How Does Satan Attack Us?
There are verses in the Bible that are quite comforting when it comes to a Christian’s interaction with Satan. For example: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4: 7 [ESV] But there are other verses which are truly frightening (such as the one suggesting the devil only flees until a better opportunity to attack presents itself). And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. Luke 4: 13 [ESV] Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5: 8 [ESV] As Christians, we want to understand the devil the best we can. The better our understanding the better we will be able to resist his schemes. So, beyond the three verses quoted above, what does the Bible teach us about Satan and how he attempts to devour us? There are two main ways he works and one process we use to hold off the attacks. The top way Satan tries to push us off the path is by telling us God doesn’t have our best interest at heart and if we do what we want our lives will be better, happier. This is the first lie Satan told to humans, it is the most frequent lie he tells to humans and it is his most effective lie. R. C. Sproul says it this way “The Fundamental deception of Satan is the lie that obedience can never bring happiness” We see it in its original form in the third chapter of the Bible. There in the Garden of Eden Satan blatantly lies to Eve (as would be expected since Satan is the “father of lies” – John 8: 44) by asking why God did not allow her to eat any of the fruit in the Garden. Eve corrected his lie – “he did not say we could not eat any fruit but are only forbidden from eating this one” – but the seed had been planted! Immediately Eve’s brain begins spinning with questions. “If God loves me and wants what’s best for me why would he keep me from eating something beautiful, tasty and that offers additional benefits of wisdom”? In that moment, she decided she must care more for herself and know better than God what was best for her. And Satan does the same with us today. When we don’t understand something God commands (about sex or money, drinking or drugs, forgiveness or hate), does it bring us to the point of rationalizing away our sin as we convince ourselves that God isn’t quite being fair in this instance, that being obedient won’t be best for us in this case? As Jesus’ half-brother, James, tells us, the second major way Satan attacks is by taking our own internal desires and twisting them against us. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1: 23 – 15 [ESV] So, we can sin by convincing ourselves that a loving, caring God really shouldn’t be opposed to our desires or, knowing some of our desires and instincts are wrong, we can be tempted to make short-term, impulsive decisions based on lust, greed, anger, etc. All of us are likely well aware of (at least some of) the areas where we lack self-discipline. Satan is no doubt aware of those weaknesses as well. But we are not alone in this battle. Ephesians chapter 6 contains some very famous and powerful verses related to this topic. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. … Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God Ephesians 6: 11, 14 – 17 [ESV] The two elements to focus on here are the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. When we have faith in God’s promises (such as Jesus telling us He came to give us the most abundant life in John 10: 10) and remind ourselves of them, it keeps us from believing Satan’s lie that God doesn’t have our best interest at heart. And as preachers love to point out, the Bible (the word of God) is the only offensive weapon mentioned in the list. Instead of only trying to defend ourselves against Satan, we can go on the offensive against his schemes by staying constantly in the word. Andy’s book, Clear Vision: How The Bible Teaches Us To View The World, can be purchased here.