As I grew older and began to read the Bible more, I realized that this was a complete and utter distortion of what it means to worship the devil. In fact, the characterization above served only as a red-herring so that humanity might lose the scent in mid trail, and come to the conclusion, once again, that they are essentially good people who believe in God. They are certainly not devil worshipers, especially those who go to church and believe that the gospel is true.
The reason why such imagery of a hooded cult, surrounded by candles, pentagrams, and if they were really ambitious enough to secure it, a goat's head, was a distorted depiction of what it means to follow Satan is because it's almost too stupid for anyone to follow it. After all, why follow the devil in such a manner if the payout is not as good? Are you really going to give up yourself for a lesser god? We are rebellious creatures by nature. We don't want any lords. We want to be lord. We want to rule ourselves, and we want no one else making demands upon us. So with this base attitude, it really doesn't make much sense for the devil to set up such an elaborate scheme in duping mankind with such an obvious absurdity.
However, it does make sense to use our base rebellion to want to be our own gods as a means to follow him, and that is in fact the religion of the devil. That is in fact Satan worship.
You see, worship has to do with submitting one's life to a certain path. It has to do with emulation. Notice how Paul says, "Be imitators of God" in the midst of his exhortation of telling us to worship God now that we have been saved by Him through Christ. Imitation is worship, because it displays that we have come to believe that the greatest path is the one we should take, and of course, the greatest path is traveled by the greatest beings, or greatest being. That's all the devil really wants. After all, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.
He doesn't want your prayers. He just wants you to cease praying and rely upon yourself. He doesn't want your virgin sacrifices. He just wants your virginity and for you to use your sexuality as you so desire. He doesn't want candles, unless they make you feel good. In fact, the "Satanic Bible" isn't really about Satan at all. It's about secular humanism. It's about hedonism. It's about self worship and self pursuit. Anton LaVey didn't even believe in a personal devil. His whole point was that real Satanism is self-worship, not the worship of some other being.
But this is precisely what devil worship is in the Bible as well. No one in Scripture actually worships the devil directly. They worship him by worshiping themselves, by exalting themselves. Even pagan cults existed to secure something for the self. The individual just honored the deity in order to get a better life, a woman he loved, a child he wanted, money, a victory in war, etc. Devil worship has never been about goats' heads, but about following the devil's pattern of life in the world that he wants, the world that he created with the words, "Ye shall be as gods, masters of good and evil." This is accomplished if one just does what he wants and eats of whatever fruit he desires in the moment while disregarding the path set before him by God.
If you look at Christ's temptations, the devil actually tries to get Christ to take what already belongs to Christ, but to do it outside of the will of the Father. He tries to get Him to do what He wishes and to exalt Himself apart from the path the Father has laid out. His attempt to get Him to worship him is through his attempt to get Him to do what He desires: to show Himself to be and be known as the Lord of power and prosperity, the Lord who rules the world. But Christ came to do the Father's will instead, and so off to crucifixion He goes. In this way, the devil wants Christ to bow down to him (as one who loves to be exalted) to show that devil worship is really all about listening to the continual plea of Satan that you should do whatever you see fit in disregard for any obedience toward what God has said (unless what makes you happy sometimes accords with what God wants as well).
My point to you is this: that you may think that you're a pretty good person and that you could never be considered a devil worshiper. You go to church. You believe the gospel is true. But so did we, as we heard about Satanic cults and the wicked who participated in them when I was young, and yet, according to the Bible, we were indulging in true Satanism by disregarding the Word of God that laid out our path, eating the fruit set before us without care, and mimicking the same self-serving spirit evidenced in Satan's rebellion toward God.
In fact, when you see demons in Scripture, they who follow the devil's path, they are seeking to indulge in the pleasure of an individual's body or to be honored and worshiped as gods. The Scripture itself tells us that the gods of other religions are actually demons and not gods at all (and certainly not different manifestations of the One true God either). This is because they want to be exalted as the devil exalts himself. They do not worship the devil in some lair, as is often depicted. They simply follow him through emulation of self-direction and self-exaltation. The honor themselves above God. They honor themselves above others. And we, if we are not careful to pay attention to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, will do the same. We are self worshipers, not part of us, but the whole of fallen humanity, because our original parents were self-worshipers, and that is precisely what devil worship is.
So we can no longer look at "those" really twisted people who hang up the goat's head and say we are not devil worshipers because we go to church or believe the gospel. On the contrary, the church is filled full of devil worshipers. It makes people feel good to believe in God. It makes them feel good to feel that they are good. And to them, commitment to some religious belief, ritual, or group makes them good. But true worship is that which listens to what God says, does not let anyone confuse it, and seeks to imitate Him in His righteousness. This is why loving God is to obey His commandments. This is why to worship, "to bow down to," God means we believe and live in accordance to what He has said as opposed to exalting our own ideas and opinions about life over what He has said. There are simply too many Satanists in and outside the church for us to pretend that devil worship is a thing of the past or relegated to a small quirky group of adolescents.
