Bible verses about Satan's Spirit
(From Forerunner Commentary)
What is pride, the subtle yet powerful influence that most commentators believe is the father of all other sins? Hebrew, Greek, and English share the sense of the word's basic meaning: to be lifted up; to have an undue sense of one's importance or superiority.
Pride motivates us to exaggerate the value of our thoughts. It causes us to elevate our opinions and raises the importance of the fulfillment of what we perceive as our needs even above God's and, of course, decidedly higher than our fellowman's.
To be even-handed, the Bible shows that there is also a narrow, positive application of the word, and thus, depending on the context, it can be translated as "dignity" or "glory." For instance, Proverbs 16:31 reads, "The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness." This verse provides us with a slender sliver of insight that there is a natural pride to which God gives His approval. However, He qualifies it with "if it is found in the way of righteousness." Righteousness is the very thing pride sets itself to resist, making achieving a proper sense of pride more difficult. With God's own Word describing man at his best state being "altogether vanity" (Psalm 39:5 KJV), it certainly makes one wonder what we really have to be proud of!
In the context of the relationship between God and man, the overwhelming number of usages of the six Hebrew words and four Greek words translated as "pride" or its synonyms are negative and damning. These words are translated into such terms as "arrogance," "lifted up," "presumptuous," "loftiness," "proud," "proudly," "exalted," "overbearing," "condescending," "haughty," "superior," "disdainful," "scornful," "boasting," "self-esteem," and "contemptuous." Not all of these synonyms are in the King James or the New King James versions, but various modern translations use them depending on the context.
Pride carries, not only a lofty self-centeredness, but also a lively competitiveness against others that easily becomes a lustful, destroying enmity. It is highly critical, envious, and impatient, and it can be effortlessly stirred to anger, possessiveness, and suspicion of being taken advantage of. These characteristics are part of Satan's spirit. Each of them is destructive to loving family unity within the church.Related Topics: Arrogance | Boasting | Competitiveness | Condescending | Critical Attitude | Disdainful | Envious of Others | Envy | Exalted | Haughty | Impatience | Lifted-up | Loftiness | Lofty Self-Centeredness | Overbearing | Possessiveness | Presumptuous | Pride | Pride and Condescending Attitude | Pride as the Father of all Sins | Proud | Proudly | Satan's Spirit | Scornful | Self Esteem | Self Esteem, Inordinate | Self-Centeredness | Superior | Suspicious of Being Taken Advantage of
God Himself said that man was very good. This is an expression of pleasure; He was pleased with what He had accomplished. If we were very good when He created us, then that must include the nature He created us with.
Does God take pleasure in a nature that is enmity against Him (Romans 8:7)? Not at all, which indicates very strongly that, as He created us and as we are born, we do not have the nature that we later come to have that is enmity against Him. Hateful, human nature is something that develops because God put a spirit in us that other spirits, either God Himself or the spirit of this world, are able to communicate with (I Corinthians 2:10-12).
If the spirit that He is talking about in Genesis 1:31 was very good, then why has human history been a recording of violence, disease, anguish of spirit? Why is there so much bitterness, anger, prejudice, resentment, doubt, self-pity, vanity, envy, greed, jealousy, pride, and lust? Nowhere in God's Word are these called good or even acceptable.
Those traits do not come from God. He did not create us that way. God is love. He is kind, generous, good, merciful. We can honestly conclude that they do not come from man either, as he was created by God, because God judged man to be "very good." Yet, mankind expresses these very attributes.
Again, would something God pronounced "very good" produce what we see? We can conclude that these traits must have come from the spirit of this world, from Satan, who is invisible, soundless, but is able to communicate with our spirits.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 3)
God hates rebellion! He hates the attitude of lawlessness it produces, as well as the crop of wicked fruit that results from it.
The prince of all rebellion is Satan the Devil, also known as "the sum of all moral impurities." Though we do not see this demon physically, the influence of this arch-rebel permeates our society. We need not look far to see children rebelling against their parents, artists rebelling against the status quo, and fringe groups rebelling against the government.
