By Elder Lawrence Nelson
Many Seventh-day Adventist living today seem to be totally unaware that, as members of God’s true church, we are actually at war with the devil and his angels. The majority seems to be living in an atmosphere of tranquility and peace oblivious to the battle we are engaged, in which God is depending on each faithful member to defend the divine authority of His law.
Our Commander is Michael, the Lord Jesus Christ. The commander of the opposing side is Satan, the devil. This gigantic struggle has to do with the character of God as revealed in His law. Freedom, justice and love are at stake. Should Satan succeed in abolishing God’s law, the government of God would cease to exist. Every individual would then be governed by force and freedom would be gone forever.
To ensure the protection of each soldier for Christ we must investigate the plans of the enemy. But this could be a disaster without God’s help. So let us first seek for divine aid. Let us pray. Our loving Father, as we embark on this dangerous mission to discover Satan’s sinister plans for our destruction, please commission the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, the Representative of the Captain of the Lord’s hosts, to guide us in this perilous mission. We acknowledge that our infirmities are many; our sins and mistakes grievous, but with humble contrition we beg this great Power of Omnipotence be granted in our behalf to guide us with success. We thank Thee for such divine assurance. In Jesus’ name, we ask, Amen.
Now in this war, in which every believer must participate, we must be aware that this great struggle began in heaven and has spread to this earth. Let us read of its history from God’s word. I’m reading beginning with Revelation 12:7. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him….Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time….And 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.”
From the beginning history reveals that in any war, each opposing side tries to secretly discover what the enemy’s plans are for attack so they can successfully meet and overcome them. We should not be surprised to discover, from God’s word, of Satan’s attempt to break into heaven’s council to ascertain God’s plans in this great war.
We read of such an attempt in Job 1:6. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.” Can you see Satan slipping in to a planning session of the universe? He’s a master at infiltration. And we should not be astonished that Satan infiltrates the committees of God’s true church here on earth, whether it be the local church, the Conference, Union, Division, or even the General Conference.
For some thirteen years, from 1962 – 1975, I took part in some of the committees at our world headquarters. At that time, the General Conference was located in Tacoma Park, Washington, D.C. If I remember correctly there were something like 125 committees to plan church action. Seldom a day would pass, when I was not somewhere overseas, that I had to attend a committee. I am certain that the devil and his angels listened in to every committee meeting, and I believe that some of his human agents attended also.
Remember the Watergate scandal some years ago when the whole world was shocked when this country’s political party was able to listen in to the secret plannings of their rival, which ultimately caused President Nixon to resign? Now, in the book Testimonies to Ministers p. 472-475, the Holy Spirit, through Ellen White, has given to us a legitimate “Watergate” conducted by God’s angels who have revealed Satan’s top secrets. In these writings we are given a verbal description of what actually took place in the darkest recesses of one of Satan’s councils. So let us go, by the way of inspiration, to an actual visit to a council of hell conducted by Satan and his angels. Don’t be afraid, for God has revealed what took place in order for His saints to know what to expect.
I must remind you, that this is no imaginary story, but rather a graphic description of what actually took place in one of the devil’s committee meetings right here on this earth. First of all we should know the name of this committee. It’s an ad hoc committee, meaning that it is dedicated to a special task. As we listen in through the ears of divinity, you will agree with me that this is Satan’s end-time committee dedicated to develop plans to destroy the faith of God’s servants. Sounds impressive doesn’t it? Since this is such an important committee the devil himself is the committee chairman. You will discover that he not only challenges his angels, but he directs and guides these satanic angels to develop methods and plans that will fool the very elect of God so that they will unknowingly join the devil’s side and become Satan’s agents to deceive others.
