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What Makes Satan’s Lies Believable?

Recently our preacher asked the above question. It set me thinking. We know Satan is a liar and that the Truth is not in him. Why, then, are we so gullible we fall for his lies? And, we do it time after time. We believe one lie, find our way out of it – only to fall for his next lie as well. We have a hard time learning to recognize his lies for what they are.

Here are some possible answers. The seed thought for most of these came from the preacher’s sermon; I am responsible for developing his ideas.

His Lies Are Plausible.

Any “good” lie has to be plausible to gain wide acceptance. I mean, it takes someone who is really “living on another planet” to still believe the earth is flat. Or that men have never walked on the moon. Or that most politicians are honest!

Of course, some people are extremely gullible and will believe anything they are told with an air of authority or knowledge. These are those whom Solomon, in Proverbs, calls simple.

One thing that helps in the “plausibility” of Satan’s lies is the prevailing intellectual climate of the culture. In other words, it is easy for us to believe what everyone around us believes. Most of us accept what is “generally known” to be true. Yet people are often mistaken – especially if a lie is repeated often enough and loudly enough.

The Fall of Mankind occurred when Satan lied about God, about the fruit, and about the result of eating the fruit. He still tells the same lies today, and people still believe them. One reason people accept these lies is that most folks around them accept them. It never occurs to them to question the lie, and so they accept it unquestioningly because it seems plausible to them.

Like Eve, We Want to Be Like God.

Of course, there is self interest in believing the lie. The lie elevates us to the position of God, and that is something we all tend to desire very much. Eve’s encounter with the Deceiver is recorded in Genesis 3:1-6:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Satan told her she would “be like God, knowing good and evil.” God had called this tree, “the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” I do not believe that this “knowledge” was simply learning that there are two moral ways, one that is good and the other that is evil. Rather, this “knowledge” was the wisdom to determine for one’s self what is good and what is evil without reference to God.

This, of course, is what we humans desire at all times. “I know what is right and what is wrong – and what I am doing is not wrong!” We have a strong self-interest in having this power for ourselves instead of yielding it to God. Thus we are susceptible to the Devil’s lie that we can have this power if we but exert ourselves.

He Puts An Untrue “Spin” on the Facts.

His first words to Eve put a spin on God’s words that put God in a bad light. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” What did God really say? In Genesis 2:16-17 He had said to Adam:

You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

God’s first words were of Man’s freedom. “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden.” There was a maximum amount of freedom with a minimum amount of restriction in God’s command.

Yet, the Devil made it sound as if  God’s restrictions out-weigh any freedom we may have as we follow His Word. That was his tactic then, and it is still his tactic now.

Unfortunately, many Christians play along with the Devil. Even Eve had added to the restriction God gave. God simply said, do not eat the fruit of the tree. Eve added, “and you must not touch it.” Now, if you were not going to eat the forbidden fruit, why would you want to touch it? Staying away from it would be a good idea. Nevertheless, she made the restriction God gave even stricter than God had made it.

It is not at all uncommon for people today to do the same, while in other areas moving as close to the limit as possible. For example, many extend the prohibition of drunkenness to prohibition of any alcohol at all. On the other extreme, we can all remember the declaration by then President Clinton, “I did not have sex with that woman!”

Does Eve’s “addition” to what God said reveal a, perhaps unspoken but very real, belief that somehow God was not being fair? If so, the Devil certainly knew how to exploit that feeling, as we can see as the temptation continued.

He Creates Doubt of God in Our Minds.

“You will not surely die. How did he say this? Did he emphasize the not or the surely? We have no way of knowing, but I strongly suspect it was the later.

If he said, “You will not surely die!” he would be directly contradicting God. Now the Devil is certainly capable of doing that – but this is something he usually holds off on until he has laid a lot of preparatory groundwork. He normally creates doubt of God first.

“Is it really as important as God is making it? You will not surely die, will you?”