How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer [Hebrew Helel], son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God [angels]; I will also sit [rule] on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north [God's government]; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High." Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15)
Helel rebelled against the laws of God, thus he rebelled against God Himself. Desiring independence from God's legislation, he tried to depose God and become the sovereign ruler of the universe. Great chaos and destruction resulted among the heavenly bodies and on earth (Genesis 1:2) when God "cast [him] as a profane thing out of the mountain of God" (Ezekiel 28:16).
Because of his rebellion, we are today experiencing its evil fruit. Notice how Isaiah describes the reaction of people who will look back upon Satan's career after God casts him into the Lake of Fire:
Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying, "Is this the man [Hebrew ish, male, individual, person] who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, who did not open the house of his prisoners?" (Isaiah 14:16-17)
These people are describing the effects of Satan's rule on this earth now!
John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Should We Obey the Laws of Our Government?
Did the false prophets see a ghost? Did something cause them to have a dream? There is no indication of that. Because so many of them were involved—four hundred—it must be that the demon somehow stirred up the men's spirit and put the thoughts into their minds, making them think it was theirs. When they all came up with the same answer, surely it must have been right. But, alas, they were unanimously wrong, being led by a lying spirit.
We can see by this example that spirit beings can and probably are influencing mankind. It is not enough for us just to understand that they are capable of it. God's Word shows that they are actively doing it—good ones and bad ones—and some people are so unaware of what is going on that they give themselves over to the bad ones and become possessed—the slave, the tool, of a spirit being that will use them for its own ends. We are beginning to see established proof that Satan manipulates our minds.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 3)
In God's presence—in an intimate relationship with Him—is the source of every good, righteous, and positive attitude and act. Because the justifying work of Jesus Christ gives us access to God, prayer brings us near so He can give these things, and we can receive them.
This can be illustrated in a simple way. We have probably been in the close presence of a person of positive, uplifting attitudes, who radiates enthusiasm, zeal, confidence, gentle humor, and determination. On the other hand, it is likely we have also been in the presence of someone who wears a sour countenance, seethes with anger, trembles in fear, wallows in lethargy, or whines about his "victimization" at the hands of unseen people or forces. What happens to our attitude in either situation? Unless we resist, we tend to respond to the strength of the other's attitudes. A literal, spiritual transference of attitude takes place.
What happens if we are some distance from either of these persons, or even if near, we are completely disinterested? It does not affect us in the least. Why? Because we are neither near enough nor interested enough to be affected.
It is the spirit of these people radiating out from them that influences and perhaps even changes our spirit. This also gives insight into why we carnally reflect Satan's spirit: It permeates our environment. Similarly, prayer to God through Jesus Christ brings us into the very presence of the most positive, righteous, and unchanging attitudes that exist in the entire universe!
God greatly desires us to have the qualities of His Spirit, and being in His presence is one way He accomplishes this. This is why people can leave God's presence in prayer and feel peace, joy, or confidence—or humble and chastened because God has led them to remorse and repentance.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part Three: Mourning
Satan is the archetype of the self-exalted being, beginning with his attempt to usurp God's throne. Nebuchadnezzar follows his example by his self-praise: "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" (Daniel 4:28-37). The man of sin, the Antichrist, will be the most self-exalted human being on earth, and this same spirit of pride will drive him (II Thessalonians 2:3-4).
Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 9): Self-Exaltation
We can see in Satan how pride will show itself in us. Pride brings us into contention with God. It will exalt us into breaking one or more of His commandments, perhaps as a way of life. It will exalt us to deny what a scripture clearly says to defend a privately held belief (i.e., women speaking in church, hair length).
It will cause us to reject the leadership of the ministry, given to the church as a gift of God (cf. Jeremiah 43:1-2). It will exalt us into striving for positions of leadership in the church (study all of Numbers 16).
