Authored By :
Published On :
December 16, 2000
Last Updated :
March 10, 2018
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's "Mephistopheles" In "Faust", Shakespeare's "The Merchant Of Venice" And Shylock's Pound Of Flesh, Satan: The False God Of This World, Resist The Devil, How To Be Free From Bondage, Satan's Materialistic Snare, Jesus In The Wilderness, Be On Guard Against Satan, Our Spiritual Warfare, Friendship With The World, Have You Committed Spiritual Adultery?, They Refused To Be Ashamed, Prosperity Preachers: Deceiving And Being Deceived, They Chose The Flesh Pots Of Egypt Over God, Forsaking All For Jesus, Satan's Worldly Temptations And The Snare Of Riches, Remain Spotless Unrebukeable And Blameless Before God
Undoubtedly, many of my readers will be familiar with the evil character "Mephistopheles" from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's dark work, "Faust". Here we encounter a character who is faced with the serious decision of either giving his soul to God, to Gretchen, or to the devilish Mephistopheles. Some of you will also be familiar with Shakespeare's play "The Merchant of Venice", in which the Jewish moneylender, "Shylock", demands his "one pound of flesh" from Antonio in payment for his services. Down through the years, a number of movies have also been made which revolve around this very same theme. But we must ask ourselves: Is there really any truth to such stories? Or is such talk merely a myth, or an allegory to teach us an important lesson regarding how we ought to deal with others in this life?
If we consider that Satan is indeed the false god of this current world, and that he does possess the power to bestow his blessings, whether it is power, money, fame, physical abundance, women, etc., upon those who agree to do his will, then yes, it is possible to sell ourselves to him, and to his wicked agenda. In fact, people do it everyday, and yet may not even realize it.
If you personally think that such thoughts are mere fairy tales, consider the following facts which are taken straight from the KJV Bible. Perhaps you will have second thoughts. In the first group of verses below, we are clearly shown how Satan is the false god of this present world. He is the very spirit of disobedience, whose job it is to spiritually blind people to the truth of God's Word. By so doing, he ensures that instead of becoming freed by the Word of God, they are entrapped in a life of sin, and physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bondage. Such a wasted, meaningless life can ultimately results in physical -- and more importantly -- in spiritual death, unless a remedy is sought for:
"Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to THE PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:"
Ephesians 2:2, KJV
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, AGAINST SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES."
Ephesians 6:12, KJV
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN, I WILL EXALT MY THRONE ABOVE THE STARS OF GOD: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I WILL ASCEND ABOVE THE HEIGHTS OF THE CLOUDS; I WILL BE LIKE THE MOST HIGH."
Isaiah 14:12-14, KJV
"In whom THE GOD OF THIS WORLD hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
2 Corinthians 4:4, KJV
Once we accept Satan's worldly bribes, and yield ourselves to that foul serpent, he will soon overpower us, and we in effect become his slaves. That is why the Scriptures warn us to resist that slippery snake with all of our might, to give no place to him, and to not yield ourselves to his worldly temptations. Consider the following verses and take heed:
"Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"
Romans 6:16, KJV
"Neither give place to the devil."
Ephesians 4:27, KJV
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
James 4:7, KJV
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
1 Corinthians 10:13, KJV
God's Word clearly explains to us how to be free. As Jesus told the believing Jews in the verses below, it is through continuing in His Word. Because by continuing in His Word, we will know the Truth; and the Truth -- who is in reality Jesus himself -- will set us free. "Free from what?" you may ask. Free from spiritual darkness and blindness. Free from Satan's lies and deception. Free from his legalistic bondage to the Law. Free from the fear of death. Perhaps not totally free from the Devil's worldly and fleshly temptations, but with a new strength in Christ to better be able to resist them. Consider the following group of verses:
"Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free . . . If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
John 8:31-32, 36, KJV
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,"
Luke 4:18, KJV
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Jesus] also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
Hebrews 2:14-15, KJV
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Galatians 5:1, KJV
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
Romans 8:15, KJV
"Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world . . . But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?"
