Satan’s Secret Weapons
“This prince of evil has many names, Arch or Chief deceiver, Lucifer, the father of lies, etc”.
Could religious people work with the Devil to destroy true Christianity?
Claude de Praet spent five long days in prison before he got the chance to know the charges against him. He thought a great deal about his wife and children–who didn’t know whether they would see him alive again.
Finally, on the morning of the sixth day, the jailer opened Claud’s cell and escorted him to the interrogation room. Three judges sat solemnly on high-backed chairs. A clerk waited with pen and paper to take down the prisoner’s statements. The court bailiff began the questioning; he asked Claude his name, where he was born, and where he’d been staying.
And then proceeded, amazingly enough, to try to find out Claud’s views on a variety of complicated religious issues. They wanted to know about his church affiliation, about the people he fellowshipped with. They were very curious about whether he’d been baptized after being christened as an infant.
They wanted to know if he thought Christ was really present in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. No word of what we’d consider a crime ever crossed anyone’s lips. No-one asked Claude about a robbery or a mugging or a murder. No-one even accused him of disturbing the peace.
And yet this was a prison, and these were real judges, and this was an accused man trying to fend off execution.
When Claud kept evading questions about others in his church, the bailiff finally asked him grimly, “You do it so as not to bring anyone into trouble”?
Claud answered with these chilling words: “Yes sir, bailiff, for we well know that our blood is much thought.”
The incredible fact is that Claud and his fellow believers faced the death penalty because of their religious opinions. They had the misfortune of being Anabaptists in a time when the established church strongly disapproved of this sect. And those weren’t madmen sitting in the judge’s chairs. They were sober churchmen who thought they were defending the true faith.
This interrogation occurred in the city of Ghent, Belgium, in 1556. It wasn’t unusual; it wasn’t considered a miscarriage of justice. It was part of a long tradition of enforcing the faith, of punishing heretics, tragically, in the Christian church. But how could that happen? How did Christians get it into their heads that burning heretics was a way to serve GOD?
To understand the long, painful story of religious persecution, you need to understand the long conflict between CHRIST and Satan.
At the cross, CHRIST had won a great victory over His antagonist, Lucifer, the fallen angel who became Satan. JESUS showed that GOD could love and forgive to the uttermost. Satan was exposed as a cruel, destructive being.. And furthermore, CHRIST founded His church, a body of believers that was to go on spreading His love and grace.
Satan seemed to be completely defeated. His way of manipulating and coercion had failed.
CHRIST’S way of making human beings free through the gospel had succeeded. The church started to turn the world upside down.
Satan wanted more than anything to destroy the church. The book of Revelation tells us in chapter 12 that he tries to drown the church in a flood of persecution. Satan first used the cruelty of several emperors of Rome.
Then Satan came up with the most diabolical scheme. What if the church itself could become the persecutor of the faithful? It sounds outrageous. The church became very powerful in the Middle Ages. It acquired absolute authority. Church officials came to see themselves as protectors of truth.
This stands out sharply in the interrogation of Claude de Praet. We learn about it in the letters he managed to send out of prison.
One day, two monks came to question him. They asked, “What is your faith?” Claude testified simply: “I believe only in JESUS CHRIST, that He is the living and true Son of GOD, and that there is no other salvation either in heaven or on earth.”
That didn’t satisfy the men. They wanted to know what else he believed– especially about the church they called the true apostolic church. So Claude asked them, “Did the apostles persecute and maintain their church with fire and sword as you do?”
To this, they didn’t have a very good answer. That’s because the strongest thing in the New Testament says about the heretics is to avoid them-a far cry from burning them at the stake.
On another occasion, a scholarly man, known as the Dean of Ronse, came to interrogate Claude. Claude asked him where he did get his authority to seek the blood of those whom “no-one could accuse of any crime.”
The Dean managed to point to one passage, Deut. 17:12, which describes those who defied the priests in Israel being put to death.
