In Luke 14:31, Jesus is speaking about preparation and counting the cost of discipleship. One of the illustrations He uses discusses a king preparing for battle, and this carries with it the idea of knowing the opposition one is up against. Throughout history, we can see examples of successful military commanders who anticipated and outmaneuvered the enemy he was up against. In our Christian life, we need to know the opposition we are up against and who is our true enemy. We have to be prepared to face our enemy. We have to know what he is capable of and how we can withstand him.
In I Peter 5:8, the apostle Peter (once chastised by Jesus as behaving like Satan) warns us against the devouring nature of the devil. Satan is referred to as our adversary, as a liar. He is the complete antithesis of Jesus in our spiritual lives. II Corinthians 2:11 reminds us to remain aware of Satan’s techniques. When Jesus is tempted in the gospels, He recognizes the advantages Satan is trying to gain, and our enemy will try to gain a hold over us. We should be knowledgeable about him so we can be adequately prepared in resisting his temptations in our lives.
The Tools of Satan
He manipulates our desires. In II Corinthians 2, Paul might be referring back to the events of I Corinthians 5 where a man was living in an immoral relationship with his mother. Paul admonishes their tolerance of such sin in that chapter, and, back in II Corinthians 2:1-7, Paul seems to directly reference the action the congregation took against this individual and his subsequent repentance. However, prior to that repentance, Satan was using this own man’s desires against him. We can desire and strive for good things, but Satan can take those urges and turn them toward things that will draw us from God (II Timothy 2:22). In James 1:15 warns us that our desires open us to temptation, but in chapter 4:7 encourages us that resisting Satan will drive him away. I John 2:16-17 reminds us that much of sin can be boiled down to desires, but these desires will one day pass away while our souls live on.
He exploits our grief. Returning to II Corinthians 2:7, Satan can utilize the opposite end of the spectrum. Once we realize the error of our ways and we view the consequences, sorrow may set in. In this verse, Paul warns Christians that this sorrow can also bring about bad results. Judas and Peter stand as contrasting characters in dealing with regret. Judas’ regret led him to suicide while Peter’s grief strengthened his resolve. Sorrow can become self-destructive and lead us to believe that we are useless to God and to others, but we should be prepared to lift each other out of grief and encourage one another toward good works. What if David had been consumed by his sorrow after being confronted by his sin? What if Paul had been consumed in grief after being confronted by Jesus? Satan makes things seem darker than they actually are. How many of us have head the expression, “God has forgiven me, but I cannot forgive myself.” To this Paul says to forget those things that are in the past in Philippians 3:13. Once we repent, our sins are the past. We cannot let them consume us. We must press forward.
He makes sin seem tolerable. Remaining in context of the events in Corinth, the congregation was tolerating the sins within their walls. In Galatians 6:1, Paul encourages Christians not to accept sin but to rather work on restoring such an individual to God. When sin seems tolerable, Satan gains an advantage over an individuals and other members of a congregation. Tied in with this is our own pride. In the case of Corinth, there was a rapidly growing congregation with much to be proud of. I Corinthians 5:2 calls the congregation as puffed up, and he chastises them for their pride in verse 6. This pride and toleration will prevent us from being able to admit wrong or regret for actions. Instead, our hearts must remain open to God’s word and open to ourselves when we see sin in our own lives or those of others.
He uses false teachers. This is not someone who makes a sincere mistake. To be false carries an idea in it of intentionally and willfully teaching incorrect concepts with full knowledge of his or her error. In II Corinthians 11:13-14, Paul warns us that Satan will wear the clothes of an angel. Falsehood can be wrapped in an attractive passage, even quoting scripture to make it seem more palatable. Someone teaching falsely will not be obvious or warn a congregation of his or her intentions. We must be willing to test what we hear and search the scriptures to see if the things being taught are true.
Desires, guilt, tolerance, pride, falsehoods – Satan uses all of these techniques to gain an advantage over us, be can withstand him. We are not ignorant of his devices, and our faith can stand against him – driving him from our lives. Our Father is there to support us and take on our burdens. We can proactively keep Satan from taking over our lives if we keep our focus on God and the goal we have to spend eternity with Him. The struggles we have here are temporary and short-lived when compared to the eternity we can share with our Lord.
lesson by Tim Smelser