Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for being here! In today’s program, we continue a series of classics from our Search the Scriptures Daily archives with the late founder of The Berean Call, Dave Hunt, and TBC executive director Tom McMahon. This week, they address the question: What Is Satan’s Greatest Ploy? And now, here’s Tom.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re tuned in to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. In this first segment of Search the Scriptures Daily, we have been going through Dave Hunt’s book Seeking and Finding God: In Search of the True Faith. And last week we began chapter nine, titled: “What Is the Gospel?”
And, Dave, as I said, I believe it’s the most important chapter in your book, because in it you explain the gospel of salvation. And what I mean by “explain” is that you give information to help people understand what man did that separated him from God forever, and what God did (and only He could do) to reconcile mankind to Himself, of course what mankind must do to obtain salvation God has provided, which is what we are going to talk about. As a recap of what we went over last week, we noted in the first chapter of Genesis, God declares that everything He created is very good (that’s Genesis:1:31 ). In chapter 2, God made Adam’s obedience critical to their relationship by commanding him not to eat the fruit of a certain tree in the garden. He told Adam that the penalty for disobeying Him would be death – that is, his physical life would come to an end, and his spirit would be separated from God forever. And sometime after God’s command was given, Satan seduced Eve into disobeying it.
Now, Dave, it’s worth going over the seduction, because Satan from the beginning hasn’t changed his basic approach to deceiving mankind. He, in fact, has expanded upon it. So let me go to Genesis:3:1-6 , but you stop me at any time for your comments.
“Now the serpent…” This is Genesis:3:1 : “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”
Dave: Now, Tom, you said to stop you at any time. We’ve dealt with this in the past, but a lot of people will say, “A talking serpent? To begin with, I mean, this is fantasy, this is fiction.” But I would mention that we’ve got scientists, serious scientists, who are studying chimpanzees, trying to teach them the alphabet and how to communicate. There are others who claim they are communicating with porpoises and so forth. “The serpent was more subtle…” It’s not talking literally about a snake. However, probably Satan spoke through a snake…
Dave: …but this is symbolic of Satan – more than that. And somehow (and we have commented on it in the past), why does Satan love to be called a serpent? I mean, he doesn’t shun this, and he has serpent worship going on all over the world. We won’t go back into the details of that, but this is everywhere. This is the primary object of worship all over the world.
Tom: Right. And, Dave, this has to give credibility…we believe it, but it has to give credibility to the Genesis account, because not only is the serpent worshiped, as you said, but the serpent becomes the healer. It’s the absolute opposite of what the Word of God teaches, and that would follow, too. If this was a lie, if this was a deception of Satan, this is what his program is all about.
Dave: The serpent has become the symbol of wisdom – not only wisdom, but of salvation. The serpent has taken the place of God.
Tom: Right. Dave, as we’ve also mentioned, there’s a ploy here on Satan’s part. He has seduced – this is the process of seducing mankind, and it hasn’t changed from the beginning. It’s just, as I mentioned earlier, Satan has expanded upon it. But it begins with, “Yea, hath God said?” So the objective here is to…God spoke; He gave the command to Adam, and then to Eve, and we now have… “Oh, we’re going to massage it around. Did He really say that? Is that what God meant? That’s just an interpretation that some people are giving it.” But really what that means is undermining the Word of God is what was going on here.
Dave: Well, Tom, when we read – you would just have to read Psalm 119, what it says about the Word: “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.” We are saved through the Word. Jesus is the living Word, and the Word of God is under attack. There are – once again, and I won’t get off on that subject, but as you know I’m writing a book at the moment: Cosmos, Creator, and Human Destiny. And one of the things you realize: this is all about atheism. Evolution is about atheism. Richard Dawkins, the chief atheist in the world says, oh, he once upon a time was a good Anglican Christian boy. But at the age of 15-16, it was Darwinism that turned him to atheism. It’s an attack upon God. You don’t need God; in fact, they come right out and say it: “You don’t need God to create anything. Nature does it.” So they’re taking us back to nature worship.
Now, Satan, in a sense, was kind of leading them in that direction. Here we’ve got a serpent – this is a part of nature, and you can see how the whole thing hangs together. But Satan is behind it because – we’re talking about salvation, eventually, when we get to verse 15 back there, if we get that far. But if we go to 1 Peter:1:23-25 , it says that we are born again, and Jesus said you must be born again.
Tom:Must be born again.
Dave: Right. We are born again by the Word of God. Well, if that’s the case, Satan is going to do whatever he can to destroy the Word of God. Then it goes on a little…well, without going into the details, the verses in between – verse 25 says: “And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” So here we find out why we must preach the gospel, because if you don’t believe the gospel you are lost. You can’t be born again except through believing the gospel. It’s that simple; this is what the Bible says. So the importance of the Word of God…we are to earnestly contend for this faith that comes through the Word of God.