Galatians 4:3, 9, KJV
Exactly how does Satan go about enticing people and blinding them to the truth of God's Word? As we have already seen, it is through offering them power, fame, fortune, and a lot of nice comforting things, so that they become so involved with the temporal, materialistic, fleshly affairs of the world, that they soon forget all about God. Not only that, but they do not even bother to read God's Word, and thus neglect the more important needs of their spirit. Satan thought that he was so shrewd, that he even tried using these very same tactics on Jesus after He had fasted for forty days in the Jordan River Valley. Consider the following verses:
"And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine."
Luke 4:5-7, KJV
However, Jesus was no fool. Being the Son of God, who had come from a much better and more glorious place, which made the things of this present Earth pale by comparison, He knew how to resist that foul fiend. And how did Jesus do that? By quoting the Word: It is written, it is written, it is indeed written! As the Apostle John writes in his first Epistle:
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
1 John 2:15-16, KJV
It is that same Word which warns us to beware of the Devil's subtle tricks and worldly offerings, and to not be ignorant of them, lest we once again become entangled in his snare, and become victims under his oppressive yoke of bondage. We are told to watch out, to be sober, to be vigilant, and to stay on guard against his attacks, as we see by these two wonderful verses:
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"
1 Peter 5:8, KJV
"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
2 Corinthians 2:11, KJV
Whether we realize it or not, we are each involved in a very serious spiritual war for our souls. If we are not careful, the Devil will take advantage of us through our ignorance of God's Word. So again, we must study and know God's Word if we are to be properly prepared and equipped to fight the battle. But we are not defenseless. Just like Jesus, we can put on the armor of the Spirit, so that we can fight the good fight of faith, and stand strong against our spiritual adversary. Consider the following group of verses which confirm these important points:
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"
2 Corinthians 10:3-5, KJV
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;"
Ephesians 6:10-18, KJV
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12, KJV
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
1 Timothy 6:12, KJV
"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
2 Timothy 2:3-4, KJV
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:"
2 Timothy 4:7, KJV
"Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin."
Hebrews 12:4, KJV
While the Devil constantly tempts us with the things of the world, we must come to recognize that being as we are the Children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, just like the Patriarchs and Prophets of old, just like Jesus, and just like the Apostles, Disciples and Saints of the First Century, we are not truly of this world. We are hoping and waiting for a much better place. As such, we must never become friends with the world. So what exactly do the Scriptures teach us about being friends of the world? Is there really any harm or danger in doing this? Oh yes! You bet there is! The following verses make this danger very clear:
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
James 4:4, KJV
"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
John 15:19, KJV
"I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."
John 17:14-15, KJV
"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."
John 18:36, KJV
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,"
2 Corinthians 6:17, KJV
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."
Hebrews 11:13-16, KJV
Clearly then, if it is truly in our hearts to please our Heavenly Father, we must remain separate from the world, as much as lies within us to do so. As the previous group of verses clearly reveals, to do otherwise is in effect to commit spiritual adultery in God's eyes. Why? Because as I explain in other articles such as "Marriage of the Lamb", when we accept Christ, we become married to Him. We are His spiritual bride. As we have already seen, Jesus is not of this world. So, if we love the world and the things of this world more than we love Him, and if we idolize those things and put them before our relationship with Christ, then it is as if we have become the wife of another. That in essence equates to spiritual adultery, my friends.
As I point out in a number of other articles, such as "The Fruits of Disobedience", that is precisely what the ancient Israelites did with the pagan gods. As you may know, those foolish people repeatedly got into a lot of trouble with the Lord as a result of their foolish rebellion. In fact, through His holy Prophet, Jeremiah, God even said that Jerusalem had a whore's forehead because she had forsaken her true husband, that, of course, being the Lord. Consider the following two verses which show how we are symbolically married to Jesus Christ, and that to abandon our relationship with Him is to become a spiritual whore in His sight:
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; THAT YE SHOULD BE MARRIED TO ANOTHER, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
Romans 7:4, KJV
"Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed."