Claude reminded the Dean that we are now under the law of grace, not the law of revenge. And he pointed out that JESUS had stated in the parable that we shouldn’t try pulling out the weeds in our midst because we’d end up yanking out a lot good wheat in the process. To this, the Dean could only answer that he was wise enough to pull up a few bad weeds without harming the wheat.
During one of his interrogations, the chief judge told him: “Christ promised His church that He would be with them unto the end of the world. But I can find none among you that can tell me of a longer existence of your church than about thirty years.”
In other words, the judge was asking, if Christ promised to preserve His church from the time He founded it, how can yours be legitimate if it has existed only three decades?
Claude’s answer shows that he had a wider perspective of the body of CHRIST: “HE THAT ABIDS IN ME, AND I IN HIM BRINGS FORTH MUCH FRUIT……AND MY WORDS ABIDE IN YOU…IF THE WORLD HATES YOU, YOU KNOW THAT IT HATED ME BEFORE IT HATED YOU…..IF THEY PERSECUTED ME, THEY WILL ALSO PERSECUTE YOU.” [Jn. 15:5,18,20].
Friendship with the World is enmity with GOD. [James 4:4;Revel.ch.17]
The Apostle Paul himself stood where our persecutors are standing now: “That he which persecuted us in times past now preaches the faith which once he destroyed.” [Galatians 1:23]. “But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so, it is now.” [Gal.4:29] The apostle Peter strongly denies that he was the first Pope.
“The Church is GOD’S fortress, His city of refuge, which He holds in a revolted World. Any betrayal of her sacred trust is treachery to Him who has bought her with the precious blood of His only begotten Son. All down through the history of the world, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth.”
Today as in the past, all heaven is watching to see the church develop in the true science of salvation. CHRIST calls on us to enter the narrow way where every step means a denial of self. he calls upon us to stand upon the platform of eternal truth, and content, yes, contend earnestly, for the faith once delivered to Rome? no, the saints.”
“Our discernment Must be Sharpened by Divine Enlightenment”!
As we near the time when Satan deceptive power will be so great that, if it were possible, he would deceive the very elect. Our discernment must be sharpened by divine enlightenment, that we may not be ignorant of Satan’s devices. It is GOD’S design that his church shall advance in purity and knowledge from light to light, from glory to glory.
“To believe that evil must not be condemned because this would condemn those who practice the evil is to act in favour of falsehood. It should be clearly understood that we are not helping those who are determined to do evil when we show them respect! Have you got a name that you are living, but being dead in sins and trespasses?
The Great Controversy, 1884 edition The Snares of Satan
“As the people of God approach the perils of the last days, Satan holds earnest consultation with his angels as to the most successful plan of overthrowing their faith. He sees that the popular churches are already lulled to sleep by his deceptive power. By pleasing sophistry and lying wonders he can continue to hold them under his control. Therefore he directs his angels to lay their snares especially for those who are looking for the second advent of Christ, and endeavoring to keep all the commandments of God.”
“Says the great deceiver: ï¿¿We must watch those who are calling the attention of the people to the Sabbath of Jehovah; they will lead many to see the claims of the law of God; and the same light which reveals the true Sabbath, reveals also the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and shows that the last work for man’s salvation is now going forward. Hold the minds of the people in darkness till that work is ended, and we shall secure the world and the church also.”
The Sabbath is the great question which is to decide the destiny of souls. We must exalt the sabbath of our creating. We have caused it to be accepted by both worldlings and church-members; now the church must be led to unite with the world in its support. We must work by signs and wonders to blind their eyes to the truth, and lead them to lay aside reason and the fear of God, and follow custom and tradition.”
I will influence popular ministers to turn the attention of their hearers from the commandments of God. That which the Scriptures declare to be a perfect law of liberty shall be represented as a yoke of bondage. The people accept their minister’s explanations of Scripture and do not investigate for themselves. Therefore by working through the ministers, I can control the people according to my will.”
