First, dear friends, I encourage you to read this whole article with an open mind. This is not a topic which is usually heard in a Sunday sermon or even considered with the seriousness the subject merits. Yet, the operations of the devil are undeniably evident in the lives of both believers and skeptics. Now some of you may think- I am impervious to the tactics of the devil because I am saved. If you hold to that thought, you are seriously mistaken. The devil is an expert in exploiting your misunderstanding or negligence. In this article, I am going to describe some of the common strategies of the devil.
Why should you be aware of the schemes of the Devil?
In the final moments at the garden of Gethsemane, our Lord Jesus commands his inner circle of disciples to be watchful of temptations. Later, the apostle Peter, who was one of those disciples writes in his epistle, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, NKJV). In the following verse, the apostle urges believers to resist the devil. James also writes “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). It is imperative that, if we must resist the devil, we need to be aware of his schemes and plots. Much like a depraved movie director, the devil through his ulterior strategies and craftiness is screening people to persuade them to act according to his will.
Common strategies of Satan/Devil
It may be a good idea to see some of the names of the devil as stated in Scripture and the meaning of those names. Satan, most frequently used in the Scriptures for the Devil, means “adversary.” It is inevitable that as a fallen angel Satan would seek to work in a manner adverse to the supreme creator God, which he does by means of his evil and deceptive strategies. The word devil, the second most frequently used name of the director of evil, means “slanderer.” This director of evil continues through the ages using the same strategies to destroy complacent lives. The following paragraphs describe three of these age-old schemes of the devil.
This is the strategy of the devil from which his name is even derived. Out of thirty-six verses using the noun diabolos (slanderer) in the Greek New Testament, thirty-three are used specifically to designate the devil. Clearly, the term devil characterizes one of the actions he is specialized in, which is slandering. Slander is defined as an “action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.” This is a problem that is so overlooked that many of us may not be even aware that we are engaging in it. Some of the synonyms of slander such as defame, bad-mouth, malign, tarnish, calumny, backbite, gossip, and libel remind us of the universal prevalence of this malicious act.
In Revelation 12:9, we read about the devil who deceives the whole world. Deceive means to lead away from the correct path or mislead. In fact, this strategy of the devil is closely tied to the previous one. He deceives or leads people away by presenting false reports and false facts in diverse ways. These deceptions can be with respect to God, with respect to other people, or even with respect to oneself. The latter strategy is a particularly self-destructive one. For example, the devil may convince a bad person that he is a very good person and vice versa.
I am reminded of engaging in complaining and overly criticizing others in my previous days. My tendency was to find fault in anything and everything rather than complimenting or encouraging. Gradually, that dragged me from knowing the truth about the state of my own heart to unnecessarily being concerned about others’ state of life. You can see the connection. An attitude of gossip/complaint/criticism progressively and unconsciously leads us into a state of self-deception.
However, I have good news for you. When God graciously exposed my miserable state and opened my eyes to the truth, I have seen greater freedom in my life. I have been able to better grasp the word of God since I began to evaluate my own life and apply those principles in light of it. Moreover, it is even helping me to be a better communicator with others when I see the good in them rather than behaving as a fault-finder.
No one can deny that the most common strategy of the devil is temptation. Temptation, in the simplest sense, means enticing to sin. Thus, temptation can lead to sin by thoughts, words, or actions. The devil tempts by his offers to sin which can temporarily gratify certain desires but eventually leads to profound discontentment.
The plot at the Garden of Eden
All three of the above strategies which we have seen were used by the devil in the Garden of Eden against Adam and Eve. He was engaging in slander when he presented the question “Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Geneses 3:1). This cunning presentation was sufficient to cause confusion and doubt in the mind of the woman. The devil, in his false accusation, challenged the limitations set by God and maligned the name of God. This was followed by a deceptive statement of “You will not surely die.” How much more deceptive can it be? The plot for sure became deadly with his tempting statement “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”.
The importance of knowing the schemes of the devil
The Fall of mankind thus resulted from Satan using a combination of slandering, deceiving, and tempting. Presently, we are all prone to these three strategies of the devil. The more we move away from God and His word, the higher the probability of our fall. As the father of lies, lying is inherent in his nature. Through his lies and hateful stories, the devil is continuously working to lead us away from the truth. When someone falls into the practice of slander or deception or temptation their joy of fellowship with God and family or friends will be restricted. Let us examine ourselves for ways the devil is operating in our day-to-day activities and resist him by not allowing him a stronghold in our lives. Knowing the schemes of the devil is a vital step in escaping his traps and resisting him.
Dijo John – Renew in Knowledge Core Team Member