The Dynamics of Deception

Revelation 12:9 describes the Devil and Satan as “the great dragon [that] was cast out, that serpent of old…, who deceives the whole world.” 1 John 5:19 adds, “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” – Satan the Devil!

Someone said [if I remember correctly, it was the late pastor –general of the then Worldwide Church of God (WCG), Joseph W. Tkach, who said this] about Satan: “Destroyer is his name, and deception is his game.”

Indeed, Revelation 9:11 reveals that, as the fifth of seven prophesied trumpets is sounded before Christ’s return, a king who will lead a military power to torment and hurt men for five months is “the angel of [or more properly, ‘from’] the bottomless pit.” That angel’s Hebrew name is “Abaddon,” while his Greek name is “Apollyon” – both meaning “Destroyer.” The angel — referred to here as the “star fallen from heaven to the earth” (Verse 1) – is no other than the former archangel Lucifer, now fallen and renamed Satan, meaning “Adversary (enemy), of God. [See: Where Did the Devil Come From?]

“Star” is symbolic of angel, as Revelation 1:20 and 12:3-4, 7 clearly explain. Satan cannot be the angel to whom “the key to the bottomless pit” was given. Rather, it is more reasonable to assign this angel to the angel who sounds the fifth trumpet, as Revelation 9:1 begins. It is likely that this angel is the same angel “having the key to the bottomless pit” who will take hold of and bind the “Dragon” [Satan] to be locked up in that pit for a thousand years; at or towards the end of which period he will be released for a short time (Revelation 20:1-3) by this same angel.

It was Mr. Tkach [known, for short, by church members as JWT] who presided over the demolition of the very person who appointed him as the Worldwide Church of God’s [WCG’s] new pastor-general after that person, Herbert W. Armstrong [HWA] died in 1986 – and over the scattering of the WCG members, like some sheep gone astray without a clear shepherd!

In the early to the mid-1990s, JWT and his fellow leaders thereafter decided that the teachings which HWA had left the WCG with “cannot be fixed” – they have to be “dismantled brick by brick” – “demolished!” These men decided that WCG members had been so “blind” and so “theologically ignorant” as to have believed HWA. They judged HWA himself to have been a “heretic” and a “false prophet!” In a word, they deemed him to have been a great deceiver – and the WCG members who believed in his teachings to have been “deceived!”

In late 1994, JWT came out with new doctrines that all but completely overturned HWA’s teachings. These new doctrines were vaunted as “new covenant” teachings that were to proclaim “the Liberation of the Worldwide Church of God” – liberation from the supposed oppressive, autocratic, legalistic and deceptive “rule” of HWA.

As could be expected, the changes rocked the whole structure of the WCG, leaving in its wake the formerly fairly unified denomination now split up into a multiple number of splinter denominations, congregations, and various “defenders” of the old faith. As a result, some have lost faith in God and have turned agnostic or atheist. Others have “floated” around like some flotsam adrift in the sea, with nowhere to go. Most have either joined some “evangelical” [Protestant] church of their choice, or have remained in the “transformed” WCG – now a fully “evangelical” denomination, renamed Grace Communion International [GCI] and already a member of the World Evangelical Fellowship [WEF].

Why this article has to be written

Lately some people who disagree with what I have written so far on this website [at least most of the contents, anyway], have told me – and have warned others – that I have been publishing here “deceitful articles.”

That should bring every one and all to ask, just what is “deception,” anyway? How do we know, or how can we tell if someone or an organization is being “deceptive” or “deceitful?” How can we ensure that we are not “deceived” at all? Nothing could be more important to our salvation! And that is because, if we succumb to deception, we are bound for destruction. And Satan the Devil – the “arch-deceiver” – is behind all this!

The apostle Paul who, incidentally was also accused by some of being a “deceiver” (2 Corinthians 6:8) [in good company with Christ, who was similarly accused by the religious leaders of His day (Matthew 27:63)], shows by example that we should not be ignorant of Satan’s “devices” – lest Satan take advantage of us (2 Corinthians 2:11).

It behooves us, therefore, to clearly understand Satan’s “game” – the “devices” he employs to deceive us and destroy us – so we don’t fall prey to them and we won’t be destroyed. To help us in this vital exercise, let me dissect here the “anatomy” and analyze the “dynamics,” “mechanics,” “methodology” and workings of Satan’s deception. As Paul wrote: “Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise [those who do evil works, such as deception certainly is] cannot be hidden” (1Timothy 5:25). They have to be exposed!

“Deception 101”

The basic “principle” of Satan’s deception is revealed right in the first few pages of the Bible! Let’s turn to the familiar story in Genesis 2-3.

Step#1: In the world of advertising, in order to get the public’s attention, one has to have a “hook.” The more shocking and outlandish the hook is, the more likely people will pay attention to it and the message an advertisement may want to promote.

What was the “hook” used by Satan [in the guise of a wily serpent] on his “prey” – the first woman, Eve? Genesis 3:1 reveals Satan’s “hook”: “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree in the garden’?”

This got Eve’s attention immediately. Why? Because it was directly opposite to what God had told them. In Genesis 2:16 we read what God actually told Adam: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat.” “Notice how Satan tweaked this to appear like a heartless total ban on eating the fruit of all trees in the garden!

