According to Jesus in John 8:44, Satan is a “liar and the father of lies,” and I think he tells two whoppers with amazing regularity.
First, Satan steadily whispers to non-believers: “Things are honky – dory between you and God.” This is a lie, of course, because they are under His wrath for their sin. (…whoever does not believe is condemned…the wrath of God remains on him.) John 3:18…36 (ESV)
Back in the day, I’m pretty sure he was telling it to me – it was certainly my assumption as a non-believer. I reasoned that if there was a God, he would think I was absolutely terrific. My parents sure did, and God was just my cosmic parent, right? Therefore I had nothing to fear, even though I had thumbed my nose at him with my outspoken atheism in high school. In spite of this, I assumed that any God out there would still think I was cute and lovable. After all, I was a good person. And as to any reputed sin, I used the same reasoning as Heinrich Heine, the famous nineteenth century German poet, who reputedly said on his deathbed: “Of course God will forgive me; that’s his job.”
Satan tells this lie to keep men and women right where he wants them – not repenting and turning to Christ for salvation and therefore…not living for God. It is the devil’s first lie, his first line of defense against humankind, and I’ll bet he tells it to non-believers all the time: “You have nothing to worry about on judgment day.”
But when a man begins to see his sin and realize that judgment day might indeed be a problem, by the grace of God, he turns to Christ for salvation. This is where the second lie comes in – now, using a sort of spiritual jujitsu, Satan says, “Things are not a-ok between you and God.” It’s a twisting of Romans 8:1 into satanic verse: “There is condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” You see, I’ve lived within my own thoughts long enough and counseled enough people to know that many Christians assume that though God will accept them into heaven, it will definitely be a grudging act: “Well, alright, I guess you can come in…but keep your voice down.”
The first lie magnifies our good works – “God couldn’t be mad at someone like you.” The second lie magnifies our sin – “How could He stand to have someone like you around?” And the end result of this second lie is always the same – a defeated Christian, defeated because he assumes he can have no fellowship with the Lord, that despite the hopeful promise in Romans 5:1, there is indeed…no peace with God.
The solution? As always – Satan’s lies are defeated by the truth of the gospel wherein the non-believer realizes the fact of sin and judgment, and the Christian realizes that sin has been paid for at the cross…meaning not only that eternal fellowship in heaven is a guarantee, but so is fellowship with God…today.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
“Before the Throne of God Above”, by Charitie Bancroft