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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 1

The Lie

Several years ago I wrote an article entitled “The Lie” in which I identified a fundamental satanic doctrine and gave several examples of how that doctrine pervades both non-Christian and seemingly Christian beliefs. That doctrine is the statement the serpent made to Eve when he seduced her to rebel against God in the garden. He assured her, “Ye shall be as gods.” Gen. 3:5.

I believe that what I wrote is true as far as it goes. However, the promise of godhood rests upon a lie yet more fundamental: “Ye shall not surely die.” Gen. 3:4. After all, what sort of godhood would be possible if the “god” in question were subject to death? The “divine reign” would be both short and meaningless.

Satan’s immediate aim was to entice Adam and Eve to join his rebellion. Of course the temptation was but a step toward his ultimate goal, that of enthroning himself over as much of God’s creation as he could seduce.

The immediate obstacle so far as his seduction of Adam and Eve was concerned was the consequence of disobedience that God had set forth: “Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Gen. 3:3. So long as they believed what God had said, Satan was not likely to succeed in his temptation. Therefore his first priority was to remove this threat from their minds.

To accomplish this he first attacked the weakest link. He did not approach them both together nor did he approach Adam. He made his approach to Eve when she was by herself, away from the covering and protection of her husband. Modern feminists notwithstanding, God’s word still refers to the woman as “the weaker vessel” (I Peter 3:7). She had no business considering such a momentous decision apart from Adam. But the fact is, she did.

Satan first contradicted what God had said, but he did it with a touch of subtlety by saying, “Ye shall not surely die.” In other words he said, “death isn’t really all that certain.” This approach is very typical of Satan. He engages man in what seems on the surface to be a reasonable discussion. However, when you examine what he says closely, he is flatly contradicting God’s word.

His ploy worked. She began to consider in her mind what he had said. This is a bad tactic. The only way to defeat the devil is to stand on God’s word. When we allow the devil to debate God’s word with us we are not acting in faith but in unbelief. We are saying in effect, “Maybe it isn’t true.” We are told in II Cor. 10:5 that the right way to handle the devil is, “casting down imaginations” (or reasonings) “and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

While she considered his first lie he threw in the clincher. Verse 5 says, “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.” She then opened up her spirit wide to consider what Satan was saying. She took a closer look at the fruit and it started to look good. The more she looked and considered, the more reasonable and appealing Satan’s lie became. Having, in effect, rejected God’s word in the matter by openly considering Satan’s lie she was left with no defense and quickly succumbed to his wiles. She then got Adam to follow suit. Thus did the human race turn from God and Truth to Satan and deceit.

Results of The Fall

Consider for a moment some of the things Satan accomplished in the temptation. First Adam and Eve rejected God’s authority, choosing rather the dictates of their own hearts. This spirit of man being the highest authority has, whether openly or more subtly, characterized human history ever since.

Even concerning those who survived the 40 years in the wilderness and were supposed to be God’s people, Moses’ testimony in Deut. 12:8 was that they were doing “every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.”

As the Psalmist said in Psa. 2:1-3, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

Note the reference to the people as imagining a vain thing. In the fall man’s mind was corrupted and deceived into believing he could thrust God aside, chart his own course free from divine restraint and get away with it. As Jeremiah said in Jer. 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?” What it boils down to is that man is totally corrupt and incapable of properly judging his own condition. As such he is totally vulnerable to Satan’s wiles. The would-be “god” is in reality a mere pawn in Satan’s wicked hands.

This is the true meaning of the “man of sin” and the “mystery of iniquity” referred to in II Thess. 2. Man, created to be God’s temple, instead usurps God’s rightful place and proclaims himself to be his own god. This is referred to as a mystery because it has not always been manifested in an open obvious form. It is also a mystery because lost mankind is incapable of understanding it. Only those to whom God reveals it are capable of understanding.

Modern religious man loves to profess his belief in God while he denies him in works. That is why Jesus referred to their works as works of iniquity in Matt. 7:23. Though the works appeared to be righteous yet they were the fruit of self will and rebellious independence. God was used as a figurehead both for the sake of outward appearance as well as for the purpose of self-deception. This is a fulfillment of Paul’s warning to Timothy in II Timothy 3:13: “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”

Another result of the temptation and fall was that Adam and Eve essentially branded God as a liar, one who could not be trusted. Worse still, God’s motivation was called into question. They believed God had lied to them to serve his own selfish ends, that he was wrongfully suppressing them, holding them back from their destiny through deceit. It has since been impossible for man, apart from a work of divine grace, to truly trust God. Man has become paranoid — truly believing only in himself — distrusting all others.

