The Lie

Q. 2 Thes 2:11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie. What is the lie? Why would God send people a powerful delusion? Wouldn’t that make God responsible?

A. The phrase “the lie” appears only twice in the NIV NT, here and in 2 Thes 2:9. To answer your question, let’s start with the immediate context – 2 Thes 2:1-12, which talk about the Great Apostasy in the end times, and the Man of Lawlessness, the Antichrist. We analyze 2 Thes 2:9-12 by dividing the 4 verses into three parts – that which the lawless one does, the people’s response, and what God will do:

9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie,
10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie
12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Note the chronological sequence:
• First, the lawless one, empowered by Satan, will use power, signs and wonders to deceive.
• Next, the people who refuse to love and believe the truth to be saved, choose to believe the lawless one’s lie and delight in wickedness. That’s why they perish.
• Then God sends the people a powerful delusion to confirm their refusal to love the truth, so that they will be condemned.
So God’s sending the delusion did not cause their unbelief, but in response to it. They perish because of their own choice and love of wickedness.

What is “the lie”? In the NKJV NT, the phrase appears one more time:
Rom 1:25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

“The lie” is contrasted with “the truth of God”. The background goes all the way back to Genesis 3, the temptation and fall of man:
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
• Gen 3:4-5 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The very first lie in the Bible is a direct contradiction of God’s word in:
Gen 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
claiming that it cannot be trusted. It imputes an ulterior motive to God’s prohibition, not for our good to protect us, but to selfishly guard His superiority so that we won’t be like Him. Therefore obedience keeps us down while disobedience will promote us to be like God. This lie has been repeated throughout the ages in all religions, men trying to establish their own goodness apart from God. Men had fallen for it time and again, and will continue to do so until the end.

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Satan

Q. Why did Satan fall? When?

A. Some scholars suggest Satan’s fall is described in Ezk 28 and Isa 14:

Ezk 28:11-17 Again the word of the LORD came to me saying,
• 12 “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
• 13 “You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you. On the day that you were created They were prepared.
• 14 “You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.
• 15 “You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created Until unrighteousness was found in you.
• 16 “By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane From the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire.
• 17 “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, That they may see you.

Although some commentators claim this passage refers to the king of Tyre (v 12), as did Ezk 28:1-10 to the leader (ruler or prince) of Tyre (v 2), there are indications that it goes beyond the man who claimed to be god (v 2 and 9) to the being influencing him:
• Had the seal of perfection, perfect in beauty (v 12) – no mere human was described as perfect;
• Was in Eden (v 13), on the holy mountain of God (v 13) – Eden was destroyed during the Flood, so the king of Tyre in Ezekiel’s days could not have been there;
• Was the anointed cherub (v 14, 16) – cherubim (plural) was an order of angels;
• Blameless – although Noah (Gen 6:9) and Job (Job 1:1, 8, 2:3) were also described as blameless, combined with perfection this describes no ordinary human;
Now, if this describes Satan before his fall, how and why did he fall?

The clues are:
• Internally filled with violence, sinned (v 16);
• This sin is described as unrighteousness (v 15);
• Heart was lifted up because of beauty and splendor (v 17) i.e. he was proud.
There is no indication that it was due to an external influence, but from within, from his own desire. Now let’s look at Isa 14:

Isa 14:12-15 “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!
• 13 “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
• 14 ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
• 15 “Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.

Again some commentators believe this is just a taunt against the king of Babylon (v 4), but “fallen from heaven” (v 12), compared to “thrust down to Sheol” (v 15) and contrasted to “ascend to heaven” (v 13), seems to be more than figurative of fallen from the heights. Star of the morning (v 12) is literally “the shining one”, Lucifer in Latin. The crux is in the five “I will” in v 13-14, above the stars of God (heavenly hosts or angels) and culminating in “make myself like the Most High”. This is reminiscent of the serpent’s temptation “you will be like God” (Gen 3:5). The issue, as in Ezk 28, is pride. Lucifer was not satisfied with being created beautiful and wise, but wanted to be like God his Creator, for which he was cast down from heaven.

The question of “when did Satan fall” is less precise. We said yesterday that angels were created early in the creation week:
• Day 1 – Light;
• Day 2 – Expanse – sky;
• Day 3 – Land and seas, vegetation;
• Day 4 – Lights – sun, moon, stars;
• Day 5 – Water creatures, birds;
• Day 6 – Land creatures, man;
• Day 7 – Rested.

