Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Each of us has a sin nature, a tendency to rebel against God. By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve fell victim to sin with catastrophic results.
Why did the first couple in paradise feel the need to disobey God? For the answer, stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, you're in a series on God's devil. Tell us about today's message on the serpent in our garden. Dave, I'm sure that our listeners have already guessed that when you talk about the serpent in our garden, we're talking about the Garden of Eden and the fact that there Satan deceived Adam and Eve. And of course, deception is his most powerful weapon.
And I like to point out that there are times when you and I want to be deceived because we want to do what we want to do. And so Satan continues to deceive. And in this series of messages, we'll be helped as we uncover his strategy. We're going to be talking about doorways that allow Satan's entry into our lives.
And I think that this is going to be transforming and helpful to all who listen. So listen carefully as we continue to talk about God's devil. Satan is a wily, intelligent creature. And misery loves company.
Misery loves company. No sooner had he fallen from the heights of glory that he began to recruit others for his assault on God. According to Revelation chapter 12, one third of the angels fell with him, but that meant that for every angel that was mouthing support for Lucifer, two were still worshipping the living and the true God. But we can imagine what it must have been like for Satan, and that's what we will call him now that he has fallen, what it was like for him to watch God create the world and then create these creatures on the earth.
The world, of course, was created earlier, as we explained in the last message, but now creatures, human beings, are created. And as he looks at them, he begins to realize that they are more like God than even angels are because they are created in the very image of God. As he overhears God's instructions to them, he is astounded by the generosity of God. God's saying to them that you have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air and over all the animals, and then God's saying of all the trees of this beautiful garden you may freely eat. Eat from all of them, enjoy their fruit, except for one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
From it you shall not eat, because if you eat of it, you will surely die. Satan is there watching all of this taking place, and he is now going to try to give it mankind to side with him, and it appears as if he succeeds. And the story, of course, is found in the third chapter of the book of Genesis. Genesis chapter 3, where we have the story of how Satan beguiled Adam and Eve, and they ended up being on his side. At least, it appeared that way, though eventually God would redeem them out from under the power and the authority of the evil one. What I'd like us to do in this very important passage is to realize that we now have a glimpse into the satanic mind.
We begin to see how Satan really does operate, how he thinks, and how he gets us to think so that we fall into his traps. Now whenever you think of Satan, you should always think of lying, because Jesus said that he is the liar and the father of lies. When he speaks, he speaks a lie, because there is no truth in him. If he ever speaks the truth, it is only because he intends to deceive. He is always a liar. And that's why when you are watching a television program, you should teach your children how to look for the lie. When you think of false religions, you should always be looking for the lie, because if you're perceptive, you will see that Satan uses lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies.
And today we're going to uncover some of them. How does he go about tempting Adam and Eve? Well, first of all, his strategy is this. He lies about himself. He lies about himself. He doesn't come as the devil. He doesn't come revealing himself and saying, here I am in all of my fury and all of my hatred and in all of my anger. He comes under the disguise of a serpent. Now, he didn't have the ability to create creatures, and so he took a creature whom God created, a beautiful creature, and he inhabited that creature and began to use its body and mouth. Because you see, it was very important that Eve and Adam not fear this creature. And he had to remain hidden.
That is to say, Satan had to remain hidden because he always comes in the form of a disguise. When my wife and I were first married, we lived in an apartment that had a mouse. And we set a mouse trap, and I remember setting the mouse trap beside the fridge, and then I was sitting next to the mouse trap hoping that the mouse would come and get into the trap.
I wanted to see it happen. But that mouse came under the fridge, saw me sitting there, and then whizzed back under the fridge at a terrific speed. And then it dawned on me that if I wanted to catch the mouse, I had better hide. I had better hide. And using this piece of cheese that would be very interesting and very attractive to the mouse, hoping that the mouse would not understand such things as springs and the power of a trap. And sure enough, as long as we hid, we were able to catch the mouse. Satan always hides.
He always hides. He doesn't come to David in the Old Testament and say, David, I hate you and I have a nasty plan for your life. It is my intention to ruin your family and to ruin your kingdom, and what you need to do is to commit adultery with Bathsheba first, and you will be knocking over one of those pegs in the line and the sequence, and as a result of those dominoes, you'll eventually end up desolated and despised and ruined. That's my intention.
Now, you go ahead and you hit the first domino. He doesn't say that. He says, just look at the pleasure for the moment and if there are any consequences, you can always handle those consequences.
In fact, they are well within your power to control. That's the way he comes to us. He is always disguised. The Bible says that he is an angel of light. If you're a Roman Catholic and you are expecting an apparition, he will come to you as Mary or one of the saints. If you are a Protestant and you want a revelation, he will come to you as Jesus Christ. If you are a Hindu, he will come to you as Krishna. He will come in whatever way, will not make you afraid, but his real agenda will always be hidden.
He will never tell you the whole story. He lies about who he is and what his agenda is. Well, there's a second lie here.