Jeremiah 3:3, KJV
Isn't that sad? They refused to be ashamed. How much this reminds me of so many modern, popular preachers who preach the false "prosperity gospel", and prance around on stage wearing their finest clothes, and showing off their gold watches, fine necklaces and other fancy jewelry, and then boasting to their audiences that God gave it to them. They are not the least bit ashamed about what they are doing. I really have to wonder to which God they are referring. Need I even tell you what I think? It is obvious to me that they are just so deceived, and they are deceiving many others in the process; and taking their money, of course. I was just reminded of the following two verses:
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."
2 Timothy 3:13, KJV
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"
2 Timothy 4:3, KJV
As I was thinking on these things, what also came to mind is the Old Testament account where the now-liberated Israelites found themselves out in the hot, dry desert with Moses in the lead. At first they were so happy to be freed from Egyptian bondage and the slave master's whip. But then do you recall what they did next? They began to murmur, whine and complain that they were all going to die out there. "We have no food to eat. Oh, we have no water to drink." But do you know what they actually said, as recorded in the Bible? Consider this:
"And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger."
Exodus 16:3, KJV
My point is this: While the Israelites complained that they wanted to return to Egypt, all of the filthy-rich prosperity preachers have never even left the "spiritual Egypt" of the world to begin with. They are still stuck there. They have given up very little -- if anything at all -- in order to serve the Lord. They are still enjoying the materialistic flesh pots of Egypt, and claiming that it is God's blessing. What hypocrisy! What spiritual blindness! They are obviously clueless when it comes to Jesus' message regarding forsaking all in order to follow Him. For those of you who may not be really familiar with the Lord's discipleship requirements, consider the following sample verses. Part of His doctrine clearly included forsaking worldly wealth:
"He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and THE DECEITFULNESS OF RICHES, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful."
Matthew 13:22, KJV
"The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God . . . And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."
Matthew 19:20-24, 29, KJV
". . . Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
Mark 10:24-25, KJV
"And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:57-62, KJV
"And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
Luke 12:16-21, KJV
"Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed."
John 6:27, KJV
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. SO LIKEWISE, WHOSOEVER HE BE OF YOU THAT FORSAKETH NOT ALL THAT HE HATH, HE CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
Luke 14:26-35, KJV
"And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead."
Matthew 8:19-22, KJV
"And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."
Matthew 10:36-38, KJV
It becomes rather obvious then that the affluent lifestyle which all of those prosperity preachers lead, is totally contrary to what is actually contained in the Scriptures. They are as different as night and day. So who are you going to believe? The deceptive prosperity preachers, or God and His holy Word? So what about the worldly riches and the many other nice, comforting things which Satan is just so ready to offer to us? You know what I am talking about. All of those things which distract us from the Lord and His Word. The Scriptures also warn us quite plainly to beware of such temptations. As we have just seen by way of the sad example of the prosperity preachers, worldly wealth can very easily become a snare to us, and a distraction, as we can clearly determine by the following group of verses:
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also . . . No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Matthew 6:19-21, 24, KJV
"No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Luke 16:13, KJV
"And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away."
1 Corinthians 7:31, KJV
"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:18, KJV
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
Colossians 3:1-2, KJV
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
1 Timothy 6:6-12, KJV
As both the Apostles Peter and Paul plainly state in the following group of verses, our duty to God is to resist the materialistic temptations of this present world, and to remain harmless, without spot, unrebukeable and blameless before the Lord. For if we backslide and foolishly fall back into the world after we have been freed from it, our latter state is worse than the first. Consider what they wrote and be warned:
"That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;"
Philippians 2:15, KJV
"I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:"
1 Timothy 6:13-14, KJV
"Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless."
2 Peter 3:14, KJV
"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."
2 Peter 2:20-22, KJV
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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