Have you ever used this logic,
“It has to be from God. The devil wouldn’t inspire me to (fill in the blank).”
I’m not going to lie, I have comforted myself with this argument. I heard it this morning, “Satan would not lead you to give money to a ministry that is seeing people saved”. While I was in college, I heard people wrestling with the assurance of their salvation, and the same basic logic was used,
“The very fact that you are concerned about this is your proof. The devil wouldn’t cause you concern about your salvation.”
Really? Are we so wise to the schemes of the enemy, who has existed since the beginning of creation, that we can use this simple logic in our every day decision making? What is most concerning about this type of logic is the fact that we would claim to be believers, and yet we know the Lord so poorly that we do not recognize His voice or calling, we cannot discern the simple difference of God or the devil speaking into our hearts.
Now, that being said, Satan is a master of deceit (John 8.44). And one of his most clever disguises is an angel of light:
“No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
– 2 Cor 11.14
And one of his greatest guiles is distracting us with good things. If we can set our own agendas trying to get God’s work done without Him, then we are left floundering and fruitless. If God is ready to do a mighty work and bring many to salvation in community X, then Satan will try to distract us to exert all of our energies in community Y.
We know that sometimes Satan is blatantly seeking our destruction. Remember Peter? The loud-mouthed apostle? Jesus informed Peter that Satan was standing before God asking permission to reveal Peter’s true character:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat…”
– Luke 22.31
But we also know that at the end of the age, Satan will send out false prophets who will preform miracles and wonders like what Jesus did, and lead many astray – even some of those who call themselves Christians.
“For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”
– Matt 24.24
Imagine the discernment it will take to know, if someone is healing the sick in the name of Christ, if he is a false prophet? Jesus tells us that even some of these people will not know that they are false prophets:
“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’”
– Matt 7.22-23
Jesus says that many will fall into this category! Not just an odd ball here and there. So let us consider the argument of financial giving. A support-run ministry publicly argued this morning, “Satan would not lead you to give money to a ministry that is seeing people saved”. Would he not? We are commanded to give the first ten percent of everything that we make to God via the Church. I can hear the moans and groans of my generation already, just at that simple statement. And while that is another topic for another day, let us consider simply the fact that Jesus said the tithe should be done, along with keeping the full heart and intention of the Law:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”
– Matt 23.23
Apart from that is the simple fact that the church cannot function apart from our giving, and if we receive the benefit of the ministry of the Church, we must give to help keep it running:
The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
– 1 Tim 5.17-18
In short, the elders’ job is to keep watch over our souls and to teach us – and we need to financially support them to be able to do just that.
“So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.”
– 1 Cor 9.14
My generation likes to take the position that we have autonomy to decide where we give that ten percent. We think we will pray about it and receive some individual instruction from God that our money should go to this ministry or that project, but we forget that the money belongs to God and that He tells us we cannot allocate it. The extra money hat we give above that first ten percent can be allocated, but the first has to be given freely.
So, the plea of a ministry might come in for money, and our hearts might be broken or drawn to support it. If God is getting ready to use your church in a mighty way to reach your community or the world, Satan most certainly WILL tempt you to divert your giving, your time, your energy to that ministry that plays Christian music on the radio or runs the local soup kitchen. Satan will use the good to distract us from the great.
Or consider the person in crisis who is examining his faith and is terrified about his eternity. Perhaps it is the Holy Spirit convicting him that he is one of those false prophets and is drawing him to repentance? But we placate him by saying that the simple conviction and fear is enough assurance. This most certainly is not true, otherwise there would be no other religion in the world. Satan offers many false assurances and hopes to keep people from God. Some people are content to believe the lie that there is no God and no eternity, but most are not. All major world religions are built on the wrong presupposition that we have to appease God and earn eternal bliss – except Christianity. This is Satan’s varied deception: work hard enough and your eternity will be all right.
We must take every instruction and conviction seriously. Is someone asking for money? Even if their efforts are of God, they might not be for your to support. Seek God first. Make sure you are obedient to support your local congregation, because that is the instruction of Scripture, and then ask God if and where He desires to use more of your finances. Is someone wrestling with his faith? Dig deeper! Find out if God is convicting him of sin, if God is moving in him to draw him to salvation! This might be a pivotal point of change and conversion that we might gloss over in fear of overstepping our lines, or out of uncertainty for what we should say.
Satan is not an angel of light, but he disguises himself and his wiles as such so as to lead us astray. If he were to burst into the room looking like the grim reaper, we would run the other way. But he will have much success diverting our attention from the difficult thing to which God is calling us to the easier, attractive thing to which He is not calling us.
Get to know the will of God and learn His voice and calling in your life. Obey the Scriptures and seek the heart of God for the extras. And most importantly, do not try to use simple logic to define God’s calling and moving in your life, but dig deeper and submit to Him in prayer.