You'll notice that he also lies about God and who God is. We pick up the text, the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field, which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman indeed, as God said, you shall not eat from every tree of the garden.
The Hebrew word can be any or every, every tree of the garden. The woman said to the serpent, from the fruit of the trees of the garden, we may eat, but from the fruit of the tree, which is in the middle of the garden, God have said, you shall not eat from it nor touch it, lest you die. The serpent said to the woman, you surely will not die for God knows that in the day that you eat, your eyes will be opened, you will be like God knowing good and evil. Do you understand what's happening here in the text? He's calling into question the word of God and the very character of God.
He's saying Adam and Eve, you have to understand something. God is not here to bless you. God is here to ruin you. He has not come to enrich you. He has come to rob you. He wants to prevent you from eating this tree because he knows that if you do, you will be fulfilled. You will be like him, but he wants to hold you back so that you can't develop your full potential. He wants to limit your experience. He wants to rain on your parade.
He wants to take the fun out of life, and if only you understood that, you would see that God is not on your side. That's the message. Now, listen up, teenagers. Isn't that the number one problem in your heart?
It was in mine when I was a teenager, and that wasn't as long ago as you think. Namely, we look at the world and we think to ourselves, we've been gypped. We've been gypped. I thought to myself, because I'm a Christian, there are some things I can't do. If only I weren't a Christian, then I could do them. But think this through. There were hundreds of trees from which Adam and Eve could freely eat. There was only one from which they could not eat, and that's the one that is exploited. That's the one that is pointed to. That's the one that is emphasized, and that's the one that becomes a stumbling block to the generosity and the love and the mercy and the wonder of God's grace. So while the people in the world go out and have a good time and do all those things that you as a Christian can't do, you have to be staying home, tied to the oceans of God's limitless grace, love, and mercy. Isn't that a tragedy? That's what Satan is saying here.
That's what he's saying. He's saying the way of God is not the best, and is it not true that you and I have sometimes thought that? That is, of course, his strategy. He lies about who he is. He never tells you the whole agenda. Then he lies about who God is, and then he lies about the consequences of disobedience. He says if you disobey God, then your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God. And just think that through, because that's exactly what he wanted to be, as we noticed in the last message. He wanted to be like God. I will be like the Most High, and you can be like the Most High. All that you need to do is to rebel against God and eat of the fruit of the tree.
Now, I have a question for you. When he says that if you eat of the fruit of the tree, your eyes are going to be opened, and you're going to have enlightenment, was this progress? If you know anything about New Age literature, whether it is from Shirley MacLaine's point of view or other points of view, you will know that oftentimes it is Satan and the woman that are presented in New Age literature as the great liberators of humanity. They are the saviors.
Why? Because the argument is that this was something that needed to be done. Without eating of the fruit of the tree, of the knowledge of good and evil, man would have just been a slave of God, and now he's enlightened, he knows good from evil, and a whole new universe of experience is opened up to him. And so Satan, Lucifer, and the woman are honored as the deliverers and as the savior. Well, I want you to know today that when they ate of the fruit of the tree, this was not a fall upward. This was a fall downward into sin, and from that time on, everything we touch will be tainted.
And so he lies. He lies about himself, he lies about God, he lies about the consequences, he says you shall not surely die, and all of these are lies that are put in the best possible context. In passing, you should know this, that the Bible says in 1 Timothy chapter 2 that Eve was deceived, but Adam wasn't. Now Adam was with her there in the garden, the Hebrew scholars tell us that he was right beside her, and he did not take responsibility to keep her from this decision, which he should have done. The first sin may not have been Eve eating the fruit of the tree, but Adam standing there watching her do it without intervening. And so that's what the text is saying, but Adam, the Bible says, ate knowingly. Eve was deceived.
Now you realize what that means? That means that Eve thought that this serpent was a messenger of God. That's what she thought. She thought that this was a messenger of God who was clarifying what God had said earlier, reinterpreting what God said earlier, or bringing a revelation which superseded the original revelation from God. She thought that she was listening to the voice of a servant of the most high God.
She was deceived, but that's what she thought. Now I don't need to tell you that evangelicalism today is still divided over the question as to whether or not we need additional revelations from God other than what is in the Bible. All evangelicals believe that if there is a revelation that is different from what the Bible says, it should be rejected, though some people have actually believed that they'd have revelations that are better than the Bible. But what about revelations that are consistent with what the Bible teaches?
What about those kinds? Well, there's a great debate about that, because just because a revelation may even say something that is biblical, that in itself still does not prove that its origin is of God. Now we're a little bit ahead of this because in this series we're going to be talking about issues such as this, but about a month ago I received a letter from parents who were very concerned about their child who evidently had a demon. He was speaking demonically, and there were certain symptoms of demonic possession. And then the mother who wrote to me said that after that, that ended, and then he began to speak under the inspiration of another spirit that was verses of scripture and items of encouragement regarding the Christian faith. And she says, now we believe that he is no longer possessed by a demon, he's possessed by an angel, the woman said.