Pride will exalt us against brothers in the church fellowship so we do not really love them (i.e., gossiping about them, accusing, cutting them down [even in jest], never fellowshipping with them). It will make us contend with our brothers over scriptures that have little or nothing to do with salvation, but "winning" an argument will become very important to us so we will not lose face.
It is no wonder Proverbs 28:25 says, "He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the LORD will be prospered." God resists the proud, but gives grace (gifts that prosper one spiritually) to the humble.
The father and king of pride is an adversary. Whenever we witness contention that disrupts unity, where confusion and frustration are being produced, we can be sure that his dominant attitude is infecting the group. We need to examine ourselves to see where we may need to repent.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity
The source of murder comes from the heart (mind, the core of an individual's character) where hate and anger are festered by Satan. If we have these evil traits in our hearts, we are fostering the spirit of murder. Thought precedes action and hatred precedes murder. If we hate someone, we break the sixth commandment.
Martin G. Collins
The Sixth Commandment
The demons are a kingdom divided against themselves. Jesus is addressing a challenge that the demon He had just cast out of this person had been cast out by Satan. Jesus' argument is, "No, Satan would never cast out Satan." It would be stupid for Satan to cast himself out. He is not saying that under every condition Satan or other demons will not cast out other demons. Indeed, that does occasionally take place. They are very capable of doing signs and lying wonders. They can make it look as though somebody has been healed, when God has not done the healing at all, but simply by the removal of one demon by a demon of greater power.
One of the things that saves us is that the demons are divided against themselves. Because they are a kingdom divided against themselves, they cannot stand—they cannot get their act together because their character is such that they are always in competition with each other.
We can understand this when we recognize that the governments and most of humanity has been subject to and deceived by demons. Carnal, human nature, is a reflection of the nature of Satan and his demons. What fruit does that produce among men? Can men get along? No. The other side of the coin is that the beings who inspire, guide, direct, or motivate men not to get along with one another cannot get along with themselves either! The only thing that keeps them unified is that at the head of this organization is a demon of such awesome power that he is able to whip them into line from time to time to carry out his bidding. He does it by sheer force. They do not serve in love of him.
They are a kingdom divided against themselves. They will fall and that is an advantage to us. Being rebellious, they are disorganized. They cannot get their act together. Far more important is they know God exists, and they tremble before Him. They are therefore restrained.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 1)
Notice that the Devil has authority over the whole world, and he delegates authority to whomever he wishes.
Jesus refers to Satan as the "ruler of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Christ recognizes Satan as the present ruler of the world. However, Satan does not rule alone. He has a whole army of fallen angels, called demons, at his disposal. The apostle Paul refers to these evil rulers in his letter to the Ephesians. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). These demons may number in the multiple millions (compare Revelation 5:11 and Revelation 12:3-4).
God gives us an occasional glimpse in His Word about how these evil forces are used by Him to influence the rulers of nations. One such vignette occurs in I Kings 22. When Ahab, the evil ruler of Israel, is trying to decide whether to fight against Syria to retake Ramoth Gilead, Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, persuades him to consult his prophets first. All of his prophets tell him to proceed with the battle because God would give him a great victory. However, Micaiah, a true prophet of God, tells him that God had allowed an evil spirit to put lies into the mouths of Ahab's prophets. This is because it is God's purpose that Ahab be killed in the battle. Ahab shuns Micaiah, takes the advice of his own prophets, and is killed while fighting the Syrian armies.
In His prophecies regarding those things that will happen close to the second coming of Jesus Christ, God clearly describes how He permits Satan to influence the nations of the world in order to fulfill His end-time prophecies. In Revelation 12, God describes how there will be a great war in heaven sometime near the second coming of Jesus Christ. Satan and his demons will be cast down to the earth and will bring about great persecution on the church of God.
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
The Great Conspiracy
These two church members apparently did not take Satan into consideration. They listened to a lie and were divided, first, from God's church and then from life itself. What did Satan do? He moved them toward self-satisfaction to the point (the actual sin) that they lied to take credit for a greater sacrifice than they actually made.