Thus, he appears to sympathize with the person he is tempting.

Now, he is certainly a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), but that is not how he presents himself to us. Instead, as the master deceiver…

He Presents Himself As an Angel of Light.

He seems to be the voice of sweet reason and temperance. He even makes God appear to be the “heavy.”

God is the one who is putting all of these restrictions on you – and He is even doing it because He is afraid you will become as wise and as important as He is! Therefore, He is unjustly restricting your growth and development into your full human potential!

It must have been something similar to this, which “that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess” was teaching in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29), as she misled the Lord’s servants into fornication and idolatry. Whatever she taught them, she claimed to be teaching them what the Lord called “Satan’s so-called deep secrets.” In other words, she said there were deeper truths than God is letting us know, and we will learn these if we will only listen to the voice of the Tempter.

Another aspect of presenting himself as an angel of light is that he actually has led many to commit atrocities in the name of God as well – or at least into attempting to claim the name of God to justify themselves. He is not above claiming the name of God to justify some of the most inhumane and unhuman acts imaginable!

People have often in the past, and still do in the present, do and say the most ungodly things “in the name of God” – things that God has spoken against in no uncertain terms – as they seek to “purge” the church of any impurity. In this, they take on the task of the angels themselves as they try to rid the kingdom of God of all of the “tares” that are sown by the Devil in the first place! (See Matthew 13:24-30, 36-42.) In Jesus’ parable, removing the tares was a task assigned to the angels. Yet, this is something the Devil encourages us to do ourselves, and in a way that we can congratulate ourselves on doing the true work of God. When we do this, we become like Saul of Tarsus who became a destroying angel of vengence, but not an angel of God, until the Lord Himself brought Saul up short on the road to Damascus!

Of course he does the same thing today. To listen to Satan is sophisticated and suave – and may even be the true work of God. To follow God is hokey and “old-fashioned” – and is even made to appear to be compromising with evil.

He Appeals to the Worldly Culture.

In doing this, of course, he appeals to the culture of the world around us to reenforce his suggestions. It is to take the “everybody is doing it” argument and marry it to “those who are doing it are sophisticated and attractive.”

Really? When in all of human history has “everybody” been “sophisticated”? Of course, there is an exception. Everybody is doing it and is sophisticated except those old-fashioned ignoramouses who actually believe there is a God whom they should serve.

There is no real argument in that; there is only an assumed superiority and a slanderous charge against the finest people this world has ever known! It was in the name of God that countless people struggled long and hard to eradicate slavery and human trafficking. It was in the name of God that the civil rights movement in this country had its finest successes and finest hour.

He Preys on the Weak and Ignorant (ie, the gullible).

He knows when we are weak and vulnerable. It was when Jesus was hungry after fasting forty days that the Devil came to Him and tempted Him to make bread from the stones in the wilderness.

The devil is skillful in playing our weaknesses like a maestro violinist! He will tempt us to steal because our children are hungry – or to become immoral because we have had a disagreement with our spouse – or to deny Him, like Peter, because of the dangerous, jeering crowd around us. Then, when we yield, he is right there to accuse us to ourselves and before God!

“Look at you! Mr. Goody-two-shoes! You’re not as good as you thought you were are you? You’re just a common thief – or adulterer – or weak, yellow-livered coward. How can you call yourself a Christian?”

Of course, it is all a lie. But we fall for it, and give up. At least, we give up until we realize that the Lord has not given up on us. He still loves us. Jesus’ blood still cleanses us from all sin and the Holy Spirit is still with us to help us, if we will but allow Him to do so. That is, He is there to help us unless we have resisted, grieved, and quenched Him so that we no longer have the Spirit.

But by that time, we do not care. We no longer even feel guilt because the Devil has already got us back into his clutches and our hearts are hardened. But the Christian grieving over his sin and weakness is still safe in the arms of Jesus.

Let’s learn to recognize the Devil’s lies and send him packing when he comes our way!


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