Larry Ray Hafley


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Contending for the Faith

How Do God and Satan
Influence Us?


Editor's Note: The Guardian of Truth Foundation recently published a new book by Larry, entitled The Christ, The Cross, and The Church. Larry has graciously consented to our excerpting a few passages from the book for the benefit of our readers. This article is the second excerpt. To read the first, entitled, Calvinism and Adam: A Parallel, please click here. Ordering information is available following the article for those who wish to purchase the book itself.


According to the creeds of men, Satan does not need to influence man. Man is "wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body ... (and) we are utterly indisposed, disabled and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil." If that truly represents the condition of man (and Calvinism says it does), then the devil can sleep until the last trump sounds reveille on the morning of the resurrection. The devil may as well spend his time calling hogs to muck and mire as to seek to influence sinners to sin. The hog, according to his nature, need not be influenced or enticed to mud. He will go there because he is "wholly defiled in all faculties and parts of soul and body and is utterly indisposed, disabled and made opposite to all cleanliness and wholly inclined to all mud." Likewise, man, according to "this corruption of nature," will sin; he cannot avert or avoid it; he must sin, or so Calvinism says. He will go to sin as the hog goes to mud. So, why, according to Calvinism, should Satan seek to influence us? Keeping the creeds in mind, a Calvinist needs to answer that question.

The fact remains, however, that the devil does strive to influence man. (In so doing, he denies, logically and consistently, the substance of the tenets of Calvinism.) "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3). Note, "As ... so." "As" the serpent "deceived" Eve (1 Tim. 2:14), "so" your minds should be corrupted. How did the devil beguile Eve? He did so by using incentive, enticement, inducement, motive (Gen. 3:1-6). (1) "Hath God said ...?" This method arouses doubt, suspicion, i.e., "God really has not told you not to eat, has he?" (2) He did so by lying — "Ye shall not surely die." The penalty is non-existent; rather there is a blessing, "God doth know ... your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods." (3) He did so by utilizing the triplets of lust: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16; Matt. 4:1-11; Gen. 3:6). "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh), and that it was pleasant to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and a tree to be desired to make one wise" (pride of life), she ate it.

In this manner does the devil operate today. Corruption "is in the world through lust" (2 Pet. 1:4). "But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin" (Jas. 1:14,15). One's mind is corrupted, not by birth, not by Adam's sin, but by conceived lust. The devil deceives us. He causes us to doubt God's word. He shows us pleasure rather than penalty (cf. Matt. 4:1-11; Gen. 3:5,6). He lies to us and draws us away by lust. That is how Satan influenced Eve, and that is how he would influence us.

Negative Arguments

The gospel "is the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). Is God's power sufficient for the task? Is the sinner able to hear, believe, and obey the gospel? If man cannot respond to the gospel and be saved by it, is it because: (1) God did not make the gospel powerful enough? If so, the fault lies with God, not with the sinner, for God could have made a stronger, more potent gospel, but he chose not to do so. That smacks against God's love, kindness and mercy. (2) God could not make the gospel powerful enough? This slams against God's power, his might. God was simply unable to produce a gospel sufficient to save man. Who can believe it?

But we are told by the creeds of Calvinism that man is a spiritual corpse, unable to receive instruction, powerless to act. Until God's "enabling grace" is imparted to the heart by the immediate working (direct operation) of the Holy Spirit, man is incapable of hearing, believing and obeying the gospel. So says Calvinism.

In reply, consider this parallel. Adam was as "dead to sin" as the sinner is "dead in sin" (cf. Eph. 2;1; Col. 2:13; Rom. 6:2; 1 Pet. 2:24). (See article in the May issue of Watchman for more detailed discussion of this point). Was Adam able to respond to the word of the devil? Remember, he was as "dead" as the sinner. Yet, dead Adam could hear, believe, and obey the word of God. If not, the word of Satan is more potent than the word of God.

