Few people are aware of the great unseen spiritual battle taking place throughout the world. Fewer still realize that the main battlefield is within their minds!
As Americans closed the books on a turbulent 2020, many hoped for a better 2021. But as things look early in the year, that doesn’t seem likely. All around us we see chaos, confusion, strife, animosity, hatred and violence. The nation seems to be spinning out of control, disrupting the lives of people who want nothing more than to live peacefully, enjoy their families and savor what good our lives have to offer.
The chaos is nearly impossible to escape in our interconnected world. One would almost have to hide out in a cabin in the mountains to shut out the noise.
But millions who’ve been told for a year to stay home and avoid outside human contact over Covid-19 concerns are hungry for contact with others and the outside world. Those stuck inside find TV, the Internet, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other media their only companions in a world seemingly gone mad.
Perhaps you’ve wondered, What’s really going on here? Is it just coincidence that America, the greatest nation on earth, is wracked by all this turmoil? Everything seemed normal until just recently. What, or who, is behind it all?
The fact of the matter is that an extremely powerful instigator is stirring the chaos, confusion, hatred and division between peoples. He is a thoroughly evil spirit being who’s lived for eons—since before the world existed.
The Bible refers to him as Satan and the devil, along with other descriptions.
While many think the devil is a myth, he is very much a force to be reckoned with. Satan’s very name means adversary or enemy. He is at war with us and out to defeat us. He works invisibly to influence the thoughts and attitudes of billions of human beings.
Most scoff at Satan’s influence
Satan’s greatest weapon may be the fact that most people either don’t believe he exists or don’t believe he has a great impact on society. (If you doubt his existence and influence, download or request our study guide Is There Really a Devil? to learn more.)
Your Bible reveals that Satan has throughout time been the author of confusion, hatred and all the evils that plague mankind. Every day he targets human minds with a coordinated attack on our understanding, thoughts and attitudes. A master of thought influence and control, he spiritually “broadcasts” his own influence while also working through influential people in society, with millions following their lead.
To begin to understand his influence over mankind we must realize that this world, this modern society, is under his control for the time being. Your Bible describes Satan as the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” and “the god of this age” (Ephesians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4, emphasis added throughout). Invisible and undetected, Satan manipulates and controls much of mankind’s thinking. He is principally responsible for the racial strife, competing ideologies, hatred and animosity we see in America and the world today.
This tremendously powerful being has deceived the entire world. The apostle John says of Satan, “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). God’s admonition to “be not deceived” can be found throughout the Bible (see Deuteronomy 11:16; Luke 21:8; 1 Corinthians 6:9). The apostle John, in the Bible’s closing book, wrote that Satan “deceives the whole world” and will do so until Christ returns (Revelation 12:9; 20:2-3).
How has Satan accomplished this? Paul warned the Corinthians not to be “ignorant of his devices”—or, as variously translated, his schemes, intentions, designs or plans (2 Corinthians 2:11). Satan employs numerous methods and tools in carrying out his plans to corrupt and destroy mankind. Let’s look at three powerful forces of societal influence Satan harnesses to delude and control the thinking of billions today.
Education—indoctrinating the young
When it comes to indoctrination, totalitarian leaders have long recognized the importance of starting with the minds of the children. The founder of the Soviet communist state, Vladimir Lenin, told the Russian Communist Party, “Give me four years to teach the children, and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” The Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler reputedly said, “Whoever has the youth has the future.”
In like manner Satan holds great sway over mankind through educational systems. One of his main goals is to eliminate belief in God or make it of no effect. A major way he does this today is by indoctrinating generations of young people into a humanistic, evolution-based way of thinking that denies God and divine revelation.
This philosophy guides the institutions and organizations that direct Western education today. Over the past two or three generations modern education has been incredibly successful in indoctrinating young people. The warped ideas they’ve been fed have led to the culture war taking place within the United States and many other Western nations.
Institutional humanist indoctrination begins as early as preschool public TV programming and then elementary school, when children are led to embrace a worldview totally unlike that taught just a few generations ago. The traditional values their parents, grandparents and previous generations were brought up in are systematically replaced with a value structure that eliminates God from the picture in favor of humanistic and even nihilistic views.
It follows, of course, that if there is no God, no absolute source of law, ethics or morals, that human beings must decide for themselves what is legal, ethical or moral. Modern education then goes on to teach that religious-based value systems are archaic at best and evil at worst. The 19th-century father of communism, Karl Marx, famously said that “religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature . . . it is the opiate of the masses.” Denying the existence of an all-powerful creator God, humanism ends up with man—not God—at the center of all thinking.
