“For we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Scriptures calls Satan “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and that he uses various tricks to torment and destroy God’s people. He seeks to hinder believers from living for Christ and being partakers of the “divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) As Christians we expect to have the Lord’s mind, walk in holiness, and to love others, but the devil has different expectations for us. His aim is to either destroy us or, if he cannot, to impede our progress. He works in opposition to the ministry of the Holy Spirit … “Righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17.
Understanding Satan’s Devices
In what ways does he attempt to halt our growth in Christ?
1. He will attack our joy. If he can get us to sin he knows that we will condemn ourselves and feel unworthy of Christ. He will have us think that we will never see the Lord until a far greater work of sanctification has taken place in our souls.. He will distort our need of perfection so that we are continually looking inward rather than toward the Lord. He has then gained a foothold by stifling our joy for the ground we have already covered. The evidence of this lie is found when we undervalue what we have already received because we condemn ourselves for what we have not yet attained to.
2. He will attack our peace. While we are focusing on our own unworthiness Satan undermines our peace in and with God. We begin to question our acceptance with God. At this point he will trick us into trying to do good deeds so that we may feel justified before the Lord. He wants us to believe that the foundation of justification is within us rather than in Christ. We need to remind ourselves that we are “justified by His grace”, “justified by His blood”, and that “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” we are members of God’s family (Titus 3:7, Romans 5:9, Romans 3:24.) Satan may have us focus on the small amount of fruit in our lives to convince us that we are not saved, but we must fix our attention on the One who paid the penalty for our sin. If we do not then Satan will bring us under fear again.
3. He will attack our righteousness. As he sees you moving to higher ground he will attempt to divert you from the pathway of holiness. He will use the weapons of fear and condemnation to accomplish this. Fear clogs up our spiritual life and halts our progress towards perfection. Our faith will falter and our foundations begin to crumble. Our love for God will grow colder as we give in to fear and unbelief. Satan always brings his heaviest artillery against those who hunger and thirst after the righteousness of God.
4. He will attack our faith. He will do this by getting us to worry about tomorrow. By focusing on what we ought to accomplish tomorrow we do two things: (a) We neglect to develop the present and (b) fail to regard how far God has already brought us. This lie can get into our minds when we compare ourselves with holy men and women of old. We then try to emulate them rather than Christ. Satan would have us believe that they were perfect. By following this device he knows that we will become more unholy than we think we are.
Resisting Satan’s Devices
We understand that Satan will quench our righteousness, peace, joy and faith the moment we focus upon our sinfulness alone. We can return such fiery darts to their sender by acknowledging our sinfulness yet relying upon the cleansing power of Christ’s atoning blood. Our joy will increase as soon as we praise God for the wonderful gift of salvation. God has never given up on any of His children.
Satan may make us feel too unholy to stand in the presence of a Holy God. He will say that we cannot be saved since there are still impurities in our hearts. Remind him that we are not saved by our own righteousness but by the “righteousness that comes by faith” (Romans 3:22.) Our justification is based upon God’s grace not on our own merits. The Bible teaches us that it is by grace through faith that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8.)
We may be tempted to lay down our shield and sword the moment we feel that the pathway of holiness is to tough, but recognise as a Satanic trick. No matter how difficult the way becomes we have “an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1.) We can boldly say, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20.) With Job we can proclaim, “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25.) When tormented with this temptation let us instead desire to know God more.
God has created the golden chain of pardon, holiness and heaven, and each link is vital for our faith in Christ. Jesus Christ has forgiven us. Jesus Christ is making us fit for Himself. Jesus Christ is preparing a place for us in His Kingdom. We are indeed the “general assembly and church of the firstborn”, and Jesus Christ is the “Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:23, 12:2.)
Instead of condemning ourselves over how much more needs to be accomplished in our hearts, let us look back and see the distance we have already covered. Let us praise God for our deliverance so far, for it is only a foretaste of things to come. Let us take the Psalmist’s advice, “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27:14.)
God searches our hearts and is fully aware of our true intentions. He has given us all we need to grow in grace. Instead of trying to claim tomorrows grace use what He has provided for today … “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9.)
Yes, we need to be perfect, but it is accomplished day by day. The fact that we are not yet perfect should be no hindrance to our aiming for it. It may appear to be impossibility, but God is in the business making the impossible possible. In Him alone we can “go from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7) in submission, patience, humility, thankfulness and holiness.
Satan will try to hinder every step we take, but we must continue to “run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1) until perfect love reigns in our hearts and we reign with Christ in glory.