One of the consequences of the rejection of God and Christianity in the United States has been the success of the Satanic Temple. This group, active worldwide, is headquartered in Salem, Massachusetts, and growing in influence in the United States. They have launched a nationwide campaign to bring After School Satan Clubs to elementary schools.
The Satanic Temple claims 700,000 members and has had several successes in opposing Christianity. Recently they gave the invocation at the San Marcos City Council, conducted a Los Angeles Satanic Mass, and administered “un-baptisms” in Boston. In addition, local Satanic Temples have engaged in Bible burning, drinking a blood-like fluid from a cup, and celebrating the sacrifice of goats.
The After School Satan Clubs offer a coloring book published by the Satanic Temple, which engages children in satanic rituals and constructing a pentagram, the official symbol of the Church of Satan. Clubs. The Washington Post commented, “The Satanic Temple is determined to give young students a choice: Jesus or Satan.”
The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that elementary schools could not stop the evangelical “Good News Club” from hosting after school club meetings. The Satanic Temple is using that decision to justify having clubs that promote Satanic beliefs. After School Satan Clubs have reportedly been started in Utah, California, Ohio, Washington, Illinois, and Oregon elementary schools.
The message of the Satanic Temple ridicules Christianity, belief in God, and the Bible’s moral teachings. It seems this group would qualify as a “hate group” which could be legally challenged, but that will probably never happen. Nevertheless, Christians must be aware of this threat. Parents and local church leaders need to educate themselves on what is being taught in the schools and be ready to oppose satanic teaching if it comes to their communities.
Yesterday, we discussed the reality of evil. We saw that Christianity presents the God of the Bible as a God of love, but to have love, we must have a choice. That choice means there will be those who choose to reject God and the “agape” love Jesus presented. The question then becomes, “How did evil enter human behavior?”
The Old Testament has a few references to Satan, and that word in Hebrew means an opposing spirit, accuser, or hater. In the New Testament, the Greek word “diabolus” is used many times and translated as “Devil.” Skeptics usually convey the idea that Satan or the Devil is a physical being, making the concept of a personal promoter of evil look foolish. The biblical concept of Satan is that he is a spiritual being. He is not physical and exists in a dimension beyond the three dimensions we humans know.
The answer to “how did evil enter human behavior” is made clear in Ephesians 6:12. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” You and I would be helpless in this situation if not for the fact that God steps in and limits what those evil spiritual forces can do. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “There is no temptation that has taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted above that which you can endure, but with the temptation also will make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it.”
The question, “How did evil enter human behavior?” takes us back to the question of good and evil and why we exist. Ephesians 3:9-11 makes it clear that through Christ, the intent was “that unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God.” The spiritual war going on is undeniable as we see the existence of spiritual evil all around us. The Church is called to demonstrate the triumph of good over evil.
By denying that we are a part of this war between good and evil, atheists automatically embrace evil. In rejecting this reality, they eliminate their purpose for existing, and they have nothing to replace it. Jesus stated this in John 8:42-47 as He answered the skeptics of His day. Satan is real and alive and well on planet Earth today. This is not a fairy tale or a myth. It is the reality that we can see all around us.
When you hear people talk about Satan, do you visualize a little man with horns wearing a red suit and holding a pitchfork? In our modern world, many people dismiss the idea of Satan as a long-discarded relic of ancient myths. The movie industry creatively portrays him as a human in a business suit in “Damn Yankees” or a monster in Halloween horror films. In considering the reality of Satan, we must examine the question of good and evil.
Some atheists maintain that there is no such thing as evil. Perhaps the leading spokesman for atheism in today’s world is Richard Dawkins. He wrote,” The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind, pitiless indifference” (RiverOut of Eden, page 133). If you believe that the physical world is all there is, then no behavior is right or wrong. Therefore, sin doesn’t exist, and there is no act a human can do that can be logically called evil. Dawkins admits this by continuing with, “DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.”
