Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Working for the Devil

If I Worked for the Devil

Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

There’s a place for everyone in the devil’s work. He needs dedicated volunteers and bunches of them. Satan has a terrible job. He has to persuade people that they don’t want to live in heaven with God forever.

Heaven is a place of boundless joy. There’s the tree of life, a street of pure gold, and all the redeemed of the ages. There are no tears. There is no pain and no dying.

Hell is a place of total darkness. It’s a place of fire, brimstone, weeping, and gnashing of teeth. The pain is perpetual. Worst of all, hell is a place of no hope.

The devil has a terrible job. Despite the Bible, the influence and example of Christians, and the sense of right and wrong that’s built in to every person, he has to sell the idea that hell is a myth.

Naturally, he uses lies and deceit. That’s all he has to work with. John 8:44 records the words Jesus spoke to some religious leaders who opposed Him, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. 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.”

What lies does Satan use to keep people out of heaven? In this article, we’ll consider five.

Lie Number One

If I worked for the devil, I’d tell you that the Bible is way too complicated for you to understand. It has all those unusual (and seemingly unpronounceable) names, like Ahasuerus (Esther 1:2) and Mahershalalhashbaz (Isaiah 8:1). There are people who keep changing names, like Abram (Abraham) and Jacob (Israel).

Besides, the Bible is confusing on other levels. We meet Moses and Elijah in the Old Testament. They die. Then, we find the alive in the New Testament (Luke 9). Good guys, people who are God’s servants, do terrible things. David committed adultery and murder. Solomon had all that wisdom, but left God for idolatry. Peter confessed Christ, but then denied Him three times. On top of this, there’s the book of Revelation where locusts shaped like horses come out of the smoke (Revelation 9).

Honestly, there are some things in the Bible that are difficult to understand. But, as a rule, the gospels aren’t. Acts isn’t. Much in Paul’s epistles is quite clear. The heart of the gospel can be understood in one sitting. Check out Romans 13, 1 Corinthians 13, Ephesians 4 and 5, or Psalm 100. You’ll find so much that is so clear.

Besides, wouldn’t you be a bit disappointed if everything in Scripture was elementary? Peter acknowledged that Paul’s letters contained “some things hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:14-18). But, isn’t God’s truth something worth digging for? Doesn’t it deserve our time and effort?

Lie Number Two

If I worked for the devil, I’d tell you that if you live as well as most people, you’re OK. After all, this works in many areas of life. The nursery school will keep your child if he’s no meaner than average. Most employers don’t fire their average workers. Policemen don’t usually stop cars that are traveling with the flow of traffic, even if they are speeding.

This lie of Satan works on the assumption that the majority of people are OK with God. Hell is only for “the truly bad.” After all, won’t most people be saved?

You know the words of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and the are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Exodus 23:2 warns against following a multitude to do evil.

Biblical examples help us here. In the days of Noah, was “average” good enough? Was the majority right in 1 Samuel 8 when they demanded a king? In the days of Jeremiah, who was correct, the one prophet predicting seventy years of captivity or the many prophets predicting peace and prosperity? Who were more numerous in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, disciples or crucifiers?

The Bible teaches individual judgment (Hebrews 9:27, 2 Corinthians 5:10), not salvation by group.

Lie Number Three

If I worked for the devil, I would tell you that people just aren’t interested in the gospel anymore. This one is really easy to believe. If you’ve ever tried to be evangelistic, you’ve met with some polite dismissals. Perhaps, you’ve even met with impolite dismissals.

Of course, this lie misses the point. We plant and water, but God gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). In the famous parable of the sower (aka, the parable of the soils), only one of the four proved ultimately fruitful (Matthew 13). Of all the people in Jerusalem on the Pentecost of Acts 2, only about 3,000 gladly received the word and were baptized on that day. And, remember Paul’s missionary journeys. He and his companions often met fierce resistance, but they stayed true to God’s commission.

Certainly, some people are not interested in the gospel. Many will not agree to a “cold contact” Bible study. Often, however, people will agree to study the Bible with those whom they have seen living it. In evangelism, it is faithful effort, not results, which God commands.

Lie Number Four

If I worked for the devil, I would tell you that you deserve complete happiness now. I’d tell you that you have the right to wealth, health, a wonderful family, great friends, and a long life.

I’d tell you this lie for three key reasons. First, I’d hope that you would blame God when disappointments come. I’d hope that you would believe the lie and think that God had promised you a bed of roses just for being a Christian. I’d hope that you’d forget Isaiah’s description of the Messiah as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53). I’d hope that you’d forget the cross, the persecution of Acts 8, and all that 1 Peter says about suffering for Christ.

Second, I’d tell you this lie because it is one that people love to believe. People love to believe that they are immune from suffering and struggle. Job was right, “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). Jesus told the truth when He warned His disciples, “In this world you will have tribulation…” (John 16:33).

Third, I’d tell you this lie because, if you believe it, you’ll work to make it true. If you believe that you deserve complete happiness now, you’ll live selfishly. You’ll use people and waste things. You’ll reject every difficult truth of God and every demand of discipleship. And you’ll be consumed by your own selfishness.

Lie Number Five

If I worked for the devil, I’d tell you that sin isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I wouldn’t deny that sin is bad, that’s too unbelievable. I wouldn’t deny that sin can destroy through separation from God. Romans 6:23 and 3:23 are too clear to deny. I’d just try to persuade you that sin has been handled.

After all, didn’t Jesus come because “God so loved the world”? Didn’t Jesus die to so that we wouldn’t have to be condemned? Isn’t God’s grace greater than sin? Read John 3, Romans 6, and Ephesians 2. God has handled sin.

Of course, I wouldn’t want to read those chapters carefully. I’d hope that you never notice Jesus’ words, “…Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). I’d hope that you never notice Jesus’ words, “…He who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:8). I’d hope that you never notice how Romans 6 demands that we stop letting sin reign in our lives and choose to “walk in newness of life.” I’d hope that focus so much on grace that you never notice the importance of faith in Ephesians 2.

Of course, I’d never remind you of the hardening that can come through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). Above all, I’d never want you to notice the terrifying truth of 2 Thessalonians 2:11. After all, who wants to believe that God could actually let a person reject Him and believe lies?


If I worked for the devil, I’d tell you these lies and more. I’d tell you whatever I could to hide God’s love. I’d tell you whatever you needed to hear to reject God’s offer of life in Christ. If I worked for the devil, I’d know how much misery loves company.

And, I’d hope that you never had the wisdom to search the Scripture and learn God’s truth for yourself.

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