Wednesday, February 11, 2009



I want to further discuss the strategy of the devil today. What I want to share with you is certainly not all-inclusive, but some key areas that I see too frequently in this spiritual warfare. In a sense, the Evil One's strategy is as numerous as there are people and situations-much like the disease of cancer. However, there are some themes to the devil's madness.

One theme is harassment and accusation. The term "Satan" means to accuse or the accuser and that is precisely what he does. After shooting wicked, vile, selfish and self-destructive thoughts in your mind, he then quickly accuses you for having such thoughts. "How could you think such things and claim to love God and follow Jesus? How hideous are you?"

Another major theme is distraction-anything that pulls you away from Jesus and His purpose for you. Much of the time the distractions are not bad, in and of themselves, but still become distractions. It's like the "good" gets in the way of the "best."

This theme is taken a little further when you are caught up in a battle for your attention and allegiance. Many years ago Bob Briner in his book, Roaring Lions, listed out what he called "noble causes" that keep Christians from changing the world. He listed such noble causes as prayer in school, family values, anti-abortion, fighting the homosexual agenda, etc. You may feel strongly about your position on these noble causes, yet each of these and many more have the power to soak up all of your attention and allegiance. In many cases, the energy given to the cause comes into cross purposes with sharing the love of Jesus. For instance, how can you stand in a line screaming against same-sex marriages and share the unconditional love of Jesus with the very people who are the targets of your attack?

A very deceptive theme has to do with the devil and his demons and how they appear to people. You see, if they were always dark, wicked and scary, they wouldn't trick you at all. Therefore, the devil and his demons come across in a positive manner, even attractive, at times. Jesus warned that false teachers and prophets are like wolves disguised as sheep. Then, later in the writings of Paul to the followers of Jesus in Corinth, we read: But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. (II Corinthians 11:3-5)

NOTE Paul is speaking of some leaders who have apparently been teaching the followers of Jesus gathered together in Corinth. He says when these teachers came and taught another Jesus or asked them to receive a different spirit than which they had received or a different gospel that they had not already accepted, they loved it! He is contrasting how the Corinthian believers scrutinized and criticized Paul, but easily welcomed into their midst teachers who were off message with respect to Jesus, the Spirit and the Gospel. Paul goes on to point out who these teachers really were.

He says: For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (II Corinthians 11:13-15) NOTE even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Without this kind of disguise no one would be distracted or pulled away from a focus on Jesus. This is a key component to the devil's strategy!

Jesus speaks of this same sort of deception. Matthew records this in the seventh chapter: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'" (Matthew 7:21-23)

Now, Jesus is referring to people who do three things in His name, yet He doesn't know them as His own. First, they prophesy or speak in the name of Jesus. Second, they cast out demons in the name of Jesus. And third, they perform many miracles in the name of Jesus. This is an amazing point Jesus is making here. There will be certain people who will be functioning as "believers" in Jesus and seemingly are part of the leadership within what might be termed the "Jesus movement", yet Jesus doesn't claim them, but rejects them.

Who are these guys? Jesus actually answers this question with His earlier statement. He says: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." NOTE the only ones who will enter the Kingdom of heaven will be those who do the will of the Father. So, apparently these people who are acting in the name of Jesus are not doing the will of the Father.

So, what does it mean to do the will of the Father? I think Jesus makes this perfectly clear in the next paragraph. "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell-and great was its fall." (Matthew 7:24-27) It seems by what Jesus says here is that doing the will of the Father is hearing Jesus' words and practicing them.

The strategy of the devil and his demons is very effective, because it usually is into counterfeiting all that is good and all that Jesus does. In order to avoid the traps of the Evil One, you must see through this devious strategy and embrace a single-minded focus on listening to Jesus and doing what He says. It is so easy to be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus.

Maybe the most effective strategy of all used by the devil and his demons is to continue to maneuver us around into doing absolutely nothing, going absolutely nowhere. I'm reminded of the words of an airline pilot: "Ladies and gentlemen: This is your Captain speaking. We're traveling West across the Pacific Ocean. In a few hours you will be able to look down and see land. When that happens, we're going to start looking for a big city with an airport. If we find one before our fuel runs out, we'll land. Then we'll figure out where we are and decide where we want to go next. In the meantime, folks, just sit back and relax and enjoy your trip!"