Listen carefully now as I’m reading from Testimonies to Ministers p. 472. Satan “directs his angels to lay their snares especially for those who are looking for the second advent of Christ, and endeavoring to keep all the commandments of God. (Why he is talking about you and me, isn’t he? We had better take heed. Now listen as inspiration gives us a word-by-word of Satan’s opening remarks.) ‘We must watch those who are calling the attention of the people to the Sabbath of Jehovah; they will lead many to see the claims of the law of God and the same light which reveals the true Sabbath reveals also the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and shows that the last work for man’s salvation is now going forward. Hold the minds of the people in darkness till that work is ended, and we shall secure the world and the church also.’”
Sounds chilling, doesn’t it? But catch the significance of this proposed scheme. The devil’s committee is to spend time in developing a master plan to destroy the very pillars of our faith such as the holy Sabbath day and the sanctuary doctrine. You can easily see why these two teachings are of major importance for both have to do with God’s holy law, which Satan hates. This is the very heart of the great controversy, for the seventh-day Sabbath is the focal point of the commandments; the very seal of God’s authority to rule. And the sanctuary in heaven is where the holy law is contained within the ark, which is the very foundation of God’s throne upon which our God sits.
It is here in the Most Holy Place that Christ, our High Priest, is conducting His mediatorial work in our behalf for our salvation. This is why Satan demands of his cohorts to find a way to keep these two cardinal doctrines from being studied and preached so he can capture God’s true church. After all, this is the last great obstacle remaining to keep Satan from full control of the world which he is planning to bring into reality through the New World Order of the United Nations.
Now the committee of these fallen angels gets down to business as Satan outlines a five-point program of attack. God has given us a word-by-word quotation from the very lips of Satan. (1) “‘I will influence popular ministers to turn the attention of their hearers from the commandments of God.’” Now how do you suppose these devils are going to come up with a workable plan to attain such? Do you suppose they would suggest that the commandments no longer exist? I’m afraid not. They know that the church would arise and defend the law.
Rather, I believe, they would attempt a more subtle plan of attack such as: Why not discourage any discussion of the law. In fact, better still, never mention it. And then don’t use the word “obedience,” that’s legalism. Let the members believe these are distasteful words for today’s generation. Never mention “the beast” or “the image” and especially “the mark.” Just get the preachers to talk about “love” – after all this is how Babylon fills their churches.
And we must get people so involved in church activity that they will have little or no time to question their hearts to discern if they are ready for Jesus to come. Let them form cell groups and spend hours in NLP labs; and how about projects for the community? Keep the members so busy that they never think of personal evangelism. Now listen, don’t you agree that in a short time the people’s attention would turn from the law? This would be a subtle approach. You decide. I’m only mentioning what Satan and his angels have suggested.
Satan continues, (2) “‘That which the Scriptures declare to be a perfect law of liberty shall be represented as a yoke of bondage.’” Now remember, these are the words of Satan. Don’t you suppose that his committee would agree that the best plan of all would be to have the ministers teach that Christ has already kept the law for you; therefore you need not worry about keeping that “old law of bondage.” And how about having books printed in Adventist presses so that those who don’t follow the preacher will accept such New Theology because it comes from the church publishing houses. After all, everyone has been redeemed by the cross, because all our your past, present and future sins have been forgiven because of the cross. If the saints hear such teachings often enough and read it from Adventist books they will believe that all you need to do is to present the law as a yoke of bondage. Has not God already declared you righteous? So relax, celebrate. There’s no more “dos” and “don’ts” because you are now under grace. Don’t you suppose this would be Satan’s masterpiece of attack? Surely it sounds plausible. You make the decision. I’m simply suggesting what Satan’s angels might have decided to do in this committee meeting.
Satan suggests, (3) Let “‘the people accept their minister’s explanations of Scripture and do not investigate for themselves. Therefore, by working through the ministers, I can control the people according to my will.’” In other words, control the people through the ministers. How? Never let them question the authority of the church and never question the General Conference. Could this be the decision of Satan’s committee to destroy us?
