Earlier, we pointed out that God is not the author of confusion. Make no mistake, however: there is an author. The diversity and confusion we observe in religion did not just happen.
In II Cor. 4:4, Paul says that “... the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
The “god of this world” is, of course, Satan. When Satan fell, he led one third of the angels with him (Rev. 12:3-4). Jude 6 refers to them as being “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” This expresses their hopeless condition before God. Their “chains” in no way prevent them from blinding, deceiving, corrupting, and leading lost mankind down the road to destruction.
Especially in our day, Satan and his hosts are loose as never before and men are defenseless without truth. As the coming of the Lord draws near we can expect the hold of darkness to grow greater and stronger upon the world as a whole. Rev. 12:12. Matt. 24:37-39. Gen. 6:5.
When Satan realized the absolute victory that Christ won at the cross, his only recourse was to do all in his power to oppose and hinder the outworking of that victory. The only arena in which he is free to operate is this earth realm. Those who have died in Christ are forever beyond his reach! Praise the Lord!
Over the centuries, outright persecution of believers has not been unusual. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs chronicles some of Satan’s efforts in this regard. Of course it also chronicles God’s great faithfulness to those who have been called to glory by that route!
However, by far Satan’s most effective tactic has been to join and then to corrupt the church. He has come to man masquerading as Christ, presenting himself as a spiritual friend. Paul said, “... Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” II Cor. 11:14. The next verse refers to “his ministers.” Satan has ministers who undoubtedly appear to be ministers of Christ.
II Cor. 11:4 speaks of “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel.” This is a pretty good description of what is symbolically pictured in Rev. 12:15 as a flood coming from the serpent’s mouth.
Even as Christ is purifying the Church by the “washing of water by the word,” so is Satan corrupting and deceiving mankind with a flood of doctrines and philosophies that come from his mouth. Much of this flood is religious in nature and is designed to subvert the influence of truth.
The reason Satan is so successful is that his ideas appeal to the fallen nature of man. This is pictured in Rev. 12:16 where it says that “... the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.” Satan’s ideas are easily “drunk in” by the natural or “earth” man.
The truth of God confronts the desperate condition of man without compromise. It offers nothing but the absolute sentence of death to the old nature while it gives newness of life and everlasting hope to the repentant sinner. Rom. 6:3-4.
Satan, on the other hand, accommodates human nature, allowing it to live and flourish. It is the same as if a supposed doctor were to treat a terrible disease by feeding and encouraging the disease while covering up some of the more obvious symptoms. Jer. 6:13-14.
Mankind is “infected” with sin, a self-willed, self-pleasing rebellion against divine authority. This rebellion is especially manifest when that authority is expressed through men.
What religion does is to clean up the outward man and make him appear to be righteous while leaving the inward man unchanged and, in time, unchangeable. Matt. 23:2-39. There comes a time when God ceases to deal with those who receive not “the love of the truth.” The result is not simply delusion but strong delusion. II Thess. 2:10-12.
Strong delusion is being absolutely sure you are right, but you are wrong.
When Christianity came on the scene, the Roman Empire was in power. Rome was also the spiritual center of the religion that had its roots in Babylon. The religious life of Rome was dominated by a hierarchy of priests who led the people in pagan idolatry. Behind the priests ruled wicked religious spirits, appointed to their tasks by Lucifer himself. These were the same spirits that had once operated in ancient Babylon when that was a political power.
For approximately three centuries, Satan stirred up ten major periods of severe persecution against Christians. Then, early in the 4th century, there was an astonishing turnaround. One Caesar persecuted the church; the next, Constantine, supposedly was converted and joined the church; then one of Constantine’s successors in a relatively short time actually made Christianity the exclusive state religion of Rome and persecuted others!
What actually happened was the wholesale invasion of the church by Lucifer and his hosts. The religious demons from Babylon swarmed in, outwardly adopting Christianity. They established under the banner of Christ many doctrines and practices that can only be described as thinly disguised paganism while sucking out the heart of the “Church.” Multitudes of pagans were baptized, submitting, not to the authority of Christ, but to the authority of Rome and its official religion.
Over the centuries many daughters have been born to this mother (Rev. 17:5). Despite some promising beginnings, none to date have escaped this Babylonian captivity.
Satan has a great host of wicked spirits with 2000 years of experience in promoting the wide variety of religion operating under the banner of “Christianity” while causing men to sidestep the Lordship of Christ and the new birth.
Demons are real beings with individual personalities and abilities. Some spirits have become adept at being Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Holiness, etc. — that is, they promote those forms of religion apart from the true power of Christ.
Some spirits seek out people who are impressed by dignified formal religion with a lot of ritual and ceremony. Others seek those who are intellectual and puffed up with their supposed knowledge while despising the ignorance of others. Other spirits seek out those who crave feelings and experiences.
Many today are resting their hope in a religion that is “real” because they can “feel” it. Multitudes have received a false “baptism of the Spirit” because they sought after a sign. Matt. 12:39. I Cor. 1:22.
There are many warnings in the scriptures of religious deception, specially toward the end of the age. Matt. 24:3-5, Matt. 24:23-26, II Peter 2, II Thess. 2:9-12, II Tim. 3:1-8, I John 4:1, II John 7, Rev. 12:12.
I Tim. 4:1-2 says, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.”