But our principal concern is to silence this sect of Sabbath-keepers. We must excite popular indignation against them. We will enlist great men and worldly-wise men upon our side, and induce those in authority to carry out our purposes. The Sabbath which I have set up shall be enforced by laws the most severe and exacting. Those who disregard them shall be driven out from the cities and villages and made to suffer hunger and privation. When once we have the power, we will show that we can do with those who will not swerve from their allegiance to God. We led the Romish Church to inflict imprisonment, torture, and death upon those who refused to yield to her decrees, and now that we are bringing the Protestant churches and the world into harmony with this right arm of our strength, we will finally have a law to exterminate all who will not submit to our authority. When death shall be made the penalty of violating our Sabbath, then many who are now ranked with commandment keepers will come over to our side.”
But before proceeding to these extreme measures, we must exert all our wisdom and subtlety to deceive and ensnare those who honor the true Sabbath. We can separate many from Christ by worldliness, lust, and pride. They may think themselves safe because they believe the truth, but the indulgence of appetite or the lower passions, which will confuse judgment and destroy discrimination, will cause their fall.”
Go, make the possessors of lands and money drunk with the cares of this life. Present the world before them in its most attractive light that they may lay up their treasure here, and fix their affections upon earthly things. We must do our utmost to prevent those who labor in God’s cause from obtaining means to use against us. Keep the money in our own ranks. The more means they obtain, the more they will injure our kingdom by taking from us our subjects. Make them care more for money than for the upbuilding of Christ’s kingdom and the spread of the truths we hate, and we need not fear their influence; for we know that every selfish, covetous person will fall under our powers, and will finally be separated from God’s people.”
Through those that have a form of godliness but know not the power, we can gain many who would otherwise do us great harm. Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God will be our most effective helpers. Those of this class who are apt and intelligent will serve as decoys to draw others into our snares. Many will not fear their influence, because they profess the same faith. We will thus lead them to conclude that the requirements of Christ are less strict than they once believed and that by conformity to the world they would exert a greater influence with worldlings. Thus they will separate from Christ, then they will have no strength to resist our power, and before long they will be ready to ridicule their former zeal and devotion.”
Until the great decisive blow shall be struck, our efforts against commandment-keepers must be untiring. We must be present at all their gatherings. In their large meetings, especially, our cause will suffer much, and we must exercise great vigilance, and employ all our seductive arts to prevent souls from hearing the truth and becoming impressed by it.”
I will have upon the ground, as my agents, men holding false doctrines mingled with just enough truth to deceive souls. I will also have unbelieving ones present, who will express doubts in regard to the Lord’s messages of warning to his church. Should the people read and believe these admonitions, we could have little hope of overcoming them. But if we can divert their attention from these warnings, they will remain ignorant of our power and cunning, and we shall secure them in our ranks at last. God will not permit his words to be slighted with impunity. If we can keep souls deceived for a time, God’s mercy will be withdrawn, and he will give them up to our full control.”
We must cause distraction and division. We must destroy their anxiety for their own souls, and lead them to criticize, to judge, and to accuse and condemn one another, and to cherish selfishness and enmity. For these sins, God banished us from his presence; and all who follow our example will meet a similar fate.
“The Scriptures declare that upon one occasion, when the angels of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan came also among them, not to bow before the Eternal King, but to further his own malicious designs against the righteous. With the same object, he is in attendance when men assemble for the worship of God. Though hidden from sight, he is working with all diligence to control the minds of the worshipers. Like a skillful general, he lays his plans beforehand. As he sees the messenger of God searching the Scriptures, he takes note of the subject to be presented to the people. Then he employs all his cunning and shrewdness to so control circumstances that the message may not reach those whom he is deceiving on that very point. The one who most needs the warning will be urged into some business transaction which requires his presence, or will be some other means be prevented from hearing the words that might prove to him a savor of life unto life.”