Satan’s Tricks Defeated
What are the things that Satan does not want the church as a whole or individual believers doing? If I were advising him, I might suggest that he find a way to keep them willingly away from the means of grace, the preaching of God’s word and prayer. Do it in a way that it makes perfect sense, humanly speaking. Have plenty of smart men telling them that it is dangerous to gather for worship, and that if you love your neighbor – Satan is a master at using Scripture to make his point – you will steer clear of them, for you might make them sick or accidentally kill them. Make them forget thorny little issues for which many believers have died, like “consent of the governed,” “Christ alone is Lord of the conscience,” and “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Deceive their pastors into thinking that Romans 13 means that Christians are duty-bound to obey CDC guidelines and that the Holy Spirit endorses statism, i.e., that human governments have unlimited authority in all spheres, not simply crime and its punishment, but also health, education, and welfare. Wait – he does not need my counsel. He is already doing this.
The Holy Spirit tells us that Satan is the great deceiver, and he has been unleashed, I do not say the final releasing (Rev. 20:3), but to deceive this present generation, even the elect, if that were possible (Matt. 24:24). In all the changes and uncertainty and chaos of the present time, do not suspect Satan’s work but recognize that this is his work – under God’s providential government of the world and all things. Remember that he “works in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2), lies and kills (John 8:44), and leads ungodly men captive to do his will (2 Tim. 2:26). More terrifying than lockdowns, societal resets, election fraud, and shuttered houses of worship is that the true enemy hardly raises an eyebrow, among the godly. But make no mistake, where there is confusion and evil work, Satan is prowling (James 3:15-16). He uses ungodly men to do his work, and sometimes finds godly men useful tools (Mark 8:33). He can be resisted and defeated, which means that his lying, thieving, and murdering works in the world and in our nation can be overturned, but first we have to expose his deeper deception.
It is the idea that given how bad things seem to be, we need something new, different, better. The old weapons will not work this time. Those who say the old ways will work are fools. No, let the big boys and the smart men sweep the field, and then the sweet pietists can return to their spiritual work again. It is true that sometimes we must fight with swords and guns to defend our lives, but this is always a stop-gap measure and does not really touch the heart of the conflict, which is not our lives, whether or not we are able to continue a certain way of life, but whether or not we shall defeat the devil. Unless he is trampled under our feet, what do our lives matter? Will they be worth living? For my part, I do not think we need anything new to meet the need of this hour. Yes, we need to sharpen our weapons and use them more wisely, more under Christ’s personal guidance and in more self-conscious dependence upon him, with far less fear of man and far more zeal for the glory of God. But the old weapons will work just fine, if they are used in faith. Satan has never been able to defeat them, and he will not be able to resist them now. The part of the present crisis that is not deserved chastening upon the church and judgment upon his land, the part that belongs to Satan’s lying schemes and murdering intentions, God’s weapons will overcome.
I say “God,” for only he can strengthen us for the battle. Before the Holy Spirit lists the armor that will beat the devil, he reminds us that we are to be strong in the Lord (Eph. 6:10). This is a command. It is not simply that we are to resist and forsake fear, but that we are able to do so by being strong in our God and Savior. Perhaps we have forgotten how to be strong in the Lord. I would suggest fervent communion with the Lord in his word and in prayer, praying through his word, obeying his word in your known responsibilities, casting all your cares upon him, and recognizing that you have no strength but in Jesus (John 15:5; Phil. 4:13). Whatever is not God’s strength cannot beat the devil.
The reason we need God’s strength is that the “battle is not against flesh and blood.” The battle certainly manifests itself in flesh and blood conflicts. It often requires specific flesh and blood responses to flesh and blood attacks. But this does not diminish our need for God’s strength or mean that Satan is an afterthought. Satan and his thugs are behind the scenes, stirring up evil, lies, and murder, especially when God’s church and truth are under assault. Consider how our Lord practically viewed the devil’s involvement. When Peter resisted the Lord’s declaration of the cross, he said, “Get behind me, Satan.” By rejecting the word of the Lord, Peter momentarily aligned himself with Satan. He was warmly rebuked. Our Lord took Satan far more seriously than most believers do today – not to blame him for everything, but to recognize that he is the father of lies, a murderer, a very real enemy against which we must exercise constant vigilance (1 Pet. 5:8-9).
Joining these two points, we reach certain conclusions and also begin to understand a way forward. Since our land has been swamped with lies for many years – government will solve all problems, education is salvific, debt is really an asset, trust science, we do not need Jesus Christ to rule over us in order to have peace and justice – Satan has been working to undermine and replace the faith of our fathers. Our national apostasy is not simply religious attrition over time, as it is often presented. It is failure to prepare for and meet the attacks of the devil that have been constant. The world cannot overcome him, but it should be different in the church. Yet, how can we resist the devil if the church allows its seminary and pulpits to be filled with men who do not hold firmly to apostolic doctrine, embrace various forms of evolutionary theory, and increasingly reject the law of God as the rule of a devout and holy life. If the church is not resisting the devil, he will have free rein in our land, for Christians are the only ones who even recognize the true enemy and have power through God to face and overcome him.
I think that before we shall ever seriously consider how to be strong in the Lord, we must become seriously alarmed at the enemy we face. As evil as men can be, they are nothing in comparison to the evil one. He is crafty beyond our imagination. He can create such conflict in the church that God’s people are distracted and drawn into sinful responses to meet perceived error so that sin and confusion abound on both sides. He convinced denominations of church leaders that science is more trustworthy than the Bible. Now he does not even need to attack them, for they have become some of his best allies. He can stir up nations to war so that millions are killed. Or, he can insinuate himself into the thoughts of a young person and convince them that they need the world’s affirmation in order to be fulfilled, no matter how high the price of that affirmation. He has been at deceiving and killing for thousands of years. He can appear as an angel of light – hey, use your gifts; my gifts are better than yours; I should not have sexual relations with my husband, for that would be unspiritual. Incest is not so serious that we need to discipline the offender. Read 1 Corinthians. Think: Satan, the prince of darkness posing as the angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14)
Let me state it plainly. We cannot beat him. He cannot be outsmarted or out-argued or out-gunned. The only thing he respects is the Word of God spoken, believed, and obeyed in faith. And when it comes to men and women who are led astray by him to do his bidding (2 Tim. 2:26), it is not more information they need to stop being socialists, reject abortion, practice fiscal responsibility, or restrain their passion. Men adopt the social and economic theories they do, practice the morality that they do, not because someone presented a good case for it but because it suits the bent of their hearts. Those who do not know the Lord are still held in bondage to the evil one. Common grace may retrain, but it cannot reform. Only Christ Jesus can cast out Satan. Which brings me back to my main point: if we would do anything useful, lasting, and effectual in the present time, we must learn again to be strong in the Lord. He is the One with strength to overturn our enemy and crush him under our feet (Rom. 16:20).
I urge us to make the Lord our strength. We cannot avoid conflict with the evil one. God started this war (Gen. 3:15), Jesus Christ won it (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8), and he now calls us to resist the devil in faith. Faith always leads us away from ourselves and to the strength of God. In your personal temptations, family conflicts, business dealings, medical decisions, political engagement, make the Lord your strength. Learn what it means to make him your strength. Reject any idea that you are sufficient, and make the enthroned Son of God your sufficiency. Then, don his armor and march forward in faith and obedience. Resist the devil in this way, and he will flee (James 4:7).