Calvinists counter by saying that trying to preach salvation "into" a dead sinner is like trying to preach life into a dead body. "First," they say, "you must give physical life to a dead body, then it can hear and obey you; therefore, the Holy Spirit must impart spiritual life to the dead sinner, then he can hear and obey the gospel." Again, note that even though Adam was dead to sin, the devil preached damnation "into" him. If the devil's word could penetrate the heart of a man dead to sin, the God's word can surely permeate the heart of a man dead in sin. Or, is the word of the devil more powerful than the word of God?

Can a spiritually dead man hear? "No," says Calvinism. Jesus said, "the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (John 5:25). Jesus said those dead in sin could hear and then (not before) live (cf. Rom. 6:16-18).

Influence of Direct Divine Contact

The direct work of the Spirit has never transformed a man from sinner to saint. Baalam prophesied by the Spirit, but it did not alter his sinful ways (2 Pet. 2:15; Num. 31:16). Saul prophesied by the Spirit of God, but it did not deter his desire to kill David (1 Sam. 19).

In the New Testament, we read of incidents of direct, divine contact with men. Keep in mind that Calvinism demands that a direct, divine work of the Spirit must be applied to the heart of the sinner before he is able to act. In our observation of occasions of divine contact, note that not once did the Holy Spirit directly impart spiritual life to the heart of the sinner in order to enable him to obey the gospel.

  1. Acts 2: The Pentecostians. The Spirit came upon the apostles, the speakers, not the audience, the sinners. This was a perfect time, if Calvinism be true, for God to demonstrate the direct, divine enabling power of the Holy Spirit, but alas, the Spirit came upon the disciples, not the lost. The sinners were urged to "hearken to my words" (vv. 14, 22, 29). "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts" (v. 37). The preachers did not ask God to send his Spirit to convict the sinners; they did not seek an "outpouring of the Spirit on the hearts" of sinners. Rather, the Spirit spoke through the preachers (v. 4). In this way, the Spirit convicted the audience of sin (John 16:8).

  2. Acts 8: The Eunuch. The angel spoke to the preacher and sent him to the sinner (v. 26). The Spirit spoke to the preacher and told him to "go near." Neither the angel nor the Spirit spoke to the sinner's heart.

  3. Acts 9: Saul. When the Lord appeared to Saul of Tarsus, he commanded him to go to Damascus, "and it shall be told thee what thou must do" (v. 6) There is no record of an "enabling power" or of "conviction by the Spirit's touch." The Lord directed Saul to the preacher and the preacher to Saul (vv. 6-15).

    "But," it is objected, "this vision was the Lord's direct work on Saul's heart; Saul could not resist; this was 'irresistible grace.'" The text does not so state, but, if so, why did Paul later say, "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision" (Acts 26:19)? This implies that he could have been disobedient. Why say, "I was not disobedient," if it could not have been otherwise?

  4. Acts 10: Cornelius. "The Holy Ghost fell on them which heard the word" (v. 44), but the result was not regeneration. Cornelius was not saved by the Spirit's falling. The Spirit came in order to convince the Jews that the Gentiles were subjects of the gospel (Acts 10:47,48; 11:15-18; 15:7-11). Cornelius was saved by the words Peter spoke, not by the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:14).

    The angel that visited Cornelius did not cleanse his heart (v. 3). His heart was purified by faith (Acts 15:9). The angel said, "Send for Peter: who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved" (Acts 11:14; 15:7).

The Gospel: God's Power Unto Salvation

The Holy Spirit does convict the sinner. Does he effect the conviction of sinners directly, without means or agency, or does he convict sinners through the instrumentality of the gospel? No argument ever devised can overthrow Paul's words, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom. 1:16). "The preaching of the cross ... is the power of God ... it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (1 Cor. 1:18-21). What pleased God (to save men by preaching the gospel) does not please men nor the arguments of Calvinists, but it is true nevertheless.

