Don’t Underestimate the Deceiver (Rev 16:13-16)
WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – When you step back and watch Satan deceiving people, you often think, “That’s ridiculous! – How could anyone fall for that?” And yet they do, over and over again.
Here are Adam and Eve in the Garden with God and everything they could desire. He tells them: “Take everything. Rule over it. Eat anything you want from any of these thousands of trees – except this one: Don’t eat anything from it. It’s not good for you.” Satan comes along and says, “Hey, you really need a bite of this. It’s great!” — “Duh…OK.”
Now fast forward through thousands of years of Satan’s deceptions and the resulting human misery.
It’s now the final year of this age. The Bible has been around for at least two thousand years until, in these last days, its message has reached “all the inhabited earth” (Matt 24:14). Keep that in mind: Everyone is familiar with at least parts of its contents. Now, the Bible’s vivid predictions of God’s end-times judgments on those who continue to oppose Him are all coming true (Rev 6-16). The famous final battle is prophesied for a place called “Armageddon,” where all His opponents will be horribly and utterly defeated (Rev 19:17-19). Satan’s agents come along and say, “Hey, you really need to band together and attack God’s forces at Armageddon.” — “Duh…OK.”
“Then I saw three unclean spirits … they are demonic spirits performing signs, who travel to the kings of the whole world to assemble them for the battle on the great day of God, the Almighty … So they assembled the kings at the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon” (Rev 16:13-16).
You’d think the prophesied location would have been a clue.
WONDERFUL THING IN OUR LIVES – As we survey history in the thousands of years between Adam and Armageddon, and as we consider people we’ve seen deceived during our own lives, the question returns: “How could they fall for that?” Then we take an honest look at the many times we’ve been tripped up, and we ask, “How could I have fallen for that?”
The short answer is that we’ve underestimated Satan’s ability to deceive and overestimated our ability to resist. He’s not easily recognized. He “disguises himself as an angel of light,” and his servants “disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” When he can’t fool us directly, he can often get to us by duping someone close to us. Eve ate the forbidden fruit and then “gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (2 Cor 11:14-15; Gen 3:6)
Satan is more intelligent and more experienced than us. He’s had thousands of years to develop effective “schemes” against us, and he executes them with great “cunning.” He uses “arguments that sound reasonable.” He makes things that will destroy us look “good for food” and “delightful to look at” and “desirable for obtaining wisdom.” (2 Cor 2:11; 11:3; Col 2:4; Gen 3:6)
The devil has one more advantage over us: He is more focused on seducing us than we are on resisting him. He’s “prowling around like a roaring lion” (1 Pet 5:8), and we are too often his unwitting prey.
The Bible teaches us several ways to become less susceptible to deception. Here are three:
- “Be alert” that Satan wants to “devour” you (1 Pet 5:8).
- Learn that you CAN resist and do so. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
- Practice recognizing his deceptions. God describes the mature as “those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil” (Heb 5:14).