Satan: The Great Seducer
Why will so many people zealously follow Satan's deceptive ways to their death? There are two primary causes. The first arises from human nature and man's innate hostility toward God's ways (Romans 8:7). The second cause is Satan's mastery in deceiving people.
How does Satan achieve his deception? He uses people to deceive other people. He especially likes to use people who seem, from outward appearances, to be trustworthy.
A faithful follower of God must exercise care that he is "a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). In other words, he must know what the Bible really teaches and use it correctly. He must refuse to gullibly accept a religious practice just because everyone else does it" or because it appears right on the surface. Otherwise he is likely to be deceived.
Paul lamented what was happening to some in his day. "For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough" (2 Corinthians 11:4, NIV). When false teachers twist and distort the message of the Scriptures, sincere people often fail to see through their deceptions.
Paul continues: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve" (verses 13-15, NIV).
Paul warned that even believers could be led to gullibly accept doctrines taught by false teachers-should they become negligent in studying the Scriptures to verify the truth of their beliefs.
Jesus had earlier warned that Satan and his agents would constantly seek to distract and deceive people in an attempt to turn them against God's truth. "Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown," said Christ. "As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them" (Mark 4:15, NIV).
He bluntly warned of Satan's deceptive approach: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15-16).
At the time of the end Satan will not change his pattern. He will raise up a powerful false prophet whose influence will not be hindered by political boundaries. Satan will lead the Babylonish religious system centered in Rome and use his prophet to deceive a gullible world that will not carefully check the Bible to see if what he says is really from God (Revelation 19:20).
Paul describes the effect of the deception: "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 refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness" (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, NIV).
Never underestimate the skill Satan exercises in deceiving humanity. The book of Revelation plainly says he is "that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray" (Revelation 12:9, NIV).
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