[From ws 5/18 p. 22 – July 23– July 29]
“We are not ignorant of [Satan’s] schemes.”—2 Corinthians 2:11, ftn.
(Par 3) “Apparently, Jehovah did not want to give Satan undue prominence by devoting large portions of the Hebrew Scriptures to discussing him and his activity.” “When that was accomplished and the Messiah arrived, Jehovah used him and his disciples to reveal much of what we know about Satan and the angels who joined him.”
The footnote refers to 18 mentions in the Hebrew Scriptures compared with 30 times in the Greek scriptures. On closer examination they seem to be adjusting for duplicate accounts in the gospels. Despite this it means the Hebrew Scriptures have only 2/3rds as many references as the Greek scriptures, but given the small numbers of citings involved we can hardly say Satan is a frequent topic even in the Greek scriptures. When a WT article says “apparently” that is Organization speak for “it is our interpretation not usually backed up by any facts, but accept it as truth”.
The more accurate picture to give is that the Bible only discusses Satan when something beneficial can be conveyed as a result. A review of the occurrences of the mention of Satan revealed the following which anyone can confirm for themselves.
- The book of Job helps us understand why there is so much wickedness in the world and Satan’s aims. It also shows imperfect humans can keep their integrity to God.
- The gospels show us Jesus has the power to bring Satan’s rule and that of the demons to an end and warns us of the traps he uses.
- The book of Revelation in general deals with how Jesus will end the influence of Satan and his demons.
- The other scriptures in between help us identify Satan’s traps so we can avoid them.
As with all of God’s Word which is inspired and beneficial for all things, the references to Satan and the Demons in the scriptures are there for a purpose and we can use these same principles ourselves if or when we are discussing Satan and the demons. (2 Timothy 3:16)
“What is the extent of Satan’s influence?”(Par.5-9)
Paragraph 5 gives us good reminders of how much assistance Satan has in the form of demons or fallen angels, and that he uses them to influence both governments and people. This is something the Organization has been very quiet about in recent years, with virtually no in-depth discussion as to how to avoid demonic attacks and influence leaving brothers and sisters at risk. Even this kind of article briefly discussing the Organization’s view of Satanic influence is rare in recent decades.[i] However, on the other hand, as the Bible record shows neither would we want them to give too much prominence to Satan.
When discussing human governments the paragraph also says “But no human government or individual ruler is capable of bringing about the changes mankind needs most.—Psalm 146:3, 4; Revelation 12:12”.(Par.6) While we wouldn’t disagree with this statement, we would also add that by the same principle neither can any human organization, especially religions. They are all human constructs despite their claims to the contrary, especially those with governments (governing bodies).
If the Organization’s understanding of these verses in Revelation 12 are correct when they say “Satan and the demons use not only governments but also false religion and the commercial system to mislead “the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation 12:9)” (Par.7) then inadvertently they are including themselves. How so? Any unbiased reviewer of many pages of this site would see that the Organization is blatantly teaching falsehoods and hence has to also be a false religion, as by definition a true religion would not teach falsehoods.
Therefore the next statement brings to our mind the saying “physician, heal yourself” when the article writes “As a result, sincere individuals who think that they are worshipping God are deceived into worshipping demons. (1 Corinthians 10:20; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15)” (Par.7). Indeed 2 Corinthians 11 says after mentioning Satan can transform himself into an angel of light “It is therefore nothing extraordinary if his ministers also keep disguising themselves as ministers of righteousness.” (Par.7). How so? The Organization claims that it “abhors Child abuse” and yet it refuses to inform governmental authorities about such claims. These governmental authorities are backed by Caesar’s law which Christ himself said we should obey unless it conflicted with God’s law. Many governments now have laws regarding what obligation one has if there are confessions or accusations of child abuse. In many countries it is mandatory by law to report it to the secular authorities.[ii] True ministers of righteousness would not only want to be seen doing the right thing but would obey Christ’s command without hiding behind legalese.
