In the winter of 1846 a group of families and pioneers set out to head west looking for fortune, a new start, and even adventure. One family among this band of travelers was the Donner family. After being told of a bypass that could potential cut weeks off of their trip, the father decided to lead his family through a supposed shortcut in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Shortly after they broke from the main party, a wagon axle broke and the Donners were forced to camp overnight and focus on repairs. Sadly, a terrible snow storm hit that evening and began an extremely harsh winter for that region. 4 months after they deserted the original group, the relief party arrived in the middle of February to save what few members of the family were still alive. The suffering and death the rescuers found was enough the stuff of folklore and legend for many years to come.
I give you that story to illustrate the weight of what often occurs when we attempt "shortcuts." The devil knows this all too well and has specific shortcuts he'd like to sell you. The main one? Satan's version of the gospel. Much like the Donner family, listening to the devil's false gospel will also lead to suffering and death. But, why would Satan preach such a lie? What would be the outcome of following such a "shortcut?" And how do we spot the errors in his road map? In the next two blog posts we'll take a look at the established, proven trail God has called us to. We'll take a trip down the "Romans Road" to see how the true Gospel compares to the lie which is the gospel according to Satan.
The first stop on our Romans Road of the true Gospel is Romans 3:23 which says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Most Christians know the the term Gospel means, "good news." However, simple logic also tell us that if there's good news then there must also be bad news. The true Gospel balances this message perfectly. In other words, to appreciate the good news one must firmly understand the bad news. Romans 3:23 plainly showcases to us that we are far from God because of our sin and fall eternally short of His glory. Sin separates us from a holy God, ruins our lives, and its not just something we do, but it's our entire nature. Satan's gospel, on the other hand, contains no bad news. In his web of lies we're all "a good person" and told that "sin is enjoyable!" This lie has trapped the likes of Adam and Eve, David, Samson, and Demas (2 Timothy 4:10). Put plainly, the gospel according to Satan is out of balance.
As we travel down the Romans Road our second stop brings us to Romans 5:8 which reads, "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." This passage is a clear warning that we cannot save ourselves. After all, how could spiritually dead people bring themselves to life? Christ MUST come for there to be salvation. His sacrifice on the cross and resurrection had to take place. This act of atonement is a shining example of God's love, which the passage from Romans 5 tells us was "toward us" even while we were in a state a complete rebellion (sinners).
Satan's gospel teaches the opposite. In fact, he teachers there's no need for Jesus at all. We're told by the father of lies that we're our own savior. The devil's theology tells us we need no substitute in our place to satisfy God's wrath over our sin. The remedy instead is to outwork your issues and flaws. This is commonly referred to as being only "broken." So, we must "clean up our act," "put the pieces back together," and "work on improving yourself." The fatal problem with this foolishness is that we aren't just broken, but dead. There are no pieces to put back together. Frankly, there are no pieces at all. The only thing we bring to the table of the Lord is our sin and only our sin. The reality of the matter is that Christ is our only hope and the only Savior we'll ever know. Jesus drives this point home in John 14:6 as He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me."
Our third stop on the Romans Road will be our last for now. We make our way to Romans 6:23 which tells us, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Sin culminates in death. This is an inescapable fact. Sinners deserve death and a Holy God must punish sin because He is Just and Righteous to do so. If the Lord failed to judge sin He would not only be unholy, but unjust as well and compromise His perfect Word. Therefore, the true payment for sin against holy God is death and separation from Him for all eternity in hell. Simply stated, God has a law and the violators of that law will be punished accordingly. This is where the good news comes in! Jesus gives us the gift of His own life and pays our debt to God by dying in our place. Christ (and ONLY Christ) cancels out our sin by substituting Himself in the place of undeserving sinners. It's the just for the unjust. The innocent for the guilty. That's why we rejoice today that the true Gospel is summed up in the four word sentence: Jesus in our place.
The gospel according to Satan teaches, "a loving god would never send people to hell." The devil's doctrine is one which makes disciples around the ideas of hell being a "myth" or and "psychological tool" the church uses to manipulate people into conformity by fear. This common lie leads to terrible theology which has been bought hook, line, and sinker by literally millions worldwide. Those of the reincarnation beliefs such as Hindus and Buddhists all the way to those of the annihilationism persuasion like the Seventh Day Adventists or Jehovah's Witnesses. We even see this played out in the ideas of universalism (all mankind will be saved) and purgatory among Catholic believers. All in all, the lie of trying to disprove hell as a real place where real people go is poor theology at best and eliminates the need of a Savior because there's no wrath of God to be saved from.
Stay with us in the coming days as we continue down the Romans Road to see just how warped the gospel according to Satan really is and be encouraged that we can spot the warning signs for ourselves and others to keep from falling prey to his deception.