Outwitting The Devil review. Is it Biblical or Christian?

Outwitting-the-DevilIs the book Outwitting the Devil Biblical or Christian?  Here’s my Outwitting the Devil review from a Biblical perspective.  Napoleon Hill’s late-published book, written in 1938, but only released in 2011, has excited the self-help and “Law of Attraction” crowd (from YouTube testimonials and other reviews I’ve seen) but how does it comport with the Bible and Christian doctrine?

 

Many of you may be familiar with Napoleon Hill’s classic success books: Think and Grow Rich and The Laws of Success, which espouse his idea, among others, that people should have a Major Definite Purpose for their lives.

 

This new book wasn’t published till long after Hill’s death because of its “controversial content.”   In it, Hill tells of his battle with depression and a break through of faith he experienced after having published his first book, Think and Grow Rich. After his breakthrough, he gets into a Q&A interview with the Devil, whether real or imagined, and “forces” him to confess his strategies.   Before I critique a number of problems I have with it from a Biblical perspective, I would like to start with a number of things I like about it.

 

What is helpful is the premise that there is a world of spiritual warfare, an unseen world of the  demonic that attacks, lies, suggests and distract us from the truth of God’s plan or purpose for for our lives.  These lies and distractions need to be both recognized and battled with truth and focus.  Hill also describes powerful experiences of faith and the presence of an “Other Self” which guided him in the fulfillment of his strong held purpose or “prayers.”  I would like to think that this “Other Self” is the Holy Spirit himself.  He shows up in the beginning of the book, then sort of disappears unfortunately. Hill refers to God as the “Infinite Intelligence”, but does not identify Him as the God of the bible, which could make the book more accessible.  So far, nothing completely heretical.

 

The most highlighted strategy of the Devil, according to Hill, is to get people into drifting, not being settled on a major definite purpose for their life, which causes them to be ineffective.  And here I would agree that many of the Devil’s strategies do seem to distract and discourage us from living out our true purpose.

 

The idea of “drifting” is a powerful and helpful metaphor that contrasts against faith, if we define faith as of focus on achieving a definite major purpose.  Hill also incorporates principals of morality and sin around this idea:

 

  • Fear and failure facilitate the Devil’s work because “failure breaks down one’s morale, destroys self-confidence, subdues enthusiasm, dulls imagination, and drives away definiteness of purpose” (p. 104)
  • “It is a sin to permit one’s mind to be dominated by negative thoughts of envy, greed, fear, hatred, intolerance, vanity, self-pity, or discouragement, because these states of mind lead to the habit of drifting.

 

 

With these points, I do agree. But ultimately Hill and his devil distract us about how we achieve this with technique and determination, instead of identity and faith in Jesus Christ and being lead by the Holy Spirit.   While there are some helpful ideas in the book, my biggest gripe is his claim about what “salvation” is or how it is “achieved.”

 

The book was said not to have been published until recently, 70 years past its writing, because of it’s “controversial nature.”  The alleged controversy is that schools and the church teach fear, e.g. fear of Hell or judgement to both children and adults, and this fear moves them into “drifting.”

 

But “Outwitting the Devil is not, nor would it have been so controversial because of its challenges to church doctrines, for example of “fearing God” or judgement, but because it is heretical in Hill’s  doctrine of salvation.  Hill and his “devil” state that only “drifters” are headed to Hell, and only “non-drifers” or those who focused individuals that “think for themselves” and have a major definite purpose are headed toward salvation.

 

The Bible states that those who put their faith in Jesus Christ are saved.  Now perhaps that means their major definite purpose is to serve God and become more like Christ, and to not drift from Him, but Hill seems to think any definite purpose will do.  But certainly there are very focused, high-achieving millionaires who are not saved.  So on this all-important eternal issue the book might be better titled, “Outwitting Napoleon Hill” (and his readers).