(Against such godless philosophy, the existence of God can be soundly proven. We invite you to download or request our free study guide Life’s Ultimate Question: Does God Exist?)
Proclaiming no meaning and rewriting history
Denial of the existence of an all-powerful God presents a host of opportunities to the world's educators. They thereby deny the law of God, which defines right and wrong, leaving people without moral constraints. In denying that life has any real purpose or meaning, they leave people to decide on their own meaning, however destructive that is to themselves and others.
In his book Ends and Means: An Inquiry into the Nature of Ideals, English atheist and philosopher Aldous Huxley, who could be considered a humanist hero, spoke of this philosophy of meaninglessness and how it affected his personal morality:
“For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom . . . There was one admirably simple method of confuting [religious] people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.”
In a world of people choosing their own meaning or no meaning, all lifestyles are equally valid—except those choosing to declare that isn’t so. Because humanism promotes free thinking and no set rules, a fundamental tenet is to not judge or condemn any lifestyle or sexual preference. Thus adultery, homosexuality, transgenderism, bestiality or other things God condemns are viewed as acceptable and even laudable.
In recent decades American children have been increasingly taught a different perspective on the nation’s history—that America is an inherently evil society where greatness and wealth were achieved only by the rich exploiting the poor. In this worldview, white Americans, especially white males over 50, are seen as oppressors.
These views are precisely those of the National Education Association, the national teachers’ union that represents most of America’s more than 3 million kindergarten to grade 12 and college educators. Through the indoctrination of America’s youth, they actively deny America’s greatness and goodness.
Traditionally, Americans believed that freedom, liberty and the free enterprise system helped create a nation with the highest living standards in human history. Yet American children today are being taught that an economic system that has brought prosperity to hundreds of millions is evil because inequality exists. Thousands of educators fervently believe in and teach identity politics, “class warfare” and the false claim that America is a land of “systemic racism” in their efforts to pit Americans against each other.
On top of all this, perhaps the greatest damage from America’s educational shift to progressivism is the growing movement in the classroom to shut down all dissent from the politically correct “accepted” view. With parents largely deprived of their rights to monitor what is being taught to their children, students are generally subjected to only the “accepted” amoral and socialist perspective on history, science, sociology, government and economics. Regrettably, such silencing of dissent is moving beyond the classroom and swiftly spreading through all of society. (For more on where things are headed, read “America’s Looming Lurch Into Socialist Progressivism” in our previous issue.)
Today’s media another of Satan’s major tools
Satan, the master deceiver (John 8:44; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10), understands the value of a coordinated attack. While he uses false education to attack the minds of America’s youth, he attacks all of society on a broader front through the mass media and mass culture. For years we have seen a determined shift to the liberal values in major print and broadcast media. More recently we’ve witnessed this shift in the newer vehicle of social media. Since the run-up to the 2020 U.S. election we have witnessed the sad spectacle of Twitter, Facebook and Google’s YouTube, social media used by millions, openly stifling and censoring conservative viewpoints and voices—even burying key news stories.
It is no secret that American print journalism has been on the decline since the beginning of the 2000s, with the total number of daily newspapers declining by nearly half since 1990. What has occurred during this period, however, is the rising influence, especially on the Internet, of major market papers such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, papers that advocate and amplify the liberal line in politics, education and mass culture.
But just as military forces sometime change tactics during a battle, Satan is also not above shifting tactics to increasing use of cable TV news or social media, which today are the most-used sources to find out what’s happening in the nation and the world. This shift, underway for years, accelerated in 2020 as the coronavirus epidemic gave state after state power to enact and enforce stay-at-home orders.
It’s truly frightening to realize the mental hammerlock these media giants have on so many. With the exception of a handful of radio and TV networks, the majority of the electronic media merely parrot the liberal line. What happened to at least having a modicum of reporting both sides, as was the expected standard for decades?
Unbiased reporting out the window
As recently as the 1980s many journalism students were still being taught to report the news in a clear, unbiased, straightforward manner. Where I began my career reporting for a daily newspaper, reporters were supposed to bring out both sides of an issue and to leave out our personal opinions. Opinions were supposed to be reserved for the opinion pages, not the news pages. There was still press bias then, but nothing like what we see now.
