Divine Teaching Versus Teachings of Demons
“Some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons.”—1 TIMOTHY 4:1.
1. What battle are Christians in the middle of?
IMAGINE living your whole life in a war zone. What would it be like to go to bed to the noise of gunfire and wake up to the sound of artillery? Unhappily, in some parts of the world, that is indeed how people live. In a spiritual sense, though, all Christians live this way. They are in the midst of a great battle that has been raging for some 6,000 years and in our days has intensified. What is this agelong war? The battle of truth versus lies, of divine teaching versus the teachings of demons. It is not an exaggeration to call it—at least on the part of one of its protagonists—the most merciless and the most lethal conflict in mankind’s history.
2. (a) According to Paul, what two sides are in opposition to each other? (b) What did Paul mean by “the faith”?
2 The apostle Paul mentioned the two sides of this conflict when he wrote to Timothy: “The inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1) Notice that the teachings of demons would be particularly influential in “later periods of time.” As viewed from Paul’s day, we are living in such a time. Notice, too, what is opposed to the teachings of demons, namely “the faith.” Here, “the faith” represents divine teaching, based on the divinely inspired utterances of God contained in the Bible. Such faith is life-giving. It teaches a Christian to do God’s will. It is the truth that leads to eternal life.—John 3:16; 6:40.
3. (a) What happens to casualties in the battle between truth and lies? (b) Who is behind the teachings of demons?
3 Any who fall away from the faith lose out on everlasting life. They are casualties in the war. What a tragic result for allowing oneself to be misled by teachings of demons! (Matthew 24:24) How can we as individuals avoid being casualties? By totally rejecting these lying teachings, which serve only the purpose of “the ruler of the demons,” Satan the Devil. (Matthew 12:24) Predictably, Satan’s teachings are lies, since Satan is “the father of the lie.” (John 8:44) Consider how skillfully he used lies to mislead our first parents.
Teachings of Demons Revealed
4, 5. What lie did Satan tell Eve, and why was that so wicked?
4 The events are recorded in the Bible at Genesis 3:1-5. Using a serpent, Satan approached the woman Eve and asked her: “Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” The question seems harmless, but look at it again. “Is it really so?” Satan sounds surprised, as if to say, ‘Why would God say a thing like that?’
5 In her innocence, Eve indicated that this was so. She knew the divine teaching on this matter, that God had told Adam that they would die if they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and bad. (Genesis 2:16, 17) Satan’s question evidently piqued her interest, so she listened as he came to the point: “At this the serpent said to the woman: ‘You positively will not die.’” What a wicked thing to say! Satan accused Jehovah, the God of truth, the God of love, the Creator, of lying to His human children!—Psalm 31:5; 1 John 4:16; Revelation 4:11.
6. How did Satan challenge the goodness and sovereignty of Jehovah?
6 But Satan said more. He went on: “For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” According to Satan, Jehovah God—who had provided so bountifully for our first parents—wanted to deprive them of something wonderful. He wanted to prevent them from being like gods. Thus, Satan challenged the goodness of God. He also promoted self-gratification and a deliberate ignoring of God’s laws, saying that acting in this way would be beneficial. In effect, Satan challenged God’s sovereignty over His own creation, alleging that God had no right to put limits on what man did.
7. When were the teachings of demons first heard, and how are they similar today?
7 With those words of Satan, the teachings of demons began to be heard. These evil teachings still promote similar ungodly principles. Just as he did in the garden of Eden, Satan, now joined by other rebellious spirits, still challenges God’s right to set standards of action. He still impugns Jehovah’s sovereignty and tries to influence humans to disobey their heavenly Father.—1 John 3:8, 10.
8. What did Adam and Eve lose in Eden, but how was Jehovah proved true?
8 In that first skirmish in the battle between divine teaching and the teachings of demons, Adam and Eve made a wrong decision and lost out on their hope of everlasting life. (Genesis 3:19) As the years went by and their bodies began to deteriorate, it was amply confirmed for them as to who had lied and who had told the truth back in Eden. However, hundreds of years before they died in a physical sense, they became the first casualties in the battle between truth and lies when they were judged unworthy of life by their Creator, the Source of life. That was when they died in a spiritual sense.—Psalm 36:9; compare Ephesians 2:1.
