“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.” Genesis 3:1 (ESV English)
The actual translation for “more crafty” is the Hebrew word, ‘ā·rūm, which literally means, “more subtle,” and can mean “more sensible” and “more shrewd.”
The definition of sensible is as an adjective: chosen in accordance with wisdom or prudence; likely to be of benefit, having, using, or showing good sense or sound judgment, senses;
“Now the serpent was more subtle, wise, showing good sense & sound judgement, perceptible to the mind, and shrewd than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.” Genesis 3:1
We can see right off the bat from the Garden of Eden that the serpent, aka Lucifer or Satan appears to be both quick on his feet, very smart and wise, very sensible, and also very subtle. His ways are cunning and sharp and he slyly deceives and his ways seem sound and make good sense and appeal to the intellect. Basically, without the concrete Word of God, Satan’s ways make sense to us, so much so that we will choose to follow them if we are not grounded in God’s Word. Scary thought that I can be so easily deceived if I’m not in God’s Word!
“Now the serpent was more subtle & sensible than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”” Genesis 3:1
When we look at the world today, we can see Satan very active in certain areas including the entertainment industry and in the government as Satan wants to take ultimate control of the most people possible; however, there is one aspect of Satan that we don’t often think about and this is the aspect of his character of appeal to professing Christians within the church. Satan is the original false prophet and with his incredible wisdom & appeal to the intellect, he takes God’s Word, which he knows better than any of us by far, and changes just a part of it to invalidate it and thus creating a false Gospel and drawing us down the wrong path. You see, Satan leaves most of God’s Word in tact, but then just slightly changes it to make it appear right to us. He appears like a cute little harmless sheep, but he is a ravenous wolf within with complete evil intents to harm and destroy.
- “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
- “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
How in the world can we understand this cunning deception? We can understand by first being aware so that we can recognize them, and second in identifying their fruit. What does the rest of their life look like? What is their main focus? Is their message centered on me and glorifying my life now, or is it centered on God and the work of Jesus Christ and bringing Him glory? Another point from this passage is that they will claim that they follow Jesus as they call Him Lord and will even have the ability to state prophesy, cast out demons, and do mighty works and miracles.
“5 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:5-23
Where are these false teachers and prophets? They are in the world, but even more dangerous is that they are among us. They are within our churches. They are within the body of Christ. They could be our leaders and they could be us if we are not careful and diligent.
- “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1
- “23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. ” Matthew 24:23-25
So, though Satan is very obvious in entertainment and government, he is hidden within our churches and is just as active as he is out in the public sector. But, this deception is even more scary to us because it is not obvious and we need to be very diligent in our studies and in prayer. We are thus told we need to be skeptical (discerning) and not so trusting and gullible to believe everything we hear from the pulpit and everything we hear within our church body.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.” 1 John 4:1-3
What we really need to be careful of during this latter day is when we have very popular church leaders and very popular churches and to those who are popular in the entertainment industry by their tv or radio broadcasts and/or their publications. When a majority of the people speak so well of these people, this is when we really need to open our ears and pay attention but Jesus warns us about the popular.
““Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” Luke 6:26
Jesus was a stumbling stone and rock of offense to a majority of the people. Few listened and few followed Him. Most were offended by everything He said. If Jesus was offensive to most, then if what we teach is His Words today, then we should expect failing popularity with most of the world.
- “15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:15-17
- “…They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”” Romans 9:32-33
- “7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”[a]8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”” 1 Peter 2:7-8
Deception continues to get worse and because many of us have fallen asleep and aren’t paying attention, God says that He will send even more deception as time goes on and it will get harder and harder to tell the difference between the right way and the wrong way. We see this within our nation today even among believers.
“10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
Boy, those are scary verses that God might intentionally make it harder to understand so that those who don’t discern and trust everything they hear will be condemned.
For us personally, we need to make sure we are not attempting to weave our own theology into God’s Word, such as “I can still know Jesus and still participate in the sins of the world.” This mentality puts us on the wide road with a broad gate. The Scriptures call us to be holy and set apart unto God. The devil tries to get us to question what God actually said with what we tend to think is right. For example, “Did God really say that we are not to have sexual relations outside of marriage, but maybe God is okay with it as long as I’m in love.” or “Did God really say not to work on the Sabbath, or I’m sure God is okay with me working on it because I’m really busy and He will understand my life.” or “Did God really say to not get drunk, or does God really understands that I like to have fun with my friends and to “minister” to them so I should be able to get drunk to be able to show them Christians can be cool too.” Now, the false prophet and teacher has becomes us if we twist what He says in these and other ways.
“13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14
This is the time to wake up and make sure that you are into God’s Word daily, learning what the Scriptures say for yourself and not totally depending on others to tell you what is right or what is wrong. It’s not enough to just listen to others, but we must, for ourselves, study God’s Word and ask the Holy Spirit to teach us all things.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. ” 2 Timothy 2:15
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
Father God, it is so hard to hear your truth sometimes as we tend to follow our own minds of what we think sounds right. Help us to stop and think when we hear messages to make sure they are lining up with your word. Give us wisdom to understand the difference of right and wrong and to discern even the little twists in your word. We want to be faithful to you and to your word and don’t want to be false teachers ourselves. Thank you for your warnings of what to look for. In Jesus name. Amen.