This world is rampant with spiritual confusion, which steadily grows worse. There are thousands of denominations, cults and rival religions. In the clamor of conflicting voices, each claiming to speak for God and to lead to God, how is anyone to know the truth?
It is reasonable to believe that having placed the desire to know the truth within us, God will fully satisfy that desire—and in a manner that will provide certainty to every sincere seeker (Jer:29:13). Such has been His way from the very beginning.
The One who created Adam and Eve, and the universe in which they found themselves, personally conversed with them (Gen:2:16, 3:3,8). They knew His voice and understood the one commandment He had given them: "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen:2:17). But influenced by Satan, they doubted God's Word and disobeyed the One who had given them their being. The tragic result is recorded in the lamentable history of man, from the murder of Abel by his brother Cain to the multiplied murders, crimes and wars of our day.
Satan, "a liar, and the father of it [lying]" (Jn:8:44), is the ultimate self-deceived egomaniac. He boasted, "I will be like the most High" (Isa:14:14). Obviously, there can only be one "most High." In one stroke of madness, Satan had rejected monotheism (belief in one true God) and introduced polytheism (belief in many gods). Bringing this lie to planet Earth through his first human convert, Eve, Satan became "the god of this world" (2 Cor:4:4), the author and high priest of every cult and false religion.
"Hath God said?" was Satan's subtle pretense at respect for God's Word. Then he posed as the religious expert and sold Eve on his false interpretation. She was pleased at finding a guru who explained away God's clear Word and told her what she wanted to hear. Ever since, Satan's lies have been more popular on this earth than God's truth—and following guru, prophet, pastor, priest or pope has been preferred to following God and His Word. When it comes to knowing and pleasing God, multitudes who think for themselves in every other area of life check their minds at the door and gullibly follow professionals.
Eden's pattern is repeated in every cult and false religion. Each has a leader who claims that he or she alone can interpret God's Word and must be followed unquestioningly. To this day, 89 years after Mary Baker Eddy's death, no Christian Science church dares to deviate from her interpretation of Scripture and each Christian Scientist still believes her satanic lie ("ye shall not surely die") that death is an illusion! Jehovah's Witnesses cannot be Bereans, checking the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society against the Bible for themselves. They must parrot whatever that body of proven false prophets declares. Mormons must follow implicitly the hierarchy in Salt Lake City. Likewise Roman Catholics are taught that only the Church can interpret the Bible, and Catholicism's highest authority declares,
...the faithful are obliged to submit to their bishops' decision...in matters of faith and morals....This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given ...[to] the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra....For the Roman Pontiff...has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church....(Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, III, 22, 24.)
This inequality between leaders and followers is another mark of a cult. Notice that Satan didn't offer Eve what he himself desired—to be "like the most High." Instead, he promised that she could be one of the gods: "ye shall be as gods [not as God]" (Gen:3:5). Satan would be the god ruling her. Both the Old and New Testaments declare that there are many gods and they are all false: "against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment" (Ex 12:12); "there be gods many...there is but one God" (1 Cor:8:5-6).
Who are these false gods—and who worships them? Perhaps one-third of the angels followed Satan (Rev:12:4) in his rebellion. These devils (underlings of the Devil) are paganism's gods: "...the things which the Gentiles sacrifice [in their religious rituals], they sacrifice to devils [demons], and not to God" (1 Cor:10:19-20). Behind every idol is a demon deceiving and enslaving pagan worshipers. Likewise, behind every false prophet is a demon: "try [test] the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 Jn:4:1). It is a solemn truth that God allows evil spirits to inspire false prophets in order to deceive those who want to believe Satan's lies (1 Kings:22:19-23).
That the story of the fall in the Garden of Eden is not myth but history is proved by the fact that all of Eve's descendants--are obsessed with the very lie she embraced. Eve passed on to her descendants the passion to become a god. It seems to be in mankind's very bloodstream.
For example, the driving force behind the world of science and technology is godlike mastery of the universe through conquest of the atom and space. That theme dominates science fiction, space movies and cartoons. The New Age/Human Potential movement (paganism/occultism in modern garb) seeks the same goal through spiritual/mystical practices which promise to awaken the alleged unlimited potential of godlike powers supposedly dormant within us.
So it is in Hinduism. The goal of yoga, now practiced in virtually every YMCA, is self-realization (to achieve godhood). The Mind Science cults (Christian Science, Science of Mind, Religious Science, Unity, et al.) are very New Age, as is Mormonism. I once formally debated at Boise State University two Mormons who insisted that Joseph Smith was "the first prophet of the New Age." I explained that Smith was far from the first; that distinction belonged to the serpent in the Garden.
Mormonism is founded upon the belief that the lie Satan told Eve is God's truth. Whereas Jesus called Satan "a liar," Brigham Young declared, "The devil told the truth." A more recent Mormon president, Spencer W. Kimball, said, "In each of us is the potentiality to become a god...." Mormonism's God was once a man on another planet who developed his full potential—and that is the goal of every Mormon male! The essence of Mormonism is found in its most famous statement: "As man is God once was; as God is man may become."
