Most of us can recognize areas of weakness within our own lives – anger, negative thinking, insecurity, worry, fear, a lack of integrity. But not everyone recognizes how Satan exploits these weaknesses. Utako and I used to always find ourselves arguing first thing on a Sunday morning. We knew that arguing wasn’t healthy and we knew that this was a weakness.
However, it took us a while to recognize how Satan would exploit the smallest disagreement and leave us feeling unfit to minister on a Sunday. Once we recognized that our fight was not with each other, then we could join forces and fight on the same team.
We must remember that our conflict is not against people, but against Satan’s evil schemes. We are wrestling against principalities, powers, rulers of a dark world (Ephesians 6:12). Is there a similar battle that keeps on reoccurring in your life? In your marriage? In your friendships? In your cell group? Or in your work place? May be it is time for you to recognize that it isn’t a person you are fighting, it is Satan’s evil schemes? May be it is time for some of you to stop fighting each other, and to join forces in order to fight against the real opposition?
We can learn a lot about Satan’s tactics by looking at the different parts of the armor of God. God has designed each part of the armor in order to protect us from a different tactic of the enemy. Recognizing Satan’s tactics and using the appropriate piece of armor will help to bring stability and peace into our lives, even during times of opposition and trouble.
Here is a quick look at six evil schemes:
The first tactic the devil uses against us is division. He knows that if he can divide our loyalties so that we are not concentrating on the battle, then he can overcome us more easily. This is why Jesus warns us against leading a double life – ‘No man can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money’ (Matthew 6:24). If you are going to stand strong you cannot be looking in two directions at the same time – you cannot please God and the world at the same time – ‘he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does’ (James 1:8).
What is our weapon against divisiveness? It is the belt of truth – the belt of truth speaks of integrity and of a soldier’s complete devotion to winning the battle. Saul had great armor, but he wasn’t willing to go into battle and fight Goliath – David won over Goliath because he believed God would equip him to win. If you don’t want to win over the weaknesses in your life – then, you won’t – if you are comfortable with life the way it is – then, you are never going to try and change it. Our whole life must be pulled together by a desire to live according to the truth!
Satan is not only the divider – he is also the accuser. He loves to work in our consciences, constantly reminding us of our past mistakes. We need the breastplate of righteousness to ward off these accusations. If we do not remember that we have been justified and made righteous because of Jesus, and not because of our own good works, we will not have an answer to give when Satan starts accusing us. Satan loves to get people dwelling on their weaknesses and failures instead of living a full life today. When we end up re-living past mistakes we easily feel defeated.
Satan is not only the divider and the accuser – he is also the destroyer. He loves to move into a situation and bring war, rather than peace. This is completely opposite to the plans of Jesus, who said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God’ (Matthew 5:9). If we are going to stand as Christians, we must make sure we are wearing the right shoes: ‘…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace’ (v.15). We are Christian soldiers – but soldiers who are called to wear shoes of peace, and not shoes of war. This means that we are not to battle against good people and godly plans – we are called to battle against evil – and against Satan’s plans to disturb the peace. The most effective way to combat evil is by doing good. When we learn to stand in the peace – and rest in the work that Jesus already accomplished on the cross – then Satan cannot destroy us – learn to fight from victory and not for victory!
Satan is not only the divider, the accuser and the destroyer – he also uses doubt as a way of defeating us. What can we do when we are being attacked by doubts? We can use the shield of faith: ‘In addition to this we can take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one’ (v.16). Someone once said, ‘We cannot stop the birds from flying around our heads, but we can stop them from making a nest in our hair.’ Although we cannot stop the devil from throwing doubts at us, we can protect ourselves from taking these doubts onboard. We can make a conscious decision to believe the Word of God, and dismiss any thoughts which contradict it. We can make a conscious decision to trust in God’s unfailing love, and dismiss any feelings of abandonment.
Satan is not only the divider, the accuser, the destroyer and the one who bombards us with doubts – he is also the one behind any discouragement we might feel. He keeps on loading our lives with setbacks and frustrations until we feel like quitting. Satan knows that as soon as a soldier loses hope – he loses his desire to stand up and fight – and at that point the battle is lost. What can we do to fight feelings of hopelessness and discouragement? We can put on the helmet of salvation: ‘Take the helmet of salvation…’ (v.17). The word ‘salvation’ means ‘victory’ – when you put on the helmet of salvation you are covering your head with a sense of victory! How many people have you met who have lost their sense of victory – life always seems to be getting on top of them. These people need to sit down and remind themselves where God is in all this – they need to remember that if God is for them – that God only gives His children good gifts – that he has plans to prosper you and to give you hope for a better future – don’t loose focus of the fact that God takes great delight in you – that you were made in His image – that Jesus went to the cross for you, because that is how much God treasures and values you – remember that you were saved for a reason – and that you have the chance to conquer life, and not merely survive life.
All you need to receive these things – Jesus has already achieved them for you – you already the right to come before God with your confessions and requests- Jesus made it possible! ‘But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us (you) to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that whether we (you) are awake or asleep, we (you) may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:8-11). As long as we are thinking about Jesus’ return, and the fact that all this pain and suffering will one day pass away completely, we will not be conquered or overcome.
Satan is not only the divider, the accuser, the destroyer, the one who bombards us with doubts, and the one behind any discouragement – he is also tries to cause us to deny Jesus’ resurrection, and everything the Bible teaches us. Three times Jesus was tempted in the wilderness – and three times Jesus responded with the words, ‘It is written…’ (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). The Bible tells us that the word of God is powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). When Satan tries to get us to deny our faith, let us answer his denial with a firm response – ‘It is written…’