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SATAN'S MALIGNITY AGAINST CHRIST AND HIS PEOPLE [message #2850] Fri, 01 November 2019 21:37
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Speaking of Satan, our Lord says that "he abode not in the truth." He was once the covering cherub, glorious in beauty and holiness. He was next to Christ in exaltation and character. It was with Satan that self-exaltation had its origin. He became jealous of Christ, and falsely accused him, and then laid blame upon the Father. He was envious of the position that was held by Christ and the Father, and he turned from his allegiance to the Commander of heaven and lost his high and holy estate. Though the angels had a knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, though they were happy in the glorious service which they did for the King of heaven, yet, through his crooked representations of Christ and the Father, the evil one deceived a great company of angels, drew them into sympathy with himself, and associated them with himself in rebellion. Satan and his sympathizers became the avowed antagonists of God, established their own infernal empire, and set up a standard of rebellion against the God of heaven. All the principalities and powers of evil rallied to the work of overthrowing the government of God.

Satan accomplished the fall of man, and since that time it has been his work to efface in man the image of God, and to stamp upon human hearts his own image. Possessing supremacy in guilt, he claims supremacy for himself, and exercises over his subjects the power of royalty. He cannot expel God from his throne, but through the system of idolatry, he plants his own throne between the heaven and the earth, between God and the human worshiper. He intercepts every ray of light that comes from God to man, and appropriates the worship that is due to God.

Satan has wrought with deceiving power, bringing in a multiplicity of errors that obscure the truth. Error cannot stand alone, and would soon become extinct if it did not fasten itself like a parasite upon the tree of truth. Error draws its life from the truth of God. The traditions of men, like floating germs, attach themselves to the truth of God, and men regard them as a part of the truth. Through false doctrines, Satan gains a foothold, and captivates the minds of men, causing them to hold theories that have no foundation in truth. Men boldly teach for doctrines the commandments of men; and as traditions pass on from age to age, they acquire a power over the human mind. But age does not make error truth, neither does its burdensome weight cause the plant of truth to become a parasite. The tree of truth bears its own genuine fruit, showing its true origin and nature. The parasite of error also bears its own fruit, and makes manifest that its character is diverse from the plant of heavenly origin.

It is through false theories and traditions that Satan gains his power over the human mind. We can see the extent to which he exercises his power by the disloyalty that is in the world. Even the churches that profess to be Christian have turned from the law of Jehovah, and have erected a false standard. Satan has had his hand in all this; for by directing men to false standards, he misshapes the human character, and causes humanity to acknowledge him as supreme. He works counter to the holy law of God, and denies God's jurisdiction. It is at his throne that every evil work finds its starting-point and obtains its support.

Satan has charged injustice upon God, and at various times has set in motion all his supernatural agencies, in order to cut off from men the knowledge of God, to turn their attention from the temple of God, and to establish his own kingdom in the earth. At different times he has almost succeeded in spreading idolatry throughout the world. The history of the past shows that he has striven to obtain the mastery upon earth, and that his strife for supremacy has seemed to be almost wholly successful. He has worked in such a manner that the Prince of heaven has seemed to be lost sight of. It has seemed that the confederacy of idolatry has borne supreme sway, and that Satan had indeed become the god of this world. But the only begotten Son of God has looked upon the scene, has beheld human suffering and misery. With pity he has seen how his human agencies have been blinded by the deceptions of the enemy, and have become victims of Satanic cruelty. He has seen how Satan has exalted men simply for the purpose of casting them down, how he has flattered them, in order to draw them into his net and destroy them. He looked upon the schemes by which Satan works to blot from the human soul every trace of likeness to God; how he led them into intemperance so as to destroy the moral powers which God gave to man as a most precious, priceless endowment. He saw how, through indulgence in appetite, brain power was destroyed, and the temple of God was in ruins. He looked with compassion upon men who were becoming corrupted, ruined, murdered, and lost, through choosing a ruler who chained them to his car as captives, and yet these slaves were so bewildered, so beguiled and deceived, that they were actually pleased with their slavery as they moved on in gloomy procession toward eternal ruin,--to death in which is no hope of life, toward night to which comes no morning. He saw human beings possessed by devils, saw Satanic agencies incorporated with men, saw the bodies of men become the habitations for the degrading indwelling of demons. Man, made for the dwelling-place of God, became the habitation of dragons. The senses, the nerves, the passions, the organs of man, were worked by supernatural agencies in the indulgence of the grossest, vilest lust. The very stamp of demons was impressed upon the countenances of men, and human faces reflected the expression of the legions of evil with which they were possessed. Such was the prospect upon which the world's Redeemer looked. What a horrible spectacle for the eyes of infinite purity to behold! Wherein can he behold his image? And yet God, the infinite One, "so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son [for such a world!], that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Christ came to our world, sent of God to take human nature upon him. The mysterious union was to be formed between human nature and the divine nature. Christ was to become a man, in order that he might unfold to men as fully as possible the mysteries of the science of redemption. But the scheme of redemption far exceeds the comprehension of the human mind. The great condescension on the part of God is a mystery that is beyond our fathoming. The greatness of the plan cannot be fully comprehended, nor could infinite Wisdom devise a plan that would surpass it. It could be successful only by the clothing of divinity with humanity, by Christ becoming man, and suffering the wrath which sin has made because of the transgression of God's law. Through this plan the great, the dreadful God can be just, and yet be the justifier of all who believe in Jesus, and who receive him as their personal Saviour. This is the heavenly science of redemption, of saving men from eternal ruin, and can be carried out through the incarnation of the Son of God, through his triumph over sin and death. In seeking to fathom this plan, all finite intelligences are baffled.

