Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Satan the Scriptures and Sound Doctrine

5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, `HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU'; and `ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'" 7 Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, `YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'" (Matthew 4:5-7)

Scripture alone is the final voice in all things pertaining to godliness, theology, and anything else in life. As Christians, we must be humble enough to bow our own desires and thoughts to the truth of God’s Word. Everything, from how I raise my family to how I interact in my political world, should be guided from a thorough study of and implementation of the Word of God.

It is hard to find any example that better displays the supremacy of Scripture than the example of Christ being tempted by Satan in the desert. In the broader context, Jesus rebukes the devil and answers the temptations put before Him by quoting Scripture as well as simply commanding him. I have always found it interesting that Jesus didn’t simply command Satan not to tempt Him, but He quoted Scripture to stand firm against temptation.

But even more than that, even Satan quotes Scriptures in an effort to have God sin before him. We must never be foolish enough to think that just because someone quotes Scripture and sounds authoritative, that doesn’t mean that the message being conveyed is true. Whether you hear Scripture from a preacher, teacher, evangelist, or anyone else, don’t simply ingest, digest, and manifest what they are proclaiming. Satan and his slick salesmen are very keenly aware of what the Scriptures say. In fact, I have heard it said before that if Satan had true and uncontrolled power over the world that it would look cleaner and nicer, it would be full of smiling people who filled up church buildings on Sunday’s and Wednesdays. But the church buildings would not preach Christ aright.

Now, whether that is truly how the world would look or not, I think that it gives a glimpse at one of the most tragically effective deceptions that the devil is adept at using. Church without God, Jesus without the cross, and the Scriptures without their context all lead to an abysmal “gospel” that is truly no gospel.

We must not be lackadaisical in our vetting of the preaching and teaching of our ministers and lay-teachers, nor should we be casually tolerant anytime anyone throws out a Bible verse or a biblical cliché. “God helps those who help themselves.” What Bible verse is that? It’s not in the Bible, but if I had a nickel for every time that I heard someone use that phrase in reference to Christianity and the God of the Bible, I would have no small fortune.

One of the favorite Scriptures for non-Christians, pseudo-Christians, and Christians alike to quote is from Jesus’ words on the Sermon on the Mount, when referring to Matthew 7:1 they say, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” And when this verse is brought out, it is often used as an offensive weapon against those Christians who see sin in our midst, whether in ourselves or in others, and have the audacity to call sin “sin”. Or if a Christian calls attention to a self-styled Christian teacher or a professed believer and notes that this same person betrays that they are not born again based on their actions, this same verse is brought out as a cudgel to put down this kind of judgmental attitude.

I forget where I first heard the best fitting response to the abuse of the words of our Lord from Matthew 7, but I find it to be so refreshing and true. So the next time that you are rightly making an identification of something as sinful, evil, wicked or false and you are doing so while not being pharisaical and executing a sentence or punishment (excluding church discipline, of course) on that individual in the place of God Himself, you may want to remember this concise retort.

“You say, ‘Judge not lest ye be judged.’ But I say, ‘Twist not Scripture lest ye be like Satan.’” - Unknown


Brian said...

I believe that quote is from Paul Washer - I think I've got the sermon downloaded.

Dave said...

Paul Washer indeed, 37:53 in "True Gospel Part 5, The Narrow Way": http://www.heartcrymissionary.com/download.php?file=05-True-Gospel-Pt-5-The-Narrow-Way.mp3

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson