The Devil's Legacy
It is important to be clear-eyed about the origins and the enormous cost of secularism, occultism and cultism. These three philosophies are born of the devil and their cost to us in terms of misery and alienation is beyond counting. Let's get a clearer picture of Satan himself.
John Milton opened his classic epic poem Paradise Lost with an imagined account of Lucifer's fall from heaven. In Milton's story the great archangel is hurled from heaven and lies, with his diabolical cronies, in the lake of fire in hell. After nine days and nights Lucifer begins to speak to his demon friend Beelzebub. Lucifer makes it clear that though he is kicked out of heaven, he is undefeated in spirit. He coldly describes his unrepentant mindset: He will study revenge and hate; he is determined never to yield his "invincible spirit":
Farewell, happy fields,
Milton then describes how, in the bitterness of defeat and jealousy, the devil watches as God creates man in the Garden of Eden. Then Satan sets himself to seduce mankind. His purpose is not so much to harm man, but to harm God. The devil, according to Milton, will touch God by touching God's "darling sons."
The Biblical Chronicle of Evil
The Bible says evil originated in the Garden of Eden when the devil tempted man to sin. The devil is tireless in his attack upon mankind. What he began in the Garden of Eden he has repeated throughout history. He seduced Adam and Eve by telling them that disobeying God would not lead to death; rather, they would become like God (Genesis 3:5).
The Garden story is only the beginning of the interaction between the devil and mankind. Theologians ponder why God allows the devil to tempt man. A ready and satisfying answer does not exist, but orthodox Christianity teaches that Satan continues to have access to the minds of men.
Satan's interaction with mankind has left its imprint throughout history. We read in Genesis 4 that he enticed Cain to rise up and kill his brother, Abel. By the end of that same chapter a man named Lamech boasted to his plural wives that he killed a man for merely "hurting" him. By chapter 6, God saw that "every intent of the thoughts of [man's] heart was only evil continually."
Sick of mankind's rebellion, God destroyed the earth by flood, saving only eight souls. Within a few generations a man named Nimrod built two cities that excelled in evil arts— Nineveh and Babel, also known by its Greek name, Babylon. At Babylon the citizens declared proudly that they would build a tower into heaven and "make a name for themselves." Babylon is symbolic of occultish religion—"mystery" (Revelation 17:5)—and evil in the Bible. It is the "dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit" (Revelation 18:2).
Evil Ideas Are Wrong Ideas
Devilish ideas, once they are firmly established in the minds of people, lose their fearsome appearance. The philosophical ideas of secularism, occultism and cultism are so widespread as to be commonplace.
Today the world continues to be seduced by the devil. It seems at the end of its tether: half of all marriages end in divorce; drug addiction is rampant; sexually transmitted disease threatens to bankrupt our health care systems. These and other social ills exist because we have chosen to disregard God's counsel. Destruction and misery mark the way of the people who forsake the Lord (Romans 3:16).
The drug crisis, for example, is the result of a philosophical lie. We were told in the '60s that drugs hurt no one but the user, and that no one should tell anybody else what he can or cannot put into his own body. Yet today our cities are paralyzed by drug addiction and the governments of the Western hemisphere seem impotent in the face of Colombian thugs.
Another philosophical lie of that era was: "If it feels good, do it"This is the devilish lie that sexual experience is amoral. Liberated social thinkers told us there were no moral sexual bounds for consenting adults. The rationale of the free love movement was, "What consenting adults do in their bed rooms is nobody else's business." This is plain foolishness. The free love movement was not about love, but about sex. And it was not free, it was tremendously costly. Almost nightly on the news we hear, for instance, about the enormous financial, physical or emotional effects of AIDS.
The Bible adamantly sets the boundary for sexual activity: within marriage—period! When any part of America gives up on God, it throws over His laws. Now to suggest that sexual activity should be confined to marriage is to be branded out of touch with reality. To call homosexuality a sin is to be an insensitive bigot.
No one is so blind as the one who wills not to see. No amount of compassion for those inflicted with AIDS can change the fact that homosexuality (and, secondarily, drug abuse and fornication) is the cause of the AIDS crisis. The disease spreads easily among homosexuals because anal sex causes bleeding. The semen of infected men readily enters the bloodstreams of other men.
Sexual immorality and another tragedy, disdain for marriage, go hand in hand. American society has failed to safe guard the sanctity of marriage. Divorce is now too easy a solution to complex problems. We are a nation of throwaway relationships. The very word society becomes meaningless when we make it easy for children to be reared without fathers and solemnize marriages with little hope of effecting their permanence.
Another hallmark of ungodly philosophy is abortion, which costs 1.6 million American children their lives each year. This insanity is rooted in the lie that a human being has no rights until he or she exits the womb. What sophistry allows us to think a fetus has no rights on Monday and is a fully protected citizen on Tuesday, merely by passing through the birth canal? The idea that individuals within a society can practice these ills without harm flies in the face of every thing God has revealed to the Judeo-Christian world for thousands of years. Such mistaken ideas originate in the mind of the devil who wants to harm God by harming God's children. They have brought us to the brink of disaster. To fight them—and snatch the lost from the devil's hands—we need to march on the right battlefield. We need to realize that we are in an "idea war" with hell.
By this I mean that the real evil in the world is philosophical. Most people think of evil only in terms of its ultimate manifestation, like the possessed child in The Exorcist with her head swiveling around backward. But the Black Masses and human sacrifices of Satanism are actually the manifestations of evil doctrines. Hitler's death camps were the outworking of Nazi thinking; Stalin's gulags, the ultimate expression of Communism. Communism is evil because its ideas are evil. As I watch the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, I hope the materialism that built it will fall as well; the economic failure is only the manifestation of the spiritual failure. Without faith in God, a different political structure will be only cosmetic.
Our battle is against evil ideas. This is where we must start in order to win the hard cases. The devil has used every seductive philosophy he can imagine. Jesus said Satan is the father of lies. His tools are lies and he was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).
Thus, the apostle Paul tells us that we war not against flesh and blood, but against "principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). Only Jesus can rescue us from "this present evil age" (Galatians 1:4).
The process for deliverance is the preaching of the Gospel. Salvation occurs when anyone hears the Gospel and believes it (Romans 10:10, 14).
There are hundreds of thousands—millions——of people today, hard cases, who are prevented from hearing the Gospel message. Actively prevented. The apostle Paul said: "If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded" (2 Corinthians 4:3—4). The apostle John labels these two opposing sides "the spirit of truth and the spirit of error" (1 John 4:6).
In God's wisdom, He has sent puny mankind up against the devil to rescue those in Satan's power. But He has not sent us powerless. As Martin Luther said, our God is a mighty fortress who has given us the Spirit and gifts. Paul tells us something of our spiritual weapons:
Satan opposes us with strong arguments. We face his lies with God's revealed truth. Witnessing to hard cases is a work of reason and Holy Spirit-anointed argument. And the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is alive, powerful and sharp (Hebrews 4:12).
With God's help we will pull the devil's fingers out of his victims' ears and uncover their eyes. They will "know the truth," just as Jesus said, "and the truth shall make [them] free" (John 8:32).