Before the world was created, infinite Wisdom provided for the terrible possibility of man's disloyalty. Though man transgressed God's law, yet the law was not weakened in the slightest particular. It stands fast forever and ever as his eternal throne. No hope could be found for man through the alteration of God's law, but God so loved the world the he gave himself in Christ to the world to bear the penalty of man's transgression. God suffered with his Son, as the divine Being alone could suffer, in order that the world might become reconciled to him.

From the moment that Christ entered the world, the whole confederacy of Satanic agencies was set at work to deceive and overthrow him as Adam had been deceived and overthrown. Could he win the victory over Christ, the world that God had created would become his empire.

When Christ was born in Bethlehem, the angels of God appeared to the shepherds, who were watching their flocks by night, and gave divine credentials of the authority of the new-born babe. Satan knew that One had come to the earth with a divine commission to dispute his authority. He heard the angel declare: "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men."

The heavenly heralds aroused all the wrath of the synagogue of Satan. He followed the steps of those who had charge of the infant Jesus. He heard the prophecy of Simeon in the temple courts, who had long been waiting for the consolation of Israel. The Holy Ghost was upon him, and he came by the Spirit into the temple. Taking the infant Saviour in his arms, he blessed God, and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." Satan was filled with frenzy as he saw that the aged Simeon recognized the divinity of Christ.

The Commander of heaven was assailed by the tempter. He had no clear, unobstructed passage through the world. He was not left free and without hindrance to win to his kingdom the souls of men by his gracious mercy and loving-kindness. From the time that he was a helpless babe in Bethlehem, when the agencies of hell sought to destroy him in his infancy through the jealousy of Herod, until he came to Calvary's cross, he was continually assailed by the evil one. In the councils of Satan it was determined that he must be overcome. No human being had come into the world and escaped the power of the deceiver. The whole forces of the confederacy of evil were set upon his track to engage in warfare against him, and if possible to prevail over him. The fiercest and most inveterate enmity was put between the seed of the woman and the serpent. The serpent himself made Christ the mark of every weapon of hell. Satan knew that he must either conquer or himself be conquered. Success or failure involved too much for him to leave the work with any one of his agents of evil. The prince of evil himself must personally conduct the warfare, since all other enterprises were inferior to this. He came in determined opposition against Christ from the very beginning of his work. "And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him. . . And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."

Satan saw the image of God in the character and person of Jesus Christ. He knew that if Christ carried out his plan, his Satanic authority would be at an end. Therefore, the life of Christ was a perpetual warfare against Satanic agencies. Satan rallied the whole energies of apostasy against the Son of God. The conflict increased in fierceness and malignity, as again and again the prey was taken out of his hands. Satan assailed Christ through every conceivable form of temptation. Christ had come to die for the world, and Satan finally offered to him the kingdoms of the world, surrendering them to him without his striking a blow to obtain them. But the condition upon which this offer was made was one with which Christ could not comply.

"And the Devil, taking him up into a high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the Devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them; for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine." He presented the world to Christ as a most dazzling, enchanting spectacle. But Christ saw that which Satan tried to veil from his eyes, and that which he flattered himself he had done. Christ had not exchanged his divinity for humanity; but he had clothed his divinity in humanity, and he gave Satan the evidence for which he had asked,--showed him that he was the Son of God. Divinity flashed through humanity, and the evil one could not resist the authority of the divine voice, as Jesus said, "Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."

Failing to lead Christ into sin, the prince of darkness gathered together his human agencies in the religious world, and instilled into men the enmity which he felt against the champion of truth. He led them to reject Christ, to expel the Prince of truth from his territory. For a time success seemed to attend his efforts. Christ "came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."

Just previous to his crucifixion, the Saviour said, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me," Though it was the hour of the power of darkness, yet in anticipation of his triumph, Christ could say, "The prince of this world is judged." "Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out." Viewing the work of redemption as completed, he could, even in death, speak of the great final deliverance, and represent things that were future as if present. The only begotten Son of the infinite God could successfully carry through the great plan which made man's salvation sure.

The condition of the world at the time of Christ is well described by the prophet Isaiah. He says that the people were found "transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey; and the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head."

The condition of the world previous to the first appearing of Christ is a picture of the condition of the world just previous to his second advent. The same iniquity will exist; Satan manifests the same delusive power upon the minds of men. He is setting his trained agents to work, and moving them to intense activity. He is securing his army of human agents to engage in the last conflict against the Prince of life, to overthrow the law of God, which is the foundation of his throne. Satan will work with miraculous presentations to confirm men in the belief that he is what he claims to be,--the prince of this world,--and that victory is his. He will turn his forces against those who are loyal to God; but though he may cause pain, distress, and human agony, he cannot defile the soul. He may cause affliction to the people of God as he did to Christ, but he cannot cause one of Christ's little ones to perish. The people of God in these last days must expect to enter into the thick of the conflict; for the prophetic word says: "The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."


RH The Review and Herald
October 22, 1895 October 29, 1895
Satan's Malignity Against Christ and His People.
By Mrs. E. G. White.

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