The Devil on Death Row

Without at least some lies, where would we all be?  Answer:  In the next age. 

This post was adapted from a message given by Matthew Gorr,
a preacher at Grandview Christian Assembly.

Here’s a false claim:  “Eat more pomegranates, and lose weight!”  

You might think that sounds perfectly reasonable.  Then you go to the store, load up your grocery cart with pomegranates, pomegranate juice, and even pomegranate extract pills—all in the name of believing a completely false claim.  As a scientist, I am, of course, skeptical about such claims.  In this case though, it probably wouldn’t do you much harm, besides maybe gaining some weight, and spending extra money.  

But other claims can cause a great deal of harm, such as in the current pandemic.  False statements float around about how you can prevent getting the virus or how you can cure it if you have it.  For example, the claim that sunlight will cure Covid-19, and that if infected people go outside and spend two hours in the sun,  then they’ll be fine. That’s false. Even if a statement like that begins to trend on social media, it doesn’t make it true.  

Another unwarranted belief is that warm weather will chase away the virus, so once summer comes, the heat will solve the pandemic problem.  But the virus is in a lot of places right now where the sun is out in full force, so that claim is not true. Particularly interesting (and untrue) is the belief that you can treat this virus or prevent getting it if you drink enough goat’s milk, because of the milk’s particular antibodies.  But worst of all is the claim that states Covid-19 can be treated or prevented with alcohol. In a certain region of the world, this belief has gotten so out of hand, that more people have died from drinking industrial-strength alcohol than have died from the virus itself.  

All of these beliefs range from wrong, to bad, to worse.

Still, nothing has hurt the world more than false teachings about God.  

As Christians, we seek to hold on to truth with a capital “T”—the existence of God, and His love for mankind in Christ, especially embodied in verses like Romans 5:8 that says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” These thoughts are constantly attacked with false counter claims—that science provides all the answers now, or that God could never love you because of the things you’ve done, or that the Bible is too full of errors to trust. 

But there will be a time when such deceptions are imprisoned, and the truth of God is able to roam free, unchallenged.  Revelation chapter 20:1-3 says, 

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.”

The most immediate, striking thing from these verses is that up until the time of his imprisonment, his consignment to “Death Row,” the devil has actually been wandering around loose in this world.  He has prowled every continent, every city, for the express purpose of deceiving the nations.  

This activity began in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3),  where we find the serpent present with the first man and woman.  Even then, he sought to deceive them into thinking there was something better for them than what God had given.  Deception has been His strategy all the way up until now.

But there will come a time when his ability to practice deception will be bound.  

With the troublemaker restrained, there’s no more trouble.  In the absence of lies, the truth of God has free rein, as the prophet Habakkuk wrote, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).   And so the importance of Revelation 20 begins to become plain—not only that the devil has been bound, but parallel to his imprisonment, the truth will pervade, without alternatives, spin, creative editing, or censure.

Divine truth is incredibly important.  Consider the way Scripture conceptually portrays it:    

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13-14).  

Salvation came when we heard and believed the truth of the gospel; truth is interwoven with salvation itself.  

Obedience to the truth also brings love, as Peter writes, Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Pet. 1:22).  

Paul adds that those who don’t know the truth of God have by default been ensnared by the devil:  

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:24-26).

Truth frees people today, and in much larger measure at the time of Revelation chapter 20—a period when due to its unchallenged influence, no one will be deceived by the devil, or “captured to do his will.” 

Truth also causes a certain kind of growth:

 “Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:21-24). 

In these verses, two different entities exist—our old self, whose very desires are self-deceptive, and then the other, the new self, which is according to the likeness of God’s true righteousness and holiness.  Truth not only has to do with right teachings, but the very image of God seen within you.  This “true you” should begin to prevail today, so it will govern the earth in Revelation 20. 

All actual growth in the Christian experience has its basis in truth.  

When I was 18 years old I moved away from home to study biology.  I entered the sciences, but brought with me a belief in God, and Christ.  I trusted His cross, and believed that faith in Him had given me eternal life. That was the depth of my knowledge.  

My story could have been the classic tale of someone knowing very little about their faith, going off to a big university, hearing contradictory, false truth claims, and then being swept away by them.  When faced with these academic arguments, I could have simply put my fingers in my ears during lectures on evolution, or physics, or chemistry—blocking out anything that might have challenged my belief in God. 

Indeed, my response when hearing some counter-faith claims was at first fearful, especially that I might be embracing something untrue.  But 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control.”  By the grace of God, I dug into the truth of the Bible. In fact, during my freshman year, seven different times a week I was either in a Bible study or being mentored, or in a worship service.  That immersion helped me to discover not only what I believed, but the reason I could legitimately believe it—it was “truth” because it was true!    

I learned that the way to confront worldly skepticism was not to avoid arguments that cause discomfort, but to dive into what I alleged to believe, to check out its depths, to examine its wonders.  

Understand though, that this truth is under constant attack.  The devil, after all, free ranges throughout our world during this current time with plenty of competing narratives.  Later, when he is shut up, awaiting his final destiny in the lake of fire (c.f. Rev. 20:10), all interference will cease, the truth will be clear to the whole world.

But right now, we don’t have that luxury.  Believers must consciously hear, abide in, know, and obey the truth of the Word.  We have to make up our minds to do this.  If so, we’ll get a foretaste of blessing, of Satan silenced, and his influence restrained.   

God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).  He wants you to know all the truth found in that Bible sitting in your home.  He wants you to dig into it, so when deception comes knocking at your door, you’ll have a way of dealing with it other than just putting your fingers in your ears.   

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