An example of this can readily be seen in Cain when he went out from the presence of the Lord. His main concern was that everywhere he went, people would be out to kill him. Gen. 4:14.

Another result of the fall was that God lost his uniqueness in their minds. Till that day He had been the one true God to them. Now He was one among many, and Adam and Eve were free to become gods themselves. This is a subject by itself — the absolute supremacy and uniqueness of God and Satan’s efforts to pervert man’s knowledge of that fact.

It is evident that the threat of death was successfully removed from the minds of Adam and Eve. They obviously believed (at least in the moment of temptation) that they could somehow escape. They believed what Satan had told them: “Ye shall not surely die ....”

Ancient Pagan Beliefs

This is actually the origin of the belief in human immortality that we can find in many forms throughout history. It would certainly require a large book to attempt to trace this belief in any great detail. However, perhaps a few basic observations would be in order.

Rom. 1:18-32 is a picture of what happened to man in the fall. Verse 18 tells us that God’s wrath is for those who “hold the truth in unrighteousness.” The word “hold” could perhaps better be translated “hold down” or “suppress.” Man by nature thrusts truth from him, choosing rather his own way.

Verse 21 says, “... when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” This certainly confirms what we have said previously concerning the corrupted condition of man’s mind. God is the only source of light and truth and when anyone turns away from God he is left only with darkness and delusion.

Verse 25 says that they “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” The word “creature” is perhaps clearer when translated as “creation” and “more than” should be “rather than.” It was not that man worshipped creation more than God but that he rejected God in order to worship creation. The worship of God and the worship of His creation are mutually exclusive.

One of the chief characteristics of ancient paganism was the worship of nature and natural life. They worshipped the sun as the giver of life. Places of worship developed that were closely tied to natural phenomena held in high regard. It is evident from such scriptures as Deut. 12:2 that idolatry was practiced in special places such as high mountains, hills, and “under every green tree.” Verse 3 speaks of “groves” — further evidence of their veneration of trees perhaps as long-living things.

Their worship of nature was also manifest in their obsession with fertility — the ability to beget and reproduce natural life. In fact scholars even refer to ancient paganism as the “fertility cults.” Thus was sex glorified and incorporated into their religious practices. Even in New Testament times the pagan Greeks had their temple prostitutes. By making sexual lust seem a sacred thing, the devil succeeded in seducing sin-darkened men into the depths of moral debauchery as Rom. 1 shows us.

Natural creatures that showed an unusual ability to reproduce themselves were worshipped. An example of this is the fish who was observed to lay vast quantities of eggs. To some today the fish is a Christian symbol, but this is a fruit of corrupted tradition which in reality reflects the Babylonian roots of much that passes for Christianity today. The ancient priests even adopted a headdress which took the form of a fish with his mouth slightly open. This headdress is still among us today as the mitre worn by Roman Catholic Bishops.

Pagan festivals tended to revolve around natural phenomena such as the passage of seasons. Spring was specially important as it represented the rebirth of life after its seeming death in winter. This was essentially a feast of resurrection and became bound up with tales of gods who died and were reborn. This is reflected in Ezekiel 8:14 where the Lord showed the prophet Israelite women “weeping for Tammuz.” Prior to the feast celebrating the resurrection of Tammuz there was apparently a period of mourning for him — a forerunner of what is known today as Lent.

It is immediately obvious that ancient paganism involved the belief in many gods. Excavations of ancient civilizations have unearthed countless temples and shrines to a wide variety of deities. Some of these deities were supposed to have been men who became gods and others represented natural phenomena such as the sun.

Even this very superficial overview of ancient paganism makes it obvious that Satan was attempting to instill in lost mankind a set of beliefs that would reinforce his original lie, namely giving man a hope of immortality and godhood. Of course physical death very quickly became an evident fact, so much of religion since has been an attempt to come to terms with the reality of death.

Belief in Immortality

Since ancient times a belief in life after death has been nearly universal. It is true that there have been some materialists (materialism is essentially the belief that only the material world is real, thus death is the end) but by far most of mankind has clung to the hope of immortality.