Tom: And, Dave, what we’re seeing today, and of course it’s a good example where you have it right here in Genesis, is that, “Well, let’s dialogue about the gospel. Let’s get into conversation about it,” and so on. Not in seeking truth, but the strategy is to undermine the truth.
Dave: Well, first of all, if you’re going to dialogue about something, obviously there’s a question as to whether it is true or false. You don’t dialogue about mathematics; we don’t dialogue about the law of gravity, or the laws of aerodynamics. While pilots are up there, pilot and co-pilot – “Well, I wonder…let’s have a little dialogue about this.” No, but you dialogue about the Word of God, they say, in order to undermine it.
Tom: And, Dave, we’re going to see this in picking up with Genesis:3:2 : “And the woman said unto the serpent (here we are in dialogue), We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Now, last week we pointed out that God didn’t say, “Neither shall ye touch it,” okay? So right away when you’re in dialogue, things get massaged around, ideas are added, things are taken away – that’s the problem. If it’s the truth, there can be no change.
Dave: Let me make a little comment here, Tom.
Dave: This is what Eugene Peterson does. Eve is giving her version of the Word of God, and she’s adding a few words of her own. Eugene Peterson does that all the time.
Tom: He, by the way, is the author of The MessageBible.
Dave: Right. But it began way back there with a man that we all respected, and it was the Living Bible. And how that began was, well, his children couldn’t quite understand the King James – I guess he was reading it to them – so he kind of rewrote it, added a few things, but he kept pretty close. He was really trying to give you what the Bible said. Eugene Peterson, he just introduces his own ideas, he literally…well, I get angry, and I better forget about it, but he literally trashes the Bible. What he says is, “God, you didn’t know how to say this. In fact, there’s a few things that You missed here and there, and I’m going to put them in there to help You out, because You didn’t foresee the kind of a society we would be living today, and let me straighten that out for You.”
Tom: Yeah, well, even if he didn’t have that intent, that’s the end product. That’s exactly what he did. You can only say, rather than “thus sayeth the Lord,” the best you can say is “thus sayeth Eugene Peterson.”
Dave: Any yet he is praised for this.
Tom: I know. Dave, picking up with Genesis:3:4 : “And the serpent said unto the woman, (after this dialogue in which he, as we said, he’s undermining the Word of God) Yea hath God said…?”
Dave: Yeah, well, Tom, I’m sorry…
Tom: Go ahead.
Dave: They’re discussing now. “Well, let’s have a discussion now. You say you think this is what God said, but let me tell you, I’ll give you a new twist on it.” So now, incredibly, this is the first committee to discuss the Bible and see if they couldn’t rewrite it.
Tom: But there’s always a goal. There’s an objective, there’s an agenda, and we know he has it, and we hear it in verse 4: “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:” So bottom line is he’s rejecting what God has said. He’s calling God a liar. Now it’s not just her interpretation, but he’s going right after God. This is atheism; this is the new atheism, the militant atheism, right?
Dave: Well, it’s also modernism. It’s also…I don’t know, Presbyterianism, Congregationalism – well, and a lot of Baptists do the same thing: “The Bible is old-fashioned. It really doesn’t apply. Furthermore, there are things in the Bible that we don’t like. It had to be wrong on homosexuality, and it had to be wrong on this,” and so forth. So they redo it according to what they want it to say.
Tom: And Satan’s scheme here is not only is he attacking the character of God, rejecting what God said, calling God a liar, but he’s withholding something from Adam and Eve. This is verse 5: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
Dave: We mentioned that last week, I think. He doesn’t say, “You will be God.” This is not how to become God. In fact, he puts her a notch lower. He said, “I will be like the Most High.” But he says, “You shall be as the gods, knowing good and evil.” So, well, that was an introduction of polytheism. He did away with one; I mean, how many Most Highs can you have? Obviously Satan is not so stupid that he would dare to try to push onto the human race, “These are all the Most Highs.” No, you can only have one Most High, but that becomes questionable as to who the Most High is.
And again, I don’t want to revert to this too often, Tom, but the atheists now say, “Wait a minute, Creator? Well, now we are in an infinite regress, because who created the Creator? Doesn’t the Creator need a creator, too? You’re going to explain everything by the Creator? You’re going to say He’s the one who explains everything else because He created it all? Yeah, but who created the Creator?” We won’t even get into that, Tom. It’s stupidity.
Tom: It’s absurd, of course. Well, Dave, what I find absolutely amazing here is this is the lie, Satan offers the lie to Eve – in this case, something that he deluded himself into believing when he was in heaven as Lucifer, right?
Tom: And we find this lie working its way throughout Scripture. At the end we have the Antichrist setting himself up in the temple of God, to be worshiped as God – that he is God. That’s the lie, isn’t it?