So how do they claim people are being deceived into worshipping demons? By the following:
- “For example, this system often teaches people that the best way to be happy is to pursue money and gather many possessions. (Proverbs 18:11)(Par.7) “Often” is not as frequent as ‘usually’. Many parts of “this system” do not always teach that money and possessions are the best way to be happy. Instead they talk about ‘work-life balance’.[iii]
- Contrasted with: This Organization teaches people that the best way to be happy is to have little money and not pursue any career and gather very little possessions leaving them unable or in great difficulty to provide for themselves and their families. (1 Timothy 5:8)
- “Those who believe this lie spend their lives serving “Riches” rather than God. (Matthew 6:24)” (Par.7)
- Contrasted with: Those who believe this lie could spend their lives serving “the Organization’s spiritual goals or riches” rather than God and Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:29-30)
- Eventually, their love of material things can choke any love they had for God.—Matthew 13:22; 1 John 2:15, 16.” (Par.7)
- Contrasted with: Eventually, their love of the Governing Body and their rules can choke any love they had for God and his righteous principles. (Acts 5:29)
Paragraphs 8 & 9 go on to remind us that there are only two sides, Jehovah’s and Satan’s and that the costs of Satan’s side outweigh the gains. There are the accurate reminders about :
- Respecting governmental authorities
- Obeying the government’s laws when they don’t conflict with God’s standards.
- Remaining neutral in the political arena.
Sadly while these statements are based on God’s word, the reality is that the Organization itself has a poor track record in these areas.
We only have to mention
- Rutherford’s appeasement letter to Hitler, and when that failed, the very provocative proclamation against him.[iv]
- the get out clause on obeying governments, which instead of Caesars laws and God’s laws, become God’s standards, allowing them to claim such things as ‘God’s standards require two witnesses (untrue, its just their view of God’s standards which are actually their views masquerading as God’s),
- and their dalliance with the United Nations as an NGO member.
The latter two and more have been highlighted on this site many times. Making the mistakes in the first place is bad enough, but refusal to apologise for them compounds the problem. If they had been honest and apologised for these things then it would be unfair to keep mentioning them, but regrettably it seems they have no intention of doing so.
“Because we see what Satan is trying to do to Jehovah’s name and reputation, we feel more compelled to teach others the truth about our God.” (Par.9)
The Apostle John reminded us in 1 John 3:10-22 that “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message which YOU have heard from [the] beginning, that we should have love for one another.” From this scripture it can be seen that carrying on in righteousness and having love for one another is the best course of action we can take to do our part to preserve the reputation and good name of Jehovah. Preaching without righteousness or love is a waste of time because who will listen if our actions don’t measure up to what we teach or preach?
“How does Satan try to influence individuals?”(Par.10-14)
Paragraph 10 reminds us that “Satan uses effective methods to influence individuals. For example, he uses bait to lure them into doing things his way. Also, he attempts to bully them into submission.”
Do you know an organization that lures people into it:
- by reassuring the public that shunning is not practiced,
- by claiming to keep to high moral standards,
- by emphasising that Armageddon is imminent and
- that members will live in a paradise earth, if they preach this message to others?
Do you know an organization which tries to keep its members by bullying tactics, such as:
- by pushing child baptism,
- shunning and loss of contact with family members if one leaves?
- Or that pushes out those who voice any disagreement with its teachings again, suffering the loss of family relationships.
- Or that constantly pushes evangelism way above every fruit of the spirit?
Perhaps the readers know of such an organization? If so who really is its ruler? 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 assists if you are still doubt. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-23 “Really, then, by their fruits YOU will recognize those [men].”
While discussing how to avoid being tempted by Satan’s lures of entertainment involving demonism it gives the following advice “We should not expect God’s Organization to supply a list of acceptable and unacceptable entertainment. Each of us needs to train his own conscience to be in harmony with God’s standards. (Hebrews 5:14)”
That is very good advice and a commendable stance. Surely it would also be following these same principles to allow each Witness to use their own trained conscience to make decisions on things such as whether men can wear beards and still be treated as spiritual people. This stance would also be very applicable to allow a Witness to decide on the basis of their own bible trained conscience what kind of medical treatment they can accept, and the like. This attitude should be found especially the more so on things in the scriptures that are a matter of interpretation.
