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May/June Issue 2009 - Volume 28 Number 3
Is Satan Real?
Bishop Appears Confused and Deceived
are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.
He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth,
because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his
own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44
article regarding an Episcopal priest that the Diocese of Northern Michigan
proposed to elevate to the office of Bishop appeared in the Arkansas
Democrat Gazette, Saturday, April 18, 2009. I quote here just a
portion of the article:
“Elevation of Priest Who Praises Koran, Buddhism
The Rev. Kevin G. Thew Forrester denies that Satan
exists. He doesn’t believe God sent his only-begotten son to die for the
sins of the world. He says that the Koran is sacred, he has taken a Zen
Buddhist middle name and he teaches that many paths lead to the divine.
As an Episcopal priest, Thew Forrester altered the
denomination’s prayer book, including its baptismal vows and the words of
the Apostles’ Creed. Now
he’s been elected to become a bishop---a successor to the Apostles---by
the Diocese of Northern Michigan.
If a majority of the Episcopal Church’s bishops and
dioceses give their consent, Thew Forrester would inherit a seat in the
House of Bishops, a ceremonial shepherd’s staff and an awesome task---to
“guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church.”
Some, including the bishop of Arkansas, the Rev.
Larry Benfield, hope that never happens. The Little Rock cleric says he
voted against Thew Forrester primarily because of his deviations from
sacramental rites printed in the Book of Common Prayer.
“The Book of Common Prayer, for us, is deeply
steeped in the tradition of the church and in holy Scripture,” Benfield
said. “Changes in the prayer book are very serious matters for us in the
Episcopal Church.” That prayer book, last revised in 1979, is the
denomination’s main theological document. It unites Episcoplians in common
liturgy and common worship.
Thew Forrester’s sweeping revisions do more than
replace Shakespearean English with modern-day phraseology. For example, Thew
Forrester, who says he believes in evil but not a literal devil, eliminates
the reference to “Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that
rebel against God” in the baptismal rite. Instead, baptismal participants
promise to “let go of” self-deceit, fear and anger. Instead of accepting
Jesus “as your savior,” they confirm that they “accept him as the way
of life and hope.”
In the Apostles’ Creed, an ancient and ecumenical
statement of faith, Jesus Christ is no longer referred to as God’s “only
son.” (Thew Forrester has stated, elsewhere, that “each and every one of
us is an only-begotten child of God.”) Instead of thanking the Father
“for the water of Baptism,” baptismal participants thank the Mother.
While Christian religion is “rooted in the
Scriptures,” it is also continually being reformed,” Thew Forrester
said, explaining his theology. “The Faith is not static reality. It’s
continually evolving and dynamic,” he said. “I think what we’ve done
is quite responsible and appropriate and indeed the church needs to do it in
order to stay relevant in the 21st century.”
Asked if he believes all of the words of the
Apostle’s Creed, Thew Forrester said, “yes, but it’s highly symbolic
language, isn’t it?” “Do I believe there is evil? Yes. Do I believe in
a literal Satan? No,” he said.
word of God speaks directly to situations like this one in which this
Epicopalian priest has been deceived by his own heart:
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its
end is the way of death.” Proverbs
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and
desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test
the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the
fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:9-10
are many in the religious world today who are confused and sometimes
deceived by the popular trends in society. When we offer Biblical teaching
on certain topics, we are accused of being “homophobic” or practicing
hatred toward a certain segment of society, this is not the case at all. We
believe that God loves all men and is not willing that any should perish,
but let’s quote the familiar passage from 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not
slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering
toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to
are living in times that have taken “repentance” completely out of the
picture of God’s grace. In this age of “toleration” we are accused of
being hardhearted and uncaring if we mention repentance. However, this is
what the word of God says, even though many today ignore it.
Jesus being mean spirited when he told people to repent? “And Jesus
answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose these Galileans were worse
sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I
tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish’” (Luke
13:2-3). When we preach repentance we are not trying to categorize sinners.
We are saying that the Lord wants all sinners to come to repentance.
many are eager to point out that Jesus is a friend of sinners and his mercy
is abundant, they seem to have forgotten that this champion of sinners
called all sinners to repent. He didn’t offer them the mercy of God and
then leave them with no direction for the future. Jesus always calls sinners
to a higher plane of living, to walk in the spirit. He encourages all
sinners just as he did the woman who was caught in the act of adultery,
“Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
are several issues raised in this Gazette article, but we
cannot address all of them. In this issue of BC we want to
discuss the origin and character of Satan and how we can overcome Satan’s
ORIGIN AND CHARACTER OF SATAN
time I have threatened to write, in a book, questions I want to ask when I
get to heaven. One of those
questions would be the origin of Satan; I believe he is a created being, but
there could be some things we may not understand about the existence of God
prior to the creation of this world in which we live.
