DEATH, DECEPTION, AND THE DEVIL
The devil was a murderer from the beginning… he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).
I’d like to tell you about a Canadian doctor who is very good at what he does and finds his work very rewarding. He has to deal with frustrations and obstacles, but for him, it’s been worth it. He says, “I have a very good feeling about what I’m doing. We are helping a lot of people in a very competent and compassionate way, and that compensates for all the unpleasantness.” Not only does this doctor have a positive attitude and a desire to help people, but he also has more experience in what he does than almost any other doctor in the world. He estimates that he has performed his specialty more than 25,000 times, and he has also founded a number of clinics where others perform the same procedure. It would be hard to find a physician anywhere with greater experience or firmer convictions about the value of his work.
You might wonder who this dedicated, experienced physician is, and what procedure he performs that is helping so many people. Well, the doctor’s name is Henry Morgentaler, and his specialty is abortion. With his own hands, Dr. Morgentaler has personally lifted the burden of an unwanted child from more than 25,000 women, and the clinics he has established have done the same for thousands more.
Dr. Morgentaler feels good about what he is doing because he knows the many reasons people have for wanting an abortion. In many cases, the woman did not want to become pregnant in the first place, but her contraceptives failed, or she was careless and failed to take such precautions at all. Many such women are single, some of them still teenagers. They fear that having a baby could ruin their opportunities or perhaps bring them disgrace. Others are in school or beginning a career, and they don’t want a baby to change their plans. They may hope to have children later, when they are ready, but now is not the time. Still others are women who already have all the children they want and don’t want to be burdened with another. Whatever the scenario, these are women who unintentionally became pregnant and simply do not want a baby at that particular point in their lives.
In other situations, a woman may be pregnant because she wanted to be, but she may still be glad that abortion is an option if she finds out that the baby she is carrying is not what she or her husband wanted.
For example, thanks to ultrasound tests that can discover the gender of an unborn child, there are now clinics which, for a fee, will tell a pregnant woman the gender of her unborn baby, and if it’s not what she wants, she can abort the baby and hope that she’ll do better next time. People who want to have a baby boy no longer have to settle for having a girl, and those who want a girl no longer have to settle for a boy. Couples don’t have to endure the disappointment of being stuck with a baby of the wrong gender. Henry Morgentaler says, “If a couple only wants to have two children and they already have a girl and they want a boy and they find out that they will be having another girl, I think that they have a perfect right to terminate the pregnancy and try for a boy.”
Medical technology has also made other choices available. Some genetic abnormalities can be detected while a baby is still in the womb. By means of amniocentesis, a doctor can find out whether an unborn child has Down’s Syndrome, for example, and if the parents don’t want a baby with Down’s Syndrome, the woman can have an abortion and try to become pregnant again, hoping that the next child will be a more ideal specimen. As gene mapping becomes more advanced, it may well become possible to test a fetus for such genetic tendencies as alcoholism or mental illness, before making the decision whether to let the baby be born alive.
Well, those are some of the apparent benefits of abortion. It gives another option if you become pregnant without intending to. It means you don’t have to accept another girl if a boy was what you wanted. It can spare you from the disappointment of giving birth to a child with special needs or handicaps. In short, abortion can help you avoid hardship and get what you, and what could be better than that? No wonder Dr. Morgentaler feels good about what he is doing!
There’s just one problem with all of this. Every one of these supposed benefits involves the death of a helpless child, and the death of children is a trademark of the devil himself. In the past Satan enjoyed seeing parents kill their own children in pagan religious rituals; he was pleased when the Pharoah of ancient Egypt tried to have all baby boys of the Hebrew race murdered; he gloated when paranoid King Herod tried to destroy the baby Jesus and murdered all the baby boys in the town of Bethlehem.
The Bible sometimes refers to Satan as “the spirit of the age.” The devil not only deceives individuals, but he warps the values of entire nations and periods of history. In our time the spirit of the age has once again convinced huge masses of people and nations and governments that it is sometimes necessary to sacrifice the lives of children.
Jesus will someday return to crush the spirit of the age, but until then, we must contend against the work of Satan, and we must resist the voice that speaks from hell saying, “Sacrifice your children and with you, it will be well.” We need to realize that Satan’s masterpiece in the destruction of helpless children didn’t happen in the past on some ancient altar; it didn’t happen at the hands of a paranoid dictator like King Herod. It is happening right now in clean, comfortable clinics. It is happening at the request of the mothers and fathers who gave the children life. It is happening at the hands of physicians who are supposed to promote life. It is happening with the approval and financial support of governments that are supposed to protect life. Satan is bringing death to millions of preborn babies, and he is using the very people most responsible for life as his accomplices–and most of them don’t even know it. They remain respectable, likable people who, like Dr. Morgentaler, “feel very good” about what they are doing.