Why, even God’s word declares in 2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” And never forget the Bereans of the Bible time were commended for questioning the teachings of the church. Let me read it to you in Acts 17:11 “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, (and now notice) and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
Could it be that Satan is using church authority in the end time to keep God’s people from investigating for themselves? What a sneaky approach to control the people. Don’t dare to question the minister and especially a man from the General Conference. You decide; I’m only suggesting Satan’s methods. I’m not attacking my church. I love my church. I’m simply revealing why such things are taking place in our church. “So and So has a Doctor of Divinity degree and he tells us, ‘Ellen White didn’t mean what she wrote for our time.’ So just take the minister’s word.” Could this be the aim of this ad hoc committee of Satan? Think it over.
(4)”‘The church must be led to unite with the world in its support.” Perhaps this is the reason why we have for years participated in the World Council of Churches with financial support and taking an active part in its committees – even carrying out the actions of such committee without being actual members of this religious world organization. The laity has been told, “We are not members,” when indeed our church leadership has done everything it can to encourage our people to participate in its ecumenical movement and to join with other churches in community projects, when God has plainly counseled, “Be ye separate.”
Satan continues, (5) “‘We must work by signs and wonders to blind their eyes to the truth and lead them to lay aside reason and the fear of God and follow custom and tradition.” Is this why our church is participating in Easter sunrise services, providing Halloween parties for God’s youth, having men of the cloth act as Saint Nicholas (a Catholic priest) and being Santa Claus at church Christmas parties? Is this why we are involving our members in Saint Valentine’s Day (a pagan custom) or asking the church members to come up to the rostrum to receive the sacred communion bread from the pastor as practiced in Catholicism to receive the emblems from the priest? Some are even changing the name of the Lord’s Supper to that of the pagan Eucharist. Could all this be the result of the devil’s plan?
At this point, Satan sums up these objectives. Testimonies to Ministers p. 473 says, “’(1) Our principle concern is to silence this sect of Sabbath keepers. (2) We must excite popular indignation against them. (3) The sabbath (Sunday) which I have set up shall be enforced by laws the most severe and exacting. (4) Those who disregard them shall be driven out from the cities and villages, and made to suffer hunger and privation.’”
At this point Satan pauses to recount his past triumphs against those who refused to sever their allegiance to God. In Testimonies to Ministers p. 473 he says, “‘We led the Romish church to inflict imprisonment, torture, and death upon those who refused to yield to her decrees.’” What boasting! Alas, history reveals that the papal church put to death 150 million Christians who refused to give up their faith.
Suddenly Satan begins to brag about his accomplishments today. Listen carefully, “‘We are bringing the Protestant churches and the world into harmony with this right arm of our strength.’” With such success he again tells of his present-day aims: “‘We will finally have a law to exterminate all who will not submit to our authority. When death shall be made the penalty of violating our sabbath, then many who are now ranked with commandment keepers will come over to our side.’”
With these remarks, Satan now precedes with his cunning deceptive maneuvers. “But before proceeding to these extreme measures, we must exert all our wisdom and subtlety to deceive and ensnare those who honor the true Sabbath.” At this point the committee begins its deadly work in developing these satanic plans. It’s chilling to even think of it for it’s Satan’s plans to try to capture you and me. I hope you are spiritually awake to comprehend the eight startling methods which the servant of the Lord has revealed as Satan’s top-secret scheme.
Let’s consider them one by one.
Point #1 I’m quoting from Testimonies to Ministers p. 473. Satan brags, “‘We can separate many from Christ by worldliness.’” Separate from Christ? How alarming! To be separated from Jesus is to be lost for eternity. Separated? We have no protection from the plan of Satan. We are in the hands of the devil! This is why Jesus prayed for us in John 17:15,16, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” “Enter ye in at the straight gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be that go in thereat. Because straight is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth onto life and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:13,14 These two roads are distinct and separate, going in opposite directions. One leads to life, the other to eternal death.
In Testimonies for the Church, Volume 1, p. 127, 128, “The roads are opposite. One is broad and smooth, the other narrow and rugged. So the parties that travel them are opposite in character, in life, in dress, and in conversation. Those who travel in the narrow way are talking of the joy and happiness they will have at the end of the journey. Their countenances are often sad, yet often beam with holy, sacred joy. They do not dress like the company in the broad road, nor talk like them, nor act like them. A pattern has been given them. A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief opened that road for them, and traveled it himself. His followers see His footsteps, and are comforted and cheered. He went through safely; so can they, if they follow in His footsteps.”
O what assurance! Dearly beloved, Satan is using the same approach today as he did at Christ’s first coming. Notice these words in Desire of Ages p. 309. “The greatest deception of the human mind in Christ’s day was that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness.” Dearly beloved, the same danger exists today.
Point #2 Tempt them to indulge in appetite and passions. Testimonies to Ministers p. 473 says, “‘They may think themselves safe because they believe the truth, but indulgence of appetite or the lower passions, which will confuse judgment and destroy discrimination, will cause their fall.’” You see, Satan is a smart rascal. He knows the power of man’s appetite. How sad to learn that over 50% of our youth attending our colleges and universities have taken up with drink, as I read in the Review and Herald , to say nothing of the adult church members who are caught up in Satan’s web.
We are surrounded with cesspools of impurities on every side. Many of our members are captured by the late-night TV movies to be seen in the privacy of their own bedroom. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the result of the actions of this committee which has been revealed to us. Never forget, it is by beholding we become changed. Everywhere we go we are faced with corrupt paperback books and obscene literature, even in the supermarket. The rotten videos in the grocery stores and in video stores can be found almost everywhere. O how God pleads in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Point #3 Now notice Satan’s third scheme to capture the faithful. Get God’s people to fall in love with money. “‘Go, make the possessors of lands and money drunk with the cares of this life. Present the world before them in its most attractive light, that they may lay up their treasure here and fix their affections upon earthly things.’”
You can readily see that Satan knows the scriptures. I’m quoting, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10. Did you notice how the saints can be led to err from the faith? It’s by becoming involved in materialism, such as houses, lands, stocks, bonds, you name it, the utopia of this age. But the word of God plainly states in Mark 4:19, “The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
In my ministry for the Master I have seen so many leave this message because they became involved in riches. Would to God we would ever remember, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6: 19-21.
Point #4. Satan appeals to our selfish nature and he bars no holds; he is out for big game. Notice this plan of attack: “‘Make them care more for money than for the upbuilding of Christ’s kingdom and the spread of the truths we hate, and we need not fear their influence; for we know that every selfish, covetous person will fall under our power, and will finally be separated from God’s people.’”
Dear one, are we faithful with our tithe and our offerings for the Lord’s work, or do we bend to selfish desires to keep for ourselves that which actually belongs to God? Do we miss the great blessing in giving? Remember the sin of Achan. Joshua 7:21, “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.” And consider Ananias and Sapphira who actually lied to God over money that they had promised from the sale of a piece of property. Remember Judas, the traitor of our Lord, who would betray Jesus to be crucified for a paltry thirty pieces of silver.
Point #5. Satan continues his devilish plan to deceive the saints into thinking that a mere profession of faith is all that is necessary. “‘Through those that have a form of godliness but know not the power, we can gain many who would otherwise do us harm.’” This is the favorite ploy of the great deceiver. Remember the parable of the sower? Young shoots that, “have not root in themselves,” they soon die. Mark 4:17. Why? -They never experienced the power of victory over sin. They made a profession, they believed but they put forth no personal effort to strive for victory, and the result – a genuine repentance is never experienced. They misunderstand God’s character and never invite Christ to write His law within their hearts. Yet we read in Jeremiah 31: 33, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Remember, a mere profession is absolutely worthless.
