From TeachingtheWord's Bible Knowledgebase

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

Satan’s Implied Lies in the Church

by Dr. Paul M. Elliott


Part 4 of a series. Read part 3.

Satan uses his implied lies to debase Christ and the Gospel even within the visible church, as we hear from men as varied as Joel Osteen, Billy Graham, and Timothy Keller.

In our last article we saw Satan's devious use of the implied lie in Eden, during Christ's temptation in the wilderness, and at the Cross. Christians must recognize that Satan’s same pattern of deception, and man’s same tendency to fall prey to the implied lie of the Devil, exists in the church today just as it did in Eden. We find two principal examples of this in our time.

A Debased Idea of Christ

Satan has used the implied lie to debase the person of Jesus Christ within the postmodern Evangelical church. According to reliable surveys, nearly half of the adults in Evangelical churches today believe that Jesus Christ probably or definitely committed sin while He was on earth.

And here is the outcome of acceptance of the Devil’s "if" – the implied lie, the blasphemous lie – that you will find among many so-called Evangelicals today: "If Jesus committed sin, then at least He was just a regular kind of person like I am. And that’s the kind of person I want for a friend ─ not some holier-than-thou person, just a regular guy."

I have heard of people who claim to be Evangelical Christians saying that their idea of Jesus is someone they could go to the bar and have a drink with on Saturday night. That is the kind of thinking about God the Son we find in much of the Evangelical church today. It is the kind of teaching you will actually find in growing numbers of so-called Evangelical pulpits today.

Let me turn that lie of the Devil around. If you do not believe in a sinless Christ you have not believed the one true Gospel. "He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The Gospel begins with the deity of Christ. The Gospel begins with the sinless perfection of the Christ of God. That is why Satan wants to undermine and destroy those beliefs. If you do not believe in a sinless Christ, you have not believed the one true Gospel. You are not saved. You cannot be saved if you believe such a lie. And if you so much as believe in a Christ who could have sinned, even if you believe He did not, let me frankly say that I likewise fear for you, because you are standing on a slippery theological slope. The Word of God clearly teaches the impeccability of the Lord Jesus Christ. His temptation in all points like as we are, yet without sin, was the proof of His perfection, the proof that He is God made flesh and qualified to redeem sinners.

A Debased Idea of the Gospel

A second implied lie of the Devil that we find in the church today also has to do with the heart of the Gospel. We find it in places as varied as word-of-faith congregations and nominally Reformed churches.

Joel Osteen, the pastor of the largest nominally Evangelical church in the United States, is often asked the question, "What about the people who don’t believe on Jesus Christ? Will they go to Heaven?" Here is the answer he has given many times: "Well, I’ve spent a lot of time in India, and those millions of Hindus are very sincere people, and they love God, and I don’t see how God can reject them."

Billy Graham often gave a similar answer. He has said that while he preached Jesus as the only Way early in his ministry, he has come to a more "tolerant" point of view in his later years.

We also find Presbyterian pastor Timothy Keller saying that there may be some "trapdoor" way to Heaven for non-Christians that God has not told him about. In a video interview we cited in an article on Keller, he repeatedly used conditional words about Jesus such as "if He is who He says He is" ─ "if He really was bodily raised from the dead" ─ "if He was our original Creator" and so on.

Here once again, from Osteen, Graham, Keller, and many others we could name, is the Devil’s "if", and it takes at least these three forms:

1.) "If these people are so sincere, how can God reject them?" The answer, according to Scripture, is that you can be very sincere, but sincerely wrong.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12).

2.) "If these people love God, how can He reject them?" The answer is that they cannot love a God who they do not even know.

But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. (Galatians 4:8)

...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8)

3.) And finally, there is what we might call the "Oprah Winfrey version" of the lie, since she is one of today’s leading promoters of it: "If you have your truth and I have my truth, won’t we all just get there somehow?" The answer is that there is only one Truth. Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6). God’s Word, forever settled in Heaven, is the truth (Psalm 119:89). There is only one Way, and it is the narrow way:

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult [literally, compressed] is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Christians must heed God's warning against falling prey to Satan's lies:

Every word of God is pure [Hebrew tsaraph, tested and proven true]; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar (Proverbs 30:5-6).

Next: Satan's Implied Lies in the Life of the Christian



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