Our enemy Satan goes by many names. In Genesis, he is called a crafty serpent (Genesis 3:1-5), and Paul dubbed him a lion ready to destroy and devour his prey (1 Peter 5:9). In Revelation, John describes the enemy as a dragon. (20:2) He is labeled a tempter when he meets Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). The prophet Zechariah names him as our accuser, and he has no home roaming throughout the earth (Job 1:6). Other deadly descriptions include a murderer, thief, and liar.
Satan’s only goal is to separate us from our Savior, and he will do whatever it takes. Although nothing can remove us from the love of God, we are in a perpetual battle to guard our hearts and minds against his schemes. He wants to derail our faith and sidetrack our journey using strategies and plans that are sometimes hard to recognize.
Consider Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan entrapped her by suggesting that perhaps she misunderstood God. “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?” he proposed (Genesis 3:1). He twisted the truth just enough for Eve to doubt what she knew. He uses similar strategies on us and it’s important to recognize his schemes.
Here are 10 common strategies Satan tries to use against us:
To deceive means to cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid . It’s not exactly a lie but not the truth either.
Just like with Eve, Satan twists the truth to deceive us into believing that God is not good, that His Word is not true, and that we don’t need Jesus. He whispers in our ear things like, “If God loves you, then why are you suffering?” Or, “Did God really say…?”
The enemy uses deception to confuse the truth and make us drop our guard. Scripture is the only truth and the best way to defend against his deception. Hold up “the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17).
2. Attacking Our Faith
Satan strikes at the heart of our trust and faith in God most often when we are in the midst of pain and fear. In fear, Peter denied Jesus three times. Job’s faith was tested when he lost his family, and all he owned, and his friends scorned and mocked him.
Satan schemes to make us doubt our faith. However, Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to be strong, and with the help of the Spirit, we can stand firm protecting ourselves with the armor of God. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand ” (Ephesians 6:13).
One of Satan’s most effective approaches is helping us make ourselves an idol. Often accomplishments and success can make us feel like Nebuchadnezzar as he looked out over his vast kingdom. “Is not this the great Babylon I have built…” he marveled (Daniel 4:30). With those words, the king became the pauper.
All we have and achieve is through God and not on our strength. Because of this truth, our praise and worship should be focused on the One who gives and takes away (Job 1:21) “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom” (Psalm 145:3).
Satan revels in getting us alone. Each of us is an intricate part of a body of believers, and when we’re separated from the body, we become vulnerable.
God does not want us to be alone. We need each other to be strong and fight the enemy’s attacks. The disciples were sent out in pairs to share the gospel, not alone (Mark 6:6-7).“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) Our deterrence against isolation is being involved with a body of believers. Hebrews 10:25 reminds us to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The difference between regret and shame is that one implies we did something wrong, the other suggests there is something wrong with us. Regret and grief lead us to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10), but shame leads us to isolation and self-hate.
When we sin, Satan whispers in our ear that something is wrong with us and we can either cover ourselves in shame or ask forgiveness.
The truth is as believers, Jesus took away our shame and gave us forgiveness. Scripture assures us, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame” (Romans 10:11).
Many activities pack our calendars. Soccer games, housework, volunteer hours, and ministry responsibilities to name a few. Each of these pursuits is not bad in and of itself, but Satan uses busyness to distract us from time with God. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:17).
Instead of getting directly to work each day, when we wake up in the morning and wisely spend time with God, we invite God to guide our day instead of our “to do” list.
Technology and social media have made this one of Satan’s most used tactics. The moment we begin to compare our life to another’s, one of two things happens. We feel inferior which leads to insecurity and envy, or we feel superior which contributes to arrogance and pride. Either way, it’s the work of Satan.“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:16 ESV).
Instead, each of us is uniquely created for a life expressly designed by God. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Let us be content with what God has given us and do what He has prepared.
Satan enjoys keeping us busy using our time and resources on worldly things. This strategy is similar to being busy and sometimes easier to spot. Distractions are those things that divert our attention from God and have the potential to be an idol.
For instance, watching hours of television deflects our attention from a quiet time or prayer. Or, a hobby that requires our time and assets is not wrong, but when it detracts from giving our best for God, it is a distraction and becomes a worldly pursuit. Instead, let’s turn our attention to “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8).
If Satan ventured to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, we should be on our guard against the same schemes. Temptations are those things that we pursue that begin with a thought or desire then grow into a pursuit that is against God’s will.
For instance, marriage is God’s will, but adultery comes from a desire born outside of God’s plan. We are admonished to guard our hearts and minds. “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). Be careful what we think about for it may become a temptation.
10. Greed and Envy
Possessions and money cause many problems for believers. The world tells us we need more than we have, but Scripture tells us God will provide for our needs. (Philippians 4:19)
We are not without warnings of the dangers of greed. Over 2,000 Scriptures speak of money and possessions. How we spend our money determines what our heart worships. Jesus warned, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Therefore, let us be content with the blessings we receive and share with those in need. Let our treasure reside in heaven.
Satan may employ many strategies to throw us off track, but he will not foil God’s plans. God will overcome the enemy and, in the end, through Jesus, we are victorious over the enemy’s schemes. We win (Revelation 19:19-21).
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