Taking Gen 1 to be more than poetry, the foundation of the earth would be created on Day 3, and according to Job angels were there to witness it:
Job 38:6-7 “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
So angels, including Lucifer, were created prior to Day 3, and possibly as early as Day 1. It could not be before Day 1, because in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (Jn 1:1). Only God is eternal, not angels.

When did Lucifer sin? The Bible did not say specifically, but we can infer that it was some time after the creation week. This is because God pronounced each day from Day 1 to Day 5 “good”, and Day 6 “very good”. He also blessed and sanctified Day 7. My conjecture is that He would not have called it good or sanctified it had Lucifer rebelled during that time.

How long after the creation week? I don’t know as the Bible didn’t say. The serpent was already there in Gen 3. Some suggest that it might be 20-30 years after Creation as Adam and Eve were adults in the Garden of Eden, but God created man and woman, not boy and girl, and asked them to be fruitful and multiply. So He likely created them as young adults. All I can say is that it is some time after the creation week, before the fall of man. Beyond that is speculation.

Why did Satan use a Serpent? (2 of 2)

serpent-2

(Continued from yesterday)

Now the harder “why?”. The words “serpent” or “serpents” appear 46 times in the NASB. I won’t cite all of them here, as some are simply narrative e.g. Aaron’s staff which became a serpent, fiery serpents, bronze serpent etc. However, some are descriptive of the characteristics of a serpent, as follows:

Gen 49:17 Dan shall be a serpent in the way, A horned snake in the path, That bites the horse’s heels, So that his rider falls backward.
• Jdg 18:27 But the people of Dan took what Micah had made, and the priest who belonged to him, and they came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, and struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire.

The Danites were a treacherous group who attacked peaceful people unprovoked, much like a deceitful serpent.

Deut 32:33 Their wine is the venom of serpents, And the deadly poison of cobras.
• Ps 58:4 They have venom like the venom of a serpent; Like a deaf cobra that stops up its ear,
• Ps 140:3 They sharpen their tongues as a serpent; Poison of a viper is under their lips.
• Prov 23:32 At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper.

The composite picture is that serpents are poisonous & deadly. The context also tell us that serpents:
• Are perverse like Sodom & Gomorrah (Deut 32:32),
• Speak lies (Ps 58:3),
• Devise evil things in their hearts (Ps 140:2),
• Have deceptive appearance (Prov 23:31).
Altogether an ugly picture & an apt description of Satan. We know this is not the cause as everything was created good (Gen 1:31). What is not clear is whether these character traits are the direct results of the curse in Gen 3:14:
The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life;
or were inherent in the serpent’s design but activated by the curse. In any event, the Bible is silent as to why Satan chose a serpent, just his choice was appropriate.

Lastly, how? Some commentators believe that because Satan is called “the serpent of old” in Rev 12:9 & 20:2, there was no actual serpent, just Satan himself talking to Eve. However, Satan is a fallen cherub & has no physical body, so the curse about going on his belly & eating dust would not make sense. Likely it is Satan entering into the serpent, similar to:
Lk 22:3 And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. (Also Jn 13:27)
• Lk 8:33 And the demons came out of the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

Sometimes we wish the Bible would shed more light on certain subjects, but we just have to live with what was revealed. The more important thing is to obey what God revealed, not understanding what He had hidden from us.

Why did Satan use a Serpent? (1 of 2)

serpent-1

Q. Why did Satan use a snake?

A. Kids ask the most interesting questions. When our grandson heard the story on the Fall of Man, he asked his mom “Why a snake?” He did not ask “who”, or “what”, or “where”, or “when”, any of which would have been easier to answer, but “why”. Our daughter was stumped. Good thing he did not follow with “how”! What does the Bible say? The Bible did not explicitly explain why, but we can make educated guesses. Let’s start with the simpler of the W6:

Who or what is the serpent?
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
• Gen 3:13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Notice two characteristics:
• Crafty or cunning, &
• Deceived.

Paul confirmed this as history:
2 Co 11:3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

John made a positive identification:
Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
• Rev 20:2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;

Serpent = dragon = the devil = Satan.