Those who have worked in prisons or served in the military (and your author has done both) find this position unacceptable. It is naive to say that war, abuse, rape, pedophile behavior, murder, or racism are not evil. Dawkin’s position makes any meaningful standard of morality useless. Nothing can be immoral or evil if evil doesn’t exist. It is difficult for me to believe that an honest, thinking person would attempt to deny that there is such a thing as evil.
The question of good and evil then becomes, “How are good and evil brought into the world?” Evil is not a physical thing like a rock. Evil is a choice of a sentient being. Some people say that God created evil, but that is an ignorant position. James 1:13 tells us God cannot tolerate evil in any form (no temptation). God is love—it’s His very nature. Jesus brought the concept of agape love that sees something infinitely precious as its object. If you don’t comprehend that, you will never understand much of the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5 – 7.
The Old Testament uses the Hebrew word for evil means to spoil, break into pieces, or make worthless. The Greek word for evil in the New Testament means to have a hurtful effect or influence. If God exists and is good and love, it is logical that there would be the absence of good and love. It is not reasonable to deny that hate and evil exist. The question of good and evil that remains is how evil came into the world. If God brings us love and good, how do hate and evil come to us? Tomorrow we will explore that question.
Is Satan real? When you hear the name “Satan,” what do you visualize? Some people think of a man in a red bodysuit, with horns, and holding a pitchfork. Many years ago, the movie “Damn Yankees” presented Satan as a human who wore a three-piece suit and made deals with humans. Charlie Daniels had a hit song titled “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” in which he told of a fiddle contest between “Johnny” and the “Devil.” Great music, but very little theological credibility. The comic strip “Far Side” frequently had a picture of Satan and people in hell, making it a childish belief to ridicule.
The biblical concept is very different and very real. The Hebrew word “satan” comes from a word meaning adversary or accuser. First Chronicles 21:1 says, “Satan rose up against Israel and excited David to take a census of Israel.” This is clearly not a physical person but a spiritual being with a purpose to incite David to oppose God’s will. In Job 1 and 2, Satan afflicts Job not as a physical person but by causing natural forces to bring pain and misery.
In the New Testament, two Greek words in Greek become relevant. “Diabolos” is translated as the devil. “Beelzebub” means “Lord of the flies” and is based on the name of a pagan Philistine deity. The Jews of Jesus’ day used it to refer to the chief among evil spirits. They accused Jesus of doing miracles by Beelzebub (See Matthew 12:24, 27). Ephesians 2:2 and 43 other passages, Satan is used to describe the sinful ways of the world. Is Satan real? The answer is YES, and here are five biblical concepts of Satan that we need to understand:
# 1. There is a war going on between good and evil. Atheists such as Ricard Dawkins deny that good and evil exist, but most of us have seen it first hand. Ephesians 3:10 and 6:12 tell us that God’s purpose for the Church is to join the spiritual conflict between good and evil.
#2. Angels are not a useful tool for this war. In 2 Peter 2:4, we find that some of them sinned, but they cannot repent since repentance needs time, and they don’t experience time.
#3. Satan’s attacks are primarily spiritual, not physical. Matthew 16:23 tells us that Satan entered Peter, and Luke 22:3 says the same about Judas. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 Satan masquerades as an “angel of light,” and his servants masquerade as “servants of righteousness.” #4. Satans methods involve lying and sowing bad seeds. (See Matthew 13:24-30.) He also imitates and twists God’s blessings – sex twisted to porn, faith twisted to politics, drink twisted to intoxication, etc. James 4:7 tells us resisting Satan makes him flee, and God promises in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that there will always be a way of escape for Christians.
#5. Is Satan real? Logic and common sense make it foolish to deny Satan. Good and evil do exist. There is a spiritual force in evil. However, God is also real. First Peter 5:6-9 tells us that we have a purpose for our existence. Atheistic denial of evil leaves no purpose for human existence. Revelation 21:3-5 describes the ultimate result of following Christ. For those who oppose God, there is no future beyond the present.
