How Do We Know When to Trust if Satan Can Present Himself as an Angel of Light?

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How Do We Know When to Trust if Satan Can Present Himself as an Angel of Light?

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Avoiding deception is important for God's people. Jesus warned His followers about deception and the Bible predicts an increase in deception as we approach the end of the age (Matthew 24:22-25 Matthew 24:22-25 [22] And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. [23] Then if any man shall say to you, See, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. [24] For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. [25] Behold, I have told you before.
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We are told that Satan presents (or transforms) himself as an angel of light in 2 Corinthians 11:14 2 Corinthians 11:14And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
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. The transformation here should be understood as putting on a type of disguise or false outer appearance meant to hide the true identity. An angel of light is the deceiver coming as a messenger of truth.

Looking at the larger context of 2 Corinthians 11, we can see this is a warning to Christians about false teachers in their midst. By teaching falsehoods, they are furthering Satan's agenda, which is to promote an alternative to God's truth—a lie.

Jesus Himself warned about deception, specifically addressing people who would present themselves as people who are speaking God's truth but actually teaching falsehoods (Matthew 24:5 Matthew 24:5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
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Satan can interact directly with humans on the level of thought but his actions are accomplished primarily by working through physical, flesh and blood people who turn those thoughts into action.

So, Satan may be active behind the scene, but it’s other human beings who teach falsely that we need to be wary of.

How Can You Know What Is of God and What Is Not?

Teachers of falsehoods may even have the ability to perform miraculous signs and wonders. So, we cannot rely on only miracle-working to validate the message and teaching we hear.

The Bible tells you to verify teachers who claim to speak for God by comparing them to the written word of God (Isaiah 8:19-20 Isaiah 8:19-20 [19] And when they shall say to you, Seek to them that have familiar spirits, and to wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek to their God? for the living to the dead? [20] To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
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When we want to know what is truth versus what is falsehood, Jesus also directs us to the written word of God (John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
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). At the point in history in which He spoke these words, Jesus would have been referencing the writings of the Old Testament. However, we now also have the New Testament writings to refer to as well.

The Bible is your go-to source when you want to know God's will. Here are some good reasons to consider the written word as a reliable source of information:

1. The Bible is a document validated by archeology and the records of human history.

2. It is a document validated by fulfilled prophecies which have been carefully recorded.

3. It is a document validated by the testimony of hundreds of witnesses to the events recorded

For more discussion on these important points and more see our publication, "Is the Bible True?"

God Provides Instruction

Understanding and faith are built through careful instruction and guidance (Romans 10:14-17 Romans 10:14-17 [14] How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? [15] And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! [16] But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias said, Lord, who has believed our report? [17] So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
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). Without guidance and instruction each of us is susceptible to hearing only what we want to hear from God's Word. But, our Father has made Christ the head of the Church and Christ has appointed some to teach (Ephesians 4:11-15 Ephesians 4:11-15 [11] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: [13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: [14] That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; [15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
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A person who teaches truth will continually point you back to Scripture. Such a teacher may provide context, background and insight but you must always take what you are hearing and compare it against Scripture to see if what you are hearing is true. The people of Berea received special commendation for taking what they heard God's minister saying and checked it our for themselves in Scripture (Acts 17:10-11 Acts 17:10-11 [10] And the brothers immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night to Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. [11] These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
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The Moral Example of Teachers

A quick way to evaluate a teacher of truth versus a teacher of falsehood is to look at how they live. Does this person teach and obey the commandments of God? Jesus taught the keeping of the commandments and expects His ministers to do likewise (Matthew 5:17-19 Matthew 5:17-19 [17] Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. [18] For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or one pronunciation mark shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. [19] Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
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Pay special attention to the Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-10 Exodus 20:8-10 [8] Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: [10] But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates:
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). If the person teaching you is not obeying God by observing the seventh-day Sabbath and teaches others to not rest on the seventh day, then they are missing a large commandment given by God. This person may be teaching you a number of other errors.

As we read earlier, a person who teaches against any of God’s commandments has zero authority in the Kingdom of God. Why then should you, or anyone else, accept them as teachers and guides in the present?

A person may preach about all sorts of wonderful uplifting subjects. However, if they are not speaking from a firm foundation of obedience to God as found in the written word, then they are simply masquerading as ministers of light and truth.

The United Church of God has congregations of believers, led and taught by faithful pastors, all across the U.S. and internationally. Learn more about UCG here.

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