For We Are not Ignorant of Satan’s Devices (aka, Why Studying the Counterfeit Is Counterproductive)


Depiction of spirits that look like frogs coming from the dragon, Beast and False Prophet (Rev 16:13-14)

11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

2Co 2:11

Some people say we are required by the above to not be ignorant of Satan’s devices.  So, must we study false prophecies, including Mayan prophecies, in order to understand them?  Are we required to engage in the study of and obsess with “Satan’s plan”?  I intend to show that such an approach is not only unreasonable and folly, but also to show that God’s word warns us about such things.  Finally, I wish to show how the above passage has been taken out of context in order to justify such unbiblical notions.

Studying the Counterfeit Is Counterproductive

In my article “Book Review on The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies“, I note how the thread of counterfeiting money weaves throughout the book depicting how false doctrine is made to look much like the real deal but the discerning mind must be able to distinguish the real from the counterfeit.  The book even begins with a story from the end of WWII where counterfeit money was hidden away by the Nazis in order to cover up their plot to wreck the Allies’ economies.

Challies goes on to relate how the Bank of Canada undertook to cut down on the problem of fake currency in circulation.  They embarked upon an education program so that the average person could discern the fake from the real.  Did they trot out dozens of fake bills for people to study?  Would a dozen have even sufficed?  Of course not.  As I wrote:

4. In discerning true from false, it is better to concentrate on what is genuine. Falsehood is always changing, while truth does not. Genuine currency will always be the same, but counterfeiting methods will differ.

Challies really stresses this last point. While it can be useful studying the counterfeit, it is critical that more time is spent on dwelling on truth than error. “A person who studies and understands what is true is necessarily equipping himself to discern what is false” (p 142). I have found that no matter what literature you study, some bias inevitably creeps up, and it is important that you have your Bible in your hand while reading any literature written by men. …

You can go out of your way, spend hours and hours of time researching false prophecies, and spend triple the hours in explaining them and writing about them, or you study the Bible and explain what is really going to happen in a simple and straight-forward manner.  Just like studying counterfeit bills can only be of limited value in learning to spot fake currency, studying false prophecies have limited value in learning what is actually going to occur.

What God Says

There is a danger in studying too much about other beliefs and religions in general.  There is even more of a danger in studying the occult.  It opens the mind to evil influences.  How much more does studying “Satan’s plan”, including false prophecies, open the mind to spiritual danger?

God warned ancient Israel about such things.  Over and over again, they were warned to not “enquire after their gods” or to learn from the Canaanites their means of worship.  In fact, they were to not even say the names of false gods else they might get tripped up by them!

12 Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.

13 And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.

Ex 23:12-13

Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.

Ps 16:4

There comes a time when you must know of something about which you speak, and then there is a time when a preoccupation with something becomes extremely unhealthy.  There is no gain in the constant pointing out of pagan and other false prophecies, else you wind up giving them the credibility you presumably are trying to fight against.

It would be irresponsible of me to not point out that so many that end up leaving the Church started out by becoming obsessed with one particular belief or teaching that grew out of proportion until they felt the need to convince others of the importance of their pet doctrine.

The above passages should make it clear in no uncertain terms that we are not to obsess with pagan teachings, and that false prophecies of any sort fall under that umbrella.

Context, Context, Context

Lastly, those who use the passage in 2 Corinthians 2:11 to justify their illegitimate obsession with pagan prophecies are not dealing honestly with the text.  Context is always important.

6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.

7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

~ 2Co 2:6-11

I hope I’m stating the obvious when I say that the context is forgiveness of the man that was earlier put out of the congregation.  There is nothing about prophecy in this passage!  There is nothing about studying false prophecies in this passage!  No, the context is that Satan can trap us because of our own hearts, which if hardened can become unforgiving.  Lack of forgiveness can threaten both the one refusing to be forgiving and the one not being forgiven (instead be “swallowed up”).  That is a very dangerous thing.

34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

~ Mt 18:34-35

When we fail to forgive, we fall into Satan’s trap, for his goal is to destroy each and every one of us that he can.

Another device that Satan uses is lies and deceit (Jn 8:44).  False prophecies are full of lies and deceit.  Why open up our minds to them?  We should remember “Hath God said …?”  Is God keeping something from us by pointing us away from false idols and their teachings?  Is there anything needful for salvation outside of His word?  Do we really think we can get to the truth by studying Satan’s lies?

Or, like Eve, do we really think we are smart enough, clever enough and strong enough to listen to the hissing of the serpent?



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