There are many places in the Bible where it is predicted that the last days, in which we are now living, will be the most deceptive time in world history; a time in which the whole world will be deceived. Many people question these prophecies. With all of our knowledge and technology, how is it possible that everyone could be deceived? The Bible tells us:
- Who started the deception
- How it started
- How to recognize it
Second Peter 2:4 says, in part, “[G]od did not spare the angels who sinned … .” Notice, human beings in this world are not the only intelligences that have sinned. This scripture says that there was a group of angels who also sinned. Who led these angels into sin? Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 25:41: “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ ” The fire spoken of in this scripture was prepared for the devil and his angels.
The devil is known by a number of different names throughout the Bible. Revelation 12 calls him “the great dragon” and “that old serpent” because he spoke to Eve through a snake in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). He is called Lucifer in Isaiah 14. He is most commonly referred to by his Hebrew name Satan. The word Satan simply means the adversary. Many have asked why God would create such a being. Satan wasn’t always Satan. God didn’t create Satan, but He did create a covering cherub. We find a description of him in Ezekiel 28:13–15, “You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering … . You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.” This angel was perfect, a high and exalted angel, until iniquity was found in him.
If Satan was a perfect creation, a high and exalted angel in heaven, then how did he fall? Isaiah 14 holds the answer, beginning with verses 12–14: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ ” Ezekiel 28:17 says further, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor … .” So we see that Satan was proud and as a result, he desired to be like God Himself.
Solomon tells us in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” The Bible describes this conflict in Revelation 12:7, 8: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.”
So Satan, the great dragon, that serpent of old, the devil, was cast to the earth, and a third of the angels of heaven were cast out with him (Revelation 12:9). This verse also tells us that Satan and his angels will deceive the whole world. Someone might say, that just isn’t possible today, but we will see as we continue just how possible it is.
We find that Satan’s pride caused him to sin in heaven. To justify his sin, he pursued the other angels in heaven in an effort to cause them to rebel against God’s government as well. He succeeded with a large group of the angels, but sin cannot exist where God is and so there was war in heaven. Satan and the angels who followed him in his rebellion were cast out from heaven to this earth.
After Satan was cast out of heaven, he tempted Adam and Eve to sin; they were overcome by him, yielding to his temptation, disobeying God, and becoming the world’s first sinners. Second Peter 2:19 tells us, “By whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.” Paul says the same in Romans 6:16: “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” When God created Adam, He made him the steward over all of creation. When Adam and Eve sinned, as a consequence, Satan declared himself the ruler of this world. He had usurped man’s dominion over the earth and now considers this world as his kingdom, and he is referred to in this manner in many places in the Scriptures. Notice what he says of himself to Jesus “ ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.’ ” Luke 4:6
We find in the book of Job a microcosmic example of what the devil has been doing in this world for millennia. “Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.” Job 2:1. Satan has appeared before God along with the representatives of the other worlds, as the representative of this world. “And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’ ” Verse 2. Throughout the book of Job, we find that Satan tempted and tortured Job beyond imagination in an effort to cause him to sin. But we also find that Job did not sin, no matter what Satan did to or took from him. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Job 13:15, first part
In this same way, Satan has tempted and tortured all of mankind throughout the history of the world. But the Bible says that this will one day be over. When Satan instigated and achieved, through the children of Israel and the Roman government, the crucifixion of Jesus, he was no longer the representative of this world. Jesus had ransomed the world. This was Satan’s second fall, alluded to by Jesus when He said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler [prince] of this world will be cast out.” John 12:31. Satan’s final fall and destruction are yet future.
To understand how Satan has deceived the people of the world for so long, let us look at his character, for those who believe and follow Satan will be and are like him. First John 3:8 says, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” Satan sinned from the beginning and all of his works are sin. Jesus described Satan in this way: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires [the lusts] of your father you want to do. He 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. He is the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning. He lied about God to the angels in heaven, he lied to Eve (Genesis 3:4, 5), and he continues lying to mankind today. This is just one of the methods he uses to lead men and women to sin. And the Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death; so by deceiving and leading people to sin, Satan is a murderer. Lying and murder are the two most hateful sins in the eyes of the God of truth. In fact, they are so horrible that we are told three times in the last two chapters of Revelation that no liar will be with God’s children in eternity.
The floodgates of evil have been opened upon this world and the Bible predicts in both the Old and New Testament that evil will reach a level never reached before. Second Thessalonians 2:9–12 describe it this way: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” People are going to believe a strong delusion and will be deceived by miraculous workings by Satan and his demons.
Friends, we are living in a time when this is happening, and yet there are many people who do not even believe that the devil exists. The fact of the matter is that no one is in greater danger from the influence of evil spirits than those who, notwithstanding all the evidence and testimony of the Scriptures, deny the existence and agency of the devil, his angels, and evil spirits. As long as we are ignorant of their wiles, they have an almost inconceivable advantage. Oftentimes, people give heed to their suggestions thinking that they are just following the dictates of their own reason or their own mind. This is why Satan will work with greater power than ever before in this world to deceive and to destroy mankind. It is his determined purpose that the world should not believe that he exists or that they be aware of his devices. He endeavors to make people believe he isn’t real or that he is a figment of the imagination or that he is some mythical creature.
It is only by the study of the word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy, and being in regular prayer that we can avoid the deception that has taken the world unawares and will only become more deadly as we draw nearer to the coming of Jesus. “All who do not earnestly search the Scriptures and submit every desire and purpose of life to that unerring test, all who do not seek God in prayer for a knowledge of His will, will surely wander from the right path and fall under the deception of Satan.” Prayer, 25
“He who carefully studies the word of God and brings its holy principles into his daily life, making every thought, word, and deed subject to its control will be a man of discernment; he has spiritual eyesight; he is not ignorant of Satan’s devices. The love of God is in his heart, and he loves his fellow men.” The Present Truth, January 26, 1893
If we love God and our fellow man, then we must study and share the gospel as we never have before, because in order to see Satan’s deceptions for what they are, they, and we ourselves, must first know what the truth is. We cannot fully recognize evil, neither that which is in the world nor that which is inside us, until we truly know what goodness looks like. This comes by beholding Jesus.
“Those who labor in word and doctrine have a great work before them to tear from the minds of those for whom they labor the fatal deceptions of Satan, and to impress them with the importance of aiming to reach God’s great standard of righteousness. They should pray earnestly for divine enlightenment, and for wisdom to present the truth as it is in Jesus.” Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 122
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.