From the September/October 2023 issue of Discern Magazine

God Is Not the Author of Confusion

We live in a world where confusion reigns. Where does it come from? How can we escape the confusion, and how will it finally be overcome?

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Our world has long been plagued by propaganda—cleverly prepared information designed to deceive us.

For example, consider the quote widely attributed to P.T. Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” The implication is that Barnum thought the people who came to his circus didn’t realize they were being swindled out of the money they paid for admission to his show.

But there is no evidence that Barnum uttered these words. Instead, it seems, they were said by a business rival trying to discredit him.  

Today, the muddle over this quote serves as amusing historical trivia.

Unfortunately, our world today is filled with far more serious topics over which people are deeply divided and confused.

Examples include:

  • The Russia-Ukraine War: Russia claims it was provoked by the West, while Ukraine and its supporters argue that it was unprovoked.  
  • The abortion debate: Opinions on whether abortion is health care or murder vary greatly, and passionate arguments abound on both sides. (Note: The Bible answers this question. See “Is Abortion Wrong?”)
  • Gender identity: There are differing views on whether our sex is determined at conception or if gender is a choice. (Note: The Bible addresses this question as well. See our article “What Does the Bible Say About Gender Identity?”)

The list could continue, illustrating the extent of conflicting opinions and disagreements with the guidance God gives us.

Readers of Discern magazine are seeking spiritual discernment. So let’s consider what God’s Word reveals about the confusion in our world today.

God isn’t at fault

The first thing we can note is that God is not responsible for the confusion in our world today.

Paul made this clear when he wrote, “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33).

So where does confusion come from?

To answer this question, let’s go back to the beginning.

A perfect creation

When God first created our world, it was filled with order, harmony, peace and stability. He “didn’t create it for chaos, but formed it to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18, International Standard Version).

The book of Job explains that when God “laid the foundations of the earth,” the angelic host “sang” and “shouted for joy” (Job 38:4, 7). Our planet had an amazing start!

A perfect creation disrupted and then restored

But something damaged God’s perfect creation. By the time God was ready to create humans, the earth had become “without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2).

God then spent six days reordering and refashioning the earth in preparation for mankind—the pinnacle of His creation (Genesis 1-2; Romans 8:19).

What caused all the confusion?

The Bible points to a spirit being called Satan, who has repeatedly lied and distorted the truth. He is the source of confusion and uses it to deceive others. Originally, Satan was a high-ranking angel in God’s service, but he rebelled and led a third of the angels in a failed war against God.

Satan’s “tail drew a third of the stars . . . And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:4, 7-9; compare Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:13-16; Luke 10:18).

This spiritual warfare is what likely caused the earth to become chaotic and unfit for human habitation.

Satan confuses Eve

After refashioning the earth and creating man, God noted that everything He had made was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). God placed Adam and Eve, the woman He had created from one of Adam’s ribs, in a beautiful, well-watered garden filled with productive fruit trees (Genesis 2).

Life was good.

But then Satan the devil entered the scene, appearing as a snake.

Satan created so much confusion in Eve’s mind that he deceived her and coaxed her into disobeying God’s command not to eat the fruit of a specific tree in the garden. Because of this, Jesus referred to Satan as a murderer and a liar from the beginning (John 8:44).

Satan confused Eve by telling her that she wouldn’t die as God had said if she ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. Expanding on his lie, Satan accused God of holding Eve back from her potential and told her that if she ate of the forbidden tree she would “be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).

Not perceiving that Satan was lying to her, Eve examined the fruit and determined that it looked perfectly fine. She then ate some and shared it with her husband, Adam (verse 6; 1 Timothy 2:14).

The consequences of Adam and Eve’s disobedience were significant. To Eve, God said, “In pain you shall bring forth children.” Adam’s punishment was that the ground was cursed and that he would have to work much harder to get it to produce food (Genesis 3:16-18).

The most severe punishment for Adam and Eve was that they would die and return to the dust from which they had come (verse 19). They were banished from the garden and denied access to the tree of life, representing eternal life (verses 22-24).

This account of Adam and Eve’s sin is a pivotal event in the story of human confusion. Sadly, Satan’s efforts to confuse mankind have never abated since that fateful day in the garden.

Satan continues to confuse humans

The first mention of Satan in the Bible, the prelude to his deception of Eve, states that he “was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made” (Genesis 3:1). The word cunning is translated from arum, meaning “subtle, shrewd, crafty, sly” (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions).

Unfortunately, Satan never stopped using this character trait for evil in his ongoing efforts to confuse humans and get them to reject God.

The book of Job documents Satan’s cruel persecution of Job, a blameless man who feared God (Job 1:1, 8-19). Later, he incited King David to take a census of Israel (1 Chronicles 21:1).

But Satan’s deceitful activities are not limited to Old Testament times. The fact is, his influence has reached everyone.

John states, “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19), and Revelation 12:9 says, “That serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan . . . deceives the whole world.”

Satan’s confusion removed in Christ

Although Satan tries to deceive everyone, those called by God are empowered to recognize and reject his influence. Paul told the brethren in Ephesus, “You once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).

Paul also noted that Satan had “blinded” the minds of those who did not respond to the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). In the preceding chapter, Paul likened spiritual blindness to having a veil on one’s heart (2 Corinthians 3:13-15). The key, said Paul, was “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (verse 16).

Turning to God in genuine repentance of our sins is the starting point for cutting through the confusing ideas that Satan spreads. Seeking God with our whole hearts and studying His Word give us the clarity we need to sort through the confusion Satan disseminates.

A world without confusion

Although the number of people who are currently able to perceive and resist Satan’s influence is relatively small, a time is coming when the entire world will live in peace without the constant confusion caused by this malignant spirit (Isaiah 9:6-7; Luke 12:32).

The Day of Atonement—one of God’s annual holy days—pictures how this world without confusion will come about.

After Jesus returns to establish the Kingdom of God on earth—pictured by the preceding holy day, the Feast of Trumpets—the Day of Atonement represents the restraining of Satan from his nefarious activity. Here is how the book of Revelation describes this upcoming event:

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:1-3).

Once bound, Satan will no longer be able to sow confusion in people’s minds. The world will then experience a time of peace and clarity.

To learn more about the peaceful Kingdom of God that will be established here on earth, starting with the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ, read our free booklet The World to Come: What It Will Be Like.

About the Author

David Treybig

David Treybig

David Treybig is a husband, father and grandfather. He and his wife, Teddi, have two grown children and seven grandchildren. He currently pastors the Austin, Texas, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He has served in the pastoral ministry for over 40 years, pastoring congregations across six states.

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