The sad part of this is that no one asked them to donate the entire sale price of the piece of land. What happened was they committed themselves to it and then undoubtedly began to feel put on. "Hey, Sapphira, that's too much money." Maybe they began to think, "We didn't expect we'd get so much money from the sale of this, and it is too much to donate." They began to think, undoubtedly, of other uses that they could put the money to. "We could buy new clothes. We could improve the house. We could buy another piece of land as an investment and make even more from it."
They had apparently already told those who were in charge of the collection that they would contribute the entire amount of the sale, and when the time came to give the contribution, they gave only a part of it but let on as if it was the entire sale price. They kept the difference for themselves.
Who led them to dare to lie? Satan has a modus operandi. He will always move us in the direction of self-satisfaction at the expense of obedience to God, service to God, or service to others, so that we elevate ourselves over the others.
Is that not what Satan did originally? In his own mind, his vanity elevated him higher than the position God had given to him, and it then began to work on his mind so that he had to do something about it. This process repeats itself over and over again.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)
The carnal mind is hostile to God and subsequently to one's neighbor. Because Satan's spirit is hostile to law, all who bear his image are hostile to law, breaking laws, taking advantage of each other. They are self-centered just like Satan, interested only in the protection and the increase of themselves.
Here is the basic drive of that spirit, its heart and core: overweening pride. Remember, Satan is "the king of pride." Overweening pride reveals itself in hostility, animosity, hatred, malice, deceit, anger, cunning, competition, resentment, bitterness, self-pity, and intellectual vanity. Every one of these attributes divides people against each other.
Consider how that spirit divided the Jews from Jesus. That spirit eventually led them to divide to the ultimate: They murdered Him. They took His life, defending themselves from the truth that He was preaching to them. The animosity, the hostility to God has never been shown more clearly in the Jews' relationship with Jesus Christ. What God tells us is we have the same spirit as those people. We have been marked.
This is only a partial list of this mark, a partial list of the spirit that emanates from Satan. All we have to do to add to the list is to think of those attitudes that drove Satan to persuade one-third of the angels, organize them, and then lead them into war against God, and we will discover the elements of that spirit emanating from the Beast and marking men.
Have we ever felt any of these attitudes toward some of our brethren in the church? Perhaps so strong that we do not want to be around them, so we do what we can to divide from them because they actually become repulsive to us? We become convinced that they are evil, unconverted, that we cannot control them so that they will do or be what we want them to do or be. When this happens, the mark—the spirit of this world—worldliness—might just be gaining the upper hand in our lives.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast
These seemingly innocuous words may be the central issue in this whole book (or both books to the Corinthians) because this was the sin that led Satan to separate from God's government. He became puffed up about himself. Likewise, the Corinthians were puffed up about how much they knew.
Satan thought so much of himself that he became twisted in his thinking, and he attacked God. We do not attack God directly—this book shows us we attack each other! Therein lies the problem. We attack each other through gossip, rumors, accusations, and things of that nature.
We begin to draw up lists in our minds of the faults of those who have offended us, and we begin to withdraw from them. We will not associate with them. Division begins to occur because they offend us. We say to ourselves, "Well, they were mean to me," or "They aren't intelligent enough," or "They are peculiar," or "They wear garish clothing," or "They have strong opinions about unimportant things."
This is not to say that these things are right and good, or that one should be able to do his own thing at anytime, anywhere, and that others should be tolerant of it. Nevertheless, Satan can, if he is given the opportunity, lead our minds to find reasons to not associate with others—reasons that have nothing to do with sin. Satan is at work.
If the feeling continues unabated, we will eventually come to the place where we will withdraw from fellowship altogether. It will not happen quickly, necessarily, but gradually. Perhaps we stop attending Bible Studies or begin to find reasons not to come to Sabbath services, or we will arrive late to services and leave early. In this way, Satan is slowly but surely moving us toward self-indulgence rather than love.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)
God, through Paul, commands us to examine our faith and to test ourselves. How can we know the strength of our faith—our belief in the words of God? One of the ways is to examine our fears and worries.
