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In the garden the serpent did not touch the woman, but he did coax her with deceitful words to commit the first sin. Eve was thus deceived into sin, but Adam recognized the deception and made a deliberate choice to disobey God’s express command. It was his act that brought a legacy of death for his descendants. Mercifully, though, Christ our Savior stepped in with a message of hope for the doomed race. He foretold a long battle between the spiritual seed of the serpent and the spiritual seed of the woman, but in the end, the woman’s seed, though “bruised,” would deliver a fatal blow to the serpent and his followers. For the next four thousand years, in various ways, God had a church on earth composed of those who were loyal to Him. They were always a minority in the ever-increasing population. For example, by Noah’s time there was only a remnant of eight souls saved from the flood. Nevertheless, throughout the remainder of the Old Testament, God still had a church of faithful souls, which is symbolized in God’s Word as a pure woman.

In New Testament times, Jesus started a new church movement, with the gospel open to “whosoever will.” Everyone, regardless of their past circumstances, could come to the Father through Christ alone. More and more believed in Jesus’ atoning death and imputed life. That brought about cruel persecution as Satan’s animosity was stirred. As Satan became more skillful in his deceptive power, he worked within the Christian church, which ultimately became a religious system that, even today, opposes God while professing to exalt, obey and worship Him. That church is represented in Scripture by a harlot woman. Throughout history, the harlot has committed spiritual adultery by seeking the strength of the civil state to increase her influence, rather than trusting in God to lead and sustain her. But even though the harlot-woman church has persecuted faithful believers, God has always had a visible remnant who resisted worshipping outside of the will of God. For a time they comprised God’s true church, but the “pure woman” did not retain her purity. Today, several centuries since the Reformation began, we can see on the cover of this book the true condition of that woman. God’s church is firmly ensnared in Satan’s coils. 

Seventh-day Adventists have a profound understanding of the true seventh-day Sabbath and are free from the satanic deception of the counterfeit Sabbath—the mark of the beast. However, the overwhelming majority of the Christian world remains deceived on that issue, and are therefore either knowingly or ignorantly transgressors of the fourth commandment. The question today is whether or not ignorance of the Sabbath truth is an acceptable excuse for transgression. For the majority, it is not, because most Christians have had the time, opportunity, and/or resources to learn the truth. Most permit multiple distractions to occupy their spare time, coupled with the fact that they trust their souls’ salvation to their spiritual leadership. They also rest in the false belief that the majority cannot be wrong. In the time of trouble, though, events will transpire that will not permit willful ignorance. When the latter rain is poured out and the three angels’ messages are preached world-wide with great power, they will get the call to make an eternal life-saving decision to come out of Babylon.

As recorded in Isaiah 14:14, Satan boasted, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” That was not an idle boast. What does God have that Satan has engineered himself to have? God has a Sabbath; He warns His people in Isaiah 58:13 to stop trampling on His holy day. Satan has Sunday as his sabbath, and almost the entire Christian world gives it undue reverence. They know not whom they obey when they think to “keep holy” that common day.

The counterfeit Sabbath is truly a major deception, but it is not Satan’s all-time greatest deception. As important as it is, is not the end point for Satan. He is pleased with his efforts to have world-wide recognition of and obedience to his counterfeit Sabbath, but what he wants yet—what he wants more—is total worship of all those who claim to be the children of God. This is why in getting as much of the Christian world, including Adventists, to believe one particular erroneous doctrine, they will think they are worshipping God when they are actually worshipping Satan. Thus what makes this deception so insidious is that it involves the transgression of the first commandment. That makes it more than a serious issue; it is a life-or-death issue. And that is exactly why it has been the primary object of Satan’s attack.

Without a doubt, his all-time greatest deception has all of the Christian world ensnared, including the majority of the Seventh-day Adventist Church at every level. The purpose of this book is to present exactly what that deception is, and how deceived Adventists and other Christians can escape Satan’s plan for their destruction.

So what has been his diabolical plan? Isaiah 14:13 reveals it: “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.” Satan has claimed that from his own throne, he will receive worship that is intended for the eternal Father. Has he made this blasphemous goal a reality? Besides the counterfeit Sabbath, does he receive the worship of the Christian world by the transgression of the first commandment? The answer is Yes. Have the overwhelming majority of Seventh-day Adventists also fallen into his trap? Do they transgress the first commandment, as well? Again, the answer is Yes.

Satan definitely has gained his objective. He wants people to believe that this is an irrelevant side issue that merits no attention, but your salvation may hinge upon your correct understanding of the issues involved, which we will thoroughly examine.

Isaiah 58:1 says, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” Since salvation for many is at stake, this book will cry aloud and not spare, in showing believers where they have been ensnared.

As you study the contents of this book, Satan’s all-time greatest deception will be made perfectly clear to anyone who reads the evidence without prejudice or bias. God will not force the light of truth into a closed mind. Hear the message from the writings of Ellen White, God’s messenger for these last days:

“If persons listen to God’s message of reproof, warning, or encouragement while their hearts are filled with prejudice, they will not understand the true import of that which was sent them to be a savor of life unto life. Satan stands by to present everything to their understanding in a false light. But the souls that are hungering and thirsting for divine knowledge will hear aright, and will obtain the precious blessings that God designs to convey to them. Their minds are under the influence of His Holy Spirit, and they hear aright.

Truly, “we have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed.” (CW 37)

“When hearts are purified from selfishness and egotism, they are in harmony with the message God sends them. The perceptions are quickened, the sensibilities refined. Like appreciates like. ‘He that is of God heareth God’s words.’” (5T 695)

Please note that there will be minor duplication of some Spirit of prophecy quotations in the different chapters. It is done for the understanding of the chapter’s topic. Repetition is sometimes useful, as it deepens the impression. Also, italics have been used throughout for emphasis; when in the original, though, it has been noted.

I encourage you to pray that God will make His truth clear to your understanding.

                                                                                                                                    Richard C. Vaughn

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