Paragraph 13 also says “We could ask ourselves: ‘Will my choice of entertainment make me seem hypocritical?”. That is a good question for self-appraisal. So is the question ‘Would my choice of medical treatment make me seem hypocritical, when refusing whole blood and major components and yet being able to accept all minor fractions which if administered would result in the equivalent of a major blood component or even whole blood.’?
Paragraph 14 gives so called ‘examples’ as to how Satan may try to bully us when it says:
- “he can maneuver governments into banning our preaching work.” Governments can seek to ban a religion for many reasons. Perhaps because its members in some way, whether peacefully or violently, threaten its view of the state of its dominion. While the indication in Daniel 10:13 is that it was possible for demons to influence governments, (most likely to ensure the world has no peace) it would be presumptuous to lay the blame for all bans of any religion on Satan.
- “Or he can prompt our associates at work or in school to mock us because of our desire to live by the Bible’s moral standards. (1 Peter 4:4)” True Christians will always desire to live by the Bible’s moral standards. This will inevitably lead others to mock our stand as the cited scripture 1 Peter 4:4 shows. But how often Satan or the demons would bother to prompt our associates at work or in school to mock us is questionable. A lot would depend on the morals of those work associates or schoolmates.
People have always mocked those who do not fit in to their view of society, often because it makes them feel uncomfortable, so they seek to enforce consistency. Hence those with a different race, skin colour, accent, hair color, shape, height, income, dress code, etc, have always been targets. Is Satan behind it all? No. Some of it, perhaps. It may come as a shock to many Witnesses but there are religious groups and movements which promote morality, to the extent that they pledge to a group they join to remain virgins until marriage and let people know of their stand.[v] Some will mock them too because it makes them feel guilty about their life course and moral standards.
- “He might also influence well-meaning family members to discourage us from attending meetings. (Matthew 10:36)” Once again speculation is at play as to whether he has influenced family members to discourage our meeting attendance. Many factors can be at play such as:
- the closeness of the family members, and
- how pedantic the Witness may be at attending every meeting when the non Witness family may want to do some activity with them,
All these factors have a bearing on the attitude of non Witness family members.
You may have noticed “can” twice and “might” in bold. This is because the statements are all supposition, however by highlighting these points many WT readers will overlook the possibility and take it as a fact. This all helps contribute to a siege mentality in which Witnesses who experience these events (even if the problem is of their own making), convince themselves that they are part of God’s Organization otherwise Satan would not be attacking them. A whole tower of cards ready to tumble down is built by individual Witnesses based on carefully chosen speculation by the Organization.
“What are the limits is Satan’s Power” (Par.15-17)
As James 1:14 indicates “Satan cannot force people to act against their own will.”(Par.15) Rather, when we do wrong it is down to our own poor choices. “But each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire.” We cannot lay the blame on Satan. Job showed that imperfect men could keep integrity when facing trials as “if we are resolved to do God’s will, there is nothing Satan can do to break our integrity.—Job 2:3; 27:5.”(Par.15).
As only Jehovah and Jesus are recorded in the Bible as having the ability to read hearts, the article makes the assumption that the demons cannot. Whether the demons can read hearts or not, is of little consequence. They can observe us and being intelligent spirit creatures that would usually give sufficient time for them to make a pretty accurate diagnosis of the state of our heart. They do not need the power to literally read our inmost thoughts and desires. What we should be concerned about is what do our actions show about our thinking and desires?
One thing we can be confident of is that Satan cannot stop us gaining everlasting life. Only we can do that as Apostle Paul made eloquently clear in Romans 8:36-39.
Yes, “if we oppose him [Satan], he will flee from us. (1 Peter 5:9).” (Par.17). It is possible to conquer Satan, indeed as 1 John 2:14 states “I write you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God remains in you and you have conquered the wicked one.”
Let us each do our best to ensure that the word of God remains in us.
[i] A search of WT online only revealed just over 200 instances of “Satan’s influence”. This article having 15 of those occurrences. In fact the top 5 articles or book chapters account for over 50, a quarter of all mentions, going back to 1950.
[ii] Please see the following articles on this site for a more in depth discussion of this topic. [ADD LINKS]
[iii] A quick search of the internet using ‘work-life balance’ will reveal articles from prominent newspapers, life insurance companies and other prominent organisations.