However, tradition sets forth Satan as a fallen angel but the
passages we use to reach this conclusion such as Is. 14:12, Ezek 28:14 and
others may really set before us other teachings.
know is an evil influence was present in the Garden when the serpent asked,
“Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?’” (RSV)
So early in the history of man, the Tempter was busy working in opposition
to that which God desired. Some
have thought the book of Job was written prior to the books written by
Moses, but it tells of a presence that tried to drive a wedge between God
and Job But from the time
when Satan first lied to mother Eve until the present time, all effort has
been made to separate man from God. We will over come, we will be victorious
-- as we will see in other articles in this issue.
However, that victory will be easier and more certain if we
understand the nature or the character of Satan.
source of information that tells us of God and his nature, informs us of
Satan. The individual who does
not believe there is a God obviously would not believe there is a Devil.
However, as the heavens and earth declare the existence of God so the
presence of evil in our world shouts aloud the existence of Satan.
says that Satan
Satan said, “Not so – not right—you won’t die, you will be
elevated to a God status.” We
don’t have to guess who was right. When
Paul wrote 2Thessalonians 2:10 he mentioned some who did not love truth and
tells us for that reason God will send strong delusions that would cause men
to believe a lie and that condemnation will be the result of the belief of a
lie. This passage alone is
enough to motivate us in cultivating a love for truth, and insist that truth
must be learned and obeyed.
wrote about the things that surrounded Israel and concluded they were
written for our information or learning, we can conclude that the lies or
false teaching throughout the Old and New Testaments have been given to us
so we can be on guard. The liar
lives by no good rule. “You won’t die” has proved to be a lie.
Adam and Eve suffered death (separation from God) because they
believed that lie. And even
today we still gather often to say goodbye to someone who has suffered
physical death because Mother Eve believed that lie.
We remember the young prophet from Judah who was commissioned to cry out against the false religion in Bethel. He was at the mercy of the liar because he believed that lie. He complied with God’s commands most diligently until the ‘old prophet’ said, “I too am a prophet and an angel appeared to me and told me…. but he lied.”
religion comes from the father of liars who knows the outcome of believing
and following something false. A
classic example is the Galatians 1:6 where Paul wrote, “ I marvel that ye
are so soon removed from him that called you into the gospel of Christ unto
another gospel. Which is not
another, but there some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of
Christ.” The book of Galatians should be enough to convince us that only
truth will suffice.
all the lies we have been told. They
can separate us from God. The
New Morality offered in the 1960’s was simply the old immorality dressed
to cause us to take the lie. It
is being offered again. The
sins of Sodom that destroyed the cities of the plains will bring shame to
our country. The legalization
of such by ‘same sex marriages’ will eventually destroy us both
spiritually and literally. Yet, in spite of our opposition to immorality
there is really more scripture against false religion than anything else.
We must insist on truth.
11:3 states that Satan is cunning: “But
I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning….” Satan is
active today. The religions he sponsors are often more appealing to the
flesh than worship in spirit and truth.
The success stories of the worldly organizations are often more
inviting than the hardships and struggles of real conversion to The Christ
and his teachings.
The generation coming on the scene of action now is being led away from the principles we have been able to read in the scriptures. That which appeals to the physical is given more space than that which God has commanded. Why did the two sons of Aaron offer strange fire (Lev. 10:1)? Perhaps someone said, “I am bored with the way we have been doing it, or we found this new thing we can use that makes the sacrifice more exciting.” Well, it perhaps did get exciting when fire from heaven consumed them. We must insist on truth and stay with that which we read.
2Corinthians 11:14 So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” Satan and his workers are not bound by any code that warns us they are attempting to deceive us.says that Satan is deceitful. Paul writes of some to say they were false apostles, deceitful workmen and says, “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
He tells us not to be alarmed just because we are surrounded by immorality, gambling in every form, false religions, increasing crime, general apathy about true Christianity – the list goes on. The only weapon we have against all the sinful conditions by which we are surrounded is truth, obedience, and sincerity.
Ephesians 2:1-2 says that Satan is powerful. “And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.”
allowed Satan to possess power over things; however, his power is limited by
our ability to choose. We were
created to glorify God and we can only accomplish this by choosing wisely to
serve God. Although Satan is
powerful, God is still in control and wants us to be victorious.
This can be the case if we are loyal to truth.
