Authored by Steve Hearts
As saved believers in Jesus, we are not meant to fear the enemy of our souls. First John 4:4 clearly states, “Greater is he that is in you [Jesus], than he [the Devil] that is in the world.”1 At the same time, Paul wisely suggests that we should not be “unaware of his schemes.”2
We don’t want to draw undue attention to Satan, but in order to effectively fight against Satan and his wiles, we have to “know our enemy,” so to speak. But there’s a big difference between “knowing” the strategies of our opponent and fearing him. It’s good to have a healthy knowledge of some of the most common tactics of the opposing force.
John 8:44 says of our spiritual nemesis, “He is a liar, and the father of it.”3 It’s become a cliché to refer to the Devil as “a liar.” If he truly is a liar, then why is it sometimes easy to fall for his temptations, deceits, and tricks? Well, what’s the best way to make a lie more believable? You add some truth into the mix. This is Satan’s favorite technique. He probably figures that if he uses outright lies all the time, he wouldn’t have as much success deceiving people. So he often twists or distorts the truth in some form or other.
In the Garden of Eden he coated his lie when he tempted Adam and Eve. He told them that they would not die if they ate the forbidden fruit, but instead they would know the difference between good and evil.4
Interesting, they thought. So we won’t die then; we’ll be like God. Let’s take a bite. No one needs to be reminded of the consequences of this decision!
When he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he attempted to use His physical weaknesses against Him. He told Him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”5 Satan knew that Jesus had gone a long while without any food or drink, and he knew that Jesus was capable of doing what he was suggesting. Jesus could have ended His hunger right then and there. But instead of falling prey to this temptation, Jesus quoted God’s Word, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”6
Satan then takes Him to the top of the temple, “If you are the son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”7
Does Satan know the Word of God? Well, before he fell from God’s grace and became Satan, he was literally God’s right-hand man.8 Today he is still in the business of twisting God’s Word and urging mankind to use it to their own benefit instead of for God’s will.
Here’s a story that illustrates how temptation works with us. A student named Bob had a part-time job at a jewelry store. One day he was emptying the waste baskets when he noticed a nice jewelry box with a pretty broach inside. His first thought was to take it to the owner, Mr. Wilkins, immediately.
Oh, why do that? whispered the voice of temptation. You found it, didn’t you? Finders keepers.
Mr. Wilkins is depending on you to be honest, said the voice of conscience.
Why don’t you give it to your mother? continued the tempting voice. She works so hard and doesn’t get many nice things. She deserves it.
It was true. Bob’s father was sick and his mother was also working extra hours so they could have money for food. The idea of presenting her with such a pretty broach did sound appealing.
Your mother wouldn’t want something that was stolen, countered his conscience.
Bob quickly hurried to Mr. Wilkins’ office and gave him the broach. The store owner thanked him rather indifferently. Although this surprised Bob, he was grateful to at least have a clear conscience.
As time passed, Bob found more expensive items lying around as he went about his work. Both voices were always there to try and influence him. But he always followed the voice of his conscience and returned these items to Mr. Wilkins. Each time, he was met with the same indifferent response from the store owner. The voice of temptation reasoned, He’s probably used to employees taking things for themselves. Why don’t you wise up, Bob? Well, this employee is not going to take something that doesn’t belong to him.
Sometime later, Mr. Wilkins called Bob into his office for a talk. He confessed that he had put each of those expensive items in the places where Bob could find them to see what he would do. Thankfully, Bob had chosen to do the right thing.
It’s simply not possible to bypass temptation while living in this world. Not even Jesus Himself was able to do so. But as long as we stand firm on God’s Word, holding to it with all we’ve got, we’ll come out on top and not be deceived or outwitted by even the most subtle of Satan’s attacks.
Although we are meant to know the devices of our enemy, we are not to fear them. We’re on the winning side—God’s side. He never loses. All we have to do is submit to Him. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”9
1 King James Version
2 2 Corinthians 2:11
3 King James Version
4 Genesis 3:4–5
5 Matthew 4:3 NIV
6 Matthew 4:4 NIV
7 Matthew 4:5–6 NIV
8 See Isaiah 14:12–15
9 James 4:7 KJV
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2016 by The Family International