The Devil’s Deceptions & Decoys

Matthew 4:6

And [the devil] saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

JOSEPH HALL (1574-1656): But what is this I see? Satan himself with a Bible under his arm and a text in his mouth: “It is written.” What can be a better act than to speak Scripture? It is a wonder if Satan does a good thing well―he cites Scripture―but with mutilation and distortion; it comes out of his mouth maimed and perverted; one piece left [out and] all misapplied.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The devil has always tried to pervert scripture.

JOSEPH HALL: Let no man henceforth marvel to hear heretics or hypocrites quote the Scriptures, when Satan himself has not spared to cite them.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Hypocrisy is a thing not to be much wondered at in this world, especially when we consider the great influence Satan has upon the minds of many, who rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience. As he can turn himself into any shape, and put on almost any form, and look sometimes like an angel of light, in order to promote his kingdom of darkness, so he will teach his ministers and instruments to do the same.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Therefore he is said to “transform himself into an angel of light,” 2 Corinthians 11:14. Of all plots it is most dangerous, when he appears in Samuel’s mantle, and silvers his foul tongue with fair language. Thus in a point of error he corrupts some in their judgement, by commending his notions for special gospel truths, and like a cunning chapman puts off his old wares―errors I mean, that have lain long upon his hand, only turning them a little after the mode of the times, and they go for new light, under the skirt of Christian liberty.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Under a show of truth, Satan introduces the most notorious falsehoods and errors; and, under a pretense of religion, all sorts of idolatry, superstition, and impiety; it is in this way he has succeeded in his enterprises and temptations; these are his wiles, stratagems, and cunning devices.

JOSEPH HALL: No devil is so dangerous as the religious devil―those that wrest or mangle Scripture for their own purpose, it is easy to see from what school they come.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): And mark, Satan is very careful in the men whom he chooses to be decoys. He never employs a wicked man to be a decoy for a good man. It is very seldom, when Satan would decoy a Christian into a snare, that he makes use of an open reprobate. No; he makes use of the man who is pretendedly religious, and who looks to be of the same quality as yourself, and therefore entices you astray.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): The devil is a cunning pirate―he puts out false colours, and ordinarily comes up to the Christian as a friend.

WILLIAM GURNALL: He comes up to the Christian in the disguise of a friend, so that the gates are opened to him, and his motions received with applause, before either be discovered―such as 1 Kings 13:18―the old prophet leads the man of God out of his way: “He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): A prophet, and yet tell a lie! What a foul business is that! A prophet of God, likely, but corrupt.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Probably once a prophet of the Lord, who had fallen from his steadfastness, and yet not so deeply as to lose the knowledge of the true God, and join with Jeroboam in his idolatries.

JOHN GILL: It is hard to say what he was, a good man or a bad man; if a good man, he was guilty of many things which are not in his favour, as dwelling in such an idolatrous place, suffering his sons to attend idolatrous worship, and telling the man of God a premeditated lie.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): I cannot but call him a false prophet and a bad man.

JOHN GILL: Yet there are several things which seem contrary to his being a bad man, and of an ill character, since he is called an old prophet, did not attend idolatrous worship, showed great respect to the man of God, had the word of God sent unto him concerning him, believed that what he had prophesied should come to pass, buried the man of God in his own grave, and desired his sons to bury him with him—though he now dwelt at Bethel, he was originally of Samaria, 2 Kings 23:18.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): A holy prophet might possibly have continued in the kingdom of Israel, but he would never have gone from his own habitation to dwell at Bethel, the chief seat of idolatry, unless with design to preach against it―which it is evident he did not―his sin was great; for he did not only tell a premeditated lie, but also made God a liar, and to contradict Himself.

JOHN TRAPP: Nothing is so apt to deceive as the fairest semblances, as the sweetest words. We cannot be deceived, saith a reverend writer, if we believe not the speech for the person, but the person for the speech. A good man, saith another, may act for Satan, and not discern it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Every heresy that the church has ever known has been introduced by men who were sincere and who thought that they were promoting God’s interest and God’s kingdom by teaching what they taught. It’s the subtlety of it all.

C. H. SPURGEON: If Satan wants his errand done well, he sends one to me whom I call brother; and so through the brotherhood of profession, I am apt to give him credence and pay him respect; and then if he goeth astray the force of example is very powerful, and so I may easily be led into the net too.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Satan makes choice of such as have a great name for holiness: none like a live bird to draw other birds into the net. Abraham tempts his wife to lie: “Say thou art my sister,” Genesis 12:13.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): It is his policy, to send his temptations by the hands of those that are dear to us. We must therefore carefully watch, that we be not drawn to any evil, by them whom we love and value the most.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Sometimes he pretends pity and natural affection, which in some cases may be good counsel, and all the while he desires to promote cowardice and sinful self-love, whereby the Christian may be brought to fly from his colours, shrink from the truth, or decline some necessary duty of his calling. This wile of his, when he got Peter to be his spokesman, saying, Master, pity thyself, Christ soon spied, and stopped his mouth with that sharp rebuke, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” O what need have we to study the Scriptures, our hearts, and Satan’s wiles, that we may not bid this enemy welcome, and all the while think it is Christ that is our guest!


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