This was originally written in response to a Facebook post made by someone with whom I went to high school:
“God will never tempt you, Satan does. Will you choose to sin when you are tempted? Or will you turn away? God always offers a way out.”
And her subsequent response to my initial reply (which I’ll refrain from posting for the sake of brevity and because the rest of my response renders it redundant):
“I believe that there are demons (Satan) working against believers in Christ everyday. Satan knows when and where we are weak and will take every opportunity to attack. God has set eternity in hearts of man, and I believe that there IS more than this life. Revelations is VERY differnt than that of the rest of the bible..however it does reveal some about what is yet to come. Eternity of punishment=death=sin. Eternity in Heave=life=obediance…..
“Which is Which? Thats a battle believers in Christ struggle with everyday…Is this God speaking to me? or is it my flesh? (Sata) the deeper the relationship with Christ, the clearer it becomes..”
I liked my own argument so much that I wanted to share it with all of you. (Also, she appears to have deleted the entire thread instead of replying. Thanks, Sally. Guess that means I win the argument.)
I’ve modified it slightly for flow/conciseness/etc. Anyway:
The problem lies with authentication: How do you identify the tricks when you see them? If God is giving you some kind of signal, how can you be sure it’s not a forgery? That is, if Satan is truly cunning, it should be possible for him to fake God’s signature sometimes.
Everything gets so oversimplified that God and Satan are reduced from omnipotent or nigh-omnipotent super-beings to these caricatures that can barely pull off cunningness at the level of which humans are capable. It’s all cartoonish and blatant, like the depictions of Satan as a rascally pitchfork-wielding red guy, always causing childish and puerile mischief. But if he’s really such a threat as to necessitate this big, long battle over human souls — something some would argue is one of the most important things we could concern ourselves with — he HAS to be capable of tricking us into doing or believing just about ANYthing.
For instance, maybe Satan wrote the Bible, and every time someone worships the God depicted therein — a God who would commit genocide against humanity when it disgusted him, or who created two people with no sense of right and wrong and expected them to understand the significance of obeying rules and then punished not only them but every one of their descendants forever when they didn’t use the facilities that they didn’t actually even POSSESS until AFTER they’d eaten the apple — every time you align yourself with this petty, irrational, arbitrarily cruel entity, you’re worshiping the REAL Satan — the one who was so devious, so deceitful that he masterfully wove together this elaborate and effective framework of religion and faith, manufacturing and demonizing bogeyman opposition, so that people would eagerly throw themselves with the best of intentions and hopes right into his trap.
And sure, you can say “well I know the difference, I have the clarity that God has given me to recognize the truth”, but that’s exactly my point: How can you be sure? How can you know that that feeling you have, that understanding you feel you possess, is the genuine article and not just a forgery intended to keep you obedient to the REAL Satan?
Maybe the real trick is to get you to think that something is a trick when it’s not. Or that something else isn’t a trick when it is. And whatever clarity you might think you’ve attained is also just deception.