We have previously noted that Satan is the great deceiver, a being capable of appearing as an angel of light in order to appeal to those he seeks to destroy. Moreover, his followers are also capable of the same sort of charm and deception. As Paul warned Timothy: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared” (I Timothy 4:1-2). One of the reasons Satan’s followers are so successful is that they have no conscience to convict them of their lies. Whether they themselves were tricked, or willfully accepted the lies due to their own desires, whether they have been deluded to truly believe, or are simply willing to put their desires above the truth is of no matter. They seek to persuade others to turn from the truth to the lie as well. This battle for and against the truth is widespread. It has been recognized and fought throughout the ages. It is known as the war between good and evil.
Timothy is not the only one Paul warned of the danger. To the Colossians he wrote: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). During the earliest days of the church there were already many who sought to lead others, even the faithful, from the truth. Whether they taught that Jesus was an ethereal being who had not actually been flesh and bone (II John 1:7), or denied His resurrection (I Corinthians 15:12-13), there were many false apostles or teachers in the early church (II Corinthians 11:13-15). And, just as Paul warned those he taught, so did John, who wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I John 4:1).
Sometimes Christians seem to be afraid to challenge, or test, what they are being taught. Naturally, I do not encourage anyone to nitpick every little thing taught in a classroom for the sake of challenge. But, if one has a legitimate concern it is right to raise a question, whether in private or in a classroom discussion. The truth must prevail, and each of us has a responsibility to ensure that it does.
First, and foremost we must do the will of the Father, as John taught: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life— is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:15-17). If we put the will of God first in our lives, we will be well on our way to defeating the devil and his minions. In so doing we can also look forward to all that the Lord has prepared for His faithful followers, as Peter noted, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (II Peter 1:3-4).
Many of you may be thinking at this point that it is not always easy. And you are right. However, as Christians we were are not called to take the easy path. Considering that thought I am reminded of Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken, and these words:
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
If we want to make a difference in our lives, and with our lives, we will, as members of God’s army, take the road less traveled by. That is the difference between the saint and the sinner— the path we choose in life. Frost’s words have always struck a cord with me, but better yet are the words of Jesus who said, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:14). Not if, but when trials come, be of good courage. Hack away at the sin or obstacle in your life and go forward. Christ has already done most of the clearing for you, just follow in His footsteps, and when you come to the clearing on the other side of your challenge you will be the stronger for it, better prepared for the next time, which will inevitably come. And, just as importantly, you will be better able to help others along the way as well. Remember what Jesus told Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).
Satan may test us (Job 1:6-12), he may hinder us in our efforts (I Thessalonians 2:18), he may tempt us to lie even to God (Acts 5:3), but we can overcome him. All we have to do is resist him and turn to God. According to James: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:7-8). The world will tempt us at every turn— through our coworkers, friends, family, and our own weaknesses, but we can choose to turn away from Satan and his world, as Paul told the Corinthians, “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (I Corinthians 2:12). Remember also the words of Peter: “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (I Peter 2:11).
We are just passing through this life on our way to our eternal home. In a sense this world is just a gateway— to heaven or hell. And while there are many in this age of participation trophies who may not like it there are winners and losers in life, and the greatest loser is the one who forfeits his or her soul for what Satan has to offer. Consider the words of John: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life— is not from the Father but is from the world” ( I John 2:15-16). The world has nothing of any real value to offer us. Life’s true victory goes to the one who chooses to follow Christ. Again, heed the words of John: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (I John 5:4). We have a chose to make— Do we follow Satan, the father of lies, or do we follow God, the Father of lights? I encourage you to leave the world’s highway behind and take the road less traveled. It is admittedly more difficult, but it is also eternally more rewarding.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.