“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
Satan disguises himself.
That is a rather scary prospect.
The serpent of old (Rev. 20:2), the great dragon (Rev. 12:9), the one who goes around like a lion just waiting to destroy (1 Pet. 5:8), disguises himself. And his disguise is not what we would expect.
Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. He cloaks himself in radiant dress in order that he may deceive. He once took the form of a serpent (Gen. 3:1). If a snake came up to you and talked and tempted you today you’d probably see right through it. You’d probably run.
Satan, however, is cunning (2 Cor. 11:3). He is even called “the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). He has many tricks and tactics.
Satan can even works through leaders that are within the church. There are people that disguise “themselves as apostles of Christ” but are really false apostles (2 Cor. 11:13).
So we see that we can be deceived by Satan in many ways. He himself can present as an angel of light. He can appear as if he can and should be trusted but is nevertheless out to destroy through lies. In the same way, false teachers can look like they are presenting the truth—and they will very likely present half-truths—but in the end their message is false. It may not even always be intentional, perhaps Satan captured the teacher for a time to do his will (2 Tim. 2:26).
There are teachers and preachers and authors who “distort the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6). And there are others who are “empty talkers and deceivers” (Titus 1:10). There also “destructive heresies” and “false prophets” (2 Pet. 2:1). There is so much that we can fall prey to.
How should we respond? How should we protect ourselves? John says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 Jn. 4:1 Cf. 1 COr. 12:10; 1 Thess. 5:21).
What if someone or even an angel preaches a different gospel? How should we respond? Paul says, let them be accursed (Gal. 1:8). He says, “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9). It’s so important he repeats himself for emphasis. We must not let our minds somehow be led astray from our sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Cor. 11:3). No matter what.
If someone preaches a different Jesus or a different gospel we must not accept it. We must receive the word of God with all eagerness. And we must check all that is said and taught to ensure it is in accordance with Scripture (Acts 17:11).
If we test what is said, if we weigh it against Scripture, then we can see through the guise of evil. We can see false and destructive teaching for what it is. We must prize teaching and lives that exalt Jesus as Lord (1 Cor. 12:3) and is faithful to the good news of Jesus. And we must disdain any communication that alters the exaltation and good news of Jesus (Gal. 1:9).