The Subtlety of Satan Concerning Salvation

By David J. Stewart

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” —2nd Corinthians 11:3 [All Scriptures quoted from the trustworthy King James Bible]

The Bible teaches that Satan is a skillful liar and deceiver, subtle in his methods.  Satan’s greatest weapon is false doctrine.  Realistically, Eve was deceived by FALSE DOCTRINE in the Garden of Eden.  She bought into the lie of Satan (the serpent) that she would become “as gods” if she disobeyed God’s Word (Genesis 3:5).  It was FALSE DOCTRINE that brought about the fall of mankind, and it was by means of Satan’s subtlety that it happened. 

Today, several millenniums later, we see the same subtlety of Satan at work concerning salvation.  The vast majority of people in this world are hellbound in their sins without Jesus Christ.  Yet, ironically most of them “think” they are going to Heaven.  Satan’s primary goal is to “pervert” the simplicity of God’s plan of salvation for mankind.  We are warned in Galatians 1:6-9 to beware of any gospel foreign to the Scriptures:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9)

The Genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ

There is ONLY one Gospel taught in the Word of God and it is profoundly simple…

Mankind is inherently sinful, incapable of saving himself by any means (Romans 3:10,19-23; Isaiah 64:6). No amount of self-righteousness can save a person (Ephesians 2:8,9; James 2:10). We all deserve to be punished in Hellfire for our own sins (Romans 6:23; 2nd Thessalonians 1:8,9; Revelation 20:11-15). God in His unconditional love sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to pay the penalty for our sins (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:23), lived a sinless life (2nd Corinthians 5:21), died upon a cross, was buried and rose again after three days (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus entered by His own literal, physical, blood into the Holy Place in Heaven to redeem mankind from sin and Hell (Hebrews 9:12). Thus, eternal life is a "free gift" (Romans 5:15) paid for by the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1st Peter 1:18,19).  Anyone who desires to be saved, can and will, by simply placing their trust on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Romans 10:13; Acts 4:10-12; 10:43). Salvation is "without works" (Romans 4:5; 10:3-4; Titus 3:5).

That is the Biblical Gospel, plain and simple.  Eternal life is a free gift from God, freely received by childlike faith in Jesus as the Christ (Ephesians 2:8,9; Galatians 3:26; Revelation 22:17).  Yet, increasingly nowadays ministers and professed "Christian" leaders are teaching something completely different.  Adding even the slightest act of self-righteousness utterly perverts the Good News of Christ crucified and the gift of eternal life into a lie of Satan.

Lordship Salvation: A False Gospel

There is no better example of a perverted gospel than the hellish false doctrine of LORDSHIP SALVATION, and it's being taught all over the world, especially in the United States. 

It is absolutely tragic that an unsaved Modernist like pastor John MacArthur has been invited to speak annually for many years at the Moody Bible Institute Founder's Week Conference.  MacArthur treads-under-foot the blood of Jesus MacArthur teaches works salvation.  Here are MacArthur's very own heretical words...

"Salvation isn't the result of an intellectual exercise. It comes from a life lived in obedience and service to Christ as revealed in the Scripture; it's the fruit of actions, not intentions.  There's no room for passive spectators:  words without actions are empty and futile... The life we live, not the words we speak, determines our eternal destiny" (Hard to Believe, p. 93). [emphasis added]

Consider the "carnal" church at Corinth (1st Corinthians 3:1).  They were suing each other (1st Corinthians 6:6), eating meats offered to idols (1st Corinthians 8:12), allowing fornication within the church (1st Corinthians 5:1), showing up drunk at the Lord's Supper (1st Corinthians 11:21), et cetera.  The idea of "turning from sins" prior to salvation is a false doctrine nigh unto the heresy of works salvation, if not altogether so.  The carnal church at Corinth is proof that Lordship Salvation is a lie.

Seventh-day Adventists Teach the Same Lie as John MacArthur

This is the same damnable heresy which the Seventh-day Adventists [SDAs] teach.  SDA is a false religion, which requires works for salvation.  SDAs hold to an exclusive doctrine called "Investigative Judgment," which is rooted in self-righteousness...

