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Chapter 2

Satan's Climax in Deception

WE have seen in the previous chapter how the fallen Lucifer has sought by subtle deception and by cunning devices to oppose the Christ, the principles of His kingdom, and those who desire to become true subjects of His realm. But his culminating deception, which is sweeping more souls into his net of destruction than any other of his ingenious devices, has been reserved in its full flower for the generation in which we live. In its germ it is as old as the fall of man; it has plagued the race to some extent in all generations; but in its subtlety of sophistry and perfection of deceit, no generation has seen it as we see it now. It has not superseded all or any of his other devices; but it is the climax of his six thousand years of practice in the art of deception and destruction.

The seed thought of that delusion was planted in the minds of Adam and Eve on the day when they forgot their duty and their divine warning, and yielded to the enticing blandishments of Satan. God had said to them, when He uttered His prohibition against eating the fruit of a certain tree, "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die."

Aside from God, we cannot live; "for in Him we live, and move, and have our being." Since the day when man sinned, man has lived alone by virtue of the gift of Christ as his life. The lamb offered on Abel's altar outside the closed gates of Paradise pointed forward to the actual sacrifice of the Son of God on Calvary. "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin ["apart from sin," R. V.; or not as a sin offering] unto salvation." Heb. 9: 28. And He declared of Himself: " I lay down My life for the sheep." " I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." John 10:15; 14: 6. Inspiration says of Him, "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." John 1:12. Peter, when forbidden by the Jewish rulers to preach Jesus, boldly avowed, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12.

Man has never been guaranteed life apart from Christ. Nowhere does the divine Word indicate that beyond the gates of death there is an eternity of conscious existence for all mankind, the wicked as well as the righteous. It does promise life to all who accept and follow Christ. But as God said in Eden, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17),. so He says again in His infallible Word, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Eze. 18: 4, 20. The death here referred to is not the natural death which all die from old age or disease; for the righteous as well as the wicked die that death. It refers to the "second death," from which there will be no resurrection. Rev. 20: 6, 14, 15.

Satan declared to Eve, "Ye shall not surely die; . . . ye shall be as gods." Gen. 3: 4, 5. "Mortal" means "subject to death." God had taught man that he was liable to die, that he was certain to die if he entered upon a course of disobedience; that he was not immortal. Satan contradicted God, teaching man that he was then immortal, not liable to die; that disobedience could not entail death. God had put man on probation, a candidate for immortality. Satan taught man that he was not a candidate for immortality, but the actual possessor of it; that God could not end man's existence even for disobedience, for once he had partaken of that fruit he had been forbidden to touch, he would himself possess divine attributes.

Adam and Eve took the tempting bait, and the earth has been filled with death and mourning ever since. Through all the ages following man's sin, Satan has continued to whisper into the willing ears of millions of earth's inhabitants, "There is no death; what seems so is transition."

It will startle many a pious reader to see the statement or hear the declaration that Satan was the. first exponent of the idea of man's inherent immortality; but this is the fact, as recorded for our learning in the inspired Book of God; and he promulgated the idea in flat contradiction of one of the plainest and most emphatic declarations of the Author of our being. The Spirit of inspiration asked the question of one of Job's friends, and it is recorded for our consideration: "Shall mortal man be more just than God?" Job 4:17. He puts the wisdom and justice of God, the eternal one, in opposition to that of man, the transient one; His immortality in opposition to our mortality. He tells us further, in the plainest language which Inspiration can use, that God "only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto." 1 Tim. 6:16. If God only has immortality, certainly we do not possess it, all the sophistries and deceits of Satan to the contrary notwithstanding. Says the apostle Paul to Timothy and to us, "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." 1 Tim. 1:17.

Paul is very explicit on the question of man's mortality, in his letter to the Corinthian believers -- and to us. He says:

"Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." Cor. 15: 51-54.

So long as there is death in the world there will be mortality. Whatever or whoever may die or is liable to die, is mortal, not immortal. Christ came into the world that He might bring "life and immortality to light through the gospel." 2 Tim. 1:10. Without Christ and the gospel no human being would ever see immortality. He is our life, and only through Him can man have life and be crowned with immortality at His coming.

But now in the desperate endeavor to clinch his deception upon the race, Satan claims that the dead are still alive, that they have merely passed through the veil between the two worlds, and are now living on a fuller and grander scale than ever before. He seeks to demonstrate the continued existence of the departed by personating the dead, by placing before relatives of the deceased, communications which it is supposed none but the dead could give, detailing incidents with which none but the dead were familiar. Thus he "proves" that the lie he told in Eden is the truth,-- that men do not die, and that God fabricated a falsehood when He warned man that he would die if he transgressed!

Many a reader will wonder at Satan's purpose in seeking to prove that the dead are not dead in reality, only missing from this world, and gloriously alive in the other world. What has he to gain? Jesus Christ, the upholder of God's government, the upholder of righteousness, has given Himself for the redemption of man; Satan, the deceiver, has set out to convince man that he needs no Redeemer. Christ died that we, who were condemned to death because of sin, might have, through Him, eternal life. Satan, in perpetuation of his lie in Eden, wishes us to believe we have life without the interposition of Christ. The Prince of the Restoration said, " I am come that ye might have life." The word of the prince of ruin is, "You have life -- eternal life -- already, and you need no Christ to give it to you."

