The devil is much closer than you think. He has even duped churches through devious teachings and a false gospel.
[Steve Myers] Believe it or not, Satan plays an enormous role in religion and he is very interested in what happens in churches. So stay tuned and you'll learn to look for the signs to watch out for, and to find out if Satan has infiltrated your church.
We often think of the devil out there somewhere, maybe on the attack. Well, that might seem obvious. But do you realize that evil is closer than you think? Have you ever considered Satan goes to church? Well, has he influenced your religion, or you? Have you compromised the truth? I mean, could it be possible that the devil has weaseled his way into your church?
Now, before you're too quick to answer, scripture says in Revelation 12 talks about the great dragon was cast out of heaven, "That serpent of old called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world, he was cast to the earth and his angels were cast with him." So when we look to scripture, how much of the world has the devil misled and conned? Well, God says, not just some, not just a few, but the entire world. And that includes his deception in religion. So if you believe the Bible, it must be true. Satan goes to church. And he has certainly hoodwinked even churches.
Now, really? You're probably thinking, "No, Satan doesn't affect my church." But are you sure? Believe it or not, Satan plays an enormous role in religion and he is very interested in what happens in churches. So stay tuned and you'll learn to look for the signs to watch out for and to find out if Satan has infiltrated your church.
If you begin to look deeply at the Bible, it tells us at the very beginning. You remember the story of the garden, and the serpent's right there with Adam and Eve. And he says to Eve, "Did God really say you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" And you probably remember those famous words he said to Eve in Genesis chapter three, where Satan contradicts God and he says, "You will not surely die." Boy, that's a lie. But looking back at that it's sort of kind of true, partially true, isn't it? Well, they weren't immediately going to' drop dead if they disobeyed God, but they would certainly face the fact that the cost of sin is death.
So the deception was on. They took from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Have you ever paid attention to that? The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was a mixture, it was a blend, and so using half-truths he wants us to misunderstand God's words. He wants us to make decisions that lead us away from what's right.
But you may think, "Well, that was then. I wouldn't be misled. My church couldn't be off track." Well the story is, it's not all evil all the time. Satan has a scheme, he's got a strategy, and when you look in your Bible in the book of first Peter, he gives us a description. First Peter 5:8 says, "Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." A roaring lion. You ever watch nature shows? You've probably seen nature shows where it illustrates lions on the hunt, not often very obvious. They hide, they're camouflaged, they're opportunistic, and then they pounce, they strike. And like that Satan is evil but not evident, not necessarily noticeable, certainly deceptive and sneaky. And when you look at what he did, how he schemes, and his strategy, he actually tried to undermine Christ as his earthly ministry began.
You may be familiar with the story. Christ was fasting for 40 days. And in Matthew chapter four, he came to Jesus and tempted him. And he takes Jesus from the wilderness to the top of the temple and then he does something shocking. He uses scripture, he tells Christ, "Go ahead and jump off," and he quotes Psalm 91 to Jesus Christ. He says, "God will give his angels charge over you and in their hands, they'll bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone." Well, that's what it says. But did the Father want Jesus to jump off a building just to prove a point? Well, he did promise angelic protection, no doubt about that. But it wasn't for show.
So here you have the Holy Word of God interpreted totally wrong, an evil interpretation. And Satan was using that very fact, using misinterpreted scripture to try to trip up Jesus Christ. But Christ straightened him out. Don't take that scripture out of context. You can't do that. But you see, that's Satan's strategy. The devil purposely misrepresents the word of God. He oftentimes sets one scripture against another and he'll use the Holy Word of God, but he'll distort it. He'll take it out of context, he'll change the meaning. Sometimes, well, you don't want to look at that scripture and he'll ignore it all together. So I think it's important then to ask yourself, how well do I know scripture? Do I know it well enough to prove a point? Maybe justify what I believe? Can I speak the truth? How well do you know God's word? I mean, you've probably been in conversations where the Bible comes up in discussion. You ever heard scripture quoted exactly, accurately, and in context? Well, you know how it is. I've heard those conversations, I've been a part of them. It doesn't happen all that often.
