Photo of Jim Jones by Nancy Wong. Jones was best known as the cult leader of the Peoples Temple who led more than 900 followers in a mass suicide via cyanide-laced punch known as the Jonestown Massacre.
I am reading “The Footsteps of the Messiah” by Dr. Arthur Fruchtebaum, which is a study of the sequence of prophetic events. It is changing the way I understand Scripture in that it helps me better understand the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. It also has an appendix on Satan, which I found both interesting and enlightening.
Basically, Appendix I of the book (the Appendix is entitled the “Six Abodes of Satan”) explores Scripture that discusses Satan. It speaks of Satan’s creation by God and of Satan’s fall from grace when, due to pride, Satan challenged God for superiority. From then on as evidenced by Scripture, the author writes, there has been a struggle between God and Satan, good and evil, with God ultimately to prevail.
Of all created things, the author continues, God created Satan to be the most beautiful and wisest. God did not create Satan to be a terrifying or unholy entity. Satan was not created to be grotesque. Prior to Satan’s fall from grace, God had given Satan the most power and authority in God’s kingdom (except for God). God gave Satan the power to make choices contrary to his perfect nature, and unfortunately Satan did so. Satan exercised the “free will” God had given him and Satan chose to defy God. A consequence was that Satan became unholy. Satan’s sin of pride continued to corrupt him and Satan corrupted others. According to Scripture, one-third of the angels God had created fell from grace with Satan and were cast out.
Today, as the result of Adam’s fall, Satan has great power over the world we live in. He is clever, a great deceiver, and a liar. Satan can deceive in many ways. Satan can lead both believers and non-believers away from God by pretending to be godly and deceiving them. Satan and his servants can appear as angels of light and can mimic believers. On the surface, they can even appear godly. Unlike what some movies might suggest, Satan and his servants can enter churches, appear in religious clothing, and pose as religious leaders. On the surface, it can be difficult to tell them apart from godly beings.
Yet I am not surprised! Satan can change himself into an angel of light, so it is no wonder that his servants can do it too and seem like godly ministers… (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Satan and his servants also can mimic Christ. They can cast out demons, prophesy, and perform miracles, in order to mislead people into believing they are godly. The test as to whether someone speaks for God is never the existence of outward manifestations, for outward manifestations can be counterfeited or manipulated. The test whether someone speaks for God is always their conformity to the written Word of God (Scripture).
The primary protections we have against falsehoods and deceptions is prayer and our first-hand knowledge of Scripture. It is dangerous to rely on Scripture only as told by others. Others may misunderstand or unintentionally misconstrue it – or worse yet, intentionally seek to mislead or deceive. The best and safest course of action is to read the Bible and study it ourselves, in addition to prayers for spiritual guidance.
The Apostle Paul warned about the deceitfulness of Satan and his followers, including how Satan and his servants often impersonate holy men with the purpose of leading both believers and non-believers people away from God:
But I am frightened, fearing that in some way you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to our Lord, just as Eve was deceived by Satan in the Garden of Eden. You seem so gullible: You believe whatever anyone tells you even if he is preaching about another Jesus than the one we preach, or a different spirit than the Holy Spirit you received, or shows you a different way to be saved. You swallow it all.” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)
God never sent those men at all; they are “phonies” who have fooled you into thinking they are Christ’s apostles. (2 Corinthians 11:13)
The Apostle Paul’s warning about Satan’s duplicity remains true today. It is the responsibility of each believer to read the Bible and pray for God’s enlightenment and protection from Satan and his followers in order not to be deceived. Beware any man, woman, or organization who claims to be godly, but whose words and deeds do not conform to the written Word of God.
A godly person who contradicts God’s Word is not godly at all.