Nehemiah writes, "For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me" (Nehemiah 6:13). Why did Nehemiah call being afraid a sin? Because fear and worry call God a liar, insinuating that His words about His sovereignty, love, power, and faithfulness are not to be trusted. Fear and worry mirror the attitudes of a faithless Satan who believes God exists but does not believe what He says.
Philippians 4:6 tells us, "Be anxious for nothing." In other words, we are commanded, "Don't worry about anything," another of God's absolutes. To have fear, worry, anxiety, or forebodings question God's goodness and care. They display a lack of faith in His promises of wise and gracious providence and cast doubts on the depth of the love God and Christ have for us. If we cannot trust God, how can He ever trust us? Why would Christ marry forever someone who doubts His love?
Rather than give in to fear and worry, we can choose—an action—to believe God and His love. If we believe in the depth of the love God (John 17:23) and Christ (John 15:13) have for us, believing those words, faith in that perfect love will cast out fear (I John 4:18) so that we can say as David did: "I will fear no evil; for You are with me" (Psalm 23:4).
In Psalm 78:22 (New Living Translation—NLT), David succinctly cuts to the heart of Israel's problem, and by extension, ours: ". . . for they did not believe God or trust him to care for them." Doubting God's love for us is at the core of the sin of faithlessness. This doubt was a major characteristic of our ancestors, ancient Israel. ". . . because the people of Israel argued with Moses and tested the Lord by saying, 'Is the Lord going to take care of us or not?'" [Exodus 17:7 (NLT)] They never overcame this sin of faithlessness. We must. The stakes are so much higher.
It is sobering to consider the fate of the fearful and unbelieving and the rank they are given in the list found in Revelation 21:8: "But the cowardly [fearful, KJV], unbelieving [faithless, RSV], abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
God tested the faith of Adam and Eve and of Abraham. The former failed, the latter succeeded. Eventually, God will put every human being to the same test.
As we cope with these tests we need to stir up (II Timothy 1:6) and exercise that gift of faith God gave us at the beginning, to get back to that first love and dedication to the words and promises God has given us.
We have the same choice as Adam and Eve, ancient Israel, and Abraham had. It is our decision to make: to believe God or to believe what we see—the visible circumstances we face. Faith is life (Habakkuk 2:4), and faithlessness is sin (Romans 14:23) and therefore death (Romans 6:23). God entreats us to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Faith—What Is It?
In this chapter's first ten verses, Paul is showing that the children of God—us—who were once objects of God's wrath, are by His grace legally and spiritually freed from the clutches of Satan's dominion. However, the influences of the world Satan has fashioned remain to be dealt with and overcome.
Satan is described as a spirit who is "prince of the power of the air." This phrase has a familiar ring to it, but alternative translations may be better suited to understanding. The New English Bible calls him "commander of the spiritual powers of the air now at work among God's rebel subjects." The Concordat Literal New Testament renders it as "chief of the jurisdiction of the air, the spirit now operating in the sons of stubbornness."
Webster's gives as one of the usages for jurisdiction, "the limits, or territory within which authority may be exercised." This particular jurisdiction is where air exists, tying in with the word "heavenly" in Ephesians 6:12: "[We wrestle] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Here, "heavenly" refers, not to the place of God's throne, but to the first heaven, the air surrounding the earth in which birds fly. This also links with Revelation 18:2 and its "unclean and hated birds," symbolizing demons. Birds operate in the same heaven Satan commands.
Prior to the rebellion, God gave Satan and his demon assistants substantial authority over everything from the earth's atmosphere on down to the earth itself, which includes us, its inhabitants. We must never forget that, in large part, our wrestling, as Paul terms it, is with these spirits. We inhabit the same space they do.
These evil spirits indeed use deceived people to carry out their plans to destroy those in whom God lives. These people are likely under the strong influence of those spirit authorities, and because they are deceived, they are unaware that they are being used! They are not necessarily possessed, as the Bible shows some are, but influenced by demons to act against our best interests.
