Christians live in constant danger from their spiritual adversary. In order to resist the devil successfully, it is vital that we are aware of his strategies. These include:
Discouragement: This can defeat even the strongest saint. But David is our example, for he ‘encouraged himself in the Lord his God’ (1 Samuel 30:6) in the most depressing circumstances. Turn to the Lord for his grace and strength when nothing else encourages you.
Distraction: When your mind is obsessed with the things of this world, you are vulnerable to the temptations of Satan and his demons. Fix your mind and eyes upon Jesus, and do not waver or be distracted. When Peter ‘saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, cried, saying, Lord, save me’ (Matthew 14:30).
Doubt and disbelief: These malevolent weapons can give us second thoughts about God and his Word. Eve experienced this in Eden when the serpeant said to her, ‘Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’ (Genesis 3:1). Many sceptics question the reliability of God’s Word and the deity of Christ. Very many have gone astray through unbelief.
Double-mindedness: Satan seduces us with all his attractive options. He seeks to confuse us so we slowly rebel against the Lord. But ‘no man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other’. (Matthew 6:24).
Despair: Another of Satan’s weapons is to bring such mental distress that you are no longer committed and effective in the Lord’s work. Occupy your mind with edifying thoughts of God’s peace, protection and grace, and read his Word (Philippians 4:8).
Deceit: Satan in the form of a snake deceived Adam and Eve. He will always try to do the same in the life of the church (especially in these last days), using false teachings, ecclesiastical compromises and multifaith. Be alert and vigilant all the time.
Dullness: Make sure that you do not lose interest in spiritual things and stagnate or backslide in the faith (Hebrews 5:12-14). Be diligent and disciplined, and not lazy, in God’s service. Run the race looking unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Defilement: We must not defile our bodies and faculties with worldly and sinful associations (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Spiritual compromise with Christ’s enemies is not acceptable to the Lord.
Discord: Beware, for Satan specialises in sowing seed of discord to divide God’s people. ‘Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’ (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Disobedience: ‘Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams’ (1 Samuel 15:22). Rebellion against God’s Word makes us vulnerable to the evil one, while obedience brings victory and blessings.
Paul reminds us that our foe is formidable and we cannot defeat him in our own strength (Ephesians 6:10-18). Evil can come disguised in the form of friends, work, computer games, leisure, money or worldly pleasure. We need to keep close to Christ, who is the Lord of hosts and our Commander.
Yet in all this we know with Paul that, ‘We are more than conquerors through him that loved us … that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:37-39).