Introduction – The Enemy
The devil is a high angelic creature that before the creation of the human race; rebelled against the Creator and became the chief antagonist of God and man. We know this from passages in Isaiah, chapter 14 and Ezekiel, chapter 28.
Many liberal theologians, to a large extent have refused to apply the far-reaching prophecies of Isa. 14:12-14 and Ezek. 28:12-15 to Satan under the contention that they were addressed solely to the king of Babylon in the first instance and to the king of Tyre in the second.
Others contend that this interpretation is unwarranted for two reasons. First, it fails to take into account the fact that these prophecies far transcend any earthly ruler and, second, it ignores the close connection Satan has in Scripture with the government of the satanic world system (Dan. 10:13; Eph. 6:12) of which both ancient Babylon and Tyre were an inseparable part.
Many times in God’s Word, He lays down passages which have dual applications in referring to more than one person or subjects – thus the use of “Figures of Speech,” come into play. Therefore in these passages God speaks concern a earthly man, yet a celestial being as well.
In their full scope these passages paint Satan’s past career as “Lucifer” and as “the Anointed Cherub” in his pre-fallen splendor. They portray as well his apostasy in drawing with him a great multitude of lesser celestial creatures (Rev. 12:4), making him “the Evil One” or “the Tempter.” These fallen angels roam the heavenlies with their prince-leader Satan (Matt. 12:24), and as his emissaries are so numerous as to make Satan’s power practically ubiquitous.
Satan helped cause the fall of the human race as “the Serpent” (Gen. 3). His judgment was predicted in Eden (vs. 15), and this was accomplished at the cross (John 12:13-33). As created, his power was second only to God (Ezek. 28:11-16). He is nevertheless only a creature, limited, and created with power by divine omnipotence and omniscience.
Satan’s present work is widespread and destructive. God permits his evil activity for the time being. Fallen Angels and Demons do Satan’s bidding.
The unsaved are largely under Satan’s authority, and he rules them through the evil world system over which he is head and of which the unregenerate are a part (Isa. 14:12-17; II Cor. 4:3-4; Eph. 2:2; Col. 1:13).
As far as the saved are concerned, Satan has continued in conflict with them (Eph. 6:11-18), tempts them, and seeks to corrupt and destroy their testimony, and even their physical life (I Cor. 5:5; I John 5:16).1
The Enemy’s Weapons – His Tools – His Tactics
To best understand Satan’s tactics, it seems wise to start at the beginning, where he first attacked man and view his strategy, a strategy he still employs today.
Genesis, Chapter Three, Verse 1 reads:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, `You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (2) And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; (3) but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, `You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.” (4) And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! (5) “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
The Attack of Satan
In verse one, Satan attempts to create doubt (the opposite of faith in the mind of the person), by indirectly questioning what God has said.
In the second part of verse one, Satan attempts to distort by misquoting what God has said. Genesis 2:16, says: “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” Yet Satan only recites the first part of God said, leaving off the (deadly) Exception to the rule.
Finally, In verse 4, Satan states that God is a liar, then Satan states the logical reason why God would lie, He is afraid, and therefore God is unjust because he does not want man to be like Him.
There is Satan’s (“A liar and the father of lies,” John 8:44) subtle attack.
1. He indirectly questions,
2. distorts by misquoting, then
3. he openly says God is a liar, and
4. uses logic about fear to prove his case.
God’s Word is More Important than His Name
Psalms 138:2 says concerning God, “…for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” The simple reason for this is, if you cannot trust what God says, His name means nothing anyway. The first sin was more than just proud, self-centered arrogance. It was more than Satan declaring himself to be god, it was a lack of faith in who God is and what He has said. When man fell, it was an open choice, woman may have been treated into it, but not man, he freely choose to not trust in what God said or God’s ability to take care of Eve’s fall. Adam did not have faith in God. God’s name was impugned, His character was challenged, and therefore his creditability was questioned.