This hope has taken many forms. One of these is that represented by the many versions of Hinduism involving the belief in reincarnation. In general terms this belief holds that history is an endless process of repeating cycles. Within each cycle a vast number of essentially divine beings are born into a material universe to seek upward development and ultimate release from their material prisons through a long cycle of deaths and rebirths. Thus all living things, whether insects, fish, birds or men are simply travelers at various stages of upward development.

Various versions of this belief have made great inroads into western thought in recent years. The belief has been reinforced by many supposed “recollections” of other lives by a growing number of people. God’s elect need to remember that the spirits that fell with Lucifer have been actively involved with lost mankind ever since and have a vast storehouse of “memories” to supply gullible people who reject truth. It is still “appointed unto man ONCE to die, but after this the judgment.” Heb. 9:27.

Spiritualism in its many forms basically involves the belief that our destiny is to progress upward from one “plane of existence” to another. This material world is one plane among many. Thus men who die enter “the next world” and so forth. This belief has been reinforced for many through seances in which spirits who profess to have been humans who once lived on earth return to speak through mediums. Actually the popular expression for “medium” appears now to be “trance channeler” — still the same thing God warned of in the scriptures (Deut. 18:9-12, for example).

Another manifestation of man’s hope of immortality has been the simple belief in an afterlife. The pyramids of Egypt are based on this belief. Their Pharaohs (who were believed to be divine) were buried in these elaborate tombs where they were supplied with all sorts of things they would need in their afterlife. They were provided with money, weapons, means of transportation and food. There were even cases of servants being killed and buried with their master so he would have servants! Similar examples can be found in many cultures throughout history.

These are but a few examples of beliefs fostered by Lucifer to solidify his hold on lost humanity. He is referred to by Paul as “the god of this world” who “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.” II Cor. 4:4.

The Elect

Throughout history, however, there has been a different group of people in the earth — a very small group known as God’s elect remnant. They, too, have had a strong hope of immortality based on the Word of God and revelation.

Job 19:25-27 says, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another ....” This is a beautiful expression of Job’s hope, not just of a ghostly existence somewhere, but of a resurrection and future bodily life face to face with his redeemer!

The Psalms are full of this hope. For example in Psalm 16:9-11 David says, “... my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

In verse 15 of the next Psalm he says, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake, with thy likeness.”

In John 11:25-26, shortly before he raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

The entire 15th chapter of I Corinthians is devoted to the doctrine of resurrection and eternal life. It is evident from this passage that this doctrine is at the very heart of true faith. The whole chapter is worth quoting but for present purposes a couple of brief quotes will suffice. In verses 51 and 52, Paul says, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

In verse 53 he says, “... this mortal must put on immortality.” He quotes from Isaiah in verses 54 and 55: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

Christ’s victory on our behalf over death and the grave is the reason Paul could encourage us in verse 58 to “be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

While this belief is a living hope revealed by God to the hearts of his elect a merely traditional form of it is widely held by those who profess to be God’s. Paul took advantage of this fact in Acts 23 when he was brought before the Jewish Council at Jerusalem.

Paul had been raised as a Pharisee (one of the most prominent Jewish sects) and was familiar with the differences in belief between the Pharisees, who believed in the supernatural, and the Sadducees, who did not. He saw in this an opportunity to divide his accusers and so he said in verse 6, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.”

His tactic succeeded in dividing the Council. It also shows us that a belief in resurrection was part of the religious heritage of some of Christ’s most ardent enemies — as Paul, himself, once had been.

Truth Perverted

Satan would prefer that men believe his lie as is. However, because of the revelation of God to his people, multitudes of others have come to believe — at least in a dead traditional way — some true doctrines. Satan’s tactic, where he cannot displace truth totally from men’s minds, is to pervert that truth.

Peter referred to this in II Pet. 3:16 when he spoke of those who were “unlearned and unstable” who wrested, or twisted, Paul’s writings as well as other scriptures “unto their own destruction.”

Man, in his corrupted state, is incapable of understanding the scriptures apart from divine revelation. This, however, has not stopped religious man from attempting to understand and use them. Encouraged by Satan, he has developed all sorts of diverse doctrines all supposedly rooted in the scriptures. Such teachers have been responsible for much spiritual destruction. Paul said, “The letter killeth ....” II Cor. 3:6.

Such religion, religion that appears to represent God but doesn’t, has been a powerful tool in the hands of Lucifer to deceive. Isaiah describes this in Isa. 42:22, “But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses; they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.”

One of the greatest tools Satan employs in imprisoning people in false religion is fear. One doctrine that I believe he has made great use of is a perversion of the doctrine of immortality.