Many times it's like, "Hmm, doesn't the Bible say something about that somewhere? Isn't it something like this?" Or, "Yeah, I think that might be in the Bible." And too often it's out of context, paraphrased, misquoted. Sometimes it actually contradicts what the Bible clearly says elsewhere. Well, it very well may be that the devil has memorized the Bible but he uses it deceitfully. He did that with Jesus and he does against churches. Now, Christ showed how we can stand up against Satan which means you better know the Bible accurately. You better be able to apply it correctly or you will be tricked and misled. Satan goes to church and he knows the Bible. If you don't, you're at risk. Pretty scary thought, isn't it?
It's interesting that Satan also went to church at the time of the apostles. The Apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia and he wrote, "I marvel how you're turning away so soon from Him who called you into the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which isn't another but there's some who trouble you and pervert the gospel of Christ." I mean here the Apostle was worried that Satan's going to church to present an entirely different gospel of fraudulent message. So does your church teach the true message of Christ?
Let's take just a moment and review, what was that message of Christ? And coming up, we're going to look at a few signs to watch out for, to make sure and see and identify, has Satan influenced your church? After all, what is the gospel? Well, it's God's message to mankind. It's the good news of God's purpose and plan. It talks about mankind's need for salvation and God's requirement for man repenting from sin, accepting the sacrifice of Christ, obeying his commands, and ultimately that Christ is going to return to establish His Kingdom on earth so we can be born into the family of God. And yet, Satan goes to church to influence things and mix things up. And unfortunately, most of what's called Christianity is built around a false message.
Have you heard this passage at church? It's a powerful one. It says, "Listen to what the Lord your God demands of you: Worship the Lord and do all that He commands. Love Him, serve Him with all your heart, and obey all His laws. I'm giving them to you today for your benefit," that's from Deuteronomy 10. Good News translation. Do you hear much about obedience at church? Well, Christ thought it was important. He said, "Why do you call me Lord Lord and not do the things that I say?" The fact is true religion requires obedience to the commandments. Not just feeling good about yourself but God's commandments we're told, are given for our good.
Satan goes to church. So you've got to be on your toes to see that influence. Remember the knowledge of the tree of good and evil. Good and evil. Now you might think, "My church is fun to attend." When you leave, you feel good about yourself. We're not wrapped up in all these dull formalities like some congregations. Okay. It's been a tough week. You want to feel positive, you want to be emotionally uplifted. That is certainly not bad, that's a good thing. But what is worshiping God all about? Is it about big screen projections? Is it about rock bands? Is it about coffee shops?
True worship is so much more than just emotion and entertainment. Satan goes to church to impress you with what you see and what you feel, and he wants to influence your emotions. And his clever deception loves the impact of misdirected feelings. He loves to play with human emotions. Is everything that feels good, good for you? Remember, he convinced Adam and Eve to take from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Boy, a deadly mixture. And he goes to church to deceive, to twist Jesus message, to mislead and pervert what's most important which includes how to worship.
Man's holidays of Christmas and Easter. Do you find those in the Bible? And how does that compare to what you do find in the Bible? God's Holy Days. Yes, God's concerned about when you worship. Do you worship any old day or do you keep God's Sabbath, Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. That day that Jesus said He, "Is the Lord of the Sabbath." And remember what happened to Adam and Eve. They were banished from the garden. They were separated from God. The result of that influence, emotions and feelings don't have to be bad but remember Satan's most effective tool, is deception.