 

Unfortunately, like so many books and resources in the motivational and “self-help” world, one can use the principles and apply them to two different underlying motivations:  Self or God.    This book implies as long as you have a definite major purpose, don’t fear, or go into “drifting” by means of faith and focus, you will be spared from judgement and hell.  That is clearly unbiblical.  So while there is some truth here about not allowing your self to be “a drifter,” the Devil may be Outwitting Napoleon Hill and his readers as there are at least three classes of people, not just two:

 

1) Drifters (98% of people) (many may be unsaved)
2) Major Definite Purpose on Serving Self (unsaved)
3) Major Definite Purpose on Serving God (saved)

 

A Christian should know what their calling is, both in a general and a specific sense. Whether it’s to be a missionary or own a successful business, the underlying motive should be to serve and love God and others.  I agree that drifting is a waste of our lives and that having a major definite purpose or goal is certainly a key to avoiding drifting.  The salvation issue is not about “staying focused” or performance, but in an abiding trust of the finished work of Christ, first and foremost. Can a Christian have focused goals or a “definite purpose” that is not in ministry?  Of course, but its important to check your motives and make sure it is not a “salvation” or an idol to you. Without God, a self-serving major definite purpose can be a road to hell.

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.  James 4:2-3 NIV

 

So, we need to be focused (and not drift) on the “why” first, the “what” second. So if Christ (the “why”) is your primary or major definite purpose, your “secondary definite purpose” (the “what”) should be motivated on serving God and people, and to become more like Christ Himself.   This scripture puts goals and faith into the right perspective:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.   James 4:13-17 NIV

Outwitting the Devil raises many other questions that are circumspect:

 

1) Did Napoleon Hill really speak with the devil?  Can we do so, Biblically speaking?  Jesus had conversations with the devil, so its not out of the pale.   But in this case, I think not.

 

Just as Hill did not have actual conversations with the members of his “Inner Circle” of successful people of yesteryear, it follows that this was mostly an imagined conversation that took over Hill’s typewriter. Also, it’s uncanny how “The Devil’s” opinions were so much in line with what Hill had already espoused in his book Think and Grow Rich such as having a major definite purpose.

 

2) What “secret code” forced this so called devil to confess?  I’d like to think it was the name of Jesus, which has authority.  For without it, I don’t see how such a confession could have been made. If the devil were conversing with him, it is probably more likely that he outwitted Hill. Hill does not give us any convincing reason why or how he has compelled the Father of Lies to tell the truth.

 

3) How do we know that the Devil is not outwitting us?  Can we really be prideful enough to not even consider that this book is not also a tool to get us off track, to get us to be rugged self-seeking, individualists?

 

4) Is avoiding “group-think” and having accurate, independent thinking, really the path to freedom?  Sure we need to not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but also mindful that sin has sometimes been described as an acronym, S.I.N. for Selfish Independent Nature.

 

5) Is Fear, such as of judgement or of Hell always a “negative” and a gateway to the enemy’s mind control and something that should be now avoided?    The Bible teaches that the Fear of God is beginning of all Wisdom. God also teaches us to be Bold and Courageous and not be be afraid.

 

6) Are the demons really conducting warfare on every soul, even those who are not believers, or likely to become believers in God’s true plan of salvation?  Many Christians believe that the devil leaves us alone–up until someone tries to get us saved or we become saved.

 

7) Isn’t it a bit strange that Hill cedes to the Devil’s conditional demand that He calls him “Your Majesty”?  Is he allowing that the Devil is his king?

 

8) Is Positive thinking really the key to Godliness?  Probably not in those terms, but having FAITH is!  Just what is the object of your faith?   If it’s only faith in self then you have a problem.

 

Jesus told a parable of those who mastered faith but did not have a love relationship with the Father.

They asked, “did not we do miracles in your name?  He said, be gone, these things were not authorized, for I never knew you.”

See, its not enough that “the law of attraction” or faith can work for you, get you out of debt or poverty, or even help people. From a salvation, eternal standpoint, it has to be put to use in connected love relationship to God.

