We’ve all heard the expression, “Know your enemy”.
The Enemy is Satan. How well do we, as Christians know him, really?
For every good and perfect thing that God gives us, Satan is right there to offer us a counterfeit, at a bargain basement price. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular counterfeits he’s handing out;
God gives us the gift of speaking in tongues. He shows us in the Book of Acts what that’s really all about; the apostles were able to speak in languages they’d previously not had any knowledge of in order to spread the gospel to people who didn’t speak their language. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? It was a gift from the Holy Spirit and it was given for a purpose. Hand in hand goes the gift of Interpretation of Tongues. Paul points out in his letters to the church in Corinth that if you’re speaking in tongues and don’t have anyone there to interpret – don’t do it, because you’re only edifying yourself, not the church.
Is that how the gift of tongues is popularly known now? Or has it taken on a whole different life of its own, courtesy of our enemy, who delights in perverting the gifts of God? How often do we see pastors like Kenneth Copeland fall into some state and start babbling incoherently, calling it the gift of tongues? I have no doubt that at that moment he is “feeling a spirit” moving in him, but it’s not the Holy Spirit. God is not the author of confusion. That’d be Satan. I’ve attended churches that have insisted that until you speak in tongues (babble), you have not been baptized by the Holy Spirit. We’ve left those churches. The Spirit gives gifts as He wills, not as we will, and the gift of tongues, frankly, is listed last by Paul.
The Bible tells us that death is sleep. It says the dead are asleep and no nothing. It says that on the last day, at the last trumpet, the dead in Christ will rise first.Seriously, there are over 50 references in the Bible to death as sleep, depending on the translation. It tells us that Jesus will call out and all who are in the grave will hear him and come forth – like when he called out to Lazarus and woke him from sleep. “Our friend, Lazarus sleeps.”
Satan tells us that the dead are in Heaven and visiting us in their spare time; watching over us. How can there be joy in heaven if people are watching their family and friends down here struggling through life? Who’s going to rise up out of the graves at the last trumpet if everyone has been given their final reward already and are in heaven or hell? Would Jesus have torn Lazarus or that little girl out of the arms of the Lord and stuck them back in their old bodies in this sick and corrupt world? That’s not a God I’d like to be serving. There are zero scriptures in the Bible saying that heaven is full of our dead relatives. There’s a parable in Luke about the great gulf – and it’s a parable. How would it be heaven if we could look across the gulf and see our departed loved ones in hell?
God gave us the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week; a holy day where we could find rest for our bodies and our spirits. A day where we could can focus on our relationship with our Creator. It was given to us at Creation and it was for all of mankind. Adam and Eve were not Jews. It was important enough for God to write it on a tablet of stone with his own hand (not written on paper by Moses). It was important enough for him to use the word, “Remember,” because He knew that there would be a time when we would forget. Jesus kept the Sabbath. He clarified the Sabbath in his teachings. He did not abolish the Sabbath. The apostles kept the Sabbath. The early church kept the seventh day Sabbath for about three hundred years after the Cross.
Rome gave us Sunday as the Lord’s Day. In order to draw more people into the church, one of the compromises was to shift the role of the “bad guy” onto the Jews and declare that Sunday was now the official day of worship. This allowed the pagans who were sun worshippers to keep their day and grow the church. Would Jesus have spent so much time clarifying that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath if he was going to do away with it? In Isaiah 66 there are references to end time prophecy; “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” We’re counseled in the Bible to heed God’s commandments and not follow the traditions of man. Sunday worship is a tradition of man, not God.
The Bible tells us that there is ONE mediator between God and man; Jesus. That’s in 1st Timothy 2. Seems pretty clear to me.
Satan gives us a counterfeit mediator, telling us that Mary is up in heaven, as a co-mediator with Christ. Now, I’m not disrespecting Mary. She was chosen by God to bear Jesus. To raise him from a child to a man. That was a pretty big, pretty important job. She was a very brave young woman to take on that mission with humility and grace. And she did a good job. But her job was finite. And then she died. So she’s asleep. I’m quite certain she will be in Heaven someday, but she’s not there now, and she’s certainly not interceding for us. When people pray to Mary and bow down in front of those horrible statues of her, they’re actually bowing down before Satan.
God told people to observe Holy Days. All throughout the Bible there were holy days that God told people (mostly the Jews) to observe. He told them exactly when to observe the days, and He told them exactly how to observe those days. He was really pretty clear about all of them. Of course, we don’t observe most of those days anymore because they were “dress rehearsals” of sorts, or were fulfilled by the coming of Christ. But the point still stands – God was very detailed about how and when He wanted us to observe a holy day.
Satan gives us holidays. I know, I know, “Put Christ back in Christmas” and “Jesus is the reason for the season” all sound swell and noble and all that – but December 25th isn’t when Jesus was born and his birth didn’t have anything to do with decorated trees or Hallmark, or going into massive debt trying to buy everyone presents, and trampling other shoppers in a mall one day after another holiday where we’re supposedly thankful for all we have. And Christ’s resurrection doesn’t have anything to do with eggs and bunnies and chocolate. Nowhere in the Bible does God say we should be marking those days (on the wrong days, even) or that we should incorporate materialism and paganism. Again, who or what are we following – God’s commandments or the traditions of man? If we could absolutely prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was born on, say, September 15th, how many people would abandon December 25th?
God gives us the opportunity to confess our sins to him and be forgiven. 1st John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. In the Gospels especially we’re told that only God can forgive sin, and that to claim that a man can forgive sin is blasphemy.
Satan hands us counterfeit forgiveness – confession booths with some guy on the other side of a partition, telling us that we’re forgiven?
With God, we have a Heavenly Father. He’s our Creator. He’s omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.
Satan dresses some guy up with a white collar and maybe a funny hat and expects us to call him, “Holy Father”. The Bible says not to call any man “Father”. Matthew 23:9. Not sure where the confusion is on this one.
The second commandment says not to make idols, and not to bow down to the them.
Satan offers us a church that not only has little statues of “saints” and puts them in charge of things like locating your lost car keys or getting you safely to work in the morning if you pray to them…but has also changed the Ten Commandments so that the second one disappears, the others move up one place, and the tenth commandment gets broken in half so that it takes up the empty spot and still leaves us with ten. Wow.
Jesus gave us the example of baptism. Jesus was an adult, of age to discern right from wrong and make mature choices. He was baptized by full immersion. Baptism is symbolic; we go under the water like Jesus went into death, we come up out of the water like Jesus was raised from the tomb.
Satan gives us the practice of sprinkling water on babies’ foreheads. Can a baby commit sin that he/she needs to repent of? Can they choose whether or not to follow Jesus? Do they understand right and wrong?
There’s more. Lots more. Satan tried very hard from the time of Creation to stop Jesus from being born, and from doing the work of the Cross. He attacked the church from every outer angle he could find. And he failed. So after the Cross, he changed his tactics and came into the church, to destroy it from within. Paul warns us over and over about false doctrines.
Jesus said that we’re either with him, or we’re against him.
We can’t sit on the fence – Satan owns that fence.