By Reese Currie, Compass Distributors
Satan and his demons exercise a subtle influence over the world. The influence is subtle in that few people in the world really believe demonic influence is taking place. The results are not subtle at all; as we look around the world, we can see the high human cost of demonic control.
The ultimate goal of Satan doesn't have that much to do with humans; we're just pawns in the game. His purpose is to get back at God, to try to hurt God, and the only way he can do this is to make humans go to hell with him. God Himself does not want anyone to go to hell. 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."
Unfortunately, through demonic deception, the majority of people alive today and throughout history will be going to hell. For Satan, it is a numbers game. The more people he deceives, the more will go to hell, and the more he hurts God.
For people who have been saved by Jesus Christ, there is nothing Satan can do about their eternal destiny. However, through deceit, he can render the witness of a Christian ineffective and keep them from influencing others to repent and believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation, and he can certainly cause a great deal of injury and pain to Christians in this world who will give him the opportunity through partaking in sin.
So it is important then to be able to see the earmarks of Satan's more subtle working in this world. When we see violence, bloodshed, theft, and vice, most of us as Christians understand Satan's influence is behind those things. Yet, he has more subtle ways of operating that are not apparent to everyone. Identifying Satan's more subtle work requires knowing his techniques and evaluating what is happening in light of his ultimate goal.
Most people, hearing the word "perversion," immediately associate it with weird sexual activity. That is only one facet of perversion, which is much more far reaching. In essence, perversion is nothing more than the denial of essential differences in an effort to homogenize everything, that is, to bring everything down to the same level.
Janine Chassguet-Smirgel is a French thinker who has studied the nature of perversion perhaps more than anyone else in the world. She "describes the essence of perversion as an attempt to break down all categories, particularly between genders, and between the generations."1 This is a very astute observation by Chassguet-Smirgel. Her statement led me to contemplate the notion that the perverted breaking down of categories is at the root of Satan's strategy in deceiving the world.
In his first dealing with humanity, Satan employed perversion to convince humans they could be the same as God. He told Eve they could overcome this basic difference. In Genesis 3:4,5 we read, "Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘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.’"
Isaiah 5:20 seems to make reference to the denial of differences as well, saying, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
With unbelievers, Satan's strategy is so simple it is comical, yet it is the most difficult for humans to overcome. Satan denies the difference between humans and God, enthroning humans themselves as the gods of their own lives, with full self-determination. I suppose the technical term for this is "humanism." When we repent, we really give up the notion that we are self- determining and turn back to God, no longer following our own way. It has great advantages over self-determination, but really no one would know without trying it!
Satan has used the entertainment industry to sell the idea of self-determination. You can have sex with whoever you want and however many people you want of whichever sex. You can use whatever tactics you want in business to get ahead. If you get angry with someone, you can beat them up, and if they do something really awful to you, homicide may be justified. These are really the kind of messages we get from the entertainment industry. The entertainment industry is heavily used by Satan to accomplish his ends.
There is a special category of people who believe in a nebulous higher power and believe that all religions are basically interpretations of the same force in the universe. These people believe there is good in all religions, and would be unsure if there was any one religion more right than all others. Do you see the perversion in that, the denial of differences? Every religion by necessity denies that all others are true, but the generally religious deny that difference between religions. Since there is perversion there, and since it serves Satan's purpose, it is easily identified as Satan's strategy. No one who really believes in Christ can have anything to do with non-Christian religion, so adherents to the "generally religious" systems are unsaved. Their adherents, God's creations, will go to hell with Satan, causing a measure of grief for the Lord.
Two manifestations of the generally religious are the Bahai Faith and the Masons. The Bahai faith teaches that Zoroaster, Jesus Christ, Mohammed and Bahaullah were all manifestations of God, and seeks a universal religion based on the essential identity of the great religions. The Masons embrace all religions that recognize a higher power. The "mysteries" are kept from most Masons, but at the higher degrees Masons are taught that all religions are really based on people's interpretations of Masonry's god, a trinity composed of Jehovah, Baal and Osiris called "Jahbulon". This statement alone expresses an unspeakably blasphemous impossibility and denial of the difference between good and evil.
Satan's plan for the Christian church is to de-emphasize critical doctrinal differences until the teachings of Christian churches become logically incoherent to the point that no rational person will believe them. This is being accomplished at a dramatic rate by the ecumenical efforts of the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches.
A combined Catholic-Protestant position would be difficult to even express, almost Monty-Pythonesque in its irrationality. I will attempt to express it as, "All you have to do to be saved is accept Christ, but this alone may or may not assure you of eternal salvation. We are generally agreed that it does not, but there are a few dissenting parties who adhere to a theory of 'eternal security'. Most of us would say that further good works on your part will be necessary, which may or may not involve sacraments, most likely including baptism and the Lord's supper or 'eucharist', which may or may not be Christ's real body and blood, an intermingling of the elements of Christ's body with the bread and blood with the wine, or merely bread and wine representative of Christ's body and blood, and possibly the necessary sacraments extend to confirmation, penance, holy orders and extreme unction, the last three of which are available only through our Catholic representatives."
The interesting part of this message is that not a word of it expresses Jesus Christ's call to salvation, which is stated so simply, "Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15b).
The gospel, or "good news," was expressed by Paul as follows. "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Anything less than this does not lead to salvation. (Liberal Protestant denominations generally do not require even their ministers to believe in the resurrection of Jesus.) Anything more than this simple call to repentance and faith is not only unnecessary but counterproductive.
This is the crux of what is wrong with the ecumenical message, this counterproductivity. Presented with the ecumenical message, a person wanting to be saved would naturally want to do the maximum of the things presented in the message, basically, to become a Catholic in order to get the full range of "good works" in that might be necessary for salvation. Unfortunately, anyone believing that they have to go through rituals to be saved now relies on the rituals, not on Christ alone, for their salvation. In so doing, they show they do not actually believe the gospel message at all, and are going to hell because they do not believe.
Isaiah 64:6 says, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." No good works on our part will save us, and believing that they will help is tantamount to believing Christ alone is insufficient for our salvation. Good works are the evidence of a salvation already received.
In truth, most people presented with an insanely complex and self-contradictory statement like the "ecumenical message" would simply abandon Christianity as being too irrational to possibly be true, and even if it was true, too complex to ever be done properly. So the devil's main strategy in ecumenism would be to prevent people from even considering the Christian message.
So, in ecumenism, we see a denial of differences (in this case doctrinal differences) that leads to people not being saved, because they trust rituals and good works for their salvation in addition to Christ, or because it prevents people from responding to the Christian message. It becomes obvious then that ecumenism conforms to the Satanic strategy in every detail.
I hope this article has served as a guide for identifying perversion and its role in Satan's plans. Satan's plans are aimed toward the grand scheme of things, but are even found in extreme subtleties like a Christian's personal life. Let me give a brief final example.
Suppose you wanted to marry an unbeliever, so you have suppressed your Christian beliefs and witness in order to not distress your spouse. In this instance, you have been led to deny the difference between Christians and non-Christians. You have violated 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?" And the end result is, some person who may otherwise have been converted by your witness will not be, because you have to suppress your witness to please your spouse. How subtly the devil accomplishes his goals, limiting the number of witnesses God has to use.
If you can see and Biblically analyze your motives and their potential effects, and look for that underlying thread of perversion or "denial of differences," you can defeat many of the devil's tricks and remain more productive in Christ.
1 "The naked truth about dirty art," Norman Doidge, National Post, December 16, 1998
Identifying Demonic Influence Copyright © 1999 by Compass Distributors
Scripture references taken from The Holy Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.), 1982.