The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection.  It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting Kingdom.  This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus.  It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the Kingdom.  The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent.” [emphasis added]

SOURCE: SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH MANUAL, pg. 15,16; ISBN 0-8280-1076-5; Revised 1995, 15th Edition; Review and Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

Clearly, SDAs believe that they are on "probation" with God and only through continued loyalty to God, keeping His commandments, and abiding in Christ can one enter into God's everlasting Kingdom.  This is 100% Satanic doctrine!

From the preceding quotes, let's compare a statement by the extremely popular pastor, John MacArthur, along with a statement from the SDA Church Manual...

There's no difference—They both require self-righteousness as part of saving-faith.  This is a total perversion of the simplicity of the Gospel.  MacArthur is of the Devil, as are the SDAs.  The simplicity of the Gospel is that we are sinners and Jesus is the Savior.  It's that simple; but few religious people can accept this fact.  By nature, mankind feels that he must have a part in his own salvation; but in sharp contrast, the Bible declares in Romans 4:5... "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

The Subtlety of Satan

All of the major false religions teach a perverted gospel that includes living a good life in order to get to Heaven.  These religions include: Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Islam, Christian Science, Seventh-day Adventism, Catholicism, Greek Orthodox, Episcopalian, et cetera.

Other false groups aren't so obvious, such as Charismatic Pentecostals and the Salvation Army, who teach that a person can lose their salvation if they do not remain faithful to God in their Christian walk.  If there's anything that a person believes they must do to remain saved; then they are not completely trusting the finished redeeming work of Jesus Christ at the Mercy Seat in Heaven (Hebrews 9:12).  I am amazed concerning how many professed "Christians" nowadays sincerely believe that the life they live has a direct affect on their eternal destiny.  How is this any different from what Catholics believe?  There is NO difference!

The Bible teaches that Satan works to corrupt the SIMPLICITY of the Gospel.  There are literally thousands of false gospels in the world today.  Anything that distorts the free gift of eternal life, which is freely received apart from all human effort, perverts the Gospel message. 

Jack Chick's False Gospel

Tragically, Jack Chick, who is unquestioningly supported by many ministries around the world, also teaches a form of Lordship Salvation.  On the back cover of EVERY Chick Tract, Jack Chick leads sinners to pray the following words to be saved... "I am willing to turn from sin."  This is of the Devil.  Salvation is a free gift, NOT conditioned upon our willingness to turn from sin.  You can't show me one Scripture where the Word of God requires someone to be willing to forsake their sins to be saved.  To require sinners to "be willing to turn from sin" to be saved is an act of self-righteousness.  Jack Chick has perverted the Gospel.  The word "repent" in the Bible simply means "a change of mind." 

Although it is certainly true that repentance is mandatory for salvation (Acts 17:30), the Bible does not define "repentance" as ceasing from sin, or even a willingness to turn from one's sin; but rather, as turning to Jesus Christ by faith to be forgiven of one's sins (Mark 1:15; Acts 10:43).  In salvation, one turns to the Lord from the condemnation of sin to be saved.  This is a far cry from ceasing from one's sins as a prerequisite to receiving Christ.  Jack Chick teaches that a sinner must "be willing to turn from sin" in order to be saved.  To do so is self-righteousness.  Jack Chick has fabricated his own gospel—a false gospel. 

If Jack Chick is correct, then anyone who has a "pet sin" that they're not willing to forsake cannot be saved.  So a man shacking-up with his girlfriend in fornication cannot get saved unless he is willing to move out or get married.  Do you see the Pandora's Box that opens when a false prophet starts requiring change, or a willingness to change, as part of saving-faith?  Salvation becomes a complicated nightmare. 

The Bible warned that Satan would try to beguile us by corrupting "The Simplicity" of God's Plan of Salvation.  There's nothing in the Biblical Gospel about being "willing to turn from sin" to be saved—Jack Chick, John MacArthur, Ray Comfort and other false prophets have ADDED that requirement.  Salvation is not turning from our sin in order to get saved; it is turning to Jesus Christ to be saved from our sins. 