Paul, writing to the Romans, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declared, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." Rom. 1:16. In the counterfeit "gospel," every soul works out his own destiny in the land beyond the tomb. It being true -- and Satan knowing that it is true -- that outside of Christ there is no hope for man, every soul whom Satan can deceive into accepting the idea that Christ is unnecessary and the gospel nothing, is eternally lost; and every soul lost helps to postpone the day of the consummation of the gospel plan; helps to postpone the day when Satan will pay with his life the penalty for his long career of deceit and rebellion.

Satan said to Eve in Eden, "Ye shall not surely die;" he says to her descendants today: "The dead have not died; they are living in happiness in a land of light; they are all about you; they witness your grief at their absence." The old falsehood and the new were spoken by the same lips, and spoken for the same purpose,-- to oppose the establishment and maintenance of righteousness in the world, and to fling defiance and insult at the powers that thrust him and his rebellious hosts out of heaven.

All through the ages men have sought communion with the dead. Jehovah forbade it; but in spite of His warnings and admonitions and pleadings, the cult of necromancy has persisted, and witches and wizards have practised upon the credulity of mankind. Every country has experienced to a greater or less extent the pernicious activities of those go-betweens from the nether world to the world of sentient human beings.

God took a people out of bondage in Egypt in fulfillment of His promise to Abraham, and established them in the land of Canaan. They had been surrounded by idolatry, Spiritism, and devil worship in the land of their thralldom. They traveled through countries peopled by nations that knew no other religion than that which cursed the land of the Pharaohs. They settled in a land surrounded by peoples who worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, and talked with demons who impersonated their dead. Therefore Jehovah's decree to Israel in the Land of Promise was: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Ex. 22:18. Again:

"There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of the times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee." Deut. 18: 10-12.

Whatever Spiritualism (more properly, Spiritism) practises today is condemned in toto in the above prohibitions. The practice of mediums today includes what in olden times was known as necromancy, witchcraft (wizardry), divination, and consulting with familiar spirits. As surely as Jehovah condemned these things in ancient Israel, so surely does He condemn them in spirit mediumship today. He had not one standard in righteousness then and another today. What He condemned in the nations surrounding Israel, He will neither approve nor condone in the days in which we live.

Jehovah pronounced a curse upon Egypt for her practice of Spiritism. He declared through the prophet Isaiah:

"The spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits [spirit mediums], and to the wizards. And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts." Isa. 19: 3, 4.

This prophecy has been literally fulfilled.

In his warning to the Israelites concerning these deceptive and wicked practices, Jehovah gives the reason for the warning:

"Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God." Lev. 19: 31.

The practice of these abominations was defiling to His people, and God was seeking to perfect a pure people, a clean people, a godly people. This they never could be so long as they permitted themselves to hold communications with the spokesmen of Satan in the persons of necromancers, wizards, witches, and consulters with familiar spirits.

In Leviticus another command is given concerning these classes of persons:

"A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them." Lev. 20: 27.

God does not propose to take halfway measures with those who neglect or defy His wish in these matters. It was a capital crime in the judgment of Jehovah, and a capital penalty was meted out for it.

And His warning touched not alone those who had familiar spirits, but it reached those also who had dealings with such persons. We read:

"The soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set My face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people. Sanctify yourselves therefore, and he ye holy: for I am the Lord your God." Lev. 20:6, 7.

The command is plain as to what our duty is in this matter; and the teaching is also plain, that if we are to be sanctified and holy, we can have no part in the practices of Spiritism.

Jehovah has given us many warnings in reference to these things; and He has also indicated to us that when Spiritism grows rampant in the earth, the time of Christ's coming is near. This is found in the writings of the prophet Isaiah. The Lord's spokesman in the eighth of Isaiah is giving instruction to God's people concerning what they are to do in the time when they are looking for the Lord to come. They are to have no part in the confederacies of this world; they are not to fear what the world fears; they are to sanctify the Lord of hosts, and let Him be their fear and their dread; they are to bind up the testimony (stand for the integrity and immutability of God's whole Book); they are to seal God's law among His disciples (or restore the broken seal of the ten commandments, which is the fourth commandment); they are to wait upon the Lord, whose face is hidden from His formal and professed church; and finally, they are to look for Him.

In the time when God expects His church to be doing that, however, he informs us that a different movement will be on foot in the world, a spiritistic movement; for in the same chapter is this significant warning:

"When they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their 'God? for the living to the dead?" Isa. 8: 19.

The Revised Version reads: "On behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead?" That is what Spiritists are doing all over the world,-- seeking to the dead on behalf of the living. The question which Jehovah asks through His prophet indicates that such a time is most serious. The question really means, "When you see the multitudes seeking to the dead on behalf of the living, is it not high time that those who would be God's faithful children should be found seeking Him?" And the answer which the form of the question demands is, "It is indeed high time."