The serpent's lie is everywhere: "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, ...deceiveth the whole world" (Rev:12:9). The Eastern Orthodox Church declares, "Keeping the commandments...make a man god...the deification for which we were created." Pope John Paul II says, "The divinization of man comes from God." Positive confession leaders such as Hagin, Copeland, Price, et al. go the serpent one better: we already are gods. Many have seen Benny Hinn and Paul Crouch on TBN insisting, "We are little gods!"
So sure is Crouch that Satan's lie is God's truth that in his Praise the Lord newsletter for March 1993 he stated, "If we are not 'little Gods,' we will apologize to you in front of ten thousand times ten thousand before the Crystal Sea!" If Crouch and those of like mind whom he has popularized on TBN insist upon being "little gods," they won't even be with the saints before the crystal sea. God has pronounced the doom of all who claim to be gods:
But the LORD is the true God....The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth...shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens (Jer:10:10-11).
Interestingly, the Jehovah's Witnesses have made Christ into a little god. Unwilling to accept what the Bible says, "and the Word was God," the JW's corrupted New World Translation says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god" (Jn:1:1). They will tell you that "God" in this verse is, of course, Jehovah, and "a god" refers to Jesus. So JWs have one big God and one little god. But, as the Bible plainly declares, there is only one God and all gods are usurpers doomed to destruction.
Back to Adam and Eve: As God had declared, they died spiritually at the moment of disobedience. Physical death took a bit longer to conquer their bodies. It takes much less time today. The Spirit of God departed from within these two rebels and Self had its awful birth. The connection is clear to selfist psychology's self-love, self-assertion, positive self-image, glorying in one's self-worth, etc. Once Adam and Eve had lived for God; after the Fall they lived for self. All of their off-spring are born spiritually dead, slaves of self, Pascal's "God-shaped vacuum" gnawing within them.
After the Fall, all of the rest of the Bible is the account of God, in love, through His true prophets and the gift of His Son, calling man back to Himself and making that reconciliation possible—and Satan attempting through deceit to keep man in the darkness and death of that horrible separation. Nor have Satan's tactics changed. He still questions, attacks and reinterprets God's Word through his false prophets. Moreover, Satan can only offer the same three enticements with which he tempted Eve, for these are "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 Jn:2:16).
When Eve "saw that the tree was good for food [the lust of the flesh], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [the lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [the pride of life], she took of the fruit...." (Gen:3:6). Jesus faced the same three temptations. Eve was well fed; Jesus had just gone 40 days without food or drink. [See 06/99 and 11/99 Q&A.] Eve rejected God's Word; Jesus used it to defeat Satan, responding to each temptation with "It is written!" (Mat:4:1-11; Lk 4:1-13).
Satan tempted Christ in His hunger to "command that these stones be made bread [the lust of the flesh]." Our Lord replied, "It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." Satan then "shewed him all the kingdoms of the world" [the lust of the eyes] and promised to give all the "power...and the glory of them" to Christ if He would bow down and worship him. Christ's response again was, "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Satan then tempted Him to jump from the pinnacle of the temple so the people would admire Him when they saw the angels catch Him and lower Him safely to the ground as Psalms:91:11-12 promised [the pride of life]. But Jesus again replied, "It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
It is written! Knowing, trusting and obeying God's Word is the antidote to Satan's lies and temptations. Christ quoted the Bible as the ultimate authority and guide to living. The Bible, according to the way Christ used it, sets the standard, makes the rules, provides guidance and causes Satan to flee. What has been written are the very words of God himself to mankind. "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pt 1:21). "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" and it is sufficient to make us "perfect [mature, complete], throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim:3:16-17). But Christian psychology, as we have documented, denies the sufficiency of Scripture and supplements and integrates it with Satan's lies contained in humanist theories.
The great tragedy in the church today is that many top leaders, instead of standing firm upon "It is written," doubt what God has unequivocally declared. The Pope, Christianity Today, Promise Keepers, Billy Graham and many other leaders, Christian universities and seminaries have all agreed that God may have used evolution to create man. Yet that theory, as we have shown, contradicts God's Word. Graham is surely the most honored evangelical alive, yet he also doubts that the flood was worldwide, even though God's Word declares in the clearest language that it was. Last Christmas on "Larry King Live," Billy said concerning heaven, "If sex is necessary for our happiness and fulfillment, it'll be there." Again, the Bible was contradicted.
Jesus said, "It is written!" Satan can quote the Bible, too, and did so, but his application was false and Christ countered it with another scripture which refuted the perversion. Satan's ministers also quote and pervert Scripture. The antidote to such perversion is bringing the rest of the Bible to bear: man lives not by one favorite verse twisted out of context, but "by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God."
If we misuse the Bible to support our pet theories and agendas, we will fall victim to the lies of Satan and become the followers of false gods. If we seek with our whole heart to know the true God, He will reveal Himself to us (Jer:29:13); and if we will to do God's will, we will know sound doctrine (Jn:7:17) and not be led astray.
"It is written" is our anchor in the storm of false doctrine, humanistic theories and worldly temptations raging around us. We stand secure and unmovable upon God's unchangeable, infallible and sufficient Word. May God help us to help others to do the same. TBC