The worst of all of this is that this has implications for our destination. The Scripture says that hell itself was made for the devil and his angels, and we are told then that humans, who follow his path, are also being reserved for such a punishment. In fact, in Matthew 25:41, Christ is sending tons of churchgoers into the hell prepared for the devil and his angels, precisely, because they don't emulate Him by doing good to others in their worship of God. So this, one of the harshest and most frightening parts of Scripture, is just referring to people who actually believe the gospel is true. They just use it as a part of their self-serving religion to the exclusion of doing good to others with it.
What this means is far worse than we might first think, as I've written before on this blog about how all religions, except genuine Christianity, are religions of self-worship. But if this is true, then all religions are religions of devil worship, which in turn means that everything that is not done within genuine Christianity is, in fact, devil worship. Satanism is simply another name for the united self-seeking religion of the world, and hell awaits all of the followers of that religion, the whole world.
So now we can see the good news is truly good. Christ alone has come to save us from the devil by saving us from ourselves. He has not come to make you feel good in your Satanism. He has not come to affirm you in your devil worship. He has come to set you free from a life of self-direction, a life that leads to hell and away from the source of true life, which is God Himself. The devil wants us to follow him in emulation, because he's not only honored by it, but he knows, as the agent of chaos, that such a practice will lead to our own destruction. He knows we cannot save ourselves, and that we are no masters of good and evil. We will be overcome, as we were never made to be self-sustaining gods. But Christ has set us free from him. He has come to destroy the works that the devil has wrought in us. He has come to destroy the religion of the devil, and as such, He has come to destroy all of our religions, and to establish His Kingdom, His Lordship, over us instead, because that Kingdom is an eternal one that is sustained by the power of God and is able to deliver us from all evil. He is our Savior from hell, precisely, because He is our Savior from our false religion of self.
This is the reason why the devil doesn't explicitly show up in the Bible all over the place. He's only mentioned here and there. That's because his religion is everywhere in the one religion of self-worship that takes upon itself many expressions. But the religion of Christ spoils the plans of the devil. It ruins his world, as it has been declared that, regardless of the self-exaltation he wrought in us, "every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." The question is whether you will be confessing as one who has taken away his allegiance from himself and has given it to Christ or as one of the followers of the devil who has been conquered by Him. I pray you take time today to think about and make sure you are of the former rather than the latter.
[I thought I would add this scene from a children's book I wrote. Don't worry I won't be publishing it and inflicting children with the cruelty of such tortured poetry, but it makes the point I'm trying to convey here. This is meant to be the fall of man from the viewpoint of the animals in the garden. Again, ignore the bad poetry and just think about what is being said]
Whither did the tree which called everlasting its child.
Gone were the gardeners that kept weeds from running wild.
Perched were the many birds of prey,
For the king of order had died that day.
“What shall we do?” said Deer all afraid.
“What will become of our evergreen glade?”
We are left without a guardian who will keep us from the harm
Of Leviathan’s poisonous, villainous charm.
Then monkey howled in with frightful alarm,
“He will tell all to trust in their very right arm.
He will come with his voice so soothing of sound.
He will come with the promise of scepter and crown.
He will tell us to trust in our hearts to perceive.
He will not tell us the truth, but seek to deceive
But truth is known only to those who believe.”
And as the animals gathered and wept,
In came every creeping thing that crept;
And darkness fell upon every eye that could see,
When the birds of prey perched high on the tree.
“What are they here for?” said Squirrel passing by.
“They are followers of the serpent,” said Owl in reply.
“He is well organized then,” said Squirrel, “with army in hand.
“They must serve him in sky over water and land.
He must love for them to worship him as a god in this place.
He must love all those who seek to acknowledge his face.”
“No,” said Owl, “that is not how it sways,
For the serpent does not seek to deceive in such ways.
He does not draw the host in that way to him,
But devises a more clever, idolatrous sin.
He converts the living to the dead
By telling everyone to worship themselves instead.
He tells them to follow their hearts and they’ll know
The right from the wrong to reap and to sow,
To ignore God’s instructive commands,
To follow their own self seeking demands.
He converts, therefore, a soul from life to death.
He places hot air in the stead of God’s breath.
He convinces the creature in himself to trust,
And returns the foolish fellow right back into dust.
The birds of prey, then, follow only his lead
They do what he does and indulge as they feed
They fly where they wish and for themselves alone
They soar and feel free in the world they are shown
Like the serpent who always lives for the day
So also are his followers, the birds of prey.
“So they follow the serpent by following themselves,”
Said Rabbit to Squirrel sitting under the shelves
Of shade that still remained from the trees of bone.
“They do his will because it is their own
And in this way each becomes his self-worshiping drone.
For his will is for all to become like him,
To eat from the tree of his own wisdom,
To ignore the words spoken from on High,
To live for the moment, for tomorrow we die.”