Beginning in 1964 famous ABC Radio daily news commentator Paul Harvey (1918 – 2009, and whose tag line still rings true in my ears: “And now you know … The Rest of the Story!“) penned and presented the first version of his essay “If I Were the Devil!” Over the next forty years Mr. Harvey continued to tweak his essay and occasionally present the message verbally on his broadcast. You can hear the essay in Paul Harvey’s own voice in a 1996 presentation at this link. Here is the transcript for the reading:
PAUL HARVEY’S ‘IF I WERE THE DEVIL’ TRANSCRIPT
If I were the devil … If I were the Prince of Darkness, I’d want to engulf the whole world in darkness. And I’d have a third of it’s real estate, and four-fifths of its population, but I wouldn’t be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree — Thee. So I’d set about however necessary to take over the United States. I’d subvert the churches first — I’d begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: ‘Do as you please.’
“To the young, I would whisper that ‘The Bible is a myth.’ I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what’s bad is good, and what’s good is ‘square.’ And the old, I would teach to pray, after me, ‘Our Father, which art in Washington…’
“And then I’d get organized. I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting, so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies and vice versa. I’d pedal narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.
“If I were the devil I’d soon have families that war with themselves, churches at war with themselves, and nations at war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames. If I were the devil I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions — just let those run wild, until before you knew it, you’d have to have drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.
“Within a decade I’d have prisons overflowing, I’d have judges promoting pornography — soon I could evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, and then from the houses of Congress. And in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and deify science. I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls, and church money. If I were the devil I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.
“If I were the devil I’d take from those who have, and give to those who want it until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And what do you bet? I could get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich? I would caution against extremes and hard work, in Patriotism, in moral conduct. I would convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun, that what you see on the TV is the way to be. And thus I could undress you in public, and I could lure you into bed with diseases for which there is no cure.
In other words, if I were the devil I’d just keep right on doing on what he’s doing. Paul Harvey, good day.”
It is not often that a national news commentator’s religious beliefs come through as he discusses important issues over the airways. However, Mr. Harvey never backed away from putting his beliefs about God and country right out in public. In my opinion, this essay is one of the best “sermons” I have ever heard on Satan.
Scripture: (all ESV unless otherwise noted)
2 Corinthians 11:3 – But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Daniel 8:25 – By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken—but by no human hand.
2 Corinthians 11:14 – And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Revelation 20:10 – and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever..
Revelation 21:8 – But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
Revelation 20:15 – And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire..
Ephesians 6:11-12 – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Don’t think that you are in any way immune to the temptations of the devil. The devil has been deceiving man since he first confronted Eve (2 Corinthians 11:3). The devil even tempted Jesus as He started His ministry (Matthew 4:1-11). The devil is cunning (Daniel 8:25), will falsely promise to make you prosperous (at a price), and make you think you are more than you really are. The devil spreads lies, wreaks havoc and lures people away from God. The devil is the personification of evil and will come to you in the form of many disguises (2 Corinthians 11:14) seeking to lure you away from God to himself. Those lured into the devil’s web will ultimately be devoured (1 Peter 5:8) and spend an eternity in torment with him in hell, the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10; 21:8; 20:15).
Paul Harvey’s obituary, in part, as published in the New York Times in 2009 read:
- [Harvey] “personalized the radio news with his right-wing opinions, but laced them with his own trademarks: a hypnotic timbre, extended pauses for effect, heart-warming tales of average Americans and folksy observations that evoked the heartland, family values and the old-fashioned plain talk one heard around the dinner table on Sunday.
- ‘Hello, Americans,’ he barked. ‘This is Paul Harvey! Stand byyy for Newwws!’
- He railed against welfare cheats and defended the death penalty. He worried about the national debt, big government, bureaucrats who lacked common sense, permissive parents, leftist radicals and America succumbing to moral decay. He championed rugged individualism, love of God and country, and the fundamental decency of ordinary people.”[
Looking back again at his now famous essay, If I Were the Devil!“, I say that Mr. Harvey has Satan’s deceptive practices nailed to a tee. The devil is indeed the master deceiver as he:
- subverts churches through spreading gossip and rumors
- promotes “do as you please” behavior
- teaches children through our schools that the Bible is a myth and irrelevant
- convinces children that man created God, not that God created man
- confides to children that what’s bad is good, and what’s good is square
- promotes belief in government rather than belief in God
- guides the writing and distribution of lurid and pornographic material with judges support
- influences TV programming and movies toward dirty material rather than wholesome
- promotes illegal use of habit-forming drugs, alcohol abuse and prescription drug abuse
- breaks up families and churches and nations via war with themselves
- uses the national media to fan the flames for the sake of ratings
- brings about a lack of discipline in schools
- had God evicted from the courthouse and Congress
- lures priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls and money
- leads government to take from those who have and give to those who want killing the incentive of the ambitious
- gets states to promote gambling as a means of funding government spending
- convinces the young that marriage is old-fashioned
Along your way you will experience doubt, discouragement, detours and distractions – all products of the devil. The devil wants to sidetrack you as you attempt to lead a successful life in Christ. Satan will attack your mind in secret tempting you to lead a double life. Thankfully, there is a way to avoid the wiles of the devil. The Christian has the armor of God available. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:11-12 that we are to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” James teaches us that with God’s armor deployed to protect you, the devil will flee from you (James 4:7).
Student, when a teacher or professor mocks your faith, remember your biblical training. Draw upon your faith. Do not be deceived by those who in their sophistication argue against God and religion.
Christian, refuse to give in to pornography, alcohol, sex, immorality and illicit drugs. All of these are devices of the devil designed to draw you away from God and drag you down to the pits of Hell.
Continually read and study God’s Word and incorporate His teachings into your lifestyle. Do as Joshua 1:8 (NIV) tells us: “Do not let this Book of the Law [Bible] depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” With God’s Word firmly implanted in your heart, you can be assured that the devil’s tricks will not work on you.
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