The Devil in Religion

I think most people agree that the devil has played his part in religion since the early stages of earth’s history. “And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?” (Genesis 4:2-6 KJV).

After Satan convinced Eve to eat fruit from the forbidden tree, Satan went after Adam and Eve’s eldest son. It seems Cain didn’t come with an owners manual. Adam and Eve had to learn with not much more than on the job training. We can see by a few simple text that God was still there with Adam, Eve, and Cain. God personally talked with Cain. God voiced his concern with Cain. But for some reason, Cain had his own ideas. Now we have to ask the obvious question. Did Cain invent a new system of worship on his own, or did Cain have help? Let’s look at the obvious facts. Satan and a third of the angels in Heaven were banished to this world. Their only past time, recreation, and goal was to work on two people, Adam and Eve, and convince them that their system and ideas were better than God’s. The devil and his army were bent on separating Adam and Eve from God and join their forces. When Cain came along, he must have looked like an easy target. Now Satan had a pupil he could teach his way. So Satan and billions of angels worked on Cain every minute seven days a week. What chance did Cain have? Of course by the Bible text we can see Cain still had God to talk to. We can’t imagine what life must have been like for Cain. He had direct contact with God and the devil. Cain had to make a decision. Maybe Cain was only testing God. Maybe the devil promised Cain riches, wealth, power, and glory. But over what? After a few years, Cain had a little brother. A brother he should have been watching over. Able choose to follow God and the few simple commandments he was given. Just follow the rules. Simple. But was it all that simple? Cain’s crops grew. Cain had no idea how he could plant seed in the ground, water it, and a new plant would sprout and grow. Later more seeds sprang from that one seed. He could eat those seeds and fruit to survive. God’s sun and rain made those plants grow. They were all working together as a team. Cain could have asked God how He designed those seeds and what made them grow. Cain had direct access to God and infinite knowledge. On the other hand, Satan also had direct access to Cain and who knows what Satan promised, or what lies Satan filled Cain’s head with. In the long run, Cain choose to follow one of Satan’s suggestions.

It seems Able had a much closer relationship with God. Maybe Adam and Eve saw the mistakes they made with Cain and adjusted their parenting skills to do a much better job with Able. But when you consider the fact Adam, Eve, Cain, and Able all had equal access to God, what could have went wrong? Maybe Satan discovered something new to work with. Was it pride, jealousy, or a lethal combination of the two? At any rate, Satan and his army were on their way to honing their skills in deception.

As time marched on, the population increased. And so did sin. It is sad to think the first son born to Adam and Eve, the first baby born into this world killed his younger brother. That broke God’s sixth commandment. Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13 KJV). But when we look at those commandments, we see another command Cain broke. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3 KJV). There must have been a written set of laws before Cain broke them. Cain had to know about those laws before God could judge him guilty and pass a sentence on Cain. “And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me this day away from the ground; and from thy face I shall be hidden; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will slay me.” (Genesis 4:10-14 RSVA).

There has to be a law to break before a judge can sentence a man. But here we only see the charge of murder brought against Cain. And we see something else. Cain was afraid of two penalties. Leaving behind the ground he worked on and cared for, and loosing contact with God. Did Cain loose contact with God at that point? Was God not only sending Cain into the wilderness, but into territory controlled by Satan?

We all know that God never changes. We know that God is always the same. We also know God is trying His best to reach each and every individual in this world. When we look at the text we see that it was Cain’s mind that told him, God would no longer be there for him. Is that what sin does to us? Was Satan telling Cain something that wasn’t true? Sure sin has a way of separating us from God. But is that God’s choice, or our choice? Is God still there for us, but our pride and ignorance create a void? Maybe Satan’s way of reaching Cain was to convince him that if God wasn’t there, his laws would also go away. Did Satan tell Cain, “you didn’t do anything wrong. The problem is that law. If you eliminate God, you eliminate His laws.” Isn’t that something sinners dwell on?

It seems that is what the world had in mind. Get away from God and his laws. But something had to replace God and His laws. “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7 RSVA). Satan replaced God’s laws with wickedness and evil. We are not given a list of every sin involved, but we can imagine. People broke every one of God’s commands. They created new religions, new gods, they murdered, stole, committed adultery, and took what they wanted. Sin took over so quickly, it broke God’s heart to see His creation break down in Satan’s hands. Of course this was the first world Satan tried to run. So he made a lot of mistakes. His main excuse was that, men just wouldn’t listen to him or follow orders. Satan wanted to be free of God’s commands and convinced this world they didn’t need any laws. That plan didn’t work. It didn’t take long for Satan to loose control of this world. God had to destroy sin, and unfortunately give Satan a second change to test his theory. God took Noah and his family, put them on a boat, and killed every breathing creature on this planet. With the exception of the animals that joined Noah inside the ark. That boat represented God’s saving grace in all the storms and troubles this world can bring.

