If I Were the Devil
Good News Magazine
April 1968
Volume: Vol XVII, No. 04
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If I Were the Devil

If you could see and hear Satan, how would he act and talk? Maybe you are listening to him and don't know it! Read this unusual article and learn to recognize the Devil's line!

   IF I were the Devil I'd be an expert at overthrowing people. Don't forget I caused Israel to be overthrown many times. I conquered persons such as Ananias, Sapphira, Alexander the coppersmith, and Hymenaeus all onetime members of God's Church. I got Demas, a minister under the apostle Paul, to turn away from God's Church, having incited him to love this world.

Look Into History

   The Bible is a book of history. It was written for our profit upon whom the ends of the world are come. The Devil also knows the history contained in God's Word. He knows the lessons better than all of us. He was there.
   Do you remember how Israel was overthrown time and again during the days of the judges? In Judges 3 God delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of the king of Mesopotamia by the hand of Caleb's younger brother. Israel was delivered and the land had rest forty years. See Judges 3:8-11.
   But what happened during those forty Tears? Obviously it was a time of peace, of prosperity and rebuilding of Israel. Those were "good" years like the roaring twenties and soaring sixties!
   "And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Eternal: and the Eternal strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Eternal." (Verse 12.)
   So the children of Israel were taken captive. This time under the king of Moab where they served in captivity and slavery for eighteen years. But when they cried to God he heard them and delivered them.
   "So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. AND THE LAND HAD REST FOURSCORE [80] YEARS" (verse 30).
   Again Israel had peace. This time for eighty years. Again it was a time of peace and prosperity. During this time the children of Israel became a hedonistic and pleasure-loving nation. And they did evil in the sight of the Eternal.
   "And the Eternal sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles" (Judges 4:1-2).
   With iron chariots and a mighty army the king of Canaan and the captain of his host mightily oppressed the children of Israel for twenty years.
   But God loved His nation. And when they cried to Him from pain and suffering, God's mercy was extended to them again. This time God used Deborah and Barak, the son of Abinoam, to free Israel.
   And when He had freed them God's Word tells us, "And the land had rest forty years." (Judges 5:31.)

Prosperity a Trial

   Whenever Israel was freed from captivity and persecution, the land had rest either forty or eighty (2 x 40) years. Forty is the number for trial in the Bible. When Israel was freed from persecution, at ease in prosperity and good times it was a trial!
   What happened once Israel was set free from the Canaanites? "And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Eternal: and the Eternal delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years" (Judges 6:1).
   The Israelites had degenerated into pagan perversions. When they had peace they turned toward production. From production they went to pleasure. In their pleasure they forgot the Eternal and drifted into paganism and every vile practice.
   God used Gideon to deliver the children of Israel from the hand of the Midianites. "Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness FORTY YEARS in the days of Gideon" (Judges 8:28).
   What did Israel do during the forty years of quietness? "And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god. And the children of Israel remembered not the Eternal their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side: Neither showed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had showed unto Israel" (Judges 8:33-35).
   There you have it. Israel forgot God. She turned to pagan customs and made covenants with idols. History is solid on this fact!

Problems Build Character

   "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, THAT THE TRYING OF YOUR FAITH WORKETH PATIENCE" (James 1:2-3).
   God's people are to rejoice and be joyful when they fall into trials. These trials work patience patient endurance in the way of God.
   "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, BEING MUCH MORE PRECIOUS THAN OF GOLD THAT PERISHETH, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 1:6-7).
   Notice! The trial of faith drives us closer to God. It is more precious than gold because under duress we build character when we stay steadfast.
   God's people experience many trials that are blessings. For after the trial is over, we arc closer to God than before. We learn vital and important lessons from trials. In the face of trials people have to pray more, fast more, study more, and examine themselves! No wonder the Bible says the trial of your faith is more precious than gold!
   If I were the Devil, I too, would know that trials can be good for God's people.