Where did this happen?
Gen 3:23-24 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
So this took place in the garden of Eden.

When did it take place?
Gen 1:31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
After the sixth day, as all was very good up to that point in time. How long after? The Bible did not say.

(To be continued)

Did Satan visit other Planets?

planets 1

This is a follow-up question from our 6-year-old grand-daughter who asked “Does God love Satan?”, which I expanded by incorporating common views. Children ask the most bizarre, and sometimes most challenging, questions!

A. Again, the Bible is silent on this one. The Bible provides answers to key questions that are essential to our salvation and Christian life, but also does not comment on a whole lot of subjects, including this. But there is an indirect clue:
* Job 1:7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”
* Job 2:2 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”
* 1 Pet 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Twice God queried Satan where had he been, and twice Satan replied “roaming about on the earth”. And the reason he prowls around is to devour people. His purpose is to create havoc on earth to destroy God’s people. He had no reason to roam uninhabited planets for curiosity’s sake. His main activities are to tempt and to accuse, and he wouldn’t blink an eye to lie to slander people. Since there are no people on other planets or in other galaxies, my opinion is that Satan did not waste his time there. But that’s only my view, with no hard evidence to support it.

Does God Love Satan? (2 of 2)

John 8 44 c

(Continued from yesterday)

3. His methods
• Schemes
o 2 Co 2:11 so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.
o Eph 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

• Disguise to deceive 2 Co 11:14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
• Set traps
o 1 Tim 3:6-7 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
o 2 Tim 2:26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Satan is forever scheming and setting snares to take advantage of people to hold them captive. One of his most effective means is deception. If he can deceive then there is no need for frontal attack.

4. How God treats him
• Rebuke him Zech 3:2 The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!
• Crush him Rom 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
• Punish him Mt 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
• Torment him forever Rev 20:10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

God rebukes and will crush Satan, tormenting him in the lake of fire forever. Unlike human beings, God did not give Satan and the fallen angels an opportunity to repent. Jesus died to save us, but not fallen angels. The Bible did not explain why, so we can only speculate. Perhaps it is because of the greater privileges they had:
Lk 12:48 … From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

5. How we are to treat him
• Resist him Jas 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
We are not to pity Satan, but resist him.

Since the Bible’s evaluation is entirely negative, I conclude that God does not love Satan after his fall, despite His loving the world to such an extent that He sent His only begotten Son to save it.

Does God Love Satan? (1 of 2)

John 8 44 a

Q. Does God love Satan? Some say He does because God is Love and loves everyone. Others say God is just so He cannot love Satan who is evil? What does the Bible say?

A. A slogan is good in capturing the essence of one’s beliefs, but can’t contain all the nuances. To know what the Bible said on this subject we need to examine the relevant passages on “Satan” and “the devil”. My position is that God loved “Lucifer” before he fell, but does not love Satan after the “star of the morning” sinned and became the devil. Here’s why:

Before:
Ezk 28:11 You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
• Ezk 28:15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.

God loved this anointed cherub and made him beautiful and wise (Ezk 28:17).

However, after Satan’s fall all description of him are negative. There is not a single assessment of him in positive terms:

1. His nature or character:
• Enemy Mt 13:39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, …
• Murderer and liar Jn 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
• Deceitful and fraudulent Acts 13:10 and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?
• Adversary 1 Pet 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, …
• Sin 1 Jn 3:8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. …
• Does not practice righteousness 1 Jn 3:10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

Satan is God’s enemy and adversary, always sinning and never practicing righteousness, a deceitful and fraudulent murderer and liar. There is not a single redeeming virtue in him.

2. His work
• Stumble people Mt 16:23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; … (Also Mk 8:33)
• Incite lies Acts 5:3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit …
• Tempt people 1 Co 7:5 … so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (Also Mt 4:1, Lk 4:2)
• Torment people 2 Co 12:7 there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—…
• Hinder people 1 Thes 2:18 For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us.
• Oppress people Acts 10:38 … and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, …
• Cast Christians to prison Rev 2:10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days.
• Deceive the world Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; …

The devil is always trying to stumble and tempt people by deceiving them and filling their hearts to lie. Those he can’t trip by the soft approach, he uses the hard approach to hinder, oppress, imprison and torment. All his works are vile.

(To be continued)