The Teachings of Demons Today
9. How effective have the teachings of demons been through the centuries?
9 As recorded in the book of Revelation, the apostle John was carried by inspiration to “the Lord’s day,” which began in 1914. (Revelation 1:10) At that time Satan and his demons were cast out of heaven to the vicinity of the earth—a great setback for this opposer of our Grand Creator. No more was his voice heard in heaven constantly making accusations against Jehovah’s servants. (Revelation 12:10) What progress, though, had the teachings of demons made on earth since Eden? The record says: “Down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation 12:9) A whole world had succumbed to Satan’s lies! No wonder Satan is called “the ruler of this world”!—John 12:31; 16:11.
10, 11. In what ways are Satan and his demons active today?
10 Did Satan admit defeat after his ouster from heaven? By no means! He determined to keep battling against divine teaching and those who cling to it. Following his being cast out of heaven, Satan continued his warfare: “The dragon [Satan] grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.”—Revelation 12:17.
11 In addition to fighting God’s servants, Satan is flooding the world with his propaganda, striving to keep his grip on mankind. In one of his Revelation visions of the Lord’s day, the apostle John saw three wild animals that symbolically represented Satan, his earthly political organization, and the dominant world power of our time. Out of the mouths of these three, frogs came forth. What did these symbolize? John writes: “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.” (Revelation 16:14) Clearly, teachings of demons are very active in the earth. Satan and his demons are still fighting against divine teaching, and they will continue to do so until they are forcibly stopped by Jesus Christ, the Messianic King.—Revelation 20:2.
Identifying the Teachings of Demons
12. (a) Why is it possible to resist the teachings of demons? (b) How does Satan attempt to achieve his ends with servants of God?
12 Can God-fearing humans resist the teachings of demons? They can indeed, for two reasons. First, because divine teaching is more powerful; and second, because Jehovah has exposed Satan’s strategies in order that we can resist them. As the apostle Paul said, “we are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Corinthians 2:11) We know that Satan uses persecution as one means to achieve his ends. (2 Timothy 3:12) Far more subtly, though, he tries to influence the minds and hearts of those who serve God. He misled Eve and put wrong desires into her heart. He tries the same thing today. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning, your minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3) Consider how he has corrupted the thinking of mankind in general.
13. What lies has Satan told mankind since Eden?
13 To Eve, Satan accused Jehovah of lying and said that humans could be like gods if they disobeyed their Creator. The fallen condition of mankind today proves that Satan, not Jehovah, was the liar. Humans today are no gods! However, Satan followed up that first lie with other lies. He introduced the idea that the human soul is immortal, undying. He thus dangled before mankind the possibility of being like gods in another way. Then, based on that false doctrine, he promoted the teachings of hellfire, purgatory, spiritism, and ancestor worship. These lies still hold hundreds of millions in thrall.—Deuteronomy 18:9-13.
14, 15. What is the truth about death and man’s hope for the future?
14 Of course, what Jehovah told Adam was the truth. Adam did die when he sinned against God. (Genesis 5:5) When Adam and his descendants died, they became dead souls, unconscious and inactive. (Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Ezekiel 18:4) Because of inheriting sin from Adam, all human souls die. (Romans 5:12) Back in Eden, however, Jehovah promised the coming of a seed that would combat the works of the Devil. (Genesis 3:15) That Seed was Jesus Christ, God’s own only-begotten Son. Jesus died sinless, and his sacrificed life became a ransom to purchase mankind from their dying state. Those who obediently exercise faith in Jesus have the opportunity of receiving the everlasting life that Adam lost.—John 3:36; Romans 6:23; 1 Timothy 2:5, 6.
15 The ransom, not some nebulous idea that a soul survives death, is the real hope for mankind. This is divine teaching. It is truth. It is also a wonderful demonstration of Jehovah’s love and wisdom. (John 3:16) How grateful we should be to have learned this truth and to have been set free from the teachings of demons in these matters!—John 8:32.