God's Warning

   God gives this warning in Deuteronomy 6:10-12 and the Devil knows why.
   "And it shall be, when the Eternal your God shall have brought you into the land which He sware unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildest not, And houses full of all good things, which thou fillest not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; THEN BEWARE LEST THOU FORGET THE ETERNAL, which brought thee forth oat of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage."
   "Be careful," God says, "lest you forget Me ill your prosperity." This is the very thing Israel did!
   God gives another warning in Deuteronomy 8. "When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Eternal thy God for the good land which He bath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the Eternal thy God, in not keeping His commandments, and His judgments, and His statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied and all that thou hast is multiplied; THEN THINE HEART BE LIFTED UP, AND THOU FORGET THE ETERNAL THY GOD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage" (verse 10-14).
   Yes, prosperity is a trial a test! But here God shows us how to withstand this trial. God says we must not forget to acknowledge Him-to keep our eyes on Him to keep full throttle in His ways!
   Here's what Israel did when she got fat and prosperous. "But Jeshurun [Israel] waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation" (Deut. 32:15). Here lies the trouble! Here's the problem! Here's what overthrows so many!
   Once prosperous and fat they begin to forsake God by lightly esteeming Him!
   Enthralled with their own physical prosperity gadgets, appliances, and just plain things they seldom think seriously about God or His ways. They lightly esteem the Eternal.
   God condemns modern Israel for idolatry! "Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made" (Isaiah 2:8). The Moffett translation says they worship the things they manufacture,

Is Material Wealth Wrong?

   God wants to bless His people. He delights in heaping abundant material blessings and prosperity on those who fully obey Him. God promised unparalleled blessings to Israel because of Abraham's obedience. Every good and precious gift comes from God. He loves to bless.
   Jesus tells Christians that God will supply their needs. Even more God says, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest PROSPER and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth" (III John 2).
   God promises to bless the tithe payer and to prosper him. (See Mal. 3:10.) The Bible contains dozens of rules on handling money and using wisdom in finances. The Bible says that riches are the crown of wise men. God wants His people to be blessed and prospered.
   So if I were the Devil I'd try to get God's people to set their hearts on material things!

The Way of Rome

   Look what has happened to every major empire in the world. Babylon a world-ruling empire under King Nebuchadnezzar came to dizzy heights of prosperity unparalleled at that time. Babylon imported slaves. People were rich and prosperous. The ruling classes lived in absolute luxury and splendor.
   Babylon was a fortress in itself. The city was encompassed by walls 311 feet high and 87 feet thick. Her hanging gardens was one of the wonders of the ancient world. Yet Babylon fell! But how?
   With prosperity the Babylonians degenerated while the Persians were coming on strong. Men of Persia were lean, hard and vicious. They were willing to sacrifice most anything to accomplish their goal.
   One night the princes of Babylon were feasting and celebrating. Over a thousand lords every significant ruler in Babylon attended the great feast given by Belshazzar, grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. While they feasted a traitor opened the gates and the Persian army swam via the Euphrates through the city of Babylon. Before anyone realized what happened the city of Babylon was taken!
   But did Persia learn from Babylon? No. She went the same way. Once Persia ruled the world she became prosperous. She imported slaves and had them do her work. The once lean, hard army of Persia became fat and lazy. Soon another power rose in the world the fast-moving, hard-hitting army of Alexander the Great. Before long the Greeks were ruling the world.
   With the death of Alexander the Greek empire fell apart. From its pieces came the Roman Empire. Acclaimed by historians as the mightiest empire the world has ever known, the Roman Empire lasted from 31 B.C. to 476 A.D. Who could have imagined that this mighty empire, which stood over five hundred years could fall to a bunch of barbarians?
   But the powerful Roman army was made up of Roman people. When the people decayed 'so did the army.

What History Says

   Here is what happened to Rome. "From the time of Gaius Gracchus (123-122 B.C.), great numbers of the poor had subsisted from the public dole. To the granting of free corn was later added (300 A. D.) the distribution of oil, wine, and pork.
   "To support the vast armies of officials at the head of the state and of paupers at the bottom demanded enormous revenues. These revenues could only he raised by taxation. But the heavy taxation forced great numbers of people out of business. Agriculture became so unprofitable that few cared to accept land when it was offered them as a gift by the government. It thus came about that, though the rate of taxation was vastly increased, the public revenues decreased.
   "An attempt was made to force men to continue in business and to compel the son to succeed to the trade of his father. The 'just price' was fixed for hundreds of articles. The salary or wages was determined which was necessary to maintain a man 'according to his station.' This meant that however hard he worked or however great his skill a man could not rise above his present station. There remained no motive for industry or skill. Men lost all desire to work. Better to live off the dole and be amused and pacified by the sports of the amphitheater.
   "The armies lost all sense of loyalty. The state, sapped of its moral, intellectual and financial strength, fell an easy prey to a simple and vigorous, if barbaric, people." (Page 274, Ancient History in Bible Light.)
   Today Britain and America are swiftly traveling the way of Rome. Public dole is increasing phenomenally. Britain right now is a welfare state and
   America is headed that way as fast as she can go. We are living in the times of decay in these once great countries. America, once this planet's powerhouse, is now a fat and affluent society. Glutted on its own wealth it has lost its purposes and goals. Decay has set in. Spiritual and moral foundations are rotting away.
   The people of America and Britain, once an energetic laboring force, are now drugged into stupor before their television sets (tellies). Our peoples have forgotten God! They have turned their back on God. Smothered by their prosperity and buried under material things many doubt the existence of the Almighty God! But Almighty God lives! And He warned that it would be this way!

