Satan's Indirect Strategies
We have begun to focus on the indirect assaults of Satan, those assaults where Satan attacks the human race indirectly through circumstances, through individuals, or through systems of thought that dominate human history—religious systems, philosophical systems, any kind of system that allows man to think that somehow he can find meaning, significance and happiness apart from complete orientation to the authority of God and His grace and His Word. All thought is either going to be grounded on the Word of God or it is going to be grounded on some autonomous ultimate reference point, usually within the creation itself. This is why it is called demonic. It is because it partakes of the same fundamental destructive thought forms that characterise the thinking of Satan. So this include all world religions other than Christianity; it includes all forms of Christianity other than biblical grace-oriented Christianity; and so it is important to understand how the Bible teaches us to think, and what the Bible teaches us about reality.
These thought systems seem so comfortable to us because there is an affinity between them and our sin nature. So often, depending on the culture we come out of, we are inculcated in the planks of that thought system from the time we come out of the cradle. The default position of our sin nature always goes back to that because that is our comfort zone. So often we fail to recognise those things because only by the Word of God can we really get far enough out from who we are and our own culture to be able to have an honest objective critique of what we are thinking. That is hard for a lot of people and some people never can do that.
Biblical thinking starts off with a creator God, a Triune creator God, not just any god or some being that is out there that is ill-defined, not just some unmoved mover, some prime mover, or whatever philosophy may come up with; but a God who is totally, radically distinct from everything else, a creator God who is the ultimate reference point for everything but stands totally apart from everything that is in creation. He has created a finite universe and in that universe He creates matter and energy, life, vegetation, animals, and he creates man. When he creates man, God as a creator defines who man is. You don't discover who man is by going to sociology. You may go to sociology and discover some truths, lower case, but how do you know that next week you won't discover some truth that changes your view of today? You don't, unless you have some ultimate reference point, which is God. So God defines who man is, and this is also true for psychology. Who is man in terms of his soul? The Bible claims to be the sole authoritative source of information about the soul. All of the secular psychologists come along and on the basis of empiricism seek to speak authoritatively about that which God claims to have exclusive authority. So they come up with all of this guessing and imaginative reasoning which the Bible refers to as simple vanity to tell us who man is. This is simply bled into our culture. We are such a psychologised culture.
God says He is the one who tells us who we are and what our problem is. He tells us what pour purpose is: that man is distinct from all other living creatures. He is totally different because he is created in the image of God. He has certain social institutions that are established by God so that in society with other people there can be order and achievement. He defines man as a social creature and so He makes man male and female. He establishes marriage, family, and later on after the fall he establishes human government so that man is responsible for governing himself and punishing those who violate the rules and the laws of society. So we can go to the Scriptures and learn things that relate to law and politics, not that the Mosaic Law is to be something as our Constitution but that as a perfect law it is a model for any other nation. If we want genuine freedom then a pattern can be developed from looking at the Mosaic Law.
The Bible says we are all sinners, and the only hope is the Word of God and being transformed by the renewing of our minds. So the biblical system is that God speaks to everything—ethics, aesthetics, that God is the original creator of beauty. We can't understand beauty unless we start with God, or music, because music was in God's thinking long before it was ever voiced by the angels. Truth is what resides in God; He establishes its reality. God is truth; He defines reality. He speaks to things He creates, or else He doesn't speak to anything He creates. Those are the only two options. So it is God who defines everything. But Satan comes along and wants to redefine, and so he works within the thinking of human culture.
Ultimately, because we reject any sort of external absolute which peaks absolute truth to everything in creation, we will always end up in relativistic thinking. Man is born with a magnet in his make-up called the sin nature. He is born with this orientation to reject an absolute authority because the centre of his little universe from the day he was born is himself. That is true for every single sin nature, and the process of growing as a believer is to get beyond that. Satan has various ways in which he inculcates us in his kind of thinking, and because the sin nature is attracted to it, because it is the way your parents thought, your teachers thought, and your friends thought, you just think it is common sense. A lot of times "common sense" is not common sense, it is just what works within that culture. What works within that culture is what has affinity to the autonomous thought forms within that culture; it just seems so natural. But what seems to normal and right to you maybe abnormal, strange and downright suicidal to somebody living in another culture because they have totally different influences and presuppositions than you do. As a Christian you really set yourself over against everybody else; that is why the world is hostile to Christians. This is why religion is truly hostile to the Bible. Why is it that no one can pick on anything but everybody can pick on Christianity? It always boils down to that, where Christianity is everybody's favourite whipping boy but you can't say anything negative about anybody else. Why? Because Christianity is absolute truth. And at the core of man's being there is this antagonism to truth because in arrogance man wants to be the ultimate definer of everything.
The bottom line is that we have to do what the Scripture says. Romans 12:2 NASB "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." We are born conformed to the world; we grow up being conformed to the world; that is our normal modus operandi. But once we become saved we have to be transformed, and that engages our volition. We have to think, we have to think about the elements in our thinking and we have to think about the blueprint of our thinking. Both have to change because if we change the elements of our thinking without changing the blueprint of our thinking we are still going to be thinking biblical thoughts but within the framework of pagan concepts. So we have to be transformed by the renovation of our minds. That is why we exist: to overhaul our thinking. It is not easy, and not everybody wants that challenge. Every generation has to learn on its own; every generation has to relearn these lessons; every generation of believers has to decide whether doctrine is going to be first or whether self is going to be first. So are we going to be dominated by the world or are we going to be dominated by Scripture? The only source of freedom is going to be the Word of God. When Jesus confronted the Pharisees they claimed that they were free but they weren't. Every one of us is enslaved three ways. We are a slave to Satan's dominion; we are all born under Satan's authority. We are slaves to our own sin nature and we are slaves to the cosmic system around us that shakes our thinking. It is only when we can break those shackles—first at the cross when we transfer from the domain of Satan to the authority of Christ, and then second by the ongoing study of the Word of God that transforms our thinking—that we can have real freedom. This is why Jesus said: "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." By truth he meant God, the originator of truth, as over against everything in His creation. Only by orienting to His absolute truth is there real, genuine freedom.