By Elizabeth Prata
And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ —Matthew 4:3
Did satan not know Jesus is the Son of God? Of course satan knew. We see that he and his demons knew this in Luke 4:41,
And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
And we see that the demons knew that Jesus is the Son of God in Mark 5:7,
And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
And James 2:19 says even the demons believe, and shudder!
Throughout scripture we read that satan knows full well who Jesus is. So why would satan begin his temptation by saying, “IF you are the Son of God…”?
Because he wanted to get Jesus to doubt. Ergo, satan’s question is a deceptive skepticism.
Satan himself has no doubt whatsoever that Jesus is the Son of God. However, satan’s issue is that he thinks he can beat Jesus in a contest of wills. Satan believes he can usurp Jesus from His position as King of KINGS and Lord of LORDS. We know satan knows that God is highest, and we read satan’s conviction that God won’t be God on his throne forever, that satan himself will usurp Him. These are the five “I wills” of satan in Isaiah 14:13-15. Satan doesn’t doubt a thing.
Satan isn’t skeptical of God’s existence nor is satan skeptical of who God is. Neithr is satan unsure of himself. Satan’s scheme is to get US to doubt.
Scripture warns us repeatedly about deception-
fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock… (Acts 20:29)
We picture a fierce wolf with fur standing up and fangs bared. But that is how they are inwardly. If we saw the fierceness in the wolf, we would know he was a wolf. What we see in false teachers is a pleasant demeanor, smiles, apparently helpful and meek. A Joel Osteen, not a Hulk Hogan. The false ones are disguised.
false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13)
What they bring, however, is philosophy and empty deceit (Colossians 2:8)
Their disguise and pleasant demeanor hides a purposeful destruction-
false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1).
We see the philosophy and empty deceit in the tactic satan used with Christ, “IF you are the Son of God…”
Sowing doubt is an age-old tactic of satan, and why not? It works. However there has been a shift from false sowers who sow doubt about God’s word, (like Rob Bell) to those who claim to be Christian but sow doubt about God’s existence. (Like the IF:Gathering). It is a significant shift.
Ten years ago Rob Bell made headlines. He was a self-proclaimed ‘Evangelical’ who sowed doubt about the inerrancy of scripture as God’s perfect word. Bell was the perfect ‘Hath God said?’ guy. His method was to ask questions under the guise of sincerely seeking truth but what he was doing was actually sowing doubt and using dishonest skepticism to do it. There is a difference between honest questioning and dishonest skepticism.
The women of the IF:Gathering, a subject on which I’ve written a three-part series, question the existence of God. No, these women are not atheists. They are not Wiccans believing in goddess power. They claim to be Christians, and claim to study God’s word, IF He exists, that is.
Doubt in a believer happens occasionally. Doubting one’s salvation temporarily is natural. Doubting an interpretation of a doctrine is all right, until you work it out under the illumination of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit eventually supplies confirmation of all of the above, if you pray and seek Him.
Permanent skepticism, though, is not noble. Being skeptical of God’s existence is not all right. But what we see from the dishonest questioners is the ignoble doubt of God’s existence. Ignoble because God has shown Himself to all people and those who fail to accept His existence are suppressing that truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18-19).
It is satan’s assault on our own faith and the baseline truth it rests on: God is One and there is no other. He is real. Believers don’t doubt God’s existence. If you doubt He is real, you’re not a believer. It is not a faith question, then, but a problem of deliberate suppression of the truth that brings wrath.
Believers are held responsible even for sincere or temporary doubts. Priest Zechariah was rendered mute because of the doubt he voiced when the angel foretold that he and Elizabeth would bear a son in their advanced age. (Luke 1:18-20). He was a priest, well versed in the scriptures, and an angel was telling this to his face, but Zechariah still asked how this is possible. The angel responded,
And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.
We are told that when we ask for wisdom,
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6)
We must not doubt. (Mark 11:23, James 5:15, 1 John 5:14-16).
Dishonest skepticism emanates from a false worker of iniquity. It is a satanic tactic designed to get you to doubt what you know and thus diminish your faith. Learn the difference and avoid any person, teacher, or organization that systematizes either skepticism or doubt.