 

So that is my Outwitting the Devil review.  If you liked this, please subscribe or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

 


 

 

12 Responses so far.

  1. Julian Weigh says:

    Hello, thank you for your post. I really enjoyed the part where you connected Hill’s description of the “otherself” with the Holy Spirit which dwells in the lives of Christians. I too felt the same when I read the chapter that contained that description. While I am still reading the book, I do not think Hill’s conception of the biblical salvation is a heresy. As you have said in this post that to ensure a greater accessibility for the general public, we could presume that Hill replaced “the God of Israel” with “Infinite intelligence”. I think the same approach should be applied to Hill’s conception of the biblical salvation. When I read about his statements which suggested drifters are headed to the hell and non-drifters are headed to the heaven, I understood them with one criterion in mind. That is to ask whether an individual is in Christ or not. If an individual is with Christ, then that person cannot be considered as a drifter for HE leads the saved people who are still dwelling in the flesh and battling with their carnal sins. Conversely, if there is another individual who is really success driven but without Christ, then in a spiritual sense, he is a drifter. Such a person is indubiously a drifter for his wealth or power cannot save him from the eternal damnation. To save such a drifter, as we all know it is through the personal salvation through Jesus Christ.

    • BobA says:

      You’re right in what you said, however, my concern is not with existing believers like you, who may rightly discern the language and concepts in the book. My concern is for non-believers, or new believers that might be mislead and buy into “universal intelligence” as being some impersonal force, aka “the universe.” It and other “law of attraction” content often can lead to self-serving desires and away from Christ and His kingdom purposes. Hill makes the statement about salvation in the book without regard to faith in Christ, though now it has been awhile since I read it and where that is. That in itself clearly is heretical.

      Interesting though this Outwitting the Devil may be heretical, I’m not sure about Hill himself was bent on heresy. In listening to Hill in his recorded audio lectures, which I assume were recorded later in life, he does interchange “infinite intelligence” with “Creator” and encourages people to prefer prayer over affirmation, because “they have the backing of the Creator.”

  2. David says:

    Thank you for your fairness in the review of this book. I got about halfway through the book and just thought wait a second, this isn’t really biblical. There are some helpful visualizations and what not, but you’re right on point, it just doesn’t jive with the bible…the master thing was pretty alarming to me too.

    Thanks for taking the time to put this post together – it has made an impact.

  3. Hey, I haven’t read this book, but from your review and critique of it.

    I got a pretty clear idea of what the book was talking about.

    Me myself, I am a free thinker.

    I honestly 100% believe in pretty much nothing but the Bible (as truth), but the thing is I read other books, I love self help, I used to be turned off by the Law of Attraction, and basically personally development in general but…

    Honestly I just love Jesus.

    See this is how I feel.

    I don’t believe in indoctrination. Meaning “doctrine” is always forced on people. ALWAYS!

    I see this a lot in the south. I go to a “Baptist” church, but would rather sometimes view church on the internet (like Joseph Prince, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar)

    I don’t look at myself as “Baptist” for this reason though…

    I hear my elderly members arguing about… “The Church is not following Baptist Doctrine, Blah Blah Blah Money this Money that…. ETC”

    All this EXTREMEMLY STUPID STUFF!

    It not useful to me a person.

    Here’s how I look at it.

    Since I believe in His righteousness (the Righteousness of Christ), then why wouldn’t you of course then believe that you OWN that righteousness.

    Like it’s a part of you.

    Like I Won’t indoctrinate nobody on that fact, but I’m basically saying why can’t you see yourself as Him?

    If you accept Christ, and Let Him In, then why wouldn’t He be IN You because You are IN HIM. Your Life is GONE when you accept Christ, so from that point on you are Sons of God.

    I really like what you said out the book.

    Even before I even knew the book existed I’ve had conversations like that where I honestly felt I was talking to the devil.

    I’ve had times where I’ve “lost” as well, while talking to the Devil.

