‘DO NOT be deceived. Your God will not help you. Capitulate or suffer the consequences!’ This is the gist of a message that Rabshakeh, an envoy of Assyrian King Sennacherib, delivered to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The king’s armies had invaded the land of Judah. The envoy’s words were calculated to undermine the morale of the people of Jerusalem and frighten them into surrendering.—2 Ki. 18:28-35.
The Assyrians were known to be brutal and cruel. They instilled fear in their foes by making known in gruesome detail how harshly they dealt with their captives. According to historian Philip Taylor, they employed “a policy of terror coupled with one of propaganda, designed to keep conquered peoples down and to frighten potential enemies with graphic propagandist imagery and brutal psychology.” Propaganda is a potent weapon. It “assaults the mind,” says Taylor.
True Christians “have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against . . . the wicked spirit forces,” that is, against spirit creatures who rebelled against God. (Eph. 6:12) Chief among them is Satan the Devil. He too employs terror combined with propaganda.
Satan claims that he can break the integrity of each and every one of us. In the days of the patriarch Job, he told Jehovah God: “Everything that a man has he will give in behalf of his soul.” In other words, apply enough pressure, and sooner or later a man will break his integrity to God. (Job 2:4) Is Satan right? Do all of us have a breaking point—one beyond which we will abandon our principles in order to stay alive? Satan would like to have us think so. Hence, he uses insidious propaganda to plant that idea in our minds. Let us examine some of his methods of doing so and consider how we can resist him.
Satan used Eliphaz, one of Job’s three visiting companions, to argue that men are hopelessly weak. Referring to humans as “those dwelling in houses of clay,” he told Job: “[Their] foundation is in the dust! One crushes them more quickly than a moth. From morning to evening they are crushed to pieces; without anyone’s taking it to heart they perish forever.”—Job 4:19, 20.
Elsewhere in the Scriptures, we are likened to “earthen vessels”—fragile pots made of clay. (2 Cor. 4:7) We are weak because of inherited sin and imperfection. (Rom. 5:12) Left to ourselves, we are vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. But as Christians, we are not without help. Despite our weaknesses, we are precious in God’s eyes. (Isa. 43:4) Moreover, Jehovah gives holy spirit to those asking him. (Luke 11:13) His spirit can give us “power beyond what is normal,” enabling us to cope with any adversity Satan inflicts on us. (2 Cor. 4:7; Phil. 4:13) If we take our stand against the Devil, “solid in the faith,” God will make us firm and strong. (1 Pet. 5:8-10) Hence, we need not fear Satan the Devil.
“What is mortal man that he should be clean, or that anyone born of a woman should be in the right?” asked Eliphaz. Then he proceeded to answer, saying: “Look! In his holy ones [God] has no faith, and the heavens themselves are actually not clean in his eyes. How much less so when one is detestable and corrupt, a man who is drinking in unrighteousness just like water!” (Job 15:14-16) Eliphaz was telling Job that Jehovah considers no human righteous. The Devil too plays on negative thinking. He wants us to worry about past mistakes, become overly self-critical, and think that we are irredeemable. He also wants us to overestimate what Jehovah expects of us and to underestimate His compassion, forgiveness, and support.
Of course, all of us have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No imperfect human can meet Jehovah’s perfect standards. (Rom. 3:23; 7:21-23) However, that does not mean that we are worthless to him. Jehovah knows that it is “the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan,” who is taking advantage of our sinful condition. (Rev. 12:9, 10) Aware that “we are dust,” God makes allowances for us and does not “keep finding fault” with us.—Ps. 103:8, 9, 14.
If we abandon a wicked course and approach Jehovah with a contrite heart and a repentant spirit, “he will forgive in a large way.” (Isa. 55:7; Ps. 51:17) Even though our sins “should prove to be as scarlet, they will be made white just like snow,” says the Bible. (Isa. 1:18) Let us, therefore, be determined never to give up in trying to do God’s will.
In our sinful state, we can never earn a righteous standing before God. Adam and Eve lost perfection and the prospect of everlasting life not just for themselves but for all of us. (Rom. 6:23) Because of his great love for mankind, however, Jehovah made provision to forgive our sins if we exercise faith in the ransom sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. (Matt. 20:28; John 3:16) What a wonderful expression of God’s “undeserved kindness”! (Titus 2:11) We are redeemable! Why, then, should we allow Satan to make us think that we are not?
Satan claimed that Job would give up his faith if he were to lose his good health. Challenging Jehovah, the Devil said: “Touch as far as his bone and his flesh and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.” (Job 2:5) God’s Adversary would undoubtedly be happy if he could make us feel useless because of our infirmities.
However, Jehovah does not reject us when we can no longer do everything that we formerly did in his service. What if a personal friend of ours was attacked and injured? Would we value him less because he could no longer do as much for us as he once did? Surely not! We would still love him and care for him—especially if he was injured trying to serve our interests. Should we expect anything less of Jehovah? “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name,” states the Bible.—Heb. 6:10.
The Scriptures speak of “a certain needy widow” who may have supported God’s worship for many years. When Jesus observed her dropping “two small coins of very little value” in a temple treasury chest, did he view her and her contribution as worthless? On the contrary, he spoke highly of her for doing all that her circumstances allowed in support of true worship.—Luke 21:1-4.
If we maintain our integrity, we can be certain that our relationship with Jehovah will remain intact, no matter how much damage imperfection inflicts on us in the form of age or illness. God will never abandon faithful ones simply because adversity limits their ability to serve him.—Ps. 71:9, 17, 18.
How can we protect ourselves from Satan’s propaganda? The apostle Paul wrote: “Go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength. Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil.” One piece of that spiritual armor is “the helmet of salvation.” (Eph. 6:10, 11, 17) With regard to satanic propaganda, we should make sure that we accept that helmet and keep it on. A soldier’s helmet protects his head. Our “hope of salvation”—our confidence in the fulfillment of God’s promises about his glorious new world—will protect our minds from Satan’s lies. (1 Thess. 5:8) We need to keep that hope bright and strong by diligent personal study of the Scriptures.
Job endured vicious and hateful attacks from Satan. So strong was Job’s faith in the resurrection that even the threat of death did not dissuade him. Instead, he said to Jehovah: “You will call, and I myself shall answer you.
For the work of your hands you will have a yearning.” (Job 14:15) Even if Job were to die because of maintaining his integrity, he trusted that God’s love for His faithful servants would move Him to call them back from the dead.
May we have that same confidence in the true God. Jehovah can counter anything that Satan and his agents may bring against us. Remember, too, that Paul assures us: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.”—1 Cor. 10:13.