16. What are the long-term results when humans follow their own wisdom?
16 By his lies in the garden of Eden, Satan encouraged Adam and Eve to aspire to be independent from God and to rely on their own wisdom. Today, we see the long-term results of that in the crime, the economic hardships, the wars, and the gross inequality that exist in the world today. No wonder the Bible says: “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God”! (1 Corinthians 3:19) Nevertheless, most humans foolishly prefer to suffer rather than take note of Jehovah’s teachings. (Psalm 14:1-3; 107:17) Christians, who have accepted divine teaching, avoid falling into that trap.
17. What “falsely called knowledge” has Satan promoted, and what are its fruits?
17 Paul wrote to Timothy: “O Timothy, guard what is laid up in trust with you, turning away from the empty speeches that violate what is holy and from the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge.’ For making a show of such knowledge some have deviated from the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:20, 21) That “knowledge” also represents the teachings of demons. In Paul’s day, it likely referred to the apostate ideas that some in the congregations were promoting. (2 Timothy 2:16-18) Later, falsely called knowledge, such as Gnosticism and Greek philosophy, corrupted the congregation. In the world today, atheism, agnosticism, evolution theories, and higher criticism of the Bible are examples of falsely called knowledge, as are the unscriptural ideas promoted by modern apostates. The fruits of all this falsely called knowledge are seen in the moral degradation, the widespread disrespect for authority, the dishonesty, and the selfishness that characterize Satan’s system of things.
Clinging to Divine Teaching
18. Who today seek divine teaching?
18 Even though Satan has been flooding the earth with teachings of demons since the time of Eden, there have always been some who searched for divine teaching. Such ones number into the millions today. They include the remaining anointed Christians who have the sure hope of reigning with Jesus in his heavenly Kingdom and the growing great crowd of “other sheep” whose hope is to inherit the earthly realm of that Kingdom. (Matthew 25:34; John 10:16; Revelation 7:3, 9) Today, these have been gathered together into one worldwide organization to which apply the words of Isaiah: “All your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.”—Isaiah 54:13.
19. What does being taught by Jehovah include?
19 Being taught by Jehovah means more than knowing true doctrine—important though that is. Jehovah instructs us how to live, how to apply divine teaching to our personal lives. For example, we resist the selfishness, immorality, and spirit of independence that are so rampant in the world around us. We recognize the ruthless pursuit of wealth in this world for what it is—death dealing. (James 5:1-3) We never forget the divine teaching expressed in the words of the apostle John: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”—1 John 2:15.
20, 21. (a) What does Satan use in his efforts to blind humans? (b) What blessings come to those who cling to divine teaching?
20 The effect of the teachings of demons on its victims is seen in Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “[Satan] 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 Corinthians 4:4) Satan would like to blind true Christians in this way too. Back in Eden, he used a serpent to mislead one of God’s servants. Today, he uses violent or immoral movies and television programs. He exploits radio, literature, and music. A powerful weapon at his disposal is wrong association. (Proverbs 4:14; 28:7; 29:3) Always recognize such things for what they are—devices and teachings of demons.
21 Remember, Satan’s words in Eden were lies; Jehovah’s words proved true. Since those early days, the same has continued to be the case. Satan has always proved to be a liar, and divine teaching has unfailingly been true. (Romans 3:4) If we cling to God’s Word, we will always be on the winning side in the battle between truth and lies. (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5) Let us, then, be determined to reject all teachings of demons. In that way we will endure until the time when the war between truth and falsehood is over. Truth will have won. Satan will be gone, and only divine teaching will be heard on earth.—Isaiah 11:9.
Can You Explain?
□ When were demonic teachings first heard?
□ What are some lies promoted by Satan and his demons?
□ In what ways is Satan extremely active today?
□ What does Satan use to promote teachings of demons?
□ What blessings belong to those who cling to divine teaching?
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Demonic teaching was first heard in the garden of Eden
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Divine teaching about the ransom and the Kingdom offers the only hope for mankind