MAN'S RUIN . . . GOD'S REMEDY (Continued, 4)

The natural attitude of fallen man, when confronted with the true God of the universe, the God revealed in the Holy Scriptures, is described in Job 21:14-15, "Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit shall we have if we pray unto Him?" Because all of us, by nature, are in such spiritual darkness, salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, GOD'S REMEDY, is a supernatural inward change, wrought by the power of God in our hearts. Listen to how the Word of God describes this inward change. It is being "called out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). It is an "opening of the eyes, and a turning from darkness to light" (Acts 26:18). It is "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened" (Ephes. 1:18). This supernatural illumination is beyond the power and ability of any man -- it is "according to the working of HIS mighty power" (Ephesians 1:19). The power that God puts forth when He brings a soul out of spiritual darkness is that same power that He exercised when He commanded the light to shine out of darkness in creation (Genesis 1:3), according to 2 Corinthians 4:6, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

2. Fallen Man's Heart Is Now Corrupt

The heart of man is the source of all his actions, determining the issues of life, according to Proverbs 23:7, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Therefore, the heart and mind of unfallen Adam was riveted upon Divine things; he saw the glory and majesty of his Maker, and his affections flowed naturally toward God. But when, under temptation, Adam willfully sinned, his heart was changed -- the moral image of God with which he was created being severely marred and defaced. And this is the description of fallen man's heart ever since: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9).

Consider all the sin in the world; the wickedness of man is great upon the earth. Behold the bitter fruits of the corruption of our nature. The world is filled with violence, murder, stealing, adultery, fornication, unnatural lusts and all manner of wickedness, hatred and profanity. Where does it all come from? The Lord Jesus Christ tells us, in Mark 7:21-23: "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, coveteousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man."

Observe how early this corruption of nature begins to appear in children. Do not all the sons and daughters of Adam, before they can walk alone, follow in his, and our own, footsteps? As much as we love our children, we can't help but see ourselves in them -- what a great deal of little pride, vanity, willfulness, selfishness and bad temper appear in them! And when they crawl out of infancy how necessary it is to use the rod of correction to subdue the self-will and rebellion that is naturally in their hearts (Proverbs 22:15). The Bible's description of fallen man is penetrating and accurate: "The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Genesis 8:21), and, "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies" (Psalms 58:3).

Now let us consider the deceitfulness of fallen man's heart in deceiving others. It is sad but true -- if we will face the truth about ourselves, we must admit that we are all by nature deceitful. We are different in reality from what we would have others think we are. If every man and woman, unrenewed by the grace of God, were to throw off their disguise, what a cesspool of corruption would appear! What if every adulterer, adulteress, or fornicator were to expose their hearts, and reveal their lustful thoughts? What if every dishonest person were to open his heart, and disclose all his deceptions, lies and coveteous desires? What if every proud and conceited man and woman were to reveal all their arrogance, the details of what is going on in their hearts? What if every unbeliever and Christ-rejecter were to openly reveal their dislike and contempt for Christ, His Gospel, and His true disciples? What if every false professor of Christianity were to reveal his hypocritical heart? But the heart is deceitful, and men and women will put on a smooth face to cover up what they are really like. Imagine for a moment what it would be like if every back-biter were to speak the truth when he meets his friends; suppose he were to tell them to their faces the unkind things he says about them behind their backs; or suppose he were to tell them frankly to their faces what he really thinks about them. Men and women dare not expose everything that is in their hearts, because of its desperate wickedness.

Again, listen to the Word of God: "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is FULLY SET IN THEM to do evil" (Eccles. 8:11). "Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live . . ." (Eccles. 9:3). This corruption of heart and mind is from birth (Psalms 51:5; 58:3), and permanent and unchangeable (Jeremiah 13:23). We do not have the power to change ourselves, apart from the grace of God in the power of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, GOD'S REMEDY, who is able to create within us a new heart in the New Birth (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephes. 2:10; 4:24).


3. Fallen Man Is Now Under Satan's Power

Modern man generally regards the Divinely-inspired record of Adam and Eve and the fall of man in the Garden of Eden as a myth, a mere fable or tale. The Biblical account of man's creation and the entrance of sin into the human race is laughed at and scorned by many today, and so it follows that belief in a personal Devil has also generally been rejected. Our highly educated, materialistic society, including many religious leaders, now regard Satan and demonism as a relic of man's superstitious past, a myth of the Dark Ages. But the Bible is the verbally-inspired, inerrant Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). It is God's infallible revelation to man, given to us through holy men of God who spoke and wrote as they were inspired and moved by the Spirit of God (2 Peter 1:20-21). From the pages of the Holy Scriptures, we find revealed the existence of an incredibly powerful, intelligent spiritual being, an evil personality called Satan, or the Devil -- his origin, his fall, his character, his evil purpose toward man, and his ultimate defeat and final doom.

Where did the Devil come from? Certainly God, who is infinitely pure and holy, did not create him a Devil -- God cannot be the author or originator of sin. According to the Bible, Satan was once the highest and most glorious of created angelic beings (Ezekiel 28:14), called Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12). He was second only to God Himself, full of wisdom, brightness, and perfect in beauty (Ezekiel 28:12-17). However, we know from Scripture that Lucifer's downfall was occasioned by both pride (Ezekiel 28:17; 1 Timothy 3:6), and a desire to be like God -- that is, to be worshipped and adored as God by the vast angelic host. Lucifer's fall is referred to in Isaiah 14:12, "How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!..." and by the Lord Jesus in Luke 10:18, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from Heaven." Isaiah further gives the reason for Lucifer's fall in verses 13-14, "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God . . . I will be like the Most High." Lucifer became Satan when he tried to make himself not only equal to God, but even above God. Because of his pride and rebellion, God cast him out of Heaven, along with a host of other fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4), who followed Lucifer and recognized him as their head (Luke 10:18; Matt. 25:41). Those angels who did not follow Lucifer, but remained faithful to their Creator, are referred to in the Scripture as "the elect angels" (1 Timothy 5:21). The Bible does not reveal when this event took place, but it was obviously before the temptation of Adam and Eve.

In the inscrutable and unsearchable wisdom of God (Romans 11:33-36), Satan was permitted to enter the Garden of Eden, and to utilize his deceptive methods in an attempt to seduce our first parents to disobedience to God's command. As we have seen, Satan attacked Adam through Eve, and though she was deceived, Adam willfully and defiantly chose to reject the rule of God over him, and in deliberate rebellion, fell into transgression and condemnation. We have already learned from God's Word that in his creation, Adam was constituted by God as the federal head and representative of the entire human race contained in his loins (Romans 5:12-19). By this one act of rebellion against His Maker, Adam not only plunged himself and all his posterity into ruin, but he also surrendered his, and our, God-given right to have dominion over Planet Earth, and became, along with all his posterity, bond-slaves to Satan, who now rules as an usurper. By overcoming Adam, the head of our race, Satan conquered all mankind, and brought us all under his power, gaining access to the mind and thoughts of all men.

Because of the above facts, Planet Earth is now Satan's kingdom, and all the kingdoms of this world are, and always have been since the Fall, under his power and control. During the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, Satan made these claims, and the Lord Jesus did not refute them (Matthew 4:8-10). In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ referred to Satan repeatedly as "the Prince (or ruler) of this world," in John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11. In a reference to Satan, the Apostle Paul calls him "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2). Later in that same epistle, Paul warns the Ephesian believers,

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephes. 6:12)

We see from these verses that Satan heads and commands an organized kingdom of evil spirits who assist him in his rule over fallen man.

Satan and his evil spirits, or demons, RULE EASILY in this "kingdom of darkness" because they find that fallen man is easily duped and enticed because of his own spiritual blindness and rebellion against God. "Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). Satan invented the art of the "power of suggestion," used it successfully in the Garden of Eden, and he and his under-rulers continue to use it daily to persuade men and women to do their bidding, whether they be unbelievers (John 8:44, Luke 8:12), or those professing to be followers of Christ (John 13:2; Acts 5:3). The shocking and startling truth is that this rule of Satan over fallen man is SO EXTENSIVE that the Apostle John states in I John 5:19, "The WHOLE WORLD is under the power of the Evil One" (Amplified New Testament), and in Revelation 12:9, the same Apostle refers to him as "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the WHOLE WORLD."

Satan is motivated primarily by hatred for God, and hatred and jealousy of man who is made in God's image, and a desire to have subjects under his control. His primary area of activity then, is in the SPIRITUAL REALM, or the realm of religion and philosophies of life. In many ways he keeps men and women blinded to the Truth of the Gospel, according to 2 Corinthians 4:3-4,

"But even if our Gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the 'god' of this age hath blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine on them."

As the "god of this world," Satan is behind every false religion, every perversion of Christian truth, and every false philosophy of life. He deceives millions in his kingdom of darkness, who are caught in the "snare of the Devil, who are taken captive by him at his will" (2 Timothy 2:24-26). Let's explore briefly some of these "snares of the Devil," whereby he keeps people blinded to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, there are the snares of atheism, organic evolution, and secular humanism. These philosophies teach that there is no God, that the universe originated from the "big bang," that man evolved through a gradual process of change over millions of years from a one-celled organism, and that he is nothing more than a highly developed animal. Since there is no God, there is no absolute moral standard of right and wrong, no ultimate Judge to Whom we must give an account, and no life beyond death. According to this humanistic philosophy, fornication and sexual immorality is no longer considered sin, but, "if it feels good, do it." Sodomy and sexual perversion is now called an "alternative life-style," and sodomites and lesbians are now referred to as "gay." What a misrepresentation in terms! And, according to many who hold this atheistic, humanistic philosophy, human life in its beginning stages and in old age does not have any intrinsic value; therefore, abortion, euthanasia, and "assisted suicide" are just practical ways of disposing of it when it is not desirable or convenient. Satan proceeds with his usual attack upon the truth of God's Word, just as he did in the Garden of Eden, discrediting the Genesis account of creation, the unity and solidarity of the human race through the first man Adam, and the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Once the Bible is rejected as Truth, the mind becomes a fertile ground for every form of error and Satanic deception, including the occult, astrology, psychics, UFO-ology, and the "new age" movement.

Satan and his hosts of demons, through the power of suggestion -- and through the words and writings of others who are also deceived -- discredit the Bible in the minds of many by suggesting that it is historically and scientifically inaccurate, that it is merely a collection of tales and fables, or that because there are many versions it must not be true. He will also point out the failings, inconsistencies, and sins of professing Christians, and suggest that the Bible is not true, and that all Christians are phonies and hypocrites.

Satan excels, however, as the Master Deceiver in the religious realm, where he pulls off convincing counterfeits of genuine Christianity, leading millions astray in religious error. In 2 Corinthians 11:4, the Apostle Paul refers to this counterfeit work of Satan carried on through false teachers who "preach another Jesus whom we have not preached," the activities of "a different spirit which you have not received," and "a different gospel which you have not accepted." Paul continues in verses 13-15 to identify these false teachers, and to expose the REAL SOURCE of their error:

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For SATAN HIMSELF transforms himself into an ANGEL OF LIGHT. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also trans-form themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works."

These verses clearly teach that Satan has his own ministers who preach another Gospel, preach another Jesus, by another spirit. From this it is obvious that not every minister who stands behind a pulpit is from God, and not every religious teacher brings the true Gospel of God.

It would take volumes to explore the religious counterfeits of Satan, but to name a few of the most popular concepts: "Everyone is going to Heaven, though we may be going by different routes." "There is no Hell -- God is too merciful to send anyone to Hell." "Salvation is by baptism and becoming a member of the church." "You will be O.K. if you try to be a good person, do good deeds, and treat other people right." "Salvation is by trying to live by the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, and following the example of Christ." And thousands are led astray by the Satanic deception, propagated by ministers who are also deceived, that walking down the aisle of a church during an invitation is the same as being born again. All of these concepts may sound good, but they are contradicted by the Word of God as a means of acceptance with God in salvation. They all contain a bloodless Gospel (Hebrews 9:22), leaving out the necessity of a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Substitutionary Sacrifice (Romans 3:24-26); they fail to proclaim the necessity of the New Birth (John 3:3-5); and they fail to proclaim the absolute necessity of "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21; Luke 13:3-5).

Though Satan's power is great, we must not forget that he rules in this kingdom of darkness only by the permissive will of God. After all, Satan and his host of evil spirits are only created beings, and though we are no match for them, God is sovereign and in control over all created beings. Though they intend it not, God in His infinite wisdom uses them in His ruling and overruling providence to accomplish His own will and purpose. And their final doom has already been predicted, and is certain, according to Revelation 20:10.

Since we are all as fallen sons and daughters of Adam born into Satan's kingdom of darkness, and by nature live out our lives under his rule and domain in disobedience to God (Ephesians 2:2), as his spiritual offsprings (John 8:44), GOD'S REMEDY is a MIGHTY DELIVERANCE by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Gospel. According to I John 3:8, "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might DESTROY the works of the Devil." The glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ brings DELIVERANCE from Satan's power, and out of his kingdom, according to Colossians 1:13, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son." It is through this blessed Gospel that the Lord Jesus puts forth His mighty power "to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins. . ." (Acts 26:18). This blessed theme of deliverance from Satan's power will be more fully developed and studied later in this book, under the section, "GOD'S REMEDY."

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