Jesus Warns of Materialism

   Jesus Christ foresaw the end time. He knew what troubles we would face and gave this warning:
   "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and DRUNKENNESS, AND CARES OF THIS LIFE, AND SO THAT DAY COME UPON YOU UNAWARES.
   "For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth" (Luke 21:34-35).
   Here is God's warning to New Testament Christians. Don't get too materially minded! Don't let the cares of this life take your mind off God and His purposes! Watch that you don't forget God!
   Examine yourself. Have you imbibed the spirit of this world? Have you taken on the spirit of the society around you? Are you, in your way, as lazy and indolent as the people around you? Have you adopted the spirit of lethargy?
   "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night, But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet the hope of salvation" (I Thess. 5:6-8).

Money Is Power

   Today the emphasis is on materialism. People are frantically concerned about the cares of this life. How to make ends meet. How to get more for their money.
   God warns us about the greedy, selfish spirit that pervades our societies today. "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY IS A ROOT OF ALL EVIL: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Tim. 69-10),
   Most people are not ready for riches. They can't handle them!
   Look what happens to God's people every year at the Feast of Tabernacles. Most experience a per capita spending that excells anything they do all year long.
   How do they use this extra money this power? Is it handled wisely?
   All too often it is not. Many spend themselves sick! They gorge themselves and their children on sweets, pastries, and other foodless foods reaping a poisonous pleasure.
   Money is power. It must be controlled. Without self-control and restraint money becomes a curse. Satan's aim is to encourage us to destroy ourselves turn blessings into curses.
   Indeed prosperity is a trial!
   Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Mat. 6:21).
   Where is your treasure? We know definitely that money has fallen down several times for the Building Fund. Mr. Armstrong had to write and explain this vital, critical need. Yet, with more members than ever before people are giving less proportionately than they ever did!
   Do you have the attitude of the early New Testament Christians? For the sake of God's Work for the sake of their own brethren many sold their possessions, and donated the money to God's Church. The money was distributed to those who had need.
   In our own times we have had outstanding examples of complete dedication. When Ambassador College was just struggling to its feet God moved on the hearts of some Lo-Workers to give all they had. Several sold their houses and gave the money to God's Church. They kept only enough to rent another smaller house. More than one man has donated his life's savings to God's Work and then donated his life in service to Ambassador College.
   Ask yourself: "Do I have that kind of faith? Do I have the attitude of the early Christians? Or am I so materially minded that I cannot put my heart completely into God's Work?
   Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. YE CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON" (Mat. 6:24).
   The Devil knows the choice is either God or your material wealth. Now if he can drug you, hook you on materialism, pleasures and the soft life so you think you can't live without it then your mind can he turned away from godliness. For the Bible plainly reveals that the mind set on the flesh and the fleshly things is enmity to God. (See Romans 8:4-7.)

The Devil's Plan

   The Devil really hates prosperity! Those he dominates will eventually live in squalor. Witness the nations of India, Africa, South America, etc.
   Prosperity is a blessing from God! But it must be used properly! Like fire, water and other elements prosperity can be destructive rather than constructive if not handled properly.
   Thus the Devil's plan: Get people to misuse prosperity so that it becomes a curse rather than a blessing. Get people to set their hearts on material things forget God!
   So, if I were the Devil here's how I'd do it.
   Within my power I'd give you a road of smooth sailing. I'd hold hack some persecutions. I'd assure you CONVINCE YOU that there is no need to pray harder, study more, sacrifice further. "Everything will be all right. Take it easy," I'd say. "Rest, relax, enjoy yourself have another piece of candy."
   I'd try my best to convince you there's no need for you to carry all that spiritual armor around (Eph. 6:12-18).
   "Look, haven't things been going well? Then why keep that shield of faith up so high? And why lug that breastplate of righteousness around? You don't need it. Neither will you need that sword of the spirit the Word of God.
   "That's it," I'd say, "take off those shoes of readiness in the gospel. Now sit back and relax. Make yourself comfortable. Take it off. That's it go ahead sure, do it. It must be hot under that helmet of salvation."
   Now with all your armor off you would no longer hear the smooth voice of an apparent friend. You'd hear the terrifying roar of a hungry lion!

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Good News MagazineApril 1968Vol XVII, No. 04