Have you ever taken the time to check out the history of Halloween? Halloween is not a satanic holiday, and witches or warlords did not invent it. The actual origins began in the Catholic Church in Ireland and Scotland, and it also has Celtic roots.
The original name was “All Hallows Day.” In Ireland and Scotland, it celebrated the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. The Celtics commemorated the holiday with a feast and with games based on food. In A.D. 606, Pope Boniface made it a celebration of the martyrs, and later, Pope Gregory IV initiated praying for the dead.
Over time, the Catholic Church brought “All Hallows Day” into their doctrine so that in 1200, churches rang bells to get people out of purgatory. In various western countries, people celebrated Halloween in unusual ways. In France. People prayed and left dishes of milk by graves. In Italy, people left a whole meal for the “spirits” of relatives. In Spain, people left pastries for dead relatives. None of these practices are biblical, nor are they connected to any satanic belief system.
By the end of the 19th century, people in Scotland and northern England began “guising” by wearing masks and disguises. For many, this involved wearing a costume to make fun of Satan. In 1911 this caught on in America, and by 1915, there was a combining of “guising” and providing pastries. By 1950, this had evolved into the familiar house-to-house trick-or-treat routine. For 90% of us, trick-or-treating was a fun time, and my children made it part of our family time. For my mentally challenged son, this was one of his favorite times because no one knew of his limitations, and he got the same treats as everyone else.
Satan has used Halloween as a time to bring bad things to people. A teacher friend had a very fair blond-haired daughter that Satanists tried to kidnap, allegedly for human sacrifice. We began to see stories of people putting anything from LSD to razor blades in the treats they gave to kids. The evil in the world has made Halloween suspect for many people. Sorcery and witchcraft are as old as civilizations. In Exodus 7, we see that Egypt had sorcerers and magicians, and Exodus 22:18 mentions witchcraft. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 describes horrible things that were happening in the countries which ancient Israel invaded. In Acts 8:9-10, Simon used sorcery to gain political power.
Christianity opposes evil and the power of Satan. We see that in 1 John 3:8, Colossians 2:15, and James 4:7. The Bible tells us that Satan cannot remove our freedom of choice. Hollywood and Disney World have given us ghost images that may terrify some, but death is a one-way street. No one comes back as a ghost, and we have nothing to fear on Halloween except what evil humans might do to us. However, that danger is always with us 24/7/365 – not just on Halloween.
People sometimes use demon possession as an excuse for bad behavior. The person will say, “It wasn’t my fault! A demon made me do it.”
First, let’s understand that Jesus conquered the forces of Satan. In Colossians 2:15, after Paul said that Jesus had forgiven our sins and canceled the written code, he goes on to say that Jesus also “disarmed the powers and authorities” which are Satan’s spiritual forces. You and I do not run the risk of having a demon take over and make us do something against our will. Here are some of the biblical reasons why we know that can’t happen:
#1. Prophecy said that when the Messiah would come, unclean spirits would be gone. See Zechariah 13:1-14. That is backed up by 1 John 3:8, and Colossians 2:15.
#2. One primary theme in the New Testament is that every person chooses what to believe and whom to obey. We cannot be taken over by anything, because it is our free moral choice. See Philippians 2:12, John 20:31, and James 2:14.
#3. The Church was never warned about demons even though it was warned about everything else. If we were at risk of demon possession, the Church would have been warned. See Acts 20:28-31, 1 Corinthians 4:14-17, Colossians 1:28, and 2 Peter 1:3-9.
#4. The New Testament gives us the cure for overcoming Satan’s power. See James 4:7, Ephesians 6:12-18, 1 Peter 5:8-9, and Hebrews 4:15-16.
#5. The Bible says that God has restricted Satan. See Revelation 20:1-3, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Romans 8:28, and 2 Corinthians 12:7-12.
God gave us the right to choose Him or Satan. It is our free choice, and God has promised He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). We cannot use the excuse that a demon made me do it.