It appears that Eve learned about God’s command from the first man, Adam, for when God said this, Eve had not been created yet (Verses 18-25). And, as often happens when a message is passed on second-hand, it somehow becomes garbled along the way. Notice how Eve “embellished” the message: “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die” (Genesis 3:2). The next part of the original command was: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.” God did not mention that the mere touching of the forbidden fruit would bring them sure death, only the eating of it!

Incidentally, perhaps here’s where the Bible concludes that, in some aspects, the woman is the “weaker vessel” than the man (1 Peter 3:7). Perhaps Satan somehow discerned this weakness in Eve, and so he went to Eve to cause her husband Adam to sin too. Ironically, Eve did not even ask for Adam’s “input” before she decided to eat the forbidden fruit! Adam himself, as head of his wife, should have warned her not to eat the forbidden fruit, but he failed to do so, and he went along with his wife in committing the same sin instead (Genesis 3:17)!

Because Adam failed to properly assert his appointed leadership over Eve, God placed on him the accountability for ushering in sin to all of subsequent mankind. 1 Corinthians 15:22 declares that “… in Adam [not in Eve] all die.”  As Paul explained:  “Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

The apostle Paul charged that a woman is not to teach, nor usurp authority over the man (1 Timothy 2:12). But this is a different matter we might write about later.

Step #2: Having gotten her attention, Satan then engages Eve in an argument. After having given a negative twist to God’s command, Satan then proceeds to present his “thesis,” which was directly opposite to what God said [“You shall surely die,”]; Satan told Eve: “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). [See:  What Happens to Man After Death?]

The very shocking claim must have really stirred Eve’s curiosity: “Why? How could this be?”

Step #3: Satan then offers the rationale of his claim – a claim based on the supposed “benefits” of eating the forbidden fruit. “For God knows [Satan presumed to know God’s mind!] that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Verse 5).

To Eve this must have seemed like an astonishing and “liberating” revelation: we are going to see things we’d never seen before; we will be just like God is, able to decide what’s good and what’s evil. And, on top of it, we’re not going to die, after all!  But all that Satan said was a big lie — the very opposite of what God had said.

Suddenly this created an “I want it!” reaction in Eve. What was previously a dangerous, deadly option now became overwhelmingly desirable: instead “…the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to make one wise” (Verse 6). Satan appealed to Eve’s sense of shape, color, and pride! In the next instant, Eve reached for the forbidden fruit, picked it, and ate it (same Verse). Then she gave some of the fruit to Adam, who must have stood by her and, probably smitten by her charm, he also went ahead to eat it, too [wittingly, suggests 1 Timothy 2:14]! [For more on this, see: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!”]

Thus, God’s judgment on our first parents’ disobedience took effect. Adam and Eve eventually died (Genesis 3-4) – just as God had told them. Thankfully, they will await their chance to be saved in Christ and have everlasting life in their resurrection after the 1,000-year reign of Christ (Revelation 20:5). [See: This Is not the Only Day of Salvation and The Flaming Sword East of Eden.]

Satan’s ploy unchanged

Satan’s “methodology” hasn’t changed all through the past millennia of human history. In almost all cases, Satan starts off [as his “hook”] with some twist on what God has said [His Word]. Satan is adept at quoting Scripture! This is obvious in how he tempted the human Christ by using some twist on certain Bible passages. Both engaged in a battle about “It is written!” How very much like debates going on in the religious realm!

Matthew 4:1-11 details this crucial encounter. In the end, Jesus triumphed with His accurate, faithful use of Scripture. How could He have done otherwise? He is the very “Word” of God (John 1:1, etc). He knows exactly what each word in Scripture really means. And He inspires His chosen servants to teach that word as He would. [See: Looking to Men.]

The articles (now a total of 100+) which I have written on this website over the last six years are practically all in response to some twist on Bible passages, upon which men have based their common beliefs, opinions, and practices. I have aimed to show the plain Bible truth about these matters.

I have always maintained that each individual person has free moral choice. Though I may come across as “forceful,” I do not – and cannot – force anyone to believe what I have written. As someone said, a man whose mind is set will be unconvinced and will be of the same opinion still, regardless of arguments and reasoning against it. In the final analysis, one has to exercise one’s mind and, with the help of God’s Spirit, one then decides – of his or her own free will – whether to believe, or not believe, the word of God as explained, on this website or elsewhere. [See: What Is This Thing Called “Will?”]

It is a profound irony that the person who accused HWA of having been a “deceiver,” himself succumbed to the Destroyer’s “game!” We are each to answer for our own beliefs and deeds in the Day of Judgment (Matthew 12:36; Revelation 20:12-13). May God have mercy on us! [See: “Whoever Loves and Practices a Lie.”]

I hope and pray that God’s Spirit will guide all of us into all truth, as Jesus promised (John 14:26; 16:13). And then we can “all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God [Jesus Christ], to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature and the fullness of Christ, that we should no longer be children [spiritually immature], tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body [God’s Church (Colossians 1:18)], joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effectual working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16). [See: Where Is God’s Church Today? Leanings, and Abiding in the Truth.]


Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.