A factor God wants us to realize more completely and fully is that we are not alone in this ocean of air. Even as vicious sharks and barracuda prowl the water, their demonic counterparts, symbolized as foul and unclean raptors and carrion-eaters, inhabit the ocean of air right along with us. It is essential to our spiritual well-being to heed Paul's warning in Ephesians 6:10-12 that our battles are against these creatures, and they are fighting tooth-and-toenail to hang on to what they believe is theirs by first-occupancy rights. Earth, the Bible plainly tells us, was "their first estate" (Jude 6, KJV). They hate us because we are becoming like the Father and Son, and because they know this earth, our inheritance, will be taken from them and given to the sons of God, those who are in His image.
On the surface, they have advantages over us because they are invisible to our eyes. In addition, they can, without our even being aware, communicate their thoughts and attitudes to our minds through the very air that supports our lives. Most people in this world do not know they are deceived or how they became deceived. Satan and his demons have not sat us all down to tell us, "We are here to deceive you." We know only because God's Word reveals this truth to us, and we believe it. Despite this happening in our lives, deception can still be communicated to us unless we are astute enough to take care that it does not happen again.
Nevertheless, deception and its resulting behaviors have been communicated to us through the culture we were born into. The culture, the world around us, is the medium of this corrupting communication. We have been freed from deception by God's revelation of Himself, but the urgent admonition from our Lord and Savior is, "Don't be passive concerning the responsibilities your liberation has imposed. Take action because the communication can be reabsorbed, enslaving you once again."
John W. Ritenbaugh
Communication and Leaving Babylon (Part One)Related Topics: Deceitfulness of Sin | Deception | Deception, Guarding against | Demonic Influence | Demonic principalities | Demons | prince of the power of the air | Satan's Influence | Satan's Kingdom | Satan's Power | Satan's Rule | Satan's Secret Agents | Satan's Spirit | Satan's Wiles | Sin Produces Slavery | Sin, Deceitfulness of | Sin, Satan's Responsibility for | World's Influence | World's Systems
Though written in the past tense, this section does not mean we are free from the influences broadcast by that wicked spirit. If we do not guard against them, we are fully capable of receiving his attributes.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity
A major characteristic of the human spirit is that it is habitually self-centered rather than God-centered. A simple example illustrates how it became this way. In Genesis 1:31 God takes satisfaction in all He had made, declaring it "very good." Included in this is Adam and Eve's nature, as they were already created by this time.
Thus, at the beginning, mankind's nature was not corrupted by contact with this world. Genesis 3 records the episode of their confrontation with Satan that began the evil transformation of their basic nature. God did not create their nature as evil, but it became evil through the influence of another spirit that they chose to follow without any intervention from their Creator.
The same process continues to this day, as each of us is born into this world and comes under the influence of the same spirit that influenced Adam and Eve to turn from God. We are all born with a slight pull toward self, but not with the evil that eventually develops and manifests itself in our conduct. Evil is not - cannot be - passed on through procreation, but it is fashioned anew by the spirit of the age into which each person is born. It is a converted parent's responsibility to God and to his children to ensure the right spirit dominates his home so the children can be properly nurtured.
People in the world understand this to some extent when they observe with maxims like, "The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree," "Like father, like son," or "Like mother, like daughter." This world's Christians, to avoid responsibility for their evil, have blamed God for creating us this way. But God did not make us this way. Mankind, represented by Adam and Eve, chose to become this way, and all of their descendants, including us, have chosen the same path under the influence of the same evil spirit who offered Adam and Eve the choice. This accounts for the course of this world.
Jeremiah 17:9 shows us how evil God judges the source of our unconverted motivations to be: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" The Revised Standard Version translates this as, "The natural heart of man is desperately corrupt; incurably sick." It is so bad, so evil, it cannot be salvaged by repairing it! It must be completely replaced. This is what the conversion process - our calling, repentance, justification, and sanctification - accomplishes.