You have probably heard the statistic that “ten percent of people are gay” or even “ten percent of people are BORN gay.” The truth is that nobody is “born gay.” There is a condition called “intersex” in which a child is born with some characteristics of both sexes. Those cases are very rare and varied. The different variations of intersex can occur anywhere from one birth in thousands to one in hundreds of thousands. But that does not mean the child is “gay.”
Research and observation seem to indicate that same-sex activity is increasing. Some experts have suggested that the apparent increase in “gayness” in our society is due to environmental pollution. There has been a lot of research into finding a “gay gene” or any environmental factor that makes a person “gay.” So far, there are no reliable answers.
The “ten percent of people are gay” statistic was falsely derived from the 1940’s Kinsey research. Alfred Kinsey, a zoologist at Indiana State University, interviewed people in prisons and the “gay underworld” using methods that would not hold up to modern statistical sampling techniques. He compiled the statistics in his reports on “Human Sexual Behavior” that shocked America. In the 1970s, Bruce Voeller, who founded the National Gay Task Force, used Kinsey’s research to say that ten percent of people are “gay.” That number has become one of the myths of modern culture. (Similar to the myth that we use only ten percent of our brains.) After all, ten percent is a nice round number even if it has no basis in fact.
So what is the truth about the apparent increase in same-sex activity? Reliable research indicates that the percentage of people in the overall population who consider themselves to be gay/lesbian/bisexual is much lower than ten percent. However, whatever the percentage, it is higher among young people. How much of this is a factor of family breakdown, media and celebrity influence, or society’s acceptance of the “gay lifestyle” is difficult to determine.
The October 2018 issue of Scientific American (page 39) contains an article by Brooke Borel titled “Clicks, Lies and Video Tape.” The article begins by stating, “Artificial Intelligence is making it possible for anyone to manipulate audio and video. The biggest threat is that we stop trusting anything at all.” Then what can we trust?
The article tells us that in April 2018 a new video of Barack Obama appeared on the internet in which he spoke looking exactly as he did when he was president of the United States. The image we could all see was Obama facing the camera, and with outstretched hands, he said, “President Trump is a total and complete XXXXX.”
In reality, it wasn’t Obama at all, but an actor named Jordan Peele who used BuzzFeed News to produce a fake video. The technology is now available to make realistic-looking fake videos. They can contain what appears to be known political characters spreading disinformation. In fact, this is already being done.
The first example of fakery was the serpent in Genesis 3, and Satan has continued to use this tool throughout time. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-14 Paul writes, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” The truth is that we cannot trust anything in the physical world. The evening news is full of falsehoods and agents of Satan.
As Christians, we would encourage others to understand that while humans can be bribed, bullied, and deceived. What can we trust? The word of Jesus Christ is true and testable. It can be trusted 100%. What a joy it is to know that we have a rock that is God’s word. If we trust God, all of the deceit and lying of men and of Satan himself cannot mislead us.
1-SATAN WORKS BY BRUTE FORCE. In the Genesis account, God tells us how the battle between good and evil will progress. “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. It will bruise your head, and you will bruise His heel.” The blow to Satan will ultimately be fatal–evil will die. The damage to the heel will be bad in this life, but not eternally.
The Bible is full of descriptions of Satan’s brute force–the repeated captivity of Israel, the slaying of the babies by Herod, the crucifixion of Jesus, etc. Satan frequently enters his workers to make brute force happen. In John 13:27, Satan entered Judas. In Matthew 16:23, he attempted to enter Peter, but Jesus rebuked him. In our world today, he enters people, especially when invited or not resisted. Every day we see examples of this on the front page of our newspaper.
2-SATAN WORKS BY SOWING BAD SEEDS. In Matthew 13:24-30 Jesus told a parable to explain a second way how Satan works. It is almost impossible to tell the difference between a tare seed and a wheat seed. Satan sows seeds that are not always obvious at the time. It is not always obvious who is sowing the bad seed, as verse 25 says the sower of the bad seed comes at night.