Dave: Right, yes. You can be a god, and ultimately you are God, because you could rewrite the Bible. You can redo whatever you want, and God has been pushed out of the picture.
Tom: So we not only have this in many religions, the idea – well, we have it in Mormonism, that every Mormon male wants to achieve godhood, to become a god having his own world, and so on. But we have that, Dave, in psychology. To me there is God, the Creator God transcendent, and self. Once you push God out of the way, which all of these approaches are attempting to do, then you’re left with self, and self is god. So we have not only self-love, self-esteem, all these selfisms today through psychology, but it all leads to self-deification. If there is no God, then we are God, right?
Dave: Well, this is literally what Carl Rogers said: that we have forgotten this “God,” pushed him out. By the way, he studied in a seminary.
Tom: Yeah, Union Theological Seminary. This is Carl Rogers the psychologist.
Dave: Right. But he said, “Now we look within to find the god within, and we worship at the altar of self.” Pretty clear.
Tom: Yeah, and again, it’s the lie, the lie that began in heaven – Lucifer claiming to be as the Most High, and then offering that lie to Eve, and we have it throughout history. Dave, verse 6, now, does Eve reject this? Well, I’ll read it for us.
Dave: Well, it’s a pretty great idea for her.
Tom: “And when the woman…” this is Genesis:3:6 , “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
Dave: How could you argue with that? It’s beautiful, it’s delicious, it’s nutritious, and it will make you wise! What more could you want? So forget this Bible.
Tom: Or obviously, she’s looking at it, and Satan must be right; God was withholding all of these things from her.
Dave: Yeah, so here we are. Here’s how man became separated from God, because God cannot allow this kind of rebellion in His universe. These are the first two that He has created. He gives them the easiest command He could give. You’ve got, I don’t know, thousands, millions of trees; take your pick. Eat your way through every one of them! You can have any one you want, but there’s just this tree here. And I think it was like any of the others – nothing special, no power in this tree. There wasn’t some magic in this tree. No, the problem was disobedience, and God gave them a test: “Just don’t eat of this one tree, okay?” And they failed the test.
Tom: Dave, the consequences, separation, which God said, we went over this. This is Genesis:2:17 ,18. He said, “The day you eat thereof you will surely die,” and as we mentioned, this is separation from God. This is physical death as well as spiritual separation from God.
Now, how did they respond to this, after recognizing right away that they had sinned, that they had disobeyed God? Genesis 3:7-8: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.”
Dave: Tom, let me just go back to “the day you eat thereof, you will die.” Sorry, I can’t get these things out of my mind, because there is a book I’m writing and I have to know what these people think, and so forth. But they don’t know what life is. You see, you read something about evolution… “Oh yeah, Darwinism! Oh, that’s how we find out, you know, how the species developed.” Wait a minute! Darwin’s first book was titled – part of the title was The Origin of Species. He doesn’t tell you the origin of any species, because that’s a problem! Where did the first species come from? And what is life? How can you talk about something evolving? You don’t know what life is. John 1 tells you of Jesus: He created everything. In Him was life! Science cannot tell you what life is, they just cannot!
So now we’ve got – how are you going to introduce life into this universe? God is life. “I am the way, the truth, the life.” In Him is life. Okay? So now – “the day you eat thereof you’re going to die.” That means this life is in God’s hands. It came from Him. He can take it away from you. But He’s going to take the very heart of this life away from you, and that is Himself, the relationship with Himself.
And being cut off from God, you’re cut off from life. So now we are dying: the species – every species is dying, and unless they’ve come up with some new discovery, as far as I know, doctors cannot tell you why. The moment we’re born we begin to die. Why? Because the source of life has been removed. Although we have physical life, we do not have the source of that life within ourselves, and we’re going to have to get it back from God and by entering into a right relationship with Him.
Tom: And, Dave, this was God’s command that they broke, they disobeyed.
Dave: Tom, can you imagine the chutzpah? Not just chutzpah…
Tom: Which is Yiddish, meaning “nerve?”
Dave: I mean, you’re thumbing your nose at the Creator. You’re saying, “Well, I don’t have to do what You want me to do.” It’s incredible! It’s beyond comprehension. This puny little creature who thinks he can defy the living God! That’s what disobedience is, and that’s what Adam and Eve did.
Tom: Dave, we’re out of time for this segment, but next week we are going to pick up here, and you wonder, “Well, why didn’t God just rap them on the knuckles, or kind of forgive them, or say, ‘Well, you know, it was a small deal, you know. It’s just a piece of fruit, and no big issue. We’ll work it out’”? Well, God is perfect in every attribute that He has, and one is divine justice. So the penalty had to be paid, and next week we will see how that was accomplished.
Gary: You’ve been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. The complete radio discussion of Dave’s “Seeking and Finding God” is available from The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon, 97708. Call us at 800.937.6638; or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael, thanks for tuning in and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.