We need to understand more completely why this aspect of God's command to flee Babylon is so important. We can be easily deceived about it, misunderstanding why God says the human heart is incurably sick. In Luke 11:13, Jesus makes an easily overlooked comment: "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" The way He says this implies that those before Him were thoroughly, not partly, evil.
He flat out calls them evil! There is no equivocation, no modification of this verse in the heart of the sermon on the mount. Jesus Himself was called "good" in Matthew 19:16, but He immediately corrects the speaker, saying, "No one is good but One, that is, God." This is God's assessment of human nature, not man's.
Jesus is saying that, just because human nature knows how to and actually does some good things, it does not alter the fact that it is still incurably evil. Our pride tends to blunt God's assessment, rising to defend us from the condemnation of what we are compared to, the standard - God.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Communication and Leaving Babylon (Part One)
Praying to the Father, through Jesus Christ, brings us into the presence of the most holy, positive, righteous, peaceful, serving, giving, humble, merciful, and unchanging attitudes and character that exist in the entire universe! The notes at Psalm 16:11 demonstrate a simplified effect of this in how the attitudes of people we spend time with affect us. Whether that person's attitude is positive or negative, unless we resist or our attitude is strong, our attitude tends to echo the strength of the other's attitudes. If the other is personally close to us—especially if we deem the relationship important to us—the effect of the transfer of attitudes intensifies. Similarly, physical nearness also intensifies the effect.
This is why men reflect Satan's spirit. Satan "broadcasts" it over our entire environment here on earth, thus, we are always "near" it. In fact, God has willed that at this time it will have no strong competition among the unconverted. Even we cannot entirely escape its influence; even when in God's presence, we can bring that spirit with us.
Notice that Hebrews 10:22 says, "[L]et us draw near. . . ." Nearness enhances the transfer of the qualities of God's Spirit, and He greatly desires we have these qualities because they will make us like Him. Being in His presence is a primary way this is accomplished. This is why a person can leave God's presence in prayer at peace, full of joy, or filled with confidence—or on the other hand, chastened, having been led to remorse and repentance. Drawing near to God has little to do with distance and everything to do with deepening our relationship with Him. As this occurs, prayer begins to change things—us.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Nine
To have a warm, familiar attitude with this world is to be on good terms with God's enemy. What does it mean, in more practical terms, to be a friend of the world? It is to adopt the world's set of values and wants, to desire what the world wants instead of choosing according to divine standards or divine truths.
In other words, if a person does that, he has actually made himself subject to Satan because Satan is the ruler of this world! If we choose the way of the world, we are making the wrong decision. The worldly person will almost invariably choose to satisfy himself and take action on his desire, which eventually produces confusion, division, and war. It cannot be otherwise because the spirit of the world is the spirit of Satan, and laws are at work that will produce what they are designed to produce.
That was the problem in the congregation to which James wrote. If another apostle had been writing it, such as the apostle Paul did in I Corinthians 3, he would say, "You are yet carnal." These were converted people but still carnal, and they were showing it through their choices. It was not that they did not have the Spirit of God but that they were still so weak spiritually. They were choosing to fall back on what they had in the way of character, understanding, knowledge, and vision from the world, and by this, they showed that Satan was still dominating their lives.
This is understandable because Satan is a wily and powerful adversary—but he can be overcome and defeated. Christ did it, and we can too because Christ is in us.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 5)
When this occurs, the human beings involved in these decisions will have no idea that they are being influenced by spirit beings. Satan and his demons are invisible and accomplish their work by broadcasting attitudes and putting thoughts in people's minds. These thoughts and attitudes seem normal and natural to the people involved, yet their result is utterly inhuman and unnatural, such as the Holocaust, the Inquisition, "the killing fields," "ethnic cleansing," "total war," and the like. What has occurred throughout all of human history will happen again.
It has been said that human history is little more than a chronicle of man's wars. These wars are the result of men being influenced by invisible, evil spirit beings ever since Adam and Eve sinned and were cast out from the presence of God (Genesis 3:22-24). No people and no generation have ever been immune from Satan's attempts to keep men separated from God.
