Teaching: The Consequences of Believing Satan’s Lie

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[This article is taken from Chapter One of the book Is There Death After Life?]

The Father Of Lies

Among other things, Jesus Christ came to expose Satan’s methods. Chief among these is the Devil’s consistent contradiction of God’s Word.

John 8:44
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do, he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

In John 10:10a, Jesus clearly revealed Satan’s intentions: “The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill and to destroy.” Satan’s ultimate goal is to promote death and destruction, as the Bible makes clear.

Hebrews 2:14
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil.

The Devil holds the power of death, and one of his most effective aids in exercising this power is the lie that death is in reality the gate-way to everlasting life and ultimate wisdom. He first told this lie early in Genesis.

Perhaps you recall that Satan’s first recorded utterance in Scripture was a challenge to the veracity of God’s Word. Satan said, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” (Gen. 3:1, NIV). This deceptive misquote of God’s revealed Word led to his second utterance, “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4), which was just the opposite of what God had said to Adam.

Genesis 2:16 and 17
(16) And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
(17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

God said, “Thou shalt surely die.” Satan said, “Ye shall not surely die.” Scripture makes clear who was telling the truth.

Romans 5:12
Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

Death, both spiritual and physical, was the result of man’s believing Satan’s lie. The idea that there is really no such thing as death is still being promoted today, even within the Christian Church. Satan’s purpose has remained the same: to promote the idea that humans do not actually die, but go on living after their death whether they believe God’s Word or not. In this way, he obscures the light of the good news of Christ and his resurrection, one’s only hope of deliverance from death unto everlasting life.

False Hope

The false doctrine that the dead are alive and already in heaven or hell is so well entrenched in the average Christian’s mind that he has probably never considered its harmful ramifications. Understanding that Satan is the “father” of this lie explains why the consequences of believing it are so serious. The first, and perhaps most serious, consequence of believing this doctrine is that it changes the Christian’s focus from the appearing of the Prince of Life, Jesus Christ, to the coming of one’s own death.

In 1829, the Scottish Bible scholar Edward Irving, in a lecture entitled “The Second Advent of Our Lord,” stated that:

Instead of looking to that glorious event [the Lord’s appearing], and to all the circumstances connected therewith, the church has nearly forgotten it, and instead of it, to take up with miserable substitutes, such as that every man should think but of the day of his death; from which consideration there comes not joy nor strength, but weakness and oppression…. [1]

In contrast, the late Dr. Walter Martin, a noted Christian apologist, in his epochal work The Kingdom of the Cults, which well represents the position of orthodox Christianity on this subject, wrote:

The great hope of the believer, then, is the joy of personal union with the Lord, and this union, the Apostle Paul tells us, takes place at the death of the body. [2]

How sad it is to teach God’s people that the hope of a Christian is his own death, and how opposed to God’s perspective that death is an “enemy,” as 1 Corinthians 15:26 clearly states: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Biblically, death is a thief, not a benefactor. Death takes away life; it does not give a greater life.

In attempting to preserve the traditions of historic, orthodox Christianity, such teaching that the “dead” are “alive” blatantly contradicts God’s Word and further entrenches the Christian Church in this error. Those who have mistakenly propounded this doctrine have apparently overlooked the many verses plainly stating that the focal point of a Christian’s hope is not his own death, but the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ from heaven. For example:

John 14:2 and 3
(2) In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
(3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

1 Thessalonians 2:19
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 17
(16) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
(17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Titus 2:13
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

It is the occasion of Christ’s appearing from heaven that Christians should anticipate as the way of deliverance from the bondage and corruption of death. Jesus Christ is the only gateway to everlasting life and the only means by which believers will have access to God’s presence in Paradise. [3] When Jesus Christ comes again, he will fashion new, glorious bodies for us (Phil. 3:21). Apart from having these new bodies, there is no hope of entrance into the presence of God. Near the end of his life, the Apostle Paul wrote the following about this occasion:

2 Timothy 4:8
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Shifting the event that triggers our entrance into the presence of God from Christ’s appearing to our own death is nothing short of satanic subterfuge. In the minds of many, Satan has subtly changed the gateway to eternal life from Jesus Christ to death itself. Considering the past actions of God’s archenemy, this clever trick is totally consistent with his methods. The Christian’s hope is not death, but the appearing of Jesus Christ. When he appears, each Christian who is still alive will exchange his mortal body for a glorious immortal body, and each believer who has died will be raised to glorious and everlasting life.