When Noah got off that boat, he offered sacrifices to God. This world had eight human beings willing and able to follow God and His laws. Satan also gained a fresh chance. Satan saw where the elimination of all law led. He wasn’t about to try that again. This time Satan had to introduce a new system with new laws. His laws. What better way to control people than through religion? Instead of eliminating God’s laws and trying to get people to follow his directions, Satan needed to copy a few things from God, make a few minor adjustments, and see how that would work.

Building a new city and a new monument dedicated to showing how they could not trust God’s word was one of Satan’s first moves. “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Ba’bel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 11:5-9 RSVA).

Even though God promised never to destroy the earth in a flood, men got together to build a tower, just in case God broker His promise. The tower served two purposes. A few people could climb to the top just in case another flood came long. It also served to display their outlook on God. Because sin separated them from God, the new religion Satan introduced placed God and His kingdom in the clouds. It was a rather silly concept, but a concept that is still widely taught and accepted in some Christian religions. Men were convinced that by building a tower, they could be like God. Today we see similar beliefs. Build a bigger church to get God’s attention. It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work today.

For some reason God gave those people many different languages. There may have been thousands or millions of people in that city at that time. So what did those mixed languages solve? It got the people to move and spread out. Today millions of people speak the same language. More people than the number that were scatted from that city. So what are all those languages pointing to? How many religions do we have in this world today? At least thousands. There are well over three hundred different Christian denominations scattered all over the world. Other major religions all have their differences, splinter groups, and off shoots. No one has any idea how many people die each year because of differences in religious beliefs. What does that have to do with different languages? Well maybe nothing. But those different languages do point to a misunderstanding on a larger scale. And a unified belief in the wrong religion did spawn the break up of a one world language.

So now the world had hundreds of different languages and dialects. Which of course broke in countless forms of religion. After some time, God had one person to call on, Abram. That marked the beginning of a new nation destined to follow God.

Most of us know how that worked out. Abram decided to listen to his wife instead of God. Abram’s first son came from an Egyptian slave. How is that for a turn about. Abram owned a slave from Egypt, and years later the nation of Israel served as slaves in Egypt.

Today Abram’s first son Ismael is given credit to spawning a number of nations and religions. “Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears. But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.” Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink. (Genesis 21:16-19 NLTse).

If nothing else, we can still see how God watched over Hagar and communicated with her. Where has that communication gone?

We can see the fracturing and divisions among religions throughout the Bible. We know how every religion has its own rules, regulations, and doctrines. We have seen on the news how war breaks out between religious factions. We don’t know what those differences are. And most people doing the fighting and killing have no idea why they are killing other human beings. Did Cain know why he killed Able? It was over some religious dispute. Cain could have asked God to solve the dispute, but he chose to rely on his own judgment.

It’s no big secret that Satan uses religions to gain a toe hold in peoples lives. He has been doing that for a rather long time and has come up with some rather bizarre religions to control people. Today we only have to watch or read the news to see how wars are fought over religious differences. Religious genocide is still a part of this world and a tool Satan still pulls out of his work shed. What are those religious differences? Books have been written about those differences. Studies have been done on those differences. Government reports have been written about those differences. Billions of dollars have been spent trying to solve those differences as well as fight over those differences. Millions of lives have been lost over those differences. But no one has bothered to look at the obvious solution. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3 KJV). The only solution is God. To honor God as the one true living God. The examples we looked at in this chapter have shown how God was always there to talk to people. And have shown how Cain and others decided to give Satan’s ideas a chance. None of those ideas or concepts have worked. We are still living in a world that believes mankind can somehow solve all those problems. This world still believes we are on our own and it is up to us to find solutions. But the world will not admit, Satan has a stronger influence over our decisions making capabilities. Satan controls minds. Satan controls leaders, decisions, laws, and wars. We are not in this world alone. Satan prefers to hide behind a mask, and make people think their ideas, concepts, laws, and actions are a product of their imagination and experience. But Satan has more experience than all the leaders in this world put together. Religious or otherwise, Satan has control over those leaders and is not giving up that control without a fight.