The Great Controversy An Information War
Most people are aware that there is a controversy between good and evil in the world. But who are the contending parties? What are the issues? And how will it end?
It is generally accepted that God is good and that the enemy who is behind evil is Satan. The Bible describes a part of the conflict in the following words:
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Rev. 12:7-9)
At the outset, it must be established that there is no issue of Satan matching power with God. God is the Creator. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” (Ps. 33:6). He who created the angels and brought the heavens and the earth into existence can just as easily remove them and take them out of existence. Devils tremble at the very thought of God because they are aware of His awesome power –“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19).
So, there is no contest between God and Satan on terms having to do with the exercise of power. People speak broadly about a conflict between good and evil. But what is good and what is evil? How are these defined? To those, like Satan, who feel that they have a cause to pursue, they may well think that it is their side that is good and the other side evil. In fact, the serpent’s accusation against God, to Adam and Eve, would represent God as being the evil one and he, Satan (the serpent), as being the one that is good and sought good for Adam and Eve.
The Issues of the Conflict
The real issue of the controversy is about the character of God. And the controversy is not between God and Satan per se; it is between Christ and Satan over the character of God. “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels” (Rev. 12:7). Further, the weapons of our warfare are not physical weapons. As we are told:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-6). The knowledge of the truth about God will lead us to love Him and submit to Him. Lucifer, who was an exalted angel in heaven, by taking his eyes off God and focussing on himself, developed an overblown concept of himself and a diminished or warped perception of God. The result was that he rebelled against God and became Satan and was cast out of heaven. The prophet Isaiah described the fall of Lucifer as follows: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isa. 14:12-15). His wisdom was corrupted because of his focus on and concept of himself.
“Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28).
If we have a wrong concept of God and end up, like Lucifer, rebelling against God, it is us who are the losers, not God. Through Christ, God seeks to save us by extending His grace to us in the form of a revelation of Himself to us, through Christ, who looks like Him and behaves like Him. It is an information war. It is all about what we choose to believe about God. The conflict between Christ and Satan is a battle for the hearts and minds of intelligent beings. Those who believe Christ, believe the truth and will be saved, while those who believe otherwise, as promulgated by Satan, believe a lie and will end up as losers. Satan cannot give life. So there is no future in buying into his deceptions and false representations of God.
Satan is described as the “god of this world” and his purpose to deceive is described as follows: “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor. 4:4). Sifting
Truth from Error
Establishing the truth is like fitting up a jig-saw puzzle where many extraneous pieces are mixed up on the table with the genuine pieces. These pieces that do not belong, are deliberately placed there to throw us off so as to prevent us from being able to fit the puzzle together. Such is the nature of the many erroneous ideas that Satan places before us. We have to sift out the truth from the error, diligently. That is what will determine the outcome for us – whether belief in the truth that aligns us with God so that we can receive eternal life from Him or belief in a lie that places us with Satan, with the result that we will die like him and with him. The choice is ours. The appeal is to choose life by seeking and believing the truth and joining the fight as an ambassador for the truth, preaching the gospel of truth whereby souls can be saved.
How do we sift out the puzzle pieces that do not belong to the picture and retain those pieces that belong? By having an idea of what the overall picture looks like. If, for example, you are fitting up a puzzle that forms a picture of green trees and the blue sky in the background, then you can remove from the table the red and purple pieces that clearly do not belong. Of course, the closer the erroneous pieces look like the correct pieces, the more effort and diligence has to be applied to differentiate. Jesus said that deception will be so strong in the last days that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24).
The Overall Picture
The overall picture is provided by information about the fall of Lucifer from heaven; his enticing Adam and Eve to sin against God; God’s Son coming to earth to win back the hearts and minds of human beings by revealing the truth about God to us; Satan being exposed by his stirring up the multitude to kill the innocent Son of God; Christ being raised from the dead and representing before God and the angels, by virtue of our repentance, the fact that some of us were only deceived and not genuinely rebellious; and Christ returning to earth to reclaim this territory from Satan and resurrecting those who died in a state of acceptance of the truth, while translating those who are alive and faithful. This is the framework that allows us to sift out the erroneous ideas that Satan throws in our way to deceive us.
As with Adam and Eve who got one simple instruction from God that, if followed, would have protected them from Satan, we today have one simple instruction: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex. 20:8). This is God’s sign that, if we embrace it, will signal to the universe that we have aligned ourselves on God’s side- “And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” (Eze. 20:20). Further, the Sabbath provides us with special time with God that He uses to sanctify us and make us holy –“Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” (Eze. 20:12).
The final conflict is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. The commandments of men represent Satan’s formula for governing people’s behaviour. The commandments of men are an imitation of the commandments of God, except in two points. Whereas the commandments of God forbid making images to represent God and commands that we rest from our labours on the seventh day Sabbath as a sign that we believe in and give allegiance to the Creator, the commandments, as represented by men, does not forbid the making of images and they regard Sunday in place of the seventh day Sabbath.
These two points of difference will identify those who Christ will claim as His, as opposed to those who Satan will claim as his. Jesus said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21). Further, He says: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9). And again: “If ye love me keep my commandments.” (Matt. 14:15).
Today, many professed Christians are saying that all we need to do is just accept Jesus. You don’t have to consider anything else. To them, keeping the commandments of God is legalism. But that is contrary to what Jesus said. Its all a part of Satan’s efforts to create confusion. Remember, its an information war. May the Lord help us to align ourselves under His banner so that when Christ returns, we will be among those who would have accepted Christ and His revelation of the truth about God, and be faithfully keeping His commandments.
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