The past quarter-century has seen massive changes to journalistic approaches, ethics and standards. Today many journalists, especially younger ones indoctrinated by a more left-leaning educational system, freely inject their biases, personal belief systems and political views into their reporting. Budding young journalists graduate with a secular humanist worldview, which colors how they report events. Personally, I was shocked a few years back to learn the school of journalism where I got my degree was patting itself on the back for having students work on a project to promote LGBTQ lifestyles.
That a bias exists among the mainstream media is now obvious. It’s also well documented, even by the news industry itself. (For more about this, see “The Battle Over What You Think” and “What’s Behind the Growing Culture War?”—both in our January-February 2019 issue.)
In academia, politics, business and entertainment, the concept of “thought leadership” has become very prominent. Every day, millions look to “thought leaders” as guides to how they should think and act. And what molds their opinions? Just look at the media these thought leaders read, watch or listen to.
Corrupting ideology and elitism
The connection between Satan’s influence on education and the media should be obvious. Nearly all of today’s journalists and commentators (and the distinction has become largely blurred) are products of the left-leaning educational establishment. Senior journalists and editors, those who run America’s newsrooms and hold sway over what gets reported and how it gets reported, went to college during the turbulent times of the 1960s and 70s, when many got caught up in antiestablishment causes popular at the time.
Consider also that nearly all major U.S. news organizations are concentrated on the East Coast and West Coast, the strongholds of American progressive thought. A 2016 article in The Atlantic included a map showing that fully half of today’s journalists live and work in the Washington, D.C.-to-Boston corridor (“U.S. Media’s Real Elitism Problem,” Nov. 19, 2016).
Shortly before the 2016 election that put Donald Trump in the White House, New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg predicted increasing shedding of objectivity in the face of Trump’s possible win: “If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, non-opinion journalist I’ve ever known . . .” (“Trump Is Testing the Norms of Objectivity in Journalism,” Aug. 7, 2016).
Concentrated in the areas of America’s entertainment, business and media elites, and with a realization of their growing influence on public opinion, many American journalists have become elites themselves. Seemingly well-educated, prideful and often self-righteous, many of today’s journalists consider it their duty to shape opinion according to the viewpoints they share with their peers and fellow elites as to what is acceptable and politically correct. Such types populate the evening cable TV channels.
Those at the top of the journalism field, if it can still be called that, have been propelled to celebrity status. Many become immensely wealthy through TV contracts and book deals. Their star power allows them to mix and mingle with popular entertainment figures, who embrace those with liberal leanings. Magazines such as People, tabloids and gossip columnists gush over these news celebrities rubbing shoulders at top parties, fundraisers and other social events with the elites of Hollywood, television and the sports world.
That brings us to a further means of the devil’s influence.
Pop culture—the ultimate siren song
That Hollywood and those in entertainment regularly mock, belittle and denigrate traditional morality has been widely established for decades. Few are the movies lauded within the film industry that aren’t steeped in immorality. Actors and musicians take the stage at annual award shows celebrating what is often filth. Many go on to spew leftist political and social commentary—increasingly considered cool and chic. Millions of ordinary citizens find these people dazzling, captivating and persuasive.
They, too, join the ranks of thought leaders. But really though, why should we care what entertainers think about politics or world events? Still, many do care what they think. Again, Satan uses the famous, wealthy, powerful and highly visible of this world to spread his lies and deceptive propaganda to millions of people.
The late-night talk and entertainment shows of the major TV networks have become icons of American television, drawing huge audiences. Many can remember when they were genuinely entertaining. But they have degenerated into showplaces where comedians trash and lampoon morality and public figures who don’t share their liberal values. This is evidently popular enough to keep them going, though it sometimes seems the entertainment industry is more concerned with pushing a social agenda than with earnings.
In any case, there is little doubt about Satan’s siren song influence on the thinking of masses of people. The adversary of God and mankind has honed his strategies and tactics to achieve maximum success. As society seems to spiral downward at a faster and faster pace, it takes courage and conviction to swim against the tide. Will you be one who’s aware the enemy is real and that he’s out to control your thinking and ultimately destroy you?
Nearly 2,000 years ago the apostle Peter recognized Satan’s threat and warned Christians then, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). But, as the apostle James adds, if you “submit to God,” you can “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7; see also Ephesians 6:11).
The choice is stark: Be sober and diligent and with God’s help resist, or be devoured by mankind’s powerful spiritual enemy! Submit to God and resist the devil, choosing true wisdom and life!