Satan has some nasty tricks up his sleeves that he uses to distract us from God. This isn’t all too surprising, because the name Satan means adversary. The word “devil” means slanderer. Clearly, Satan is God’s enemy. Humanity is God’s precious creation and treasure. Because we are loved and treasured by God, by default Satan wants to do all he can to tear us away from our creator.
We see the world denying the realities of the realm of evil in many ways. Those who do not want to turn back to the Lord would rather redefine evil so that the things that are considered wrong are no longer wrong. Ideals like moral relativism and religious pluralism are covering the realities of evil with a deceptive veneer that gives the illusion of tolerance and of being “progressive.”
There is only one man who ever fully withstood the temptations of Satan. That man was Jesus. No other human being is fully immune to Satan’s network of power here on Earth. Unfortunately, sin nature makes mankind susceptible to Satan’s snares. He senses our weaknesses and tempts us with the things we like. He views us as easily manipulated pawns that he can deceive and buy with the things that our flesh desires.
Sometimes the enemy’s tactics can be pretty blatant, but other times they can be very subtle. Just as Revelations 12:9 mentions, Satan is the deceiver of the whole world. Let’s briefly take a look at just a few of the more subtle tactics the devil uses to deceive:
Satan is cunning, and no doubt knows the effectiveness of a slow but steady process to deteriorate our relationship with God. Wouldn’t every day comforts be a powerful tool for the enemy to use to distract God’s followers? It would be something that could easily infiltrate a person’s defenses; going unnoticed for a very long time. He uses things that are not inherently bad.
At times, this was a big problem for me during my Christian journey. I hate stepping out of my comfort zone. I also hate the idea of giving up all those simple things that I enjoy so much. These things that bring us pleasure and comfort can be blessings, so long as we are not valuing comfort over surrender to God.
Just like everything else, an attachment to comfort can become an idol. It is good to be thankful for blessings, but it is possible that God may ask us to step out of our comfort zone and to give up certain things. At the end of the day, the question is whether or not we would be willing to do so.
FEAR AND DISCOURAGEMENT
2 Timothy 1:7 states:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (NIV)
So if fear is not of God, you can bet that Satan will be using it to his advantage. He will use fear to keep people stuck, weak, and self-conscious. He will keep people from progressing in life by implementing fear and making them think of every worst-case-scenario situation that could exist. This is deception though, because when we place our life in God’s hands we no longer need to have fear.
The enemy will also use fear to dissuade God’s followers from witnessing and sharing the gospel. Fear will make Christians believe that they are not qualified enough to do kingdom work. Satan, the accuser, will throw past sins in the Christian’s face, constantly reminding them what they have done and convincing them that they are not truly Christians. He will convince them that they are not eloquent enough to speak God’s words to others, and make them afraid that they will face ridicule and slander for defending their faith.
But again, God has not given us a spirit of fear. God has forgiven us our past sins, and He is powerful enough to even use a broken heart and past mistakes in discipleship. He uses sinners who have given their life to Him as living examples of His mercy and glory.
Legalism can be a tricky one to pinpoint, mainly because it has the exterior appearance of holiness and at surface level appears to honor God. It also comes in many forms, and is the perfect, sneaky tool for Satan to use against even the most devout Christians.
Many may find themselves convinced that if they don’t practice enough devotional spirituality they either: A. will lose their salvation, B. will not earn their salvation, or C. will not maintain the status of being a good Christian. Also, Christians can unknowingly worship the mission instead of God himself.
This happens when we start to define our level of faith and our worth as a Christian based on our own actions. People can fall into a habit of spending more time doing things for Jesus rather than spending time loving Jesus.
Our own actions and deeds can neither save us nor maintain our salvation. It is by God’s grace alone we are saved, and for that reason everything we do should be fully and solely for God’s glory. Christians, be wary of the trap of legalism.
Let’s be honest, society has seen increasing levels of narcissism in recent years, and I don’t think Satan has failed to make short work of using that against us. The internet is an extraordinary tool and technology a blessing, but the obsession with social media is growing.
Again, social media can be useful and good, but it does have a way of cultivating certain unhealthy levels of self-promotion. Our Facebook pages become our own personal showcase, a place to put our life on display, pretend to be who we want to be, and post that perfect selfie.
All too often people can get tied up with creating the perfect Pinterest life. If we want, we can change our appearance with the simple swipe of a filter on Instagram or SnapChat. It can certainly become a distraction from God; placing the spot light on ourselves instead of Him.
This is something I’ve wrangled with over the years, deactivating and re-activating my Facebook more times than I can count. It is good to have a place to display and archive beautiful photos, express ourselves, share ideas, and keep in touch with distant friends. Social media can be good. I think what matters is being able to discern when social media is coming between ourselves and our identity as Christians.
Every now and again it helps just to check if our media use is at a healthy balance. Are we sure we aren’t comparing our lives to others based on what we see on news feeds? Are we spending too much time tagging ourselves in pictures and tweeting instead of reaching out to people in person and making disciples? Are we being sure to use our FB profiles to show gratitude for what we have rather than using our FB profiles to give ourselves credit for what we have?
ATTACKING THE CHRISTIAN’S IDENTITY
Finally, should all else fail to break us down or to buy us over, Satan will attack our very identities as Christians. He will whisper condemning thoughts that keep us trapped in guilt and shame. These thoughts will cause us to doubt God’s promises and bring up questions about how God feels about us.
I am no stranger to this tactic of the enemy. A big issue that used to get to me was being unsure of my salvation and wondering if God could forgive me for the things I have done. There was a time when I was being plagued with feelings of insecurity and doubts concerning my identity as God’s forgiven, loved, and saved child.
Everything sad or bad that happened in my life became God punishing me and telling me I wasn’t forgiven. It took a lot of praying and a lot of time with God’s word to show me that these thoughts simply aren’t the truth. Those feelings ultimately stemmed from me not truly trusting God’s promises, and Satan used that to keep me stuck.
This scheme to compromise the Christian’s identity also goes hand in hand with Satan’s other powerful tool of fear. A compromised identity will leave the victim fixating on what they perceive as inadequacy, causing their kingdom work and discipleship to suffer out of fear and insecurity.
KEEP FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT
Prior to his martyrdom, Paul states:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7, NIV
There is a very real fight between Christians and the forces of evil within ourselves and within this world. God tells us who we are and He promises us that those who call upon His name are saved. He does not lie or deceive. What He says about us and our salvation is the truth. We can find this all in His word.
By keeping our eyes fixed to the Lord, I believe that it is possible to resist Satan and to avoid even his most sneaky and silent traps. With an unwavering faith, we too will one day be able to say that we have fought the good fight.
Featured Photo courtesy of Pixabay.