Another of the devil's snares is doubt. If Satan can get you to doubt God's presence, God's love for you, God's forgiveness, God's purpose for you, or God's commandments, he is well on his way to getting you to yield to his temptation. The devil seems to specialize in several categories of doubt.
Here are just a few of the devil's more popular lines: "The Bible was written thousands of years ago to people who lived in the Middle East. This is a different time and culture. Some of the products and technologies and social systems weren't present in Bible times. People back then didn't know what we know today. You have to pick and choose what you read from the Bible. Not everything in the Bible applies to us today where we live."
"The Bible was written by human beings who were subject to making mistakes. How can you know this is really what God commands? After all, the Bible was written by different authors over hundreds of years. Each author had a particular point of view or ax to grind. They lived in different political times and sometimes in different places. You can't take at face value what some of them said. You have to read what seems right to you and discard the rest."
"The Bible is just for Jews and Christians. What about all the other people and their religions? Surely you don't think the Bible is the only book of truth."
"So much of the Bible is just symbolic. All that about the Garden of Eden in Genesis-that doesn't have anything to do with science. And all those symbols in the book of Revelation? How can you know with certainty that everything between Genesis and Revelation isn't also symbolism?"
"The Bible is a series of stories, and you have to take from stories what you can get from them. They aren't real. The people weren't real. The situations weren't real. It's all fiction."
"There are exceptions to every rule. God surely doesn't mean this in such an absolute way, for all people all the time."
"Everybody has to interpret the Bible for himself. There's no one interpretation that can be trusted."
When you begin to discount or dismiss the Word of God, you'll find that there's no end to discounting it or dismissing its value. On what basis can you say that some of the Bible is true but other parts aren't? On what basis can you say that you believe some of the miracles but not all of the miracles? On what basis can you say that the love of God is good to believe but the justice and righteousness of God aren't good to believe?
The devil often frames doubt in questions. He generally doesn't come at you and say, "God's Word isn't true." Rather, he says, "Does God's Word really say... ?" or "Is that really the right interpretation of that verse?"
Through the years countless people have told me that they have a different interpretation of a particular verse or passage, and amazingly it's always an interpretation that allows them to believe what they already want to believe so they can live the way they want to live-and the way they want to live is nearly always a way that holds the least amount of pain, effort, self-denial, and discomfort! They have decided that life should be easy and that no decisions should have terrible or eternal negative consequences. Therefore, anything in God's Word that calls upon them to make a difficult choice or a hard decision-and especially anything in God's Word that might spell out a decision related to eternal consequences-is given a "different interpretation."
People sometimes ask me, "What do you believe about... ?" and they'll name a particular topic or question. I respond, "Let's read what God's Word says." I open the Bible and let the person read aloud a particular passage. The person very often remarks, "Well, I know that's what the Bible says, but there are different opinions on what that means."
If you find yourself having to manipulate the interpretation of a very straightforward commandment of God in order to justify your opinion, you're walking on a slippery path. When God says, "Don't do it," He means, "Don't do it"! He doesn't say, "Only certain people are not to do it," or "Only some of the time will there be a negative consequence if you do this," or "This is My opinion right now about not doing this, but centuries down the line, it will probably be acceptable to do this." No. God's commands are very clear. They are very precise. And they are absolute.
The devil asked Eve, "Has God said... ?" And when that didn't work, he said, "Surely God didn't mean..." He comes at us with the same tactic. He wants us to wonder if God has really spoken on a particular matter. And then if we discover He has, the devil wants us to question God's meaning.
If the devil can get you to misinterpret God's Word that addresses a particular need or situation, he knows that you are just one step closer to yielding to that temptation.