Apologetics 11: The Snares of the Devil

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, October 15, 2021 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
~2 Timothy 2:24-26

For the last few weeks, I have been addressing what repentance looks like from a worldview perspective, what believing lies does, and how a wrong worldview is actually a form of insanity. This is important to understand as we deal with people who are caught up in false teachings. We have a few more thing to dig out of this passage. We need to examine the snares of the devil and how he puppeteers them as his slaves. Those who believe in a false teaching have been ensnared by the devil. They have fallen for his traps and seductions. What I want to do with this post is look at the tactics used to draw people into these false teachings. Most don’t enter them intentionally.

1) Personal Fear. This tactic is most easily seen in cults. One of the main reasons people stay in a cult is because of fear of what will happen to them or their children if they leave. The fear of apostasy and going to Hell is always present in a cult. There should be a genuine fear for this issue because the prophets, apostles, and Jesus Himself warned against it.

This very point is why many people argue that Christianity is a cult. This accusation is also often aimed at Young Earth Creation; sadly, people like Ken Ham have not done a great job at fighting against that notion. A Facebook friend of mine pointed it out clearly. Many Creationists correctly warn against the tactics of the enemy to come after our children (they are) but it tends to have a “oh, no, we are in trouble” tone to it like this picture. What Creationists need to do instead is to boldly confront them like Errol Flynn.

However, in a cult, there are two main marks: a) teaching an immoral (often sexually based) thing as being good, and b) denying the Lord Jesus Christ (His deity, His manhood, His work on the cross, etc.). Fear is a very effective tool of the enemy, but there is a key difference between the enemy’s fear and God’s fear. The enemy’s fear is about self and what happens to self. God’s fear is a reverence for Him that makes you not want to displease Him. Truth is exclusive. You cannot depart from the truth and be safe. But legitimate fear against violating truth always has a legitimate reason behind it. The false teachings won’t give you one.

2) Fear of the “expert.” This applies in the world and in the church. It’s an appeal to authority and a fear that you don’t want to cross them because they are the expert and you aren’t. This is why students don’t question teachers, because they are expected to respect teachers. But not all teachers are good people. This applies to scientists and politicians as well. Having letters after your name does not make you an “expert.” Even having years of experience alone does not necessarily mean you learned the job correctly to begin with.

But this is worse in the church. One pastor told me he was scared to death about calling out a false teacher because a guy named T.D Jakes said, “Do not touch the Lord’s anointed” because you might get “spiritual leprosy.” Jakes was referencing how David refused to strike Saul and then used Miriam and Aaron speaking against Moses because of his wife as the reason. However, he was applying that to himself and ultimately saying, “Don’t ever question me. I am a man of God. Anything you say against me will come back on you.” David Wilkerson identifies that as a “smiting spirit.” It’s not of God, but people use this to drive people into fear to never question them on their teachings, even when it’s direct heresy and they are trapped by them. People KNOW they are wrong but can’t speak against it because of this issue. We must be gentle with such people because they live in a religious setting that is like a wife with an abusive husband. They need love and gentleness to escape such settings.

3) Fear of man. This is fear of peers and fear of how you look before others. This is the desire to fit in with the crowd and to not be the one who stands out. There are certain things you “don’t talk about” in certain circles because it will disrupt the waters. This is a primary reason why there is 97% “consensus” about Evolution among scientists. It’s not because the evidence is so strong; it’s because the peer pressure is sufficient to stifle out dissent, not to mention the intentional removal of those who pose the biggest threats to Evolution. Evolution is one of the snares and it’s driven primarily on “fear of the expert” coupled with “fear of man.” This trap is driven by appeals to appearances and approval by others. Anytime someone changes the Gospel because of concern of how it will be received (this is prime motivation for Old Earth Creation beliefs), they’re held captive by this trap.

4) I want to believe it. This is a strange trap, because there are many people who believe false teachings because they will not tolerate sound doctrine. Instead of listening to the truth, they heap for themselves teachers who will say what they want heard. Hugh Ross and Joel Osteen are two teachers who come to mind on this issue. Both are charismatic, and both are very courteous and friendly. Both are also very sincere in what they believe. But I do not believe they are intentionally deceiving people. Instead, they are God’s judgment upon those who want to be deceived. This is the category of being BOTH deceiving and being deceived. Why do they want to be deceived? In part because they have fallen for the other traps. They want to sound religious and godly, but they want it on their terms, not God’s. They want to look good in front of their unbelieving friends, but they want to “get in” with God while at it. Newsflash: God will have nothing to do with such arrangements.

There are other traps and snares, too, but I am out of space for them. There is something we should see in common here. All of these traps can be summarized by an appeal to one of three things: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. These are the same three categories that Eve saw in the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and these are the same three categories that Satan tempted Jesus with in the wilderness. They came in different packages and forms, but they’re the same categories. It’s all about SELF. False teachings are always about self. What can I get out of it? How can I benefit from it? The more I confront false teachings, the more I am seeing how powerful this deception is. And to be honest, it is only by the grace of God that I haven’t succumbed to it, because I should have long ago. We must also keep in mind that these people do not have or know the truth, and they do not think clearly. Next week, we’ll look at how Satan uses these people as his puppets. Once we understand all this, then it makes our cues for evangelism much clearer.

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