It’s all About Faith, Without it you Cannot Please God
The most important ingredient to any and every relationship is trust. There may be times when a man and wife do not feel the emotional response of love or even simple like, but when the ultimate betrayal of sexual infidelity (Infidelity means a breach of trust) occurs, the relationship is never the same. Faith is what Adam (Man) did not give God and it crested a lack of relationship, therefore to have a relationship with God men must excise faith. The error was a refusal to trust that God could do what He said and handle anything that occurred (Rather than Adam thinking he could take care of the situation by sinning along with Eve to stay with her); therefore it is trust alone in God’s ability to save a man that the man must excise. God’s choice of salvation was that the penalty for sin was to be paid, and God’s Son was the only One who had what it takes to do so, His sacrificial death after having become a man to do what Adam did not – trust God (“the author and perfector of faith,” ~ Heb. 12:2) was the formula God chose.
The Wiles of the Devil
Satan is the great deceiver (John 8:44). He does not start by openly attacking, he does not strike the castle by a frontal assault on the drawbridge, he deceives a well-meaning a guard into believing he is opening the gate to let in a helpless poor stranger who has been robbed on the road, who in turn overthrows the naive (“Be gentile as droves, subtle as serpent.” ~ Matthew 10:16) guard and then lower the drawbridges for the emery forces to overtake the castle and destroy the kingdom.
It has been said the enemy of the best is not the worst, but the good (which is the 2nd best).
The idea is that if you are attacking (addressing) the most important defenses (issue) in a battle (situation) and are winning, your opponent (Satan) must get you focused on something else, he must redirect your efforts to another area where he less vulnerable. He must redirect your focus, your attention, your effectiveness.
The Three Areas of Attack
In Christian terms, if your Church, Ministry, or life is effecting people to grow in their faith in God, Satan will try many diverse kinds of attacks to stop you, or at lest slow you down until he can stop you. He may openly tempt you to sin, as he did Christ by addressing your natural needs (The “lust [desire] of the flesh,” ~ I John 2:16) for food, and if that does not work he may try to trick you into tempting God by proving up God by spiritual pride (The “pride of life,” ~ I John 2:16), such as by throw your medications away, not trusting God for your illness, even though God has already set you up with a Doctor that He is controlling to help bring healing to you. Finally, Satan may offer you power (The “lust [desire] of the eyes,” ~ I John 2:16), even power to do God’s will, when God may not want to use power, but weakness to show His strength. Satan offered Christ the kingdoms of the world, which Jesus will come back to take in the future and rule the kingdoms of the world with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:27). But God’s way was a painful death and separation from God the Father, and it would not be immediate, but involved waiting for God’s timing.
Getting Off Track
“Don’t let the tyranny of the urgent preempt what is most important, the priority.”
The urgent always draws attention to itself, it is digging bells and fleshing lights. Where the priorities quietly wait in stillness. The urgent takes up your day, where the priorities get missed, and you fill like you did not get anything really accomplished. The urgent is driving 80 miles an hour to get to a meeting, the priority is driving the speed limit and arriving in your car not in an ambulance. The urgent gets us to running fast, thinking less, it is a response or reaction, rather than an action. The urgent makes us it’s salve, where the priority gives control. Satan loves to use the urgent to get Christians running like a chicken with it’s head cut off, getting less and less done for God; less effectively. Where do we ever see Jesus rushing off urgently to do anything or to be wherever.
Lastly, as Satan may use sin in the subtlest of ways, like a frog in the pot, turning up the heat ever so slowly, so that we don’t realize what he is doing. We don’t conceive of the bondage of sin until the chains are so heavy and locked on to us so tight that we are of little use to God or man.
Sin progresses, it: preempts – preoccupies – predominates.
As the old analogy goes, 1,000,000th of an inch is a very small measurement, but if you are laying out a train track and you start off a 1,000,000th inch off parallel between the tracks, after few hundred miles, your tracks will be so far apart, the train will not be able to function. If Satan can get us a little off the mark, if he can get us focused on other things rather than what God wants us focused on. Maybe caught up with the urgent, only putting out fire after fire, never fully completing what God desires for us, then we lose the victory that God would have us achieve. Satan tries to preempt (Pre=before) what we should be doing, which easily evolves into preoccupying us, which turns into us being predominated by things that are not what God would have for us.
1. ELWELL’S EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology by Walter A. Elwell, (c) Copyright 1984, by Baker Book House Company.