One who has given much earnest consideration to the theme we are studying, makes this striking comment upon the subject:

"The facts of history concur with the statements of revelation in forcing upon us the unwelcome conviction that the human race is subject to the malevolent influence of an organized and all-pervading demonism. Alike in the career of nations and in the phenomena of personal destiny, the presence of demoniacal skill and power is often prominent, frequently dominant, always evil."--" Footprints of Angels in Fields of Revelation," E. A. Stockman, p. 2.

The writer of this extract has spoken only what Inspiration long ago warned us concerning:

"We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness ["wicked spirits," margin] in high places [" heavenly places," margin]." Eph. 6: 12.

In every heathen country which the heralds of the gospel have sought to open up to evangelical missionary effort, they have found the malevolent forces of Satan intrenched, fortified, and battling with all their might against every effort of the missionary.

Among practically every heathen people the missionary has found devil worship in some form and often in many forms. He has found the native island peoples consulting with the spirits -- the professed spirits of the dead; and these have manifested intense dislike to the missionary and his work. The natives themselves who have manifested a disposition to follow the teachings of the missionary, have on numerous occasions been annoyed and not a little frightened by the violent demonstrations of invisible visitors, who professed to be the spirits of their dead.

For generations these natives have been in virtual slavery to their pondas (spirits of the dead); they have consulted these spirits on every important occasion, summoning them by their own methods, knowing instantly when their summons was answered, and acting in harmony with the answers received. They need no one to tell them that there are invisible intelligences abroad in the world; but their experience with them has been limited to necromancy and wizardry. Of the loving ministry of good angels they have had no knowledge. Of the love-inspired watchcare of a heavenly Father they have lived through the dark centuries in pitiable ignorance.

In his second epistle the apostle Peter states that "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [Greek, Tartarus, a place of darkness], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment." 2 Peter 2: 4. Their habitation of darkness is in this world. Their leader is spoken of in the Bible as "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4: 4); "the prince of this world" (John 14: 30); and "the prince of the power of the air." Eph. 2: 2. He is not alone; for one of his followers, when Christ demanded his name, replied, "My name is Legion: for we are many." Mark 5: 9. The apostle Peter has told what is the occupation of the leader of that fallen host: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." 1 Peter 5: 8.

Concerning the activity of these hosts, another author has said:

"In undiminished possession of their intelligence and strength, they constantly assault us in every weakness, through every avenue, by every means, by methods foul or fair. . . . When they cannot destroy, they cease not to worry, torment. They inspire evil tempers; arouse dark passions; instill ill will; beget malice, envy; impose care, fear, distrust; suggest deceit, fraud, and all the forms of crime." " Supremely do they revel in the criminal domain. They foster falsehood, incite revenge, fan jealousy, beget quarrels, help on thefts, robbery, and arson, further divorces, plan defalcations, instigate murders."--" Footprints of Angels in Fields of Revelation," pp. 9, 10, 22.

The evil work of these spirits who personate the dead is not confined to any country or continent or race of mankind. It has been a frequent experience of missionaries in China and Korea to find persons as truly demon possessed as any with whom the Christ and His apostles were confronted in the days of the ministry of Jesus. Now as well as then those under demoniacal possession are the sport and the plaything of the evil spirits that possess and control them.

No cult has swept the world with such marvelous rapidity as Spiritism. While it has existed in all ages, it has never before made such sweeping conquests among the people who profess to be the servants of Jehovah. This development is peculiar to our day. More than that, the demonstration of Spiritism which we see today is one of the most striking signs of these times, and a direct fulfillment of the prophetic word.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to Timothy, uttered this prediction:

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." 1 Tim. 4: 1

It is to be noted here that this demonstration of spiritistic deception and demonistic doctrines was to be a characteristic of "the latter times," or the time of the end. This is the age of spiritistic propaganda. Nearly every church in the world has, as a portion of its membership, persons who believe in the idea that the dead come back to communicate with the living. Almost every denomination has among the tenets of its faith the idea that the soul lives on as a conscious entity after the body has been given to the tomb. Believing that, they can give no logical reason why a living, conscious entity should not return to the place of its former abode, to mingle with its living loved ones left behind. Believing that, they are on common ground with the Spiritist, and every wall of their citadel has been thrown down to make Satan's conquest a certainty.

It will be asked, "Are there not many in all the churches who believe in the immortality of the soul, and yet repudiate Spiritism?" There are. They remember the admonitions and solemn warnings of Scripture against wizards, witches, necromancers, and consulters with the dead generally, and so repudiate the thing, while admitting the whole foundation upon which the thing itself rests. It is so logical, however, to believe that, if the dead are still conscious, still capable of loving those whom they loved when here in bodily form, they should want to mingle with their loved ones, that the majority can see no reason why they should refuse to believe they do come back. The evil one has prepared this trap, and they who step into it may expect him to spring it.

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