The apostle Paul warned young minister Timothy in first Timothy chapter, four verse one. He said, "In latter time some will depart from the faith giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." You ever heard a minister tell you something that doesn't quite match with what the Bible says? What was your reaction to it? Did you just kind of accept it? Ignore it? What did you do? Well, there's another warning, just a chapter beyond this. You go to second Timothy chapter four, verse three. It says, "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they'll heap up for themselves teachers and they will turn away from the truth and be turned aside to fables." Boy, what a reminder. Devil tells a good story. Sounds believable. Hey, it's even partly true. It's all bad? Nope. Loves to mix it up. Loves to fuse things together. Loves that blending of evil and good. It's convincing, but it's fiction. And he certainly uses his power. Ephesians chapter 2:2 in the New Living translation says, "You used to just live like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He's the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God." So he is an influential spirit. He's a controlling spirit, and he's working on humanity, and scripture's telling us he's created an atmosphere of evil. A spiritual wireless network of sorts, you might say, and just like the air that surrounds us, it's saturated. Our air around us is saturated with cell signals, and TV, and radio waves. Yes and that devil wants to control our minds and tune us into his Wi-Fi network, his dark web, his evil frequency. And God tells us Satan saturates the world with his wicked spiritual broadcast of selfishness, and sinful attitudes, wrong moods. And our minds can be receptive to it.
Result? Satan influences humanity and churches to misunderstand and end up rejecting God and his law. You talk about craftiness, and trickery, and deception. Second Corinthians 11:14 says, "Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light." Well, he loves the masquerade. He loves to play the game. He loves to disguise himself and be the pretender. But it seems religious, it seems good, it seems to help. And when people tune into his programming, well you're under the sway of Satan. And so humanity has built its own religions on the wrong foundation. Maybe you're not convinced Satan goes to church.
Well, here's something to think about. How much do you hear about sin? Whatever happened to sin? What about its consequences? I mean, some will say, "Ah, it's not that big a deal, is it? Jesus loves me." But wait a second. Your Bible will tell you sin is breaking God's law. It's crossing over the line that God's forbidden us to cross. It's disobedience, it's not keeping His commands. Yet so many teach that Jesus was just about love, and grace, and that's good, and that's not entirely wrong but it's not the whole picture. That's just partially true. Interesting example of that is when Christ did a miraculous healing, He told one man, "Take up your bed and walk," John chapter five. That's only part of the story. Do you know what else he told him? He said, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come on you." You see, the true message tells the whole story. God's people must be like God, living God's way. And whenever we find ourselves out of that perspective, not living God's way, that's rebellion. It's sin, it's unacceptable. And that's human nature. Human nature. Galatians 5:19 says, "What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions. They separate into parties and groups. They're envious, they get drunk, they have orgies, and do all these things like these. I warn you now as I have before, those who do these things will not possess the Kingdom of God."
So what does God say? Sin is a big deal. And if you're religious, I ask you, are you overcoming that nature in your life? I mean, there's a solution. In fact the only solution, repent. God wants you to repent. But you've got to understand what it is. Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for breaking God's law, for turning away from committing sins totally, completely surrendering your will to God really changing the way that you think so it changes your actions. And you begin to see what's so bad about sin and what's so good about God, and His laws, and His way. And it's being grateful for the awesome sacrifice that Jesus Christ paid for your sins.
Does your church teach about true repentance? It's absolutely required. Acts 26:20 says, "All must turn from their sins and turn to God and prove they've changed by the good things they do." It's Satan doesn't want you to change. Yet the Bible says obedience is the proof of repentance. So we demonstrate by obeying God that our repentance is sincere. Yet that's the last thing that Satan wants you to do. But you can overcome that influence and you cannot bow down to his control. Acts chapter two, verse 38 emphasizes that point. It says, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Now, some think you receive the spirit by simply taking Jesus in your heart. Or maybe it's just an emotional feeling that I have that I must have God's spirit. Or maybe a minister told me I have God's spirit or simply by faith I believe it. Or I answered an altar call one time and I was so overcome by emotion, I wanted to give my life to the Lord. Or some read a little Bible tract and they pray the sinner's prayer. Well, are all those things blatantly evil? Well, it seems good, seems okay. But the devil's got his foot in the door even when it comes to the concepts of receiving God's spirit. You mean, how? Well compare those ideas to what the Bible says.