Jesus said, "The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved" (Luke 8:11,12). The word of God is sown in the heart. The devil taketh away the word out of their hearts (why?) "lest they should believe and be saved." (1) Word in sinner's heart; (2) Faith produced; (3) Salvation accomplished. Where is the Lord's reference to the direct work of the Spirit? It is not there.

Divine Order of Salvation

Review Paul's chain-link argument in Romans 10:13-17. Salvation is the end of the chain. What are the links? In reverse order, from last to first, one must call on the name of the Lord, but how can one call if he has not believed? How can one believe if he has not heard? "And how shall they hear without the direct work of the Spirit on the sinner's heart?" Is that what your Bible says? No! "How shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?" Conclusion: "So then faith cometh by the Spirit's irresistible work on the sinner's heart and hearing by the enabling power of irresistible grace." Is that how it reads? What does the Bible say? "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

The Bible order is: (1) preachers sent (v. 15); (2) preachers preach (v. 15); (3) sinner hears (v. 14); (4) sinner believes (v. 14); (5) believer calls on the name of the Lord (v. 14); (6) believer saved (v. 13). There is no reference to a separate work of the Holy Spirit on the sinner's heart in Paul's chain. It is a missing link.

General Summary and Conclusion

The Spirit guided the apostles into all truth (John 14:26; 15:26,27; 16:13). This word given to the apostles was to be employed to make believers (John 8:32; 17:17,20). That is why the lord Jesus sent them "into all the world" to "preach the gospel to every creature" (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15;16; Luke 24:47).

The things the apostles wrote are the commandments of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37). When we read what they wrote, we are reading the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Thess. 2:15). Thus, the Spirit's word given through the apostles is the agent or instrument the Spirit uses to convict the sinner. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe" (John 20:30,31). "Many of them which heard the word believed" (Acts 4:4). "In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel" (1 Cor. 4:15). "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation" (Eph. 1:13). "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth" (Jas. 1:18). "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit ... Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God" (1 Pet. 1:22,23).


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Guardian of Truth Publications
238 pages
$12.95

Description of Book:

    This new work by Larry Hafley discusses issues that are current among brethren with reference to salvation and the church. His material begins with a discussion of salvation, showing that man has free will to choose to be saved or lost. In this section, Hafley demonstrates that God affects man through the word, just as Satan appeals to man through his words. In conjunction with the discussion on Calvinism and salvation, Hafley also presents an excellent chapter on the perseverance of the saints.

    There are two chapters that contrast the Lord's church with denominationalism. Inasmuch as these topics are so rarely covered in much of today's preaching, this material is especially relevant. Some brethren are still preaching the identifying marks of the New Testament and, in so doing, giving honor and glory to the God who revealed the church rather than exalting themselves. This is followed by an excellent chapter on "What Must I Do To Be Saved?"

    In his chapter "Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross," Hafley emphasizes that one stays near the cross by adhering to the teachings of Christ Jesus. To the degree that one departs from God's revelation, he moves away from the cross, without regard to how much piety he may claim.

    The chapter entitled "The Bodiless Spirit of Error" addresses a change in mindset among brethren that inevitably leads to apostasy. By the bodiless spirit concept, Hafley means that this mindset is looking for an issue with which to be identified. The error to which this mindset may attach itself may be the divorce and remarriage issue, the creation issue, or some other. However, the mindset is developed long before the issue becomes focused.

    In "What Is Wrong With The Church of Christ," brother Hafley addresses the complaints that critics within the church are making about the church. These include: "too much emphasis on doctrine," "there's not enough love shown," "preachers call names," "we need more preaching on grace," and such like complaints. Brother Hafley clearly identifies the hook that hides under these baits so that brethren will not be deceived by those who are undermining the pattern of the New Testament church.

    This book contains excellent material that will be appreciated by those who wish to cling to the teaching of New Testament scripture.