Who Needs Resurrection?

A second consequence of believing the doctrine that the dead are alive is one that has drastic implications for biblical integrity and harmony. Believing that all the dead are conscious in heaven or hell reduces the great truth of resurrection to virtual insignificance. Death must be true death if resurrection is to be meaningful. If death involves only the body, with the soul and / or consciousness living on, then resurrection has lost at least half its significance.

If all believers have gone into the presence of God at their deaths, the monumental importance of Jesus Christ’s resurrection is negated. If Abraham, David, Job and others were already in heaven as disembodied souls or spirits, enjoying the presence of God in “eternity,” then our enemy, death, had already been vanquished before Christ’s resurrection, and eternal life was available without Christ. In fact, if it were true, as many teach, that Enoch, Elijah and Moses went to heaven bodily, then Jesus is not even the only human in heaven with a body. Such teaching contradicts the Word of God, confuses sincere Christians and dilutes their joy of hope.

It also leads to a question posed by Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther and others during the course of Christian history. If disembodied souls are able to live and enjoy the presence of God in heaven for eternity, then what is the need for a resurrection?

William Tyndale (1492-1536), the heroic Reformation figure chiefly responsible for translating the Bible into English, wrote the following to combat the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church:

And when he [Sir Thomas More] proveth that the saints be in heaven in glory with Christ already, saying ‘If God be their god, they be in heaven for he is not the God of the dead …’ therewith he stealeth away Christ’s argument wherewith he proveth the resurrection, that Abraham and all the saints shall rise again, and not that their souls were in heaven, which doctrine was not yet in the world, and with this doctrine he [More] taketh away the resurrection quite, and maketh Christ’s argument of none effect.

And in like manner Paul’s argument to the Corinthians is worth naught. For when he sayeth, ‘If there be no resurrection we be of all wretches the most miserable …’ I marvel that Paul had not comforted the Thessalonians with that doctrine if he had [known] of it that the souls of their dead had been in joy, as he did with the resurrection that their souls should rise again. If the souls be in heaven in as great glory as the angels after your doctrine, show me what cause should be of resurrection. [4]

Tyndale went on:

And you in putting them [the souls of the dead] in heaven, hell and purgatory, destroy the arguments wherewith Christ and Paul prove the resurrection … the true faith putteth the resurrection which we are warned to look for every hour. The heathen philosophers, denying that, did put that the souls did ever live. And the Pope joineth this spiritual doctrine of the philosophers together, things so contrary that they cannot agree. [5]

If a body is not required for life in the “hereafter,” then God is going to a lot of trouble for no apparent reason by “reuniting” everyone with his body. And the physical death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, serving only to allow the disembodied soul or spirit to be united with a body that it obviously can do without, seems to be of little significance.

The teaching that the soul lives on after death destroys the uniqueness of Christian doctrine, that is, that Jesus Christ’s bodily resurrection is prerequisite to anyone being given everlasting life. With so much biblical emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, any doctrine undermining it is highly suspect.

That Sounds “Familiar”

A third consequence of believing the doctrine that souls live on after the body dies is that it plays into the hands of those who promote the practice of communicating with the dead. Today many people, both Christian and non-Christian, attempt to communicate with the spirits of the dead, often in seances or via “channeling.” Such practices are similar to ancestor worship, historically a practice of most non-Christian religions. Pagans believe that the spirits of departed ancestors intervene in their lives, both for good and evil. Thus, as godlike beings, they must be worshiped and entreated. Superstition and fear of the unknown are always hallmarks of such false doctrine.

If there really are “departed souls” or “spirits” that are conscious and have knowledge of eternity or other matters of interest to those of us still earthbound, why not communicate with them? Because they are not there to answer. What will answer are evil spirits (fallen angels currently under Satan’s dominion) impersonating the dead. In the Old Testament, however, God expressly forbade communication with such “familiar spirits.”

We are at war, my friends. Do not allow Satan to win.

Please read the rest of the article here.

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You can read more about this subject here:

Is There Death After Life?

Free Online Seminar: Death & Resurrection to Life

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