How to Avoid Coming Under the Devil’s Control
TO MAINTAIN a successful defense against the Devil and his wicked spirit forces we must have accurate knowledge of their methods of operation. Satan is a master deceiver. So, naturally, not everything he sponsors may appear evil. To the contrary, his devices for deceiving people can seem very innocent; in fact, they may appear to be a means of blessing mankind.
For this reason, the Bible shows, many persons who believe they are serving the interests of God and mankind are actually being used by the Devil to perpetuate his aims and schemes. There are persons who, though they sincerely think they are engaging in right worship of God, believe and practice things that God’s Word the Bible shows to be of demonic origin. We will be assisted to avoid coming under the Devil’s control by examining carefully what the Bible says about the position Satan holds and how he operates.
KEEP SEPARATE FROM THE WORLD
Jesus Christ was very concerned about helping his followers so that they would not come under the Devil’s control. So on the last night of his earthly life he prayed to God regarding the matter: “I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one [the Devil]. They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.”—John 17:14-16.
What does it mean to be no part of the world? Why is it vital to maintain such separateness? To help us appreciate this, let us consider what God’s Word teaches concerning the position held by the Devil.
Three times in the Gospel of John the Lord Jesus Christ referred to “the ruler of this world,” and there can be no question as to whom he was speaking about. Notice his words: “Now there is a judging of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” Also, Jesus said: “I shall not speak much with you any more, for the ruler of the world is coming. And he has no hold on me.” And again he added: “The ruler of this world has been judged.” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) How obvious it is that “the ruler of this world,” who had no hold on Jesus, is not Almighty God but is Satan the Devil!
The apostle Paul, too, explained that the Devil exercises control over this worldly system of things. In fact, writing under divine inspiration, he referred to Satan “the god of this system of things,” saying: “The god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.” (2 Cor. 4:4) Notice that the “god of this system of things” is not the God in whose image Christ is. Who else but Satan the Devil would deliberately blind the minds of mankind to God’s truth?
In confirmation of the above is the testimony of the apostle John. Under inspiration of God he wrote concerning the Devil: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) John also wrote that “Satan . . . is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Rev. 12:9) Thus the Devil, as “ruler of the world,” exercises great influence on men, overreaching them and even controlling political governments.—Rev. 16:13, 14.
If you will open your Bible to Revelation 12:9, you will see that the Devil is described as “the great dragon.” In the next Re chapter 13, verses 1 and 2, we are told that this dragon, the Devil, gave power and a throne and great authority to what is symbolically called a “wild beast” out of the sea. What is this symbolic “wild beast”?
Well, over what does Satan hold authority? What did he offer to Jesus Christ? The Bible says: Satan “brought him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in an instant of time; and the Devil said to [Jesus]: ‘I will give you all this authority and the glory of them, . . . if you do an act of worship before me, it will all be yours.’”—Luke 4:5-8.
“But did Satan really possess all the earthly kingdoms?” someone may ask. Well, consider: Although Jesus quickly rejected Satan’s offer, he did not deny that the Devil ruled over the political kingdoms of the earth.
In harmony with this, Revelation 13:7 says concerning the symbolic “wild beast,” that “authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.” Further, with what did the prophet Daniel identify certain beasts? With “kingdoms,” or political governments. (Dan. 7:2-7, 17, 23) That the symbolic beasts of Daniel’s vision and the “wild beast” of Revelation have a similar meaning is seen from the fact that both accounts refer to the same kinds of creatures: a lion, a bear, a leopard and a ten-horned beast. (Rev. 13:1, 2) So the “wild beast” represents the Devil’s entire political organization that has exercised beastlike rule over the earth throughout the centuries until now.
Therefore, is it any wonder that Jesus Christ said: “My kingdom is no part of this world”? (John 18:36) And is it not also apparent that if we want to avoid coming under the Devil’s control we must keep separate from the world? In view of this, what will you do? Will you become involved in political affairs of the nations? That, of course, is something you must decide. However, in making such a decision you will want to keep in mind what Jesus Christ said to his true followers: “You are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.”—John 15:19.
AVOID EVERY FORM OF SPIRITISM
Some persons view dabbling in spiritism as a form of amusement. They consider it fun to receive messages, or answers to their questions, in some mysterious, supernatural way. But is this merely a harmless form of entertainment? What is spiritism?
Spiritism involves getting in touch with wicked spirit creatures, either directly or through a human or other medium. Spiritism brings a person under the influence of the demons. Therefore, observe with what detestable practices spiritism is linked in God’s Word. It says: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, hatreds, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these.”—Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8.
God condemns every kind of spiritism. The Bible tells us what some of these disapproved things are: divination, magic, looking for omens, sorcery, binding others with a spell (hypnotism, black magic, and so forth), consulting a spirit medium or a fortune-teller and inquiring of the dead. (Deut. 18:9-12; Isa. 8:19) All of this is demonism, and those who turn to such practices make themselves enemies of God. Thus, is it not apparent that if we want to avoid coming under the Devil’s control we must keep free from all of such forms of spiritism?—Lev. 19:31; 1 Chron. 10:13, 14.