We can perhaps understand this better if we consider a very important statement of Jesus in John 8:44, a statement which describes the very essence of Satan’s character. Jesus said, “(The devil) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Jesus says first of all that Satan is a murderer. Death is the devil’s specialty; he likes nothing better than to kill. The Bible sometimes uses vivid imagery to impress upon us how murderous the devil really is. Revelation 12 pictures him as an enormous dragon that is blood-red in color and eager to kill. The apostle Peter uses a different picture to make the same point when he says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). These aren’t literal descriptions of Satan, of course, but they reveal his temperament and his evil intentions. He’s like a ravenous lion or a ferocious dragon, eager to kill. In the simple words of Jesus, the devil “is a murderer from the beginning.”
The devil, is also, says Jesus, a liar and the father of lies; he is an expert not only in death, but in deception as well. He’s as clever as he is vicious. He may have the murderous intent of a lion, but you will seldom hear him roar. He may be as dangerous as a dragon, but don’t expect him to look like one. The devil specialized in disguises and deception. Indeed, says the Bible, Satan “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Perhaps you associate Satan with Satanism, with sensational stories of drug-crazed fanatics performing ritual murders to the sound of heavy metal music. I’m sure that Satan enjoys the activities of these bizarre people, since he is pleased by anything that destroys life. But the devil’s favorite projects are not those that involve a few very strange fanatics. He is most effective when he infects the thoughts and actions of entire nations and periods of history. In these situations, the devil’s murderous objectives don’t seem strange and horrifying; they seem normal, helpful, almost inevitable. When those who approve of the killing are perceived as moderate and mainstream, and those who protest the deaths are seen as extremists–that is what really delights the devil. “He is a liar and the father of lies.”
Satan comes cloaked in lofty ideals and convinces ordinary people that killing can be a very good thing. By the time the master of death and deception has cast his spell, well-intentioned, civilized people are enthusiastically supporting the destruction of preborn children. As the Bible says, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 8:14-15). Parents, doctors, judges, politicians, even some clergy, have unwittingly become agents of the devil’s death and deception. Satan has succeeded not only in causing the death of millions of preborn babies, but he has duped the very people who should be most concerned about children into becoming the agents of destruction. “(The devil) was a murderer from the beginning… he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Because there is a very close connection between death and deception, we will see the death for the horrible thing it is only when we see through the deception to the truth of the matter. So let’s look at some of the facts.
We’ve seen that there are many different factors that make the right to abortion attractive. Do you care about pregnant teenagers who aren’t ready to become mothers? Do you feel compassion for the tremendous disruption that a child can cause in the life of a career woman? Doesn’t your heart break when children are abused? Wouldn’t you prefer that every child born be wanted by its parents? Wouldn’t it be nice if no child had to suffer from handicaps? Don’t you wish people could have exactly the kind of children they were hoping for? And don’t we all believe in the values of individual freedom, personal privacy, and the dignity of women? It’s no wonder that white-coated doctors, black-robed judges, dignified clergy, and millions of people from all walks of life believe that abortion is a good thing.
However, when we really think about these choices, even people who are pro-choice sometimes become rather nervous. For one thing, the vast majority of the babies aborted after gender testing are females, and this has upset many feminists who are otherwise strongly pro-choice. Some are calling for a ban on testing the gender of a fetus, since the destruction of so many unborn females seems like an affront to women.
But if that is so, isn’t the abortion of Down’s Syndrome children an attack on people with special needs? And isn’t the abortion of children due to economic hardship an attack on the poor? More to the point, isn’t the very act of abortion an attack on human life? Of course it is. So is the killing somehow justified as long as it is equal-opportunity killing? “The devil was a murderer from the beginning… He is a liar and the father of lies.”
Abortion offers many choices and benefits, but these choices involve the destruction of a preborn infant. After all our discussion of various reasons why abortion seems a good choice, that brutal fact remains. However, the devil would like to keep the reality of the children themselves in the background. We are more willing to kill them if we don’t have to face the truth, and the devil has succeeded is helping us avoid reality to a remarkable degree. I’m not just talking about refusing to pay attention to what the Bible says, though that of course is part of it. I’m talking about a refusal to look at scientifically observable facts.
I’m aware of museums removing exhibits showing models of a developing fetus at various stages, due to pressure from pro-abortion forces. They don’t want the public to encounter any evidence that a pregnant woman is carrying a developing baby and not just a dispensable blob of tissue. When people who oppose abortion show pictures of the mutilated remains of aborted babies, they are accused of being cruel and sensationalistic. Pro-choice people are not outraged at what happened to the baby; they are outraged that they had to look at the results. But films of a child being aborted or photographs of dismembered preborns are not sensationalism, any more than photographs from Auschwitz are sensationalism. It may be horrifying and repugnant, but it is the truth.