Well, I wrote back and said several things. Number one, angels never inhabit individuals. They respect the human body too much. Demons do, because they're usurpers, but angels don't. And number two, just because there is a revelation that is even consistent with the Bible, sometimes as I mentioned, Satan may speak the truth in order to deceive. The fact is that that in itself still does not prove the revelation to be from God. Well, I don't plan to solve all these issues today, but the question is still there. Do we need dreams, apparitions, revelations, prophecies, words of knowledge, or is the Bible sufficient and completely sufficient?
That's the question. It is interesting in passing that the first time that Satan appears on planet earth, that there is a record of it, he comes talking. He loves to talk. And he comes talking and pretending to be talking on behalf of God. And ever since that time he has sought to deceive people to give them revelations that would derail them from the revelation that God has already given to us. Now, those are the three lies, that's the strategy, but what does he replace the truth of God with? And the answer is false religion. I want you to know today that atheism is not the great enemy of God, it is false religion. And all of the seeds of occult religion are found in these verses that I have already read to you. They're already there.
Whether in the New Age movement, whether in the eastern occultism, you can look at all the religions of the world that are occultic and they have different doctrines, but they oftentimes, invariably I should say, have these basic seed thoughts as their fundamental teaching. And they're there, they're there. What are they? Let me only list them because if I were to comment on each that would be a separate message and I just want you to note them. Let's read them together. It says in verse 4, And the serpent said to the woman, and you've heard me say this jokingly and I'll say it one more time for those of you who haven't heard it, that I've said I think that Satan here is speaking directly to Shirley MacLaine because he says, you, Shirley, shall not die. That's the first lie in false religion. Is it possible to believe that you will not die? No, there are too many cemeteries. Some of us have attended too many funerals. The only way that you can make that lie believable is to believe in reincarnation because in reincarnation they say that nobody ever dies, you just keep being recycled.
Like Shirley MacLaine says, it's like shooting a movie, you do it over and over again until you get it right. Reincarnation says that when I die, that is when my body disintegrates, I don't really die, I don't have a God before whom I stand, I do not have to give an account, I just get recycled into another body and I get a chance to do it again and again and again until I get it right. But there is no death. The great message that needs to be preached, says the New Age movement, is that death simply does not exist. I spoke to a woman who believes in reincarnation and she said that her husband no longer is with her but she would not use the word death, she said he didn't die, he just went on to his next cycle of existence coming up because, you know, our souls play a kind of musical chairs and we inhabit one body to another and wherever you have reincarnation you have outbursts of suicide. Like that couple at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco who left a note saying the excitement of wondering what we're going to be like in the next existence was more than we could take so they decided to hold hands and jump over the bridge together. First of all, reincarnation. Secondly, for God knows that in the day that you eat from it, notice it there in the text, your eyes will be opened, your eyes will be opened.
What is that? That is esotericism. Esotericism says that there is an enlightenment, there is a transformation of consciousness. Marilyn Ferguson in her book The Aquarian Conspiracy says that there is such a thing that is taking place, a shift in thinking where people are actually being converted into a new level of understanding and enlightenment.
Here it is. It is Satan's most dazzling deception. What he wants people to do is to have a spiritual religious experience that they think is an experience with God and actually it is an experience with him.
It is his most dazzling deception. It is the counterpart to the new birth. Jesus said that unless we are born again, we shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven and he is saying that unless you have this experience of enlightenment, you will not be a member of the initiated.
When my wife and I were on the boat last year on that trip to Alaska, there was a lecture given regarding the Indians up in Alaska and how they work people through the process of conversion and spiritual enlightenment and everyone needs the experience if they are going to have power, we were told. But of course that power is from Satan. The whole point of the message you have just been listening to is the fact that Satan wants to duplicate what God does. God causes us to be born again and Satan has his own born again experience for people who are deceived. Going through an esoteric kind of experience that you think is God and actually it is the devil.
We live in a very confused world don't we? You know recently I was greatly encouraged when I had the privilege of being at the headquarters of Trans World Radio. The reason for that is the ministry of Running to Win as many of you already know is broadcast throughout the Middle East on their networks. Even more encouraging or just as encouraging is the fact that we are on hundreds of stations in Spanish throughout Central America and that's because of your involvement. This is your ministry. Would you consider becoming a Running to Win endurance partner? Endurance partners are those who join with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.
Now the amount that you give is your decision entirely but if you want more information what you should do is go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com and click on the endurance partner button and there you'll receive information. I hope today that you sign up and help us as we get the ministry of Running to Win around the world or if you prefer you can call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. I'm so inspired by the ministry of Running to Win learning more about how it is platformed in various ways in different parts of the world. So I'm going to give you that contact info again. Go to rtwoffer.com click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. One key difference between God and Satan is that God always speaks truth and Satan always lies. Our job to recognize the lies that can send people to the same hell that's reserved for Satan. Next time tune in to learn more about Satan's great lie. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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