An Unseen Evil Influence

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An Unseen Evil Influence

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We have seen that the world was predicted to be a dangerous place at the time of the end. Man’s actions have brought us to the brink of extinction. But why do we think and act in such self-destructive ways? Is another factor—one that few recognize—at work influencing human behavior?

What is the major source of the widespread spiritual blindness that prevents people from understanding God’s truth?

“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×
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There is a reason that few people understand and accept God’s truth: Satan the devil . This powerful, unseen spirit being is a master of lies and deception. As the mastermind behind the religious deception that envelops the world, he has blinded humanity to God’s truth. All of us have fallen prey to his lies to some extent.

The United Church of God offers this Bible Study Course, The Good News magazine and other literature to help you understand the truth of what the Bible really says—regardless of what some say it says.

How extensive is Satan’s influence in the world?

“So the great dragon was cast out, 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 out with him” (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×
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“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19 1 John 5:19And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.
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These verses reveal that Satan dominates the world. His influence is so pervasive that he is even called “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×
). Apart from God, humans are under his power and domination (Acts 26:18 Acts 26:18To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
American King James Version×
). This is not God’s world, but the devil’s.

Does Satan play a major role in human sin and suffering?

“[Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44 John 8:44You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
American King James Version×
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Satan has actively influenced people from the time of our first parents, Adam and Eve. He successfully turned them away from God (Genesis 3:1-24 Genesis 3:1-24 1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. 4 And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: 5 For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you? 10 And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded you that you should not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And the LORD God said to the woman, What is this that you have done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 14 And the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life: 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. 16 To the woman he said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you. 17 And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and to dust shall you return. 20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. 21 To Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. 22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from from where he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
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). Ever since, humanity as a whole has chosen to live apart from God.

What is the natural result of this spiritual blindness and lack of the knowledge of God?

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge . . .” (Hosea 4:6 Hosea 4:6My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me: seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.
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Apart from God, and blinded to His knowledge, can man make right decisions?

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12 Proverbs 14:12There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
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; Proverbs 16:25 Proverbs 16:25There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
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).

“O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23 Jeremiah 10:23O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps.
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What is the result of humanity’s departure from God’s saving knowledge and choosing its own way?

“Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity. No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; they conceive evil and bring forth iniquity . . .” (Isaiah 59:1-4 Isaiah 59:1-4 1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perverseness. 4 None calls for justice, nor any pleads for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.
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“The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace. Therefore justice is far from us, nor does righteousness overtake us; we look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness!” (Isaiah 59:8-9 Isaiah 59:8-9 8 The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whoever goes therein shall not know peace. 9 Therefore is judgment far from us, neither does justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.
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From mankind’s beginning, people have willingly embraced satanic ways—and they have suffered the consequences. Satan has brought about untold sin and suffering. To understand the reason for so much anguish and sorrow in the world, we need look no further than Satan, our own actions and decisions and the results of our sins. This violent, bloodstained world—a planet edging ever closer to disaster—is the result of people collectively rejecting God’s guidance and choosing to follow “the god of this age.”

Will Satan be particularly active just before Christ’s return?

“. . . Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath . . .” (Revelation 12:12 Revelation 12:12Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
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Why is he particularly angry at this time?

“. . . The devil [has] . . . great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (same verse).

Knowing that his time is short, and that Jesus Christ will soon replace him as ruler of earth, Satan will vent his fury against the world’s inhabitants. His rage will bring even more suffering and sorrow.

Will the devil direct his anger to a particular group of people?

“Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child . . . And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:13-17 Revelation 12:13-17 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. 15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
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Just as Satan hated Jesus Christ and orchestrated events to bring about His execution (Luke 22:2-6 Luke 22:2-6 2 And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. 3 Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. 4 And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. 6 And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of the multitude.
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; John 13:27 John 13:27And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus to him, That you do, do quickly.
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), he also hates those in the Church Jesus founded. He is the driving force behind persecution of those who are faithful to Jesus Christ and keep God’s commandments.

Does Jesus Christ confirm that His followers would be persecuted?

“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake . . . You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake” (Luke 21:12-17 Luke 21:12-17 12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. 13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what you shall answer: 15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. 16 And you shall be betrayed both by parents, and brothers, and kinfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. 17 And you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.
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).

Jesus prophesied that, as events come to a climax before His return, some will lash out at those who are faithful to God. Some will be imprisoned, some killed. In a world increasingly hostile to God and His laws, those who believe in and try to live God’s way will be hated. As Paul warns us, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12 2 Timothy 3:12Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
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