You’re not truly pro-choice until you are willing to look squarely at what the choice to abort really involves. Whatever a woman’s reasons for seeking an abortion, one result is always the same: one more dead baby. How many women who choose abortion are really aware of this? We hear a lot about choice, but how many women are making a fully informed choice? How many abortion clinics really tell her the facts? Oh, I’m sure they tell her a bit about what she will be experiencing during and after the procedure. But before she signs the form of consent, does someone show her a picture of what the infant inside of her looks like at that stage of development? Does anyone show her a film of what the procedure will do to that child? Of course not. That might make her feel guilty, and we wouldn’t want that. Out of sight, out of mind, out of conscience. With each killing goes a coverup. Deception and death usually work hand in hand. “The devil was a murderer from the beginning… He is a liar and the father of lies.”
This is also evident in the vocabulary of abortion. Various euphemisms put sugar coating over a bitter and deadly pill. Instead of saying “kill the fetus” or “destroy the baby,” the abortionist says he is “terminating a pregnancy.” This is a matter of “reproductive freedom,” not “a license to kill.” Abortion is “a woman’s right to control her own body,” not the destruction of the body of a preborn child. “The devil was a murderer from the beginning… He is a liar and the father of lies.”
We need to face the truth about abortion, painful though it may be. Abortion is a massive web of death and deception which has been spun by the spirit of the age. In North America alone, it has meant the death of well over 25 million helpless babies, with more dying every day. And what about the supposed advantages of abortion? Are there fewer abused children now than there were twenty years ago? Hardly. Are the economies of the United States and Canada more prosperous after two decades of dispensing with unwanted children? Far from it. When respect for human life diminishes, civilization is in decline, and it will continue to deteriorate until the death and deception stops.
Both Canada and the United States support abortion on demand and use taxpayer money to make abortion more accessible. In both countries, this month of January marks the anniversary of abortion on demand. For years Canada had a law against abortion, but that law was so vague and ineffective that nearly any woman who really wanted an abortion could get one; and, five years ago this month, in January of 1988, even that law was swept away by Canada’s Supreme Court in a case involving Dr. Morgentaler. No law has been passed to replace the old one, so that today Canada has no legal restrictions whatsoever on abortion. In the United States, abortion on demand has been the law of the land since January of 1973, the date of the Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade, which struck down all state laws prohibiting abortion.
Both the United States and Canada sound very much like the people described in Psalm 106. There the Bible says: “They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, …and the land was desecrated by their blood.” Today, as abortion continues to destroy children, the land becomes more bloody with each passing day, and a bloodstained nation will not prosper.
God cannot tolerate for long a civilization which has sold itself to the devil. So unless we resist the devil’s deception and embrace God’s truth, unless we reject the way of death and choose life, this country faces a bleak future under God’s wrath. The devil promises that sacrificing helpless children will make individuals and nations more prosperous and problem-free, but in fact the opposite is true. As we disregard the sacredness of human life, we are moving to the brink of disaster. Never forget: “The devil was a murderer from the beginning… He is a liar and the father of lies.”
Jesus provides a better way. The devil is a murderer, but Jesus is life. The devil is a liar, but Jesus is the truth. To counteract death and deception, we need truth and life. We need Jesus. He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The devil is very appealing when he urges us to sacrifice the lives of others for our own benefit; but Jesus teaches us to sacrifice our own desires for the benefit of others. Jesus offered the supreme sacrifice himself when he died on the cross to save his people. He sets us free from the way of selfishness to follow the way of love.
Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, I have hope even in this age of death and deception. I know that when people trust in the saving power of Jesus’ sacrifice, their sinful past will be forgiven, even if that past includes the sin of abortion. I know that Christ can create in them a genuine love and respect for all human life. Even Dr. Morgentaler himself could still be saved if he would repent. I know, too, that God may still have mercy on our country. If we as a nation turn from our wicked ways, God can still forgive our sins and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Meanwhile, remember that although the devil is powerful, Christ is greater by far. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8). Jesus hung on the cross “so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). Because of Jesus, God’s truth will ultimately overwhelm all the lies; his resurrection will destroy the power of death; and the Lord will crush Satan under our feet (Romans 16:20).
Lord, when we think of the craft and power of the devil, we can only turn to you for help. We need your mercy for ourselves, and we plead that you will yet have mercy on us as a nation. We pray that you will turn back the forces of darkness. Scatter the powers of death and deception.
Enlighten the many well-intentioned people whose minds have been darkened by the spirit of the age. Open the eyes of judges, government officials, and doctors, and above all, help each individual parent to see beyond the falsehoods of Satan and instead affirm the sacredness of life.
Turn us back to you, Lord God. Forgive our sins and heal our land for the sake of Jesus. Amen.
By David Feddes. Originally broadcasted on the Back to God Hour and published in The Radio Pulpit.