unbelief. Many who have no real faith in God agree to a few principles of truth and pass as Christians, and in this way they are able to introduce error as Bible doctrine. Satan knows that the truth, received in love, sanctifies the life.
So he tries to substitute false theories, fables, another gospel. From the beginning, servants of God have opposed false teachers, not because they considered them vicious people, but because they taught falsehoods that were fatal to the spiritual life. Elijah, Jeremiah, Paul, firmly opposed those who were turning others from the Word of God. The liberal mindset that thinks correct faith is not important found no welcome with these holy defenders of truth.
The vague and inventive interpretations of Scripture and the conflicting religious theories in the Christian world are the work of our great adversary to confuse minds. The discord and division among the churches come mostly from twisting the Scriptures to support a favorite theory.
In order to prove false doctrines, some take hold of passages of Scripture separated from the context. They quote half a verse as proving their point, when the remaining portion shows that the meaning is the opposite. With the wily deceit of the serpent they take their position behind unrelated statements intended to please carnal desires. Others turn to figures and symbols, interpret them to suit their ideas with little care for the testimony of Scripture as its own interpreter, and then present their erratic thoughts as the teachings of the Bible.
The Whole Bible a Guide
Whenever people begin to study the Scriptures without a prayerful, teachable spirit, they will twist the plainest passages away from their true meaning. The whole Bible should be given to the people just as it reads.
God gave the sure word of prophecy. Angels and even Christ Himself came to make known to Daniel and John the things that “must shortly take place” (Revelation 1:1). God did not reveal important matters about our salvation in a way to perplex and mislead the person who is honestly seeking for truth. The Word of God is plain to all who study it with a prayerful heart.
By the cry “Open-mindedness” people are blinded to Satan’s deceptions. He succeeds in displacing the Bible with human speculations. People set aside the law of God, and the churches are in slavery to sin while they claim to be free.
God has permitted a flood of light to pour over the world in scientific discoveries. But, if the Word of God is not their guide, even the greatest minds become bewildered in trying to investigate how science and revelation fit together.
Human knowledge is partial and imperfect. This is why many are unable to harmonize their ideas of science with Scripture. Many accept things that are only theories as scientific facts, and they think that they should test God’s Word by “what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20). Because they cannot explain the Creator and His works by natural laws, they consider Bible history as unreliable. Those who doubt the Old and New Testaments too often go a step further and doubt the existence of God. Once they let go of their anchor, they beat about on the rocks of unbelief.
It is a masterpiece of Satan’s deceptions to keep people speculating about things that God has not made known. Lucifer became dissatisfied because God did not share with him all the secrets of God’s purposes, and he turned his back on the things God had revealed. Now he tries to fill people with the same spirit and lead them also to ignore the direct commands of God.