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Satan's "If" vs. God's "Amen"

Satan's "Ifs" in the Pages of Scripture

by Dr. Paul M. Elliott


Part 3 of a series. Read part 2.

We find Satan's implied lies in Eden, in the wilderness, and at the Cross.

In our last article we described the most common way in which Satan seeks to place doubts about God and His Word in the minds of believers individually and the church corporately – the implied lie. As we continue, let us consider three crucial instances in which we see this most clever of Satan's devices in the pages of Scripture.

Lies in the Wilderness

Matthew chapter four recounts Satan's temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. We find Satan's implied lies in the first two temptations:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' "

Then the Devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.' " Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.' " (Matthew 4:1-7)

Notice Satan's implied lie – "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." – "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down" from the pinnacle of the temple. Satan is declaring, in effect, "Jesus, You are not who John the Baptist says you are. You are not who You say you are."

This is Satan's pattern in all of church history – undermining the doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ. Causing people to buy into the falsehoods that Jesus was only a great moral example, or merely a martyr for a lost cause. Inciting theologians to go on a "quest for the historical Jesus" – and to look not in recorded history as we have it in the infallible Word of God, but in the philosophies of fallen men who do not bow the knee to Jesus.

Lies at the Cross

Next let me direct your attention to Matthew chapter 27, beginning at verse 39. Jesus had been crucified. Here the Jews took up the implied lie that Satan had put forth as he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, even as He hung on the Cross:

And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, "You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross."

Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.' "

Here is the implied lie once again: "If you are the Son of God, if you are the King of Israel, come down from the cross." – "Let God deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.' " Jesus, you are not really who You say You are.

And so the Apostle John, who was an eyewitness of these events, writes this in First John 2:22 ─ "Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son [literally, "he who agrees with God the Father that Jesus is the Son] has the Father also."

Lies in Eden

Not only do we find Satan's implied lies during Jesus' days on earth. We also find them at the very beginning of history, in Genesis chapter three. Satan asked Eve, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" (3:1). Here is the implied lie that led the human race into sin and the entire creation into bondage under the curse: Eve, what if God is not telling you the whole truth? What if God is withholding something good from you? What if you really do know better than God? What if you can become like God?

Here we see, once again, what Paul in Ephesians six calls "the wiles of the Devil" – literally, the methods [Greek methodias] of the Devil. The pages of Scripture tell us exactly how Satan operates. The leading characteristic of the Devil's method is that he seeks to sow the seeds of doubt. For those who are not on their guard spiritually, the seeds of doubt find fertile soil, they spring up in confusion, and confusion leads the Christian and the Church away from steadfastness in Christ.

As we continue, we shall see how Satan does this particularly in the Church.

Next: Satan's Implied Lies in the Church



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