    I have schizophrenia, and that’s really the only tool the devil uses against me. I could go on and on about the EXTREMELY stupid stuff he says to me, but I am so persuaded in Christ’s righteousness in me that even though schizophrenia (which I do relate my own self image to sometimes) is considered unclean, I feel I have nothing to hide because of it.

    I quit taking medicine and Just let the Holy Spirit flow. Yeah the devil bashes me for it. He belittles me.

    But I’m FREE.

    Galatians 5:22-23New International Version (NIV)
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    I’m FREE to LOVE myself in Christ because there is no such law against these things.

    I honestly believe ALL Doctrine teaches fear (even Christian Doctrine) because it causes you to feel negative consequence for thinking against the “doctrine”.

    Now I’ma Christian, and I abosolutely Love Jesus, but I refuse to be forced to love Jesus (because I’m afraid to go to hell) and I refuse to force people to love Jesus (because it leads to a backwards road of self denial, and it robs you of your creative nature, the HUMAN God made you to be. True self denial is realizing you only have to die once. After that you are a new creature that can NEVER be unclean again)

    I love the idea of “drifting”. That’s a classic example (remember I haven’t read the book, but your notes are really GREAT!)

    Ephesians 4:14
    King James Bible
    That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

    That’s what “drifting” means to me. Love the idea.

    Anyway thanks for the article, and I LOVE you, and And love the other comments too!

    May Jesus Richly Bless Us ALL!

  4. Kev says:

    You can speak with the devil, i have done myself, but originally tried to make me believe he was God. From what ive heard and read of the book so far its pretty legit sounding to me, i believe it is the devil same entity i spoke with if not the actually devil then a demon…

    Thing we have to remember is the devil is a liar, so people asking questions and leaving comments on here as if theyve taken what the devil said word for word is just as big a fool as the supposed 98% he mentions….. reason i say supposed is i believe that to be a lie…. i believe brainwashed people and unbelievers evil doers are high but not 98% its the devil trying to aound bigger than he seems…

    Also claiming he is equivalent to God but just the negative insted of the positive… is also a lie. Hes putting himself equal to God when he knows damn well he is below God… certain truth to him being the negative and dualities have to exists for there is night there is day ect good there is evil…. i guess thats why God throws all demons satan and evil people into hell forever… because they still will exist the negative still has to exist it always will, but it will be seperated from the good as god intended right from the start….

    Devil hates people that think,, thats true,, that is why alot of things today make people dumb down, comfrom and accept what everyone else excepts, we control each other and put fear into each other not to speak out and think but rather to just go along with what everyone else in society expects…. this is a trap… question and think and ask god for the wisdom to know….

    Such meditation like empty your mind new age spirituality ect is demonic for that reason.. emptying your mind is where it leaves room for the devil to come in…. that is why we must stay busy, dont sit around doing nothing cause thats when the devil will make tou sin….

    Think of a time when you are bored (not being productive with your time) not worshipping God…… you often choose to do sinful things right??!!!!! When you are bored and your mind is empty, thats when the devil will fill that empty void with a sinful activity….. you better believe it…

    God bless you and Jesus is the almighty.. amen

  5. Rick says:

    I read Napoleon Hill’s THINK AND GROW RICH,
    and I would be leery of what the man is really all about when it comes to understanding whether the man loved Jesus or not.
    To me, Napoleon Hill was overly concerned with wealth… a prosperity preacher if any evangelist. But it sticks with me: what lover of God would ever in their Right mind say to Satan, ‘your majesty’!?!
    Also, he definitely seems to have Salvation all wrong, especially if never mentioning the name of JESUS! Satan’s deft ploys for Christians use a lot of Truth with just a little, but significant, twist. And it seems Hill was outwitted by the devil by not employing faith in the name of Jesus anywhere in his book. Perhaps he wanted to go so far for God without invoking Jesus’ name. Hill supposedly reveals deep insights & truths to spiritual warfare and wisdom for the battle… but how wise could all that really be when he never invokes the power of Jesus, ignores what Jesus claimed about Salvation, and addresses Satan as “your majesty”??? I’d say whatever Hill has done, he built it not on The Rock, but on a foundation of loose sand… and that’s not someone you’d be seeking much wisdom from.