5:8 says that Satan is fierce. “Be
sober, be watchful. Your
adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to
Other attributes of Satan include wicked, proud and slanderous. Our only safe course of action is to love truth above all else. John 8:31-32 states that the truth is the only thing that can free us.
live in a world full of fear and anxieties. So many people today live in
fear of a failing economy, of political corruption, of world wars and
calamities. In fact, fear of someone or something may be the most common
thread of humanity. It seems many times, if we don't have anything that we
know we have to fear, we will invent some unknown fear.
does seem strange that some individuals that are either fearful of something
known, or are fearful of something unknown, fail to have any fear of the one
thing in this world that we should fear. Peter says in
tells us that is exactly the kind of world in which we live, not that we
fear a physical lion that will do harm to our fleshly man. That would be bad
enough, but Peter tells us that the situation that we have to deal with is
much worse! Peter is talking in spiritual terms, and talking about the peril
our spiritual man faces everyday. It is not just our fleshly man that stands
in jeopardy of being destroyed, but more importantly it is our spiritual man
that might be destroyed for all eternity.
This lion that Peter talks about in 1Peter 5:8 is
referred to as the god of this age by Paul in 2Corinthians 4:4. The god of
this age has but one objective, and that is to see as many people as
possible condemned along with him and his angels in the lake of fire for all
eternity. (Matt. 25:41)
adversary, Satan, the god of this age, is very persistent. He does not make
just one effort to ensnare us. Paul talks about the snares of the devil in
1Timothy 3:7, as he gives the qualifications for elders. It is not just
those who might seek the office of elder that Satan tries to ensnare, but
all who would live faithful to Jesus Christ!
some of the ways Satan would trap and destroy us: "But even if our
gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. Whose minds the
god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the
gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on
them." (2Cor.4:3-4) It is the desire of Satan to blind us to the
wonderful blessings found in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Notice
Paul said those who are blinded are perishing. They have allowed the Gospel
to be veiled. Paul said in 1Corinthians 1:18, "For the message of the
cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being
saved it is the Power of God." Satan has blinded many in the world
today to the saving power of the gospel, "first spoken by the Lord and
confirmed to us by those who heard Him." (Heb.2:3)
tries to deceive us just as he deceived Eve. Paul warns in 2Corinthians
11:3, "But I fear lest somehow as the serpent deceived Eve by his
craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in
Christ." We cannot afford to be deceived and destroyed by Satan. Being
deceived will be no excuse when we stand before God. "Do not be
deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows, that he will also
reap. For he who sows to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption, but
he who sows to the spirit will of the spirit reap everlasting life."
also warns that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. "And no
wonder for Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves
into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their
works." (2Cor.11:14-15) Satan and his ministers many times do not
appear as they really are. If we saw a lion we would run and protect
ourselves. If we saw Satan for what he really is, we would have no desire to
get close to him, or want him in our lives. Too many times Satan makes
himself appealing. He will disguise himself to appeal to our individual
weakness. No matter how he is disguised, Peter says to remember Satan is a
roaring lion and his only purpose is to devour you. FEAR HIM!!!!
we think about Satan, the god of this world, and his power and craftiness,
we might conclude that there is nothing we can do to overcome him. However,
the scripture tells us that not only can we overcome Satan and his power,
but also we MUST overcome Satan and his power.
will not succeed overcoming Satan by our own strength and ability. We must
allow God to give us the power and strength for our victory over Satan.
James 4:7, "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee
from you." How can this be accomplished? We have an example, in Hebrews
4:14-16 Paul tells us that our High Priest, Jesus Christ, sympathizes with
our battles with Satan. In fact, he tells us that Jesus was tempted in all
points that we are tempted, and yet He did not sin by giving in to Satan.
Paul tells us that we can, if we will seek it, receive mercy and grace in
the time of our need. In Matthew 4:1-11, after Jesus was baptized, he was
led by the spirit to be tempted by the devil. In the three temptations that
Satan brought to Jesus we can find the same temptations that Satan brings to
us today. The temptation to live to the flesh, the temptation to make a show
to man of our religion and the temptation to fall down and worship the god
of this world, for whatever of the world he might give us.
help is promised if we will just stand and fight. In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul
gives us the instruction needed for being victorious over Satan and his
angels. We must understand that we have a very powerful enemy and we must
arm ourselves for the battle with the whole armor of God. We need to be
wrapped in truth, have the breastplate of righteousness, have on our feet
the preparation of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of
salvation, the sword of the spirit, which is The Word of God, and be
constant in prayer.
help and salvation comes from the Power of God Himself. We need to be aware
of the god of this world. He is to be feared because of his intention to see
us suffer with him and his angels in the lake of fire for all eternity!
great hope and assurance is that by the Power of God we can overcome Satan.
May God help us all to receive from Him the only power available for our