The Other Jesus

How to Refute All Salvation Heresies

Anytime someone tries to pass off a heresy concerning salvation, you just stay focused on the words FREE GIFT in the Bible and you'll have all the ammunition you need to contend for the faith.  Salvation is a FREE GIFT.  Concerning the word "gift" in Romans 5:15 and 6:23, VINE'S COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT WORDS states...

"...a gift of grace, a gift involving grace" (charis) on the part of God as the donor, is used (a) of His free bestowments upon sinners, Rom. 5:15,16;6:23;11:29..."

If I say to you... "Neighbor, I have a free gift for you that I bought with my own money.  You can have it if you'll just clean up your yard," would it truly be a gift?  No, because it is conditional upon you cleaning the yard.  This is NO different than what the Lordship Salvation crowd is doing—they expect people to clean up their sinful lifestyle as a prerequisite to be saved. 

In the Biblical salvation that God offers, He wants to come into your yard (i.e., your life) and help you clean it up, but only after you've received His free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.  Do you see the difference?  Lordship Salvationists require a sinner to clean their yard to get the gift; but God wants to help you clean up the yard AFTER you've received the gift.  A gift cannot truly be free if there is any form of compensation whatsoever.  The Bible declares that eternal life is a FREE GIFT from God, paid for by the blood of Jesus', and available to anyone who will receive it freely (Revelation 22:17). 

Furthermore, what if I said to you?... "Neighbor, you can keep that gift I gave you as long as your yard is clean; but if you allow the yard to become a trash heap, then I'll have to take my gift back."  Would it truly be a gift?  No, of course not!  When we hold to the fundamental teachings of the Word of God, heresy has no room to grow, and no place to hide.  Salvation is a FREE GIFT!  You cannot earn it.  You cannot do anything to keep it.  You cannot lose what was not yours to give in the first place.  If salvation can be lost in any way, then God would be a liar for calling it a "free gift" in Romans 5:15.  Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, Charismatics are calling God a liar when they teach that salvation can be lost. 

By the way, the Roman Catholic Church teaches a similar demonic doctrine, i.e., that salvation can be lost by committing what they call "mortal" sins.  Of course, Catholics have no true salvation to lose in the first place, because they're trusting in their self-righteousness to save them (Mark 7:6-13; Romans 10:3-4; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).  God hates self-righteousness (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 10:3-4). 

According to The Barna Group...

"More than half of all adults (54%) believe that if a person is generally good, or does enough good things for others during their life, they will earn a place in Heaven (2006)." SOURCE

In sharp contrast, the Word of God warns us in Ephesians 2:8-9... "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

We are further warned in Romans 10:3-4... "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."  So what is wrong with people?  The Word of God clearly states that our works of self-righteousness are a road straight to Hell.  Romans 3:20... "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Is it therefore improper or unkind to say that most people are headed for Hellfire in their sins?  Like it or not, it's the honest truth.  Is it any wonder why Jesus said in Matthew 7:13,14... "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Sadly, very few people ever come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.  Nearly everybody in America is familiar with the basics of the Christian philosophy, i.e., the Gospel; but they've never OBEYED THE GOSPEL.  We are warned in 2nd Thessalonians 1:8... "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."  You may be the sweetest, kindest, and most generous person in this world; but you will split Hell wide open and suffer in flames and unthinkable torment if you DIE IN YOUR SINS.  What you need is to die in the Lord... "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord..." (Revelation 14:13).  Your good works have absolutely nothing to do with your sins.  It's your sins that will send you to Hell.  You need to have them taken away by the precious blood of Jesus.

Yes, there are many heresies concerning salvation today, "...but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).  And one final verse that I love with all my heart, because it shows the mercy and preciousness of our God... "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."  What a precious statement... BUT TO HIM THAT WORKETH NOT!


Sadly, most people today who claim to be "Christian" are not.  They have churchianity without Christianity.  So many people attend church because they think it's the right thing to do; but they have never received the seed of God's Word into their own personal heart... "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1st Peter 1:23).  Salvation is NOT found in any religion; but in a Person—The Lord Jesus Christ! 

The simplicity of salvation is that we are sinners and Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior.  One who realizes his or her guilt of sin, and TURNS by faith to the Lord for forgiveness of sin will be saved... "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." 

You Need HIS Righteousness!