Point #6. Here Satan tells his satanic workers, if all this fails I have another scheme. “‘Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God will be our most effective helpers. Those of this class who are apt and intelligent will serve as decoys to draw others into our snares. Many will not fear their influence, because they profess the same faith.’” God has clearly admonished us not to join in the pleasures of the world such as the circus, the gambling dens, the theater, or to be sports spectators of our day. I remember when a good Adventist would never consider being seen in such a place. What has made the change of mind? – Could it be we have fallen into this trap of Satan?
God has exposed such by infiltrating his committee meeting. This committee work of demons is not unreal; it is not far-fetched. There is too much evidence of its awful reality. Its effectiveness among us is very evident. Yes, I know some of you will say that I am narrow minded in presenting this sermon but the good book says in Matthew 7:14, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Point #7. Next Satan discusses how to pull down the standards of the church. “‘We will thus lead them to conclude that the requirements of Christ are less strict than they once believed, and that by conformity to the world they would exert a greater influence with worldlings.’” God did not say this; Satan says it, in his council. And it can all be summed up in one word, “compromise.”
This is why there is so much of the following in our church: Pregnancy before marriage, the use of “the pill” and the condom in adultery. Statistics show that divorce is as common in our church as it is in the churches of Babylon. The music of Baal – so called “Christian rock”, is often heard from God’s pulpit during the 11 o’clock worship service. Jewelry is often seen dangling from the ears of some members. Satan knows exactly what he is doing to God’s professed people. I quote from his lips in this devilish committee meeting, “‘Thus they will separate from Christ; then they will have no strength to resist our power, and erelong they will be ready to ridicule their former zeal and devotion.’” Think it over.
Finally, point #8 . He comes up with his favorite idea. He will succeed by implanting doubt just as he did with Eve. Listen, Testimonies to Ministers p. 475 says, “‘I will have upon the ground, as my agents, men holding false doctrines mingled with just enough truth to deceive souls. I will also have unbelieving ones present who will express doubts in regard to the Lord’s messages of warning to His church. Should the people read and believe these admonitions, we could have little hope of overcoming them. But if we can divert their attention from these warnings, they will remain ignorant of our power and cunning, and we shall secure them in our ranks at last.’”
Such is the plottings of Satan. If you have had your “thinking cap” on you can see he is working within God’s church today, by getting many ministers and the congregation to question the Spirit of Prophecy by implanting doubt. “Is there actually a sanctuary in heaven?” “Did Christ come to this earth to fight Satan in our nature?” “Is it really possible to stop sinning before Christ comes?” “Is the Holy Spirit’s power great enough to give us victory over sin?” “‘We must get the saints to doubt the pillars of God’s truth,’” and then Satan says, “‘we can capture them.’”
Now the question: “What shall we do with this inspired, God-given light of Satan’s plans to capture you and me?” As one of God’s ministers I beg you to take to heart the following counsel. I am reading from Spirit of Prophecy, Volume 4, p. 350, “Satan is well aware that the weakest soul who abides in Christ is more than a match for the hosts of darkness.”
O beloved, we ought to praise the Lord. To abide in Christ is to daily take time for prayer and study of God’s word found in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. This is why the servant of the Lord has unmasked Satan’s agenda for our destruction. Our help is only in Christ. Make the study of divine guidance your daily habit. Obedience to such is our only refuge.
I quote from Manuscript 78, 1905: “The Lord would have our minds aroused regarding the influence of evil angels. Christ does not tell us of the danger threatening us from the attacks of the apostate foe without furnishing us with power to resist every attack. Having assumed the rightful heirship of the world He is fully able to lead His army on triumphantly in the warfare with spiritual foes.” Praise God!
Let us pray. O loving Father, we are reminded of Thy counsel that no man is safe for a day or an hour without prayer. Through Thy Holy Spirit and His heavenly angels, we pray that Thou will shield us from the great adversary and deceiver, Satan, and his evil angels. Help us to never doubt Thy mighty power which can keep us from compromising truth and teach us how to fully surrender our wills to Thy divine control so that we may abide in Thee. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.