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Think About Eternity - Your Debt of Sin: Refinanced or Canceled?

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Chapter One
Some Strategies of the Enemy

Satan Would Love to Make You Think You Know Christ

When In Fact You May Not

The Apostle Paul warns of the danger of “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel."(1) To come to the real Jesus and accept Him, you must, first of all, know and believe the truth about Him and what He has done for you. You cannot know God and have eternal life without accepting the truth about Jesus.

If you think you know Christ but don’t, you won’t be inclined to search for the real Jesus or to receive Him if He is presented to you. Therefore, even though he is the enemy of Christ, Satan will speak of Him, and even teach some of the truth about Him, if at the same time he can also slip in falsehoods or cause us not to believe other vitally important truths about the person or work of Christ.

Perhaps no one has absolutely error-free beliefs about Jesus. But believing gross falsehoods about Jesus, or refusing to believe essential truths He has clearly revealed about Himself and what He has accomplished for us, is the same as believing in “another Jesus.”

Satan Would Love to Make You Think You’re Following Christ

When In Fact You May Not Be

Even though he is the “enemy of all righteousness,” Satan will actually teach you to “keep Christ’s commandments” if by doing so he can appear holy, gain your confidence and then cause you to believe some falsehood, or not believe the truth, about Jesus Christ. He only needs to mix the true with the false to make you think you are following Jesus when in fact you are not.

For instance, it is true that God requires perfection.(2) But it is not true that you are able to provide that perfection yourself through commandment keeping.(3) Thus, the teaching that, “...progress toward eternal life is a matter of achieving perfection. Living all the commandments guarantees total forgiveness of sins...”(4) is a subtle blending of the true and the false. Such a teaching may sound right, but it is calculated to separate us from God while enslaving us with a spirit of fear and bondage to those who would “teach for doctrines the commandments of men.”

The mere fact that a church or religious leaders may stress obedience to law—even the law of God—does not by any means guarantee that church or those leaders are from God. The apostle Paul warns us that such men may be “...false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” (5)

Satan knows you are unable to keep the law of God perfectly.(6) Therefore he would love to make you think you can, and must, before God can fully and permanently forgive you of all your sins. By telling you that you can do it, he appeals ever so subtly to your pride. By telling you that you must do it, he disguises himself, appearing pious and holy. If you believe him you will probably spend your life trying to gain forgiveness for sin and eternal life with God, by trying to keep the commandments. You will think that you are “following Jesus.”

Yet you will have believed something that one day will actually cause you to reject the real Jesus and the solution He offers you for your problem of sin. By using (and hiding behind) the law of God, Satan portrays God as demanding something from you that one day you will see you actually cannot do. However much you may feel you love Him now, when you realize you can’t do what you think God is demanding of you, He will seem to be your enemy. You will hate Him for not accepting what you are able to offer Him. Or you may replace Him (in your mind) with a God who is unholy enough Himself that He can accept what you can do. Either way, by deceiving you with a false image of God, Satan will have separated you from the true God and Jesus Christ.

Satan Would Love to Make You Think You Love Christ
While Keeping From You the Real Truth of Why You Should Love Him

A clear and full understanding of the character of God is the one thing most able to turn the heart of man toward God. That is why, of all the truth about God, that which Satan hates most and tries the hardest to conceal is the truth about God’s character. The clearest revelation ever given of the character of God was made by what He did for us in Christ’s atonement for our sin. Therefore, what God did for us in Christ’s atonement for our sin is the truth in particular that Satan most wants to hide from you.

One way he tries to hide that truth is to get you to think about what happened to Jesus more than about what Jesus caused to happen to your debt of sin. Satan is content pointing to Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, or even the suffering and death on the cross where Jesus actually atoned for your sin, if he can also deceive you about what that atonement accomplished in your behalf.

That point is so crucial to our being reconciled to God that if he can deceive you there, Satan can keep you separated from God whatever else you may believe about Him. In fact, if Satan can deceive you there, then the more truth on other points he throws in, the stronger and more powerful the delusion becomes. Any counterfeit, if it is to be received in place of the genuine article, must appear to be like the genuine.

Even with a false idea of what Jesus accomplished by His death on the cross, knowing of Christ’s suffering and death, and believing it was for you, you would probably have genuinely pious, deeply sentimental feelings toward Him. A stronger, more powerful delusion would be hard to find. Under such circumstances you would scarcely imagine, and find it almost impossible to accept, that you didn’t really believe in or truly love Jesus.

Yet that would be the case, because you would be loving a false Jesus. For you see, what Jesus did revealed His character, who He is. And Jesus did not just suffer and die for you. He accomplished something particular by His death. What He accomplished is just as much a part of what He did, as how He accomplished it, and speaks worlds more about His character.

The real character of God, then, is revealed not just in the fact that Jesus suffered and died for you, but, supremely, in what He accomplished by doing that. Failure to see what Jesus accomplished by His death is failure to discern God’s intent, or purpose. Failure to discern His purpose is failure to know His heart, the real depth of His love. It is failure to know Him, the true God, the real Jesus Christ.

Belief in Jesus as one’s potential savior is not belief in Jesus as one’s savior. And love directed toward a false god, however deep or sincere, is not love of the true God. Neither belief in or love for a false God will ever save anyone. Therefore, Satan fabricates a false Christ by hiding the truth most crucial to understanding who Christ really is, and then seeks to promote belief in, and develop deep feelings toward, this artificial Jesus. By doing so, he can keep you separated from God even while you think you love Him.

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(1)  2 Corinthians 11:4.
(2)  Matthew 5:48.
(3)  Jeremiah 13:23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8. (God has provided another way for you to have the perfection He requires, which is explained later in this booklet).
(4)  Kimball, Spencer, W., Miracle of Forgiveness, (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969) p. 208.
(5)  2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (emphasis added).
(6)  Romans 8:7-8.

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