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
The Great Conspiracy
This warning is sobering because the course of this world is closer than ever to reaching its anti-God fullness. There has never been a time in the out-working of God's purpose when this advice is more urgently needed.
Among mankind, the course of the world did not begin in the original Babylon but in the Garden of Eden with the disbelieving conduct of Adam and Eve. They introduced the alien spirit and conduct among mankind - they were mankind at that time. Under the deceitful influence of Satan, they disbelieved God, following the Devil's line of reasoning and conduct. They spread it to their children, who spread it to their children, and so forth.
We have reached the time the Bible calls "the last days" or "the end time." We stand on the cusp of the Tribulation and Day of the Lord, and God's Word prophesies that Babylon will once again be on the scene of events - only this time its powerful influence will be felt worldwide. This time, Babylon not only has dominant armies, powerful economic and educational systems, and strongly entrenched and popular religions, but it also has extremely effective mass communication networks to disseminate its ways into the minds of men, influencing men against their Creator and His people.
Thus, God's urgent warning to take action while one can. The influence of Babylon is imposed through communication. It occurs when we experience countless examples of misguided conduct by those who - unknown to them - are already enslaved by its evil influence.
The apostles Paul and John speak of this largely unrecognized burden mankind carries. In II Corinthians 4:3-4, Paul writes, "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them."
Additional subtle influence occurs when a person experiences Babylon's ways and words and fails to monitor the attitudes he picks up and lives. Perhaps above all, men must deal with the inaudible but nonetheless attractive and powerful spiritual communication of Babylon's invisible god and leader, the prince of the power of the air, and his hordes of equally invisible demons. Resisting it can be a daunting task even for those aware that this communication is occurring; it calls on one to be constantly on guard. Nevertheless, resisting the communication is the key to blunting Babylon's siren call.
God admonishes us to come out of her, but there is physically no place to go! The influence of Satan through Babylon's powers of communication is everywhere. In Revelation 12:9, the apostle John confirms we have no place to run because this world's god and his assistants have been permitted to communicate with and deceive mankind over the whole earth: "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." We have been born into this ready-made, deceived world, taken it for granted, and absorbed it until God revealed an alternative.
Compared to previous Babylons, the major difference in what we now face in modern Babylon lies in the intensity, availability, and receptivity of its communication. As far as we know, mankind has never before been confronted by these twisted, persuasive, demonic powers as he is today. They now have the global use of the visible and audible influence of radio, music, movies, television, and the Internet, in addition to the entrenched systems of thought and standards of conduct.
There is no place to run. The battle to resist, then, is almost entirely internal - it is fought right where we live and conduct the business of life. What we must believe, and trust with steely determination and discipline, is that God never gives a person a responsibility impossible to perform (see the principle in I Corinthians 10:13). What God commands of us we can do! Therefore, if He commands we come out, we can come out right where we are. The coming out will not be a physical leaving of a geographical area but a departure from Babylon's spiritual and physical influence.
This is not to say that changing one's physical location will not be helpful in fighting the spiritual battle - just as not frequenting a den of iniquity has definite advantages! It is logical to assume that the intensity of evil communication would be worse in the heart of Babylon than out in the hinterlands. However, we must acknowledge the reality that we can take Babylon's influence with us wherever we might go on earth. Even going to live on a deserted island will not spare us the burden of the influence Babylon has already exerted on us.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Communication and Leaving Babylon (Part One)Related Topics: Babylon | Babylon, Allurement of | Babylon, Coming out of | Babylonish System | End Times | Enduring to the End | Last Days | prince of the power of the air | Resisting Satan | Satan as Author of Human Sin | Satan as Cause of Human Sin | Satan as god of this World | Satan as ruler of this world | Satan's Attitudes | Satan's Broadcast | Satan's Deception | Satan's Influence | Satan's Modus Operandi | Satan's Spirit | Satan, Resisting