TO DISCERN THE WORKS OF EVIL SPIRITS
III. The covert acts of Satan through man
In the Gospels, Jesus warns us that in the last days the works of the evil one shall be more rampant than ever before (Mt. 24:5, 11, 24). Elder John expresses the ultimate attack of Satan on the saints. The wicked one is extensively deceiving the world (Rev 12:9). The subtlety of the attack is that it is not done with weaponry of mass destruction upon physical lives. Rather, it is designed to confuse the mind, causing one to disobey God and His word. When the word of God or the standard of belief is no longer clear, the way of salvation shall be indistinct and eventually lost.
This part of Satan’s work is tricky, as it is not made manifest in demon-possession with abnormal behaviour. It is covert in that it works on the mind, to lead the deceived away from the right path. Their behaviour is perfectly normal, like any other human being, but their mind is corrupted to go against the truth of the Lord. Paul warned the church in Corinth that he feared the believers’ simplicity in Christ was corrupted (2 Cor. 11:2f). The scary part is that the deceived always insistently believe that whatever they do is noble and for the Lord.
a. Capturing the heart
In the time of Hosea, the entire nation was bent on going against the Lord and worshipping idols. Although many prophets had been raised up, time and again, to warn them about the impending wrath of God, they could not turn away from idolatry. This is not just about being stubborn. According to Hosea, it is the spirit of harlotry that had caused them to stray (Hos. 4:12). In other words, they were under the control of the spirit. They were unable to direct their deeds towards turning to their God for the spirit of harlotry was in their midst (Hos. 5:4).
An identical message is given by Paul, who gave instruction to Timothy to deal with those who opposed the truth (2 Tim. 2:25f). Paul’s perception of a deceived person is that he has lost his senses—not in the sense of being abnormal but, rather, he is not able to see what the truth is. He has fallen into the snare of the wicked one. Surely, somewhere down the line in his life or service to God, he must have given ground for the devil to work in him. He eventually ends up being taken captive by Satan to do the will of the wicked one. He is no longer a servant of God but one of Satan.
In a normal setting, he will be warned and corrected by workers and the church (2 Tim. 2:25). However, there is no guarantee that such a person would return to the truth. Provided he responds to the correction positively, God will grant him repentance. Otherwise, there is no way for him to turn to God. The longer he remains in deception, the more difficult it will be for him to be disentangled from the bondage of Satan. He would be completely sucked into the whirlpool of falsehood, without a trace of the truth—that had saved him before—remaining in him. The consequence is unthinkable. He will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Tim. 3:13).
b. The case of Judas
He was one of the twelve disciples, whom Jesus had chosen, and he was given the task of looking after the coffer. Unfortunately, he was a greedy person and a thief; he always took what was in the money box (Jn. 12:1–6). He gave ground for corruption to seep in. This allowed the wicked one to freely put the idea of betraying Jesus in his mind (Jn. 13:2). The work of the evil spirit was virtually unknown to all, apart from Jesus. It seeks to gain free access to the person and take control of his mind. Little was Judas aware that he had been turned into the instrument of Satan, who was trying to put Christ away.
Such was the bizarre state of Judas. Oftentimes, his words were lies, covering up the wicked intent of the heart. Seeing that Mary anointed Christ with a precious ointment, he spoke out against the seeming squandering of wealth, which could have been used to help the poor. His motive, the Bible reveals, is not one of genuine care for the poor but one of stirring up by the greed in his heart. Likewise, his action to kiss Christ is one of betrayal, signalling to his conspirators who Jesus was. No wonder John says Satan had entered into his heart (Jn. 13:27).
[To Be Continued]