Overcoming Temptations 5 - Twisting Scriptures
Updated: Sep 9, 2019
Chan Gin Kai
For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” (Luke 4:9-11)
In the movies, vampires cower at the sight of a crucifix, and demon-possessed people writhe in agony when an exorcist recites verses from the Bible. Sadly, this can’t be further away from the truth. The devil has no fear for the Scriptures and neither does he shrivel up when you pray. On the contrary, Satan is well versed with God’s Word, and is able to quote from it. He twisted the Scriptures when he tempted Jesus.
When Jesus replied to the first two temptations by quoting the Bible, Satan caught on to Jesus’ game. He saw Jesus’ devout obedience to the Scriptures, and realised Jesus wouldn’t do anything contrary to God’s Word. So Satan quoted from the Scriptures in his next move, hoping that he could catch Jesus with it. Like an expert chess player, Satan watches how his opponent moves, and changes his tactics according to how his opponent plays.
Satan doesn’t merely toss random temptations at you. He analyses you.
Satan sees where you’re weak at; he learns what sins you enjoy. As long as there is a sin you do not hate, he will keep scratching on that scab till you bleed again. He is aware that as a Christian, you want to repent and desire to be righteous. He knows that throwing one big temptation at you may instantly repel you, but small constant ones can wear down your resistance. He’ll get you to compromise on one seemingly innocuous temptation, and then just a slightly bigger one next time. Just put you one degree off course, and after some time, you would have strayed far away without even being aware of it. He knows exactly how to play you.
Satan examines your strengths, and tries to use them against you too. You love singing songs to worship God? He’ll make you focus on your delightful voice whenever you sing. You love reading the Bible? He’ll get you puffed up on your knowledge, like many of the Pharisees were. You enjoy helping the poor? He’ll make you think you’re the hero, the saviour the helpless ones need. He doesn’t only hit you where you’re weak. He strikes you where you’re strong too. Satan is relentless in his attacks.
Satan assails us with distortions of the Scriptures too. He knows we want to obey the Bible, so he confuses us with it. He doesn’t burst into flames the moment he steps into a church. In fact, he loves to penetrate churches and corrupt their leaders.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3)
We’ve heard of mega churches that run like gigantic corporations, raking in zillions of dollars annually. We’re shocked by the extravagant millionaire lifestyles of the pastors of these churches and how they’ve managed to deceive their congregations with twisted Scriptures. We’ve heard of churches that discriminate against people of other races, and twist God’s Word to incite hatred. And we know of so many more churches that close an eye to sin and manipulate the Truth to justify their watered down versions of Christianity. Church leaders who preach false teachings are wicked, and indeed they will be condemned (2 Peter 2:3).
Do we allow ourselves to be deceived? You’re not less guilty for following these false teachers. Their twisted doctrines appeal to those who want to “suit their own desires” and satisfy “their itching ears”.
Don’t go for what’s easy, go for what is true. Stop looking for a church that pleases you; look for a church that pleases God. We need to let the truth change our hearts, not let our hearts distort the truth.
It is just as tempting for us to twist the Bible, to justify the dubious choices we make, and sate our troubled conscience. This is one of Satan’s oldest tricks. He used it against Jesus, and he’ll use it against you too.
Dig deep into God’s Word and seek a deeper understanding. Let the Spirit guide you as you wrestle with your conscience. The Bible is not hard to understand. It is only when we want to please our sinful natures that we are easily deceived by twisted Scriptures.
Read your Bible diligently. Reading God’s Word doesn’t weaken the devil, but it’ll definitely strengthen you.
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Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".