Divination is one of the common forms of spiritism. It is the effort to obtain knowledge of the unknown or of the future by means of omens or demon power. As an example, the Bible tells of a girl who possessed amazing powers of prediction due to demon influence. The disciple Luke writes: “It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a certain servant girl with a spirit, a demon of divination, met us. She used to furnish her masters with much gain by practicing the art of prediction.”—Acts 16:16.
Many are the ways divination is practiced today, such as by divining rods, pendulums, crystal-ball gazing, query boards, ESP, examining the lines of one’s hand (palmistry), studying the flight of certain birds, looking for omens in one’s dreams and in other incidents in one’s life and then trying to relate these to the future. There is also divination by the stars, commonly called astrology. This originated in ancient Babylon, as did various forms of the magical arts. The Bible shows that all who use divination sin against God. It explains that “rebelliousness is the same as the sin of divination.”—1 Sam. 15:22, 23.
One of the common ways in which wicked spirits mislead people is by talking to them, either through a spirit medium or by a “voice” from the invisible realm. The “voice” pretends to be a departed relative or a good spirit; but this is falsehood! The voice is actually a wicked spirit speaking! What should you do if such a “voice” speaks to you? Well, what did Jesus Christ do when the ruler of the wicked spirits spoke to him? Jesus rejected the Devil’s suggestions, saying: “Go away, Satan!”—Matt. 4:10.
You can do that too. “Oppose the Devil,” the Bible says, “and he will flee from you.” (Jas. 4:7) Also, you can call on Jehovah for aid, praying aloud and using his name. Follow this wise course, and do not give ear to such voices from the invisible realm.—Prov. 18:10.
But what if one has been dabbling in some of the spiritistic religions or sciences and now wants to break free from spiritism? Well, what did many of the early Christians at Ephesus do when they wanted to get free from the magical arts? The Bible tells us: “Indeed, quite a number of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them up before everybody. And they calculated together the prices of them and found them worth fifty thousand pieces of silver.” (Acts 19:19, 20) Their example of destroying objects related to spiritistic practices is the wise one to follow.
Do not be deceived by the increasing interest in mystic and occult matters. Wicked spirit creatures are promoting such spiritism. But these wicked spirit forces, including the Devil, will eventually be destroyed. (Matt. 25:41) If you want eternal life, you need to stay free from their influence by abhorring every kind of spiritism. In this way you will avoid coming under the Devil’s control.
SHUN FALSE RELIGION
In this day of ecumenism, when so many churches are uniting in interfaith movements, people usually do not think of any religion as being false. But what does the Bible say about it? What is false religion?
Actually, false religion is the foremost means by which the Devil, “the father of the lie,” turns mankind away from God and gains control over them. (John 8:44) False religion is worship that is built on falsehoods and that is in conflict with God’s Word of truth, the Bible. That is one reason why the Bible points out that if a person worships in a way that is not in harmony with God’s Word of truth, he is in reality serving the demons, because he is acting in harmony with what they want and in conflict with God. Thus the Bible explains: “The things which the nations sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God.”—1 Cor. 10:20; Deut. 32:16, 17.
Although false religions may appear respectable, we should realize that the Devil is like many modern-day underworld or crime leaders who hide behind a front of respectability. What more subtle way could there be for him to deceive people and get them to serve him than by using a religious front that has an outward appearance of righteousness?
That the Devil would mislead people by religion that outwardly claims to serve God is shown in the Bible. (Matt. 7:22, 23) In fact, the Christian apostle Paul said that “Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light” and “his ministers also keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness.”—2 Cor. 11:14, 15.
So Jesus Christ was not imagining something when he called the Devil “the ruler of this world.” (John 12:31) There are indeed wicked spirits misleading “the entire inhabited earth.” But only a “short period of time” remains before the Devil and his wicked angels are to be put out of operation.—Rev. 12:9, 12.
In the meantime, it is vital for us to keep separate from this world, to have nothing to do with any form of spiritism, and to break free from religion that may appear respectable but is really based on falsehood. This will involve a real fight by us, as the Bible says: “Stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a fight, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places. Above all things, take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles.”—Eph. 6:11, 12, 16.
This resolute action is absolutely necessary to avoid coming under the Devil’s control. It is the course we must pursue in order to receive eternal life in God’s new system of things, because it is only the truth that leads to eternal life.
“I saw three unclean inspired expressions that looked like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the wild beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are, in fact, expressions inspired by demons and perform signs, and they go forth to the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty. . . . And they gathered them together to the place that is called in Hebrew Har—Magedon.”—Rev. 16:13-16.