In the Garden of Eden, Satan seemed to win an impressive victory. Little did he know that it was foreseen by God, and God would use it to serve His purposes.
However, in the temptation and fall of humanity, Satan laid five lies upon Eve either directly or indirectly that form the foundation for false religion. Not only did Satan not want humans to worship God, he wanted humans to in some form worship him. Let’s track the five lies and their resulting religious impulses.
God told Adam that if he ate from the tree, he would “surely die.” Genesis 2: 17, Satan promised Eve, “You surely shall not die.” Satan blatantly contradicted God with this lie. He continues this lie in modern religion with a lie called “reincarnation.”
This false teaching is that souls play a game of musical chairs with various bodies in this world. In this life you are one being, but after death you return as another. The hope is that one moves upward in this cycle and becomes better and better with each new habitation.
Reincarnation is based on the teaching of “Karma,” that everyone gets what he or she deserves. Evil is punished in the next life; and good is rewarded.
Hinduism is the most extreme of this reincarnation/karma system. Everyone is believed to be in one of five levels. There are four castes followed by the outcasts, which are those who were so evil in the previous life that they don’t merit any status in one of the four hierarchical castes.
Don’t be fooled, Christians. Reincarnation and karma are cruel hoaxes of the devil. Imagine saying to the poor or the abused, “You are getting what you deserved from your past life.” Imagine the wealthy and powerful saying, “Our position is deserved because of our past lives’ goodness. The lowly are here to serve us. They must do what we want.”
Jesus says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” The Bible teaches tenderness toward the poor and outcast. It also teaches the responsibility of those blessed with resources and/or poor to share and care.
Reincarnation is the devil’s lie made believable. We don’t want to die. Satan says, “You won’t die.” You are reincarnated according to karma.
In the temptation, Satan encourages Eve to set aside God’s word for a substitute word from Satan. He promises that “her eyes will be opened.” Genesis 3: 5, He promises her an enlightened experience. According to Satan, he came to rescue her. Satan claims that God had been holding out.
Satan is promising a counterfeit religious experience. He wants humans to encounter him and think they are in touch with him as the real god. This is a belief in a transformation of consciousness that initiates us into “true spirituality.”
In Greek and Roman culture it showed up as a theory of “secret knowledge.” This secret knowledge teaching turns up in the Bible in I Timothy 6:20-21. “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.”
In our era, “secret knowledge” is a New Age specialty and is often referred to as “enlightenment.” This knowledge is gained by searching one’s soul. What it really is is an encounter with a spiritual being sent by Satan. One has this encounter either through transcendental meditation or hallucinogenic drugs.
CS Lewis wrote of these encounters in Screwtape Letters where fictional demon, Uncle Screwtape gives instructions to nephew, apprentice demon Wormwood, “I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalize and mythologize their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy (God).”
Satan offers religious experience that is counter to an experience with Jesus Christ through God’s word and the Holy Spirit. Spiritual experiences are not necessarily good things. They may be of Satan.
The third of Satan’s lies is “you will be like God.” What a thought! And there is some truth here. We are created in God’s image, so there is resemblance. However, most humans easily recognize that we are not God. So how can Satan adjust this lie for human consumption?
He extends the idea of divinity to everything that exists. “Humans are god. Nature is god. Why, everything is god.” This is the heart of pantheism, that “all is god,” and “god is all.” For a pantheist, final reality is spiritual, and matter is illusion. Pantheists deny the existence of the material world to escape.
In II Thessalonians 2, the Apostle Paul writes that the antichrist will “exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
Nikos Kazantzakis, the author of The Last Temptation of Christ, wrote, “It is not God who will save us—it is we who will save God, by battling, by creating, and transmuting matter into spirit.” Christianity teaches that humanity fell into sin and needs rescue.
Pantheism teaches the opposite, god fell and needs rescue. Matter and mind were at one time united in an entity called god. But matter and mind separated. This breach must now be healed by humans putting it back together again.
The Bible also teaches that God created the heavens and the earth. He declared it “good.” Matter is good. It’s a creation of God. Pantheism contends that matter is illusion, all is spiritual, and everything is god. According to this false belief system, we need to focus our souls on the wonderful connectedness of all things, and escape the material realm.
“You will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Satan trolled. (Genesis 3:5) Satan promised an experiential knowledge of good and evil. Humanity would now be able to choose between what is good and evil instead of a god imposing a code of right and wrong. The serpent was right that eating the fruit did give an experiential knowledge of good and evil, but what horrible knowledge it was.
In our age, this lie takes the form of relativism, “what is true for me might not be true for you.” Philosopher John Dewy believed morality like language is relative to a culture, and therefore no one has superior morality. Eastern religions too believe in relativism. If it’s true that God is everything, it follows that God is also evil. So Hinduism teaches that good and evil are only illusions.
Yen-Men, an Eastern teacher, writes, “If you wish the plain truth, be not concerned about right and wrong. The conflict between right and wrong is the sickness of the mind.” If evil doesn’t exist, then man’s real problem is ignorance. The solution is enlightenment.
With no objective standard for right and wrong, hideous crimes can be justified. When the objective standards of God are thrown out, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” shouts repeatedly the horrifying refrain of the book of Judges.
Genesis 3: 6, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” This is the subtle result of Satan’s lies. Eve is tempted and is attempting to sort out the temptation within herself without referring to God’s word.
When we ignore God’s word in moral choices, our human inclination is to think and to feel, not obey. God’s word was specific. “Do not eat.” But Eve liked the looks of the fruit and Adam caved to her desire. The words of God were not as important as the right sensation and Eve’s own logic.
We hear this philosophy today in the words of Woody Allen, “The heart wants what it wants.” Satan deceives with pleasure as the highest good and human thought as reasonable, while targeting God’s word as limiting, unreasonable, and/or false.
Some have sought to adjust hedonism by suggesting that we should maximize not individual happiness, but happiness for the greatest number. This too is dangerous. The problem is that 90 million Germans believed 6 million Jews limited their happiness. The Nazis then gassed the Jews.
Satan is a liar. The religions of this world, to this very day, turn on the lies he began in the garden.