  6. man says:

    My comment is more positive than negative and gave 2 Bible verses…

    Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich was my inspiration when i was really down in life financially and emotionally. He was my mentor and still consider him my mentor on self help, I bought his first book back in 2005 and really surprised to find out today that his got a new one The Outwitting the Devil. It’s very obvious that interview was just to make it dramatic or just to give life to the interview but the devil is obviously ourselves and not the other one. I noticed that he addressed Lord Jesus Christ on his first book as just one of the great men calling him Christ only. So my observation is he was not a Christian or I could be wrong.

    I never finished listening and reading his latest book yet and soon will but I am sure this one is a very valuable tool and a must for people who failed not just once but several times in their lives. So far failure just visited me once i don’t want this to happen again but just in case it does happen I now have lots of valuable information to go back to the top. We can probably also say that failures will make us more tougher in life. So the more failures we get the more success we will get also but depending on how we apply these failures in life we should have the know how to convert it to positive results. My two cent to everyone is put God first in everything we do.” Like what Apostle Paul said in his book to the Gentiles in Philippians 1:21 that says “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” So we should not fear death because if you are in Christ and die then that is gain.

    Remember also a passage in Philippians 4:13 I can do all thing through Christ which strengthens me!!!

    Cheers and GOD BLESS to all!!!

  7. Troy Leslie says:

    If you fully understand the bible with the aid of the holy spirit not just intellectually you will find out that this book is almost similar to spiritual warfare strategies to defeat the Devil ONLY if yoy know how to replace words such as infinite intelligence to God of Israel. This book tries to cater both sides of christianity and worldly self-help. But as a christian some terms might need you to replace then with more spiritual terms. Its a lovely book that needs you to translate it yourself to suit spirituality. Dont try to understand this book if you dont fully know your bible. Mature christains can pin point the right directions from this book. Its a powerful book that needs a power christian maturity level.

  8. Lisa says:

    This book has been vey interesting, up until the chapter I’m currently reading about hypnotic rhythm. It seemed like maybe Hill did have an “awakening” of sorts to the devils tactics and went on to pen them. Which is why, once I hit Chapter 6, that really freaked me out. Specifically page 124 where he uses fear/fear of death to lure people I to hypnotic rhythm. As I have struggled with fear and anxiety for many years and suddenly thought “what if I’m not in the 2% of thinking people, am I truly on the highway to hell?!?!” So I had to step back, collect my thoughts and realize the Holy Bible is complete truth and that God’s grace and forgiveness cover my sin! So although I may struggle, it does not mean eternity with the devil because of that! Like others, I agree it makes one aware of the spiritual warfare and things that mankind is not too familiar with. I even agree with education needing reform in helping kids think for themselves. Very interesting book and interesting to hear others opinions on it.

  9. James says:

    While I may not agree with all of Hill’s ideas from a Biblical perspective, I think it is important to make people aware of the negative forces that are a real threat to them, as opposed to making the devil seem distant and abstract. The book also presents a way for people to become part of the 2 percent even if they do not possess material wealth.

  10. Jen says:

    OMG!!!!!!

    Glory be to the our God of Love and Mercy for your article.

    I thought I was the only crazy that had all this unanswered questions to the purpose of this book. I have been struggling because of my Catholic >> Non-religious >> Universe Believer background. I have had almost cosmic experiences and was convinced of the power of the cosmos and so on but one good night I cried for God’s help and and my prayer was replied almost immediately… I was asked for something that seemed impossible but happened and I believed in God’s power. But u can imagine all my previous reads and experiences and beliefs were still running around in my head but when you put all this things in writing I have been able to at least organize them in my head and address them….. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. May God bless you.

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