3-SATAN WORKS BY IMITATING GOD’S GOOD THINGS. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-14, we read, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And don’t be surprised, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” In the parable, the tares were not removed until the harvest because it would do too much damage to the wheat to rip them out. So also, evil will not be removed from our lives until the harvest when the fruit of our lives can be seen. God allows perverse forms of marriage and sex to continue to exist, but in the end, the results of these perverse things will be clear.
Once we understand how Satan works, we can know what comes from Satan and not from God. Mathew 7:15-20 tells us to “watch out for false prophets who will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them … every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit … thus by their fruit you will recognize them.” The next three verses have these evil workers claiming miracles in the name of Christ. People can claim anything, but Jesus says, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” We find Paul reaffirming that in 2 Corinthians 11:15.
Jeremiah 23 gives five tests we can all make of religious leaders to see if they are good leaders or false prophets. 1-Vs 9-14 Do they have high moral standards? 2-Vs 16-17 Do they offer false hope? 3-Vs 21-22 Do they have integrity and oppose evil? 4-Vs 29-32 Do they speak where God has not spoken? 5-Vs 33-36 Do they state their opinions as God’s Word?
There are plenty of cheap imitations of the Lord’s Church out there, as you can see by turning on your TV. The religious teachers that fail the tests Jeremiah laid out are Satan’s workers, and they are all around us. That is how Satan works.
When you think of Satan, what do you visualize? Do you see an image of a sinister, demonic-looking man with horns and a tail? Do you see a cartoon guy in a red suit with a pitchfork? The Bible refers to Satan by name more than 50 times and uses other descriptions such as “the enemy” or “the prince of this world,” or “the devil.” Is this opposing spirit adversary Satan real or an ancient construction of superstitious people?
The Old Testament Hebrew word and the New Testament Greek word translated “satan” literally mean “accuser,” “adversary,” or “opposing spirit.” In 1 Chronicles 21:1, Zechariah 3:1-2 and Job chapters 1 and 2 present Satan as appearing before God along with the angels as an accuser. The New Testament tells us that Satan entered into Judas as he betrayed Jesus (Luke 22:3). Christ even called Peter “Satan” when he opposed God’s plan (Luke 8:33). The Bible does not portray Satan as taking on a human form in the physical realm, but it does show the opposing spirit assuming a symbolic form as a serpent creature (Genesis 3:1). So we have an opposing spirit adversary in the spiritual realm.
There are two realms of existence–the physical and the spiritual. The physical realm that you and I live in is time-dependent. Our senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing enable us to comprehend the physical. The spiritual existence is time-independent, and we perceive that realm in other ways, but not through our senses.
The Bible tells us that beings exist in the spiritual realm. Ephesians 3:8-10 describes this for us: “God gave me the work of telling all people about the plan for his secret truth that has been hidden in Him since the beginning of time. He is the one who created everything, His purpose was that all the rulers and powers in heavenly places will now know many different ways He shows His wisdom. They will know this because of the Church.”
Ephesians 6:11-12 repeats this reference to the spiritual realm. “Wear God’s armor so that you can fight against the devil’s clever tricks. Our fight is not against people on Earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places.”
As science probes more deeply into the origin of mass and electric charge, something becomes increasingly apparent. The physical realm’s source is from a dimension higher than the three-dimensional world we experience. String theory, for example, proposes 11 spatial dimensions in its mathematical analysis. We directly sense only three dimensions plus time, but the spiritual realm exists outside of the spatial dimensions that make up the physical world.
Most people don’t believe that when we die there is no further existence of any kind. We sense that there is something more. Revelation 21:3-5 tells us that when our physical life ends, we will be in a time-independent realm. For those who are in Christ “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain so the old order of things is passed away.”
According to Revelation 20:10 the opposing spirit will be done away., but it is very active in today’s world. We will continue with more on that tomorrow.