In Acts chapter eight, verse 17, it tell us clearly, "Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit." And so here are people that believed they were baptized but in order to have God's spirit within them, they needed hands laid on their head. Having a minister of Jesus Christ pray over you and lay hands on you after baptism signifies that a newly baptized member, you've been set apart by God and it represents that actual moment of receiving the Holy Spirit. So is that what happened to you? Does your church follow that practice or some other tradition? Boy, Christ was emphatic when it came to that. Mark chapter seven, verse eight, He said, "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men." So read history, find out what really happened over time and you'll see that fusing ungodly symbols, and dates, and wrong manmade holidays, and rituals into Christianity brought about an unbiblical religion and it is still alive today. False traditions in Christianity. Holidays with Christian sounding names yet ignoring God's instruction and His Holy Days. Another example of a mix of good and evil. Have you looked into these things? I hope you'll really look into the evidence. In fact, there's a powerful specific statement that you'll find in Isaiah chapter eight, verse 20. It says, "To the law and to the testimony! If they speak not according to this word it's because there is no light in them."
It's true. Satan goes to church, and I hope that you can begin to see how true worship should be and how religion has been deceived by the devil. I mean, could it be possible that even your thinking has been affected? Well, you need to know. And so I'd like to offer you a free Bible study aid to help you discover the depth of that influence. It's called, "Is There Really a Devil?" You can call us at the number on your screen or go online to beyondtoday.tv. Right there you can download it, you can read it online, or you can order your free copy. Now, this is offered to you free of charge by the United Church of God. The United Church of God strives to live by every word of God. We practice authentic Christianity that you find in your Bible. Now, this Bible study aid will help you to see through the confusion in religion. Will help you to sort out the misinformation and those unbiblical practices. Now, even beyond that, it helps you to realize and expose the real source behind so many of our world's problems. And also the underlying reason for so many of the problems you may be facing in your own life.
So now's the time to realize, who is the one who's determined to bend your thinking? And more importantly, how do I overcome? How do I more effectively worship the true God? Well, you need this Bible study aid, "Is There Really a Devil?" So call us at the number on your screen or you can go online to beyondtoday.tv and download a copy for yourself or read it online. Order your free copy as well. It's all there right online. Because you'll certainly want to deeply understand. So be sure you get your own copy of "Is There Really a Devil?" And hopefully you're beginning to see, yes, there is really a devil and he plays an enormous role in religion.
It is true Satan goes to church, but don't let him influence you to compromise true biblical belief. Be aware of the warning signs. What were those signs? Well do you, or does your church, truly rely on the entire Bible? All of God's word? Does your church stress obedience to God, following His will and His way? Does your church teach about sin and the need to repent as a requirement to change? Does your church follow the biblical practice of baptism and laying on of hands in order to receive God's spirit? Well, next time we're going to explore the depths of Satan's influence. We're going to' dig a little bit deeper into his impact and we'll help you to see how he loves the counterfeit. Satan loves to imitate. He loves to put on a show and simulate what's good but all for his own evil purposes. I know you'll want to tune in.
So don't be blinded by deception. Do not connect to his wireless network. Take heart. God gives us the remedy. So don't forget there's a biblical standard for God's people and you'll find it in the true church of God. It's reflected in what the Book of Revelation says. You get to the end of the story in the book of Revelation chapter 12:17 says, "It's those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
I pray you seek to worship God in spirit and in truth.
[Narrator] Please call for the booklet offered on today's program, "Is There Really a Devil?" Everything is not as it seems in our world today. We look around and see human beings doing terrible things to each other, often defying all explanation. Could it be that there is an evil force at work influencing mankind? Our free study aid, "Is There Really a Devil?" reveals the truth about Satan. Discover how this being operates and how you can resist his influence with the power of God.
Order now call toll free 1-888-886-8632 or write to the address shown on your screen. We are not without a defense against Satan the devil. God's power is greater and you can rely on Him to resist the devil. When you order this free study aid we'll also send you a complimentary one year subscription to Beyond Today magazine. Six times a year you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy and Godly principles to guide you toward a life that leads to peace. Call today to receive your free booklet, "Is There Really a Devil?" and your free one year subscription to Beyond Today magazine. 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to beyondtoday.tv.
[Gary Petty] Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with United Church of God. If you are looking for a church that encourages living what the word of God really teaches, you found the right place. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon.