The devil does much work to try and turn the mind of man away from the truth of Christ. Jesus is literally God above, Who has come down to save man from his sins, to redeem man, and yet the devil works tirelessly to blind the minds of mankind away from the great truth of the Gospel.
He has many ways of doing this. He can turn man away from the Living God to false gods. He can convince man to trust in his own ideas, morals, and philosophies, rather than to turn to God for the truth. He can seduce man into living after the things of this world: ambition, pride, and selfishness. He can distract man with the cares and pleasures of this life. He can weigh man down with despair and self pity and convince him there is no Help for which he may reach. All of these methods can be very different from each other, yet they actually grow from the same root—that of unbelief, a turning away from the truth in Jesus Christ.
One of the devil’s weapons of choice for this blinding of man’s mind to the light of the Gospel is his continual work to bring Christ, His church, and Word into an evil name. This method blinds the minds of man today, especially in the Western world, like nothing else seems to. The devil works endlessly to tie the image of superstition, foolishness, naivety, abuse, corruption, and perversion to the name of Christ, so that mankind associates these evil things with Christ and true Religion. It is incredibly difficult to pry this issue open in men’s minds so that they will see the great difference herein.
One of the devil’s works today is to point at religions that are empty and say, “Look, that’s all religion is—so go on, curse all religion, go on, curse God and die…” There is very little room in such a person’s mind to understand the great difference between that of the emptiness of false religions and that of the true thing! Such a person is quick to accept that they’re all the same, but this reasoning doesn’t line up. In reality, what does a lie have to do with disproving the truth? If something is false and empty, how does that condemn what is true and full? Does not this falseness and emptiness only condemn the false religion, and actually give evidence towards what is true? Indeed, it does. The emptiness of false religions point to the need for true religion, not for the need of no religion. The tragedy today is that many find themselves in empty beliefs, but they are quick to accept the devil’s remedy of secularism and turning to the atheistic world as the “cure”. They cast off all religion rather than follow the cord up out of empty religion, to the true religion all of mankind is meant to find in Jesus Christ. The devil claims to be the true remedy to false religions, and they believe him rather than God, and do not discern how the devil is only trying to capture them to do his will, and take them away from the true Light (2 Tim 2:26). In reality, their condition is no better than it was before, they are only in a different darkness. This mere change has deceived them into believing they have found light (Matt 6:23). Actually, they are in an even more precipitous position now, because they believe they have had their great “Exodus” moment, and this belief will cause them to be doubly trapped.
The world today is filled up to the brim with constant messages against Christ. Every theme presented about His church/Word/commandments is either to the tune of naivety or of abuse. And these themes are continuously told to us. It has become a very common backdrop in movie scripts and all media. The constant theme is that while man would never force others into their views on such things, true religion is laughable, and man alone knows what is wise or good. While they would never forbid religion, “every truly wise person knows that abuse comes from the church and all religion. It’s nice if it is important to you, but maybe one day you’ll finally know better.”
These messages take no notice of Who Jesus reveals Himself to truly be, or to the vast multitude of God’s faithful people, those who have walked in deepest love, justice, and goodwill towards all of mankind. It takes no notice of the essential differences within the Gospel that set it apart entirely from other religions.
False Claims in Christ’s Name
Alternatively, the devil will point at those who have borne Christ’s name falsely, with selfish intentions, and he will say, “See, Christianity is what is evil, God is evil! Turn against it!” There is very little room in the hearts of such people to understand that many people have borne the name of Christ falsely, yet, as it is with false religion and true religion, this comparison is still not the estimate of Christ Himself.
Again, the issue is that the devil is trying to say that two entirely different things are one and the same: that what is sinful and evil somehow discredits what is holy and good. He works tirelessly to leave out key evidence for the truth of God, always working to blind the mind of man by hiding what is good, and twisting the truth about what is bad to mean something other than what it means. The facts of these people’s sins may certainly be true! But he tries to make this mean something entirely different than what is true.
The people who quickly accept these lies miss the truth of a continual agenda that is always being worked in their life for these lies. How they are continually being “herded” towards such lies. They miss the truth about who God actually is, what the Word says about Him, who He declares Himself to be. Many people claim to have examined the Scriptures for themselves yet what they believe about Jesus is still remarkably ignorant of who Christ actually says that He is. They do not see how often they reject Christ based upon the lie about who He is, and they never examine the truth of who He actually is, and by this, decide. They are often ignorant of all of those who have worked faithfully in Christ’s name, but instead are fixated upon those who are false. They also miss the essential truth about their own sinful hearts, and that we do not love, judge, or believe from a pure nature but from a corrupt one. Within this, they fail to see the evil bias with which they approach all the things of Christ. Always tilted for what discredits and slanders Christ, and ignoring what shows true evidence for Him and His goodness. This is what the Bible calls the condition of unbelief. It is refusing to approach Christ and God’s Word with true integrity.
These people think they are justified in their rejection of the Gospel because of the wickedness of those claiming the name of Christ. But this logic does not hold up.
If I were to decide to go out and start declaring to others that you think, believe, feel, and have done certain things, with no regard for the fact that they are unequivocally untrue, would the fact that I said these things make them true? No! The truth is still the truth, and I have no right to claim otherwise. Now imagine that people find out about what I am doing and instead of blaming me, they begin to blame you. They begin to say that whatever lies I’ve declared in your name are indeed what you believe and how you act, and they refuse to see the lies that I’ve said as different from what you really do say or believe. Is this not deep injustice? And yet we don’t even think to give the Living God the same fair trial within our own hearts! If I could go out in your name and incriminate you by my actions, would that not be the greatest injustice? If I were to go out and do evil in your name, would it really be right that you paid for it when you did not send me to do such things in your name?
It is sadly quite true that people do things in the name of Christ that are selfish and wrong. But again, we continue to hold this as one in the same with God, His Word, and those Christians who do not act in this way. And this is great injustice on our part, and is a great self deception that blinds us to the goodness of Christ, and the true power of the Gospel.
In reality, this reveals that the deeper issue in our hearts is that fallen man is quick to take these evil actions of others as proof for how right we are in our unbelief and rebellion against God, because many of us secretly delight to have an excuse to cast God aside and do our own wills… And we want permission to do this, and think such “evils” give us permission to do so. We want to turn away from God, from the responsibility to obey Him. Therefore we take anything that we think gives us some sort of permission to do so. Rather than pausing and weighing these things to see if they are true, many people snatch them up gladly and run with them. Man too easily receives the devil’s lies about God and His church—or about religions altogether—because of our evil desires, and what we think such ideas give us permission for. Amidst the confusion and darkness of this world are also the evil desires within our own hearts to deny Christ and rebel against Him. And the truth of other people’s sins does not change the reality of this sinful desire in our own hearts, nor our desire to use such sins as permission for our own sins. In such circumstances, we don’t “innocently” desire to be free of sin, but to be free of God. We see such lies about God as little blossoms of possibility for such “liberation”, and we welcome the devil’s wooing. No matter how much “proof” or evidence is made for Christ, such people reject Him because of their evil heart of unbelief, refusing to love the truth and so be saved (2 Thess 2:10).
There is most certainly evil in this world. There is certainly much emptiness in many ways people try to live religiously, and there is much evil carried out in the name of “God”. But the truth of fallen man’s heart is that he wants to insist upon the truth of these things to the exclusion of the great Truth of Christ. He wants to profess to care for one element of the truth while also suppressing the other elements of it. And the desire to do this comes from an evil heart (Rom 1:18), one that readily receives the influence of the devil yet rejects the influence of God.
Again, reject what is false! We should! It is right to see what is evil and empty and to cast it off. But we fall prey to the devil’s agenda if we do not equally cling to what is good and true, and that is Jesus Christ. “Abhor what is evil; [but equally] hold fast to what is good.” (Rom 12:9)
The Church in View of the World
For the church, we have great need today to redouble our efforts towards seeking Christ. Many of the accusations against the church are true or are half true. There is much ignorance, naivety, powerlessness, childishness, superficiality, selfishness, pride, arrogance, abuse, harshness, brutishness in the church… These things are a great tragedy, because they work with the devil to blind the mankind to the truth of the Gospel. We have great need of seeing that we bear the name of Christ. And this means that we are responsible to truly be filled with Him, sanctified and renewed in the spirit of our minds, and walking in true holiness. The Bible makes a great point about this! (1 Peter 2:12, Titus 3:1-5, Titus 2:10, 2 Cor 8:21, Rom 12:17, Heb 12:14, etc) We are warned so continually away from giving needless offense and remaining in our sins, as this brings the name of Christ into disrepute. We bear a great responsibility with our own individual lives to be sanctified and made holy, to be gentle and truly loving, so that we may not be hindrances to the truth of the Gospel.
Now, God’s church isn't in need of apologizing to the world for God’s Word—the venture a great many take up as some false attempt to remedy these issues. Such people fail to realize that these efforts are always born out of pleasing man rather than pleasing God. Believer, have you also been believing such lies about God, His Word, and church? We may see and be troubled by the real sin and issues in the church, but we must keep watch over our hearts and ensure their faithfulness to Christ (Heb 2:1, Matt 24:24). Rather than apologizing for what God has said, the church is in need of taking Jesus Christ seriously and living what God has said ourselves.
Church, we must wake up! We must see this twofold work of the evil one that attempts to make the claims against God credible. There is much at stake here.
Out of Darkness into Light
The devil blinds the minds of mankind away from the light of the Gospel today by tying two things together that couldn’t be more different: the fallenness of mankind and the holiness and goodness of Christ.
Because mankind refuses to accept the truth of our sinfulness and fallenness, we are easy prey to the devil. It is easy for him to convince us of a false goodness of our own, and a false evil of God’s.
The truth before us is that we choose who to believe. We choose to believe the devil and to love his lies, to have him as our god, or we choose Jesus Christ and submit to Him. And Jesus promises that those who are faithful to Him and His Word will know the truth and will be set free from all such evil that blinds the mind of man: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
2 Corinthians 4:4
The Lie that God Is Evil
Separating the Reality of Man's Fallenness from the Truth of God's Goodness
II. False Religion
III. False Claims in Christ’s Name
IV. The Church in View of the World
V. Out of Darkness into Light