God and Creation—Part 11

The Great Deception

“The serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.”
—Genesis 3:4

THE EXPRESSION, “that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan” (Rev. 20:2), is obviously a reference to the ‘serpent’ which appeared to, and deceived, mother Eve. The general consensus of opinion among Bible scholars is that Satan, who is a powerful, although invisible, spirit being, spoke through the serpent. Just how he conveyed his message to Eve is not important. For our present purpose we will consider that it was the Devil who deceived Eve, ignoring whatever part the serpent may have played in it.


Concerning the Devil, Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44) Here Jesus takes us back to what occurred in Eden. He states that Satan was actually a ‘murderer,’ for it was under his influence that our first parents transgressed God’s law, which resulted in their death. Our Lord further identifies Satan’s treachery in Eden by saying that he was a ‘liar, and the father of it.’

It was Satan who fathered the sin of lying, his first lie occurring when he said to mother Eve, “Ye shall not surely die.” (Gen. 3:4) God had made it plain to Adam, who communicated the information to his wife, that death would result from their disobedience. But Satan denied this; and not only was he successful in deceiving Eve, but he has successfully carried on his campaign of deception ever since, with the result that only a few have continued to believe God on the subject of death, the vast majority unwittingly believing Satan, insisting that there is no death. This work of deception will be allowed to continue until the due time in God’s plan of the ages when Satan will be bound, “that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season,” and then destroyed.—Rev. 20:3; 12-15; Heb. 2:14

It was not difficult for Eve to believe that she would not die as a result of disobedience. She had had no experience with death, and had seen no one die. Doubtless she took Satan’s denial of the Lord’s statement literally, believing that despite her disobedience she would continue to live and enjoy all the blessings of Eden, and have the added advantage, as she thought, of being much wiser. How bitterly disappointed she must have been when, debarred from the trees of life in Eden, she realized from year to year that the seeds of death were working in her and that she would eventually become feeble and die. Adam had no illusions on the matter, for he “was not deceived.” (I Tim. 2:14) He knew that eventually he would die.


The fact that the human race began to die despite his assertion, ‘Ye shall not surely die,’ proved that Satan was a liar, just as Jesus later said. But having foisted this deception upon Eve he did not propose to allow subsequent circumstances to prove him wrong, so his next great deception was that death is not what it seems to be, that in reality those whom we call dead are more alive than ever. It is held by Satan, and those who unwittingly espouse his great deception, that only the body dies. The claim is that there is a separate entity within humans which cannot die, and that at death this escapes from the body, and lives on in another realm.

The great power of this deception is in the fact that no one wants to die, therefore it is pleasant to believe that there is no death. In continuing to foster his great deception, Satan introduced into the minds of men many theories as to what happens to the ‘never-dying’ part of man when the body dies. There are the theories of reincarnation and the transmigration of souls.

Reincarnationists believe that every time a child is begotten, or born—they are not sure which—a departed spirit enters into it, there finding a home until this newest body dies, when the disembodied spirit again is homeless until it has an opportunity to find refuge in another human infant. The theory is that most of us have made many of these excursions, and will probably keep on doing so indefinitely. How the reincarnationists explain the constantly increasing population of the earth we have not yet learned. According to this no-death theory there are more spirits reaching earth each year than are departing. Where do the extra ones come from?

The transmigration of souls is somewhat different, and not quite so pleasing. This theory also calls for continuous cycles of the soul, but it does not always succeed in finding refuge in a human body. While, according to this theory, during our present visit to earth we may be human beings, the last time we were here we may have been a dog, or a cat, or an elephant, or a spider. The next time we come we may find our soul is being flitted through the air in the body of a bird, or hopping around in the slimy body of a croaking frog. It all depends upon how well we do with ourselves on each visit, as to what particular form we will have the next time we come. There is an end to this, for finally the soul departs for the last time, and after that, in due course, finds rest in a mythical Nirvana, meaning ‘extinction of the flame of life,’ or ‘loss of all personal consciousness by absorption into the divine.’

This satanic method of endeavoring to prove true the lie, ye shall not surely die, has been adopted into most heathen religions in one form or another. This is why a Hindu tries to avoid stepping on an insect, or killing a fly, lest he injure the feelings of an ancestor. To many it may seem difficult to understand how anyone could believe such apparent nonsense, but it is really no more unreasonable than the no-death theories which have found their way into the professed Christian religions.


All the religions of the world attempt, each in its own way, to deal with the problem of sin. Rewards are held out to the righteous, and punishments for the wicked. A faithful Hindu might not have to come back to earth as a dog, and he will reach Nirvana with fewer earth cycles than those less faithful. Also, in the creed of the churches, account is taken of the fact that there are saints and sinners, believers and unbelievers, faithful and unfaithful, and attempts are made to explain how the good will be rewarded and the wicked punished.

In all this theorizing, the simple fact of the Bible that the “wages of sin is death” is ignored. How could one believe that the ‘wages of sin is death’ and at the same time insist that there is no death? When God’s penalty for sin is denied, his reward for righteousness cannot be appreciated. Paul wrote, “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”—Rom. 6:23

Hell, it is alleged, is only for the out-and-out sinners, those who maliciously and willfully defy the church, and turn their backs upon all its rules and regulations. Many heretics, it is claimed, fall into this category, and therefore are doomed to spend the endless ages of eternity in hell. Doomed is the appropriate word to use here, for in this hell the wicked are said to be tortured in burning flames many times hotter than any fire ever produced by man.

From the humane standpoint, the teachings of the heathen seem better than the hell dogma. But then, there is an alternative! If one wishes, he can avoid being wicked enough to go to hell, and after death find himself in purgatory. Purgatory, it is explained, is just what its name implies, a place of purgation, of cleansing from sin and defilement, so that one is eventually made pure enough to enter into the bliss of heaven. The purging methods in purgatory are very strenuous. There is fire there also, and very hot. In this respect probably the chief difference between hell and purgatory is that the tortures of the latter are not eternal in duration. There is an eventual escape, the time spent in the flames being determined by a number of circumstances, one being how well the sufferer responds to the refining process.


In the Middle Ages various reformers began to question such teachings of the established church. They discovered that the doctrine of purgatory is not taught in the Bible, that not even the word purgatory appears in the sacred Word, so they protested against this teaching. It was not a pleasant thing to do, for it left them with a problem. By doing away with purgatory, there was no place for the partially wicked souls to go except to hell.

From the standpoint of mercy, some Christians worsened the outlook for sinners, particularly the partially willful among them. Throughout the ages there have been millions who, according to the standards of the church, and the Bible also, have not been good enough to go to heaven. Many Christians agree that there are many good people in the world who are not good enough for heaven because not devoted to the cause of Christ. Yet, these must spend eternity in a hell of torment. It is a repelling thought, and one of the many God-dishonoring teachings which have followed in the wake of Satan’s lie, Ye shall not surely die.

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