Much of traditional Christianity believes that the destiny of the wicked is to be tortured in hell, a lake of fire, forever — a fearful prospect. Preachers make frequent use of this doctrine to gather converts. Men are warned that they must spend eternity somewhere and then invited to profess faith in Christ as a means of escape from eternal torment.

Most of this is useless easy-believism but it does two things — both of which serve the devil’s ends. It does convert some — not to Christ, unfortunately — but to religious systems. Thus are they bound in bundles being prepared for the fire (Matt. 13:30). Religious conversion by men not sent of God only results in the converts becoming two-fold more the children of hell than the preachers (Matt. 23:15).

The other result is that many are disillusioned by the lack of reality they find in religion and turn away from any interest in Christ, whatsoever.

Hell is most certainly a fearful thing and not to be minimized, yet Satan has succeeded in perverting this doctrine into a tool that has helped to enforce much false religion. People are afraid to question their religion in many cases because the fear of an eternal hell is dangled over their heads.

True Christian faith does not have to be “enforced.” Where people truly believe as a result of God’s revelation to their hearts they will stick around willingly. Jesus may say, “Will ye also go away?” but they will say with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” John 6:67-68.

There is a kind of immortality inherent in much teaching about hell. Many of us have heard preachers talk about our “never-dying souls.” I grew up believing this traditional doctrine but it seems strange to me now in the light of the scriptures.

Satan says, “Ye shall not surely die.” God says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Preachers speak of the never-dying soul. Jesus warned us to “fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt. 10:28. The preachers seem more in harmony with the devil to me!

Satan seems bound and determined to preserve his doctrine of immortality. If he can’t get men to swallow it straight and seek for godhood then he’ll turn it around and use it as a club to enforce false religion.

The idea that God is going to torture lost souls in hell forever and ever is rooted in the idea that the soul is inherently indestructible. You explain to me the difference between being “indestructible” and being “immortal.” I can’t.

Adam and Eve

The Lord opened my eyes to this by drawing my attention to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden. Gen. 3:22-23 says, “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.”

Notice the reason Adam and Eve had to leave the garden. It was so they wouldn’t live forever. Man had been corrupted and God didn’t want him to live forever in this condition. Yet oddly enough, that is precisely what preachers are preaching — that lost men will live forever in a corrupted condition, tortured and hopeless.

The term “death” has somehow been redefined to mean a certain type of existence rather than an end to it. We have no problem seeing the death of the body as its end. If I were to try to tell you that the death of the body was not its end, but that the body went on functioning somewhere else in another kind of existence, you would probably consider me insane. If I said the same thing about the soul, most would consider me a fine orthodox theologian.

As soon as the Lord had drawn my attention to Adam and Eve, He reminded me of the scripture in II Timothy 1:10 where Paul refers to “our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

Suddenly it was clear, and other scriptures flooded my mind in confirmation. Man was prevented from acquiring immortality that would cause him to live forever in corruption on the one hand, while on the other, immortality was provided through Jesus Christ and made available to man through the gospel! Obviously something was wrong with the traditional doctrine of the “immortality of the soul.”

Escaping Tradition

The popular teaching that the soul of man is immortal and will “spend eternity somewhere” is more in harmony with Satan’s lie than it is with God’s Word. Such a statement may seem shocking to some but I believe it would be far more of a shock if God were to suddenly show us the extent to which our minds have been corrupted by false religious tradition.

Paul everywhere had to contend with opposition from entrenched tradition. On more than one occasion, those so captivated tried to see that he was killed. Such is the spirit of false religion. However, in Acts 17:11, Luke made note of the Bereans that “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

I believe that in spite of the great spiritual darkness that exists in this hour that God has a remnant, one here and there, that have a heart for truth. When they encounter something new they will be neither gullible nor closed-minded, but will prayerfully search the scriptures, reserving judgment till God brings light and peace through His word.

The promise of Isaiah 42:16 still stands: “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” Also Prov. 4:18 says, “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

If we believe as we have always believed, if we do as we have always done, then we will get where we have always gotten. I speak of professing Christendom that walks in dead tradition and stumbles blindly ever farther away from the light, building Babylon after Babylon, snaring men’s souls.

If we are to get where He has promised to lead us we will not get there by paths that we have known. His light must grow brighter, dispelling the darkness, leading us in plain paths, paths made plain by that light, paths that we have not known because they were not revealed.

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