Satan’s Subtle Stratagems
In his foolish pride, the most beautiful of angels rebelled against his Creator. Dissatisfied with the exalted position bestowed upon him, Lucifer rallied his angelic underlings to join him in his coup d’etat of heaven. His perverted desire, as a creature, was to be like God. This dark lord has been play-acting as God ever since (2 Cor 4:4).
In God’s predetermined plan (Acts 2:23), the devil would serve God as His chief antagonist (Prv 16:4). Therefore, we must preface this article with the assurance that Satan is subject to the sovereign will of God (Ps 115:3; 135:6). The devil’s works and power are limited by God’s design and decree. The enemy is a roaring lion on a leash. We must therefore respect his cunning and ability to craft evil. The natural man is no match for Satan’s subterfuge.
The serpent demonstrated his powerful intrigue at Eden when he usurped dominion over the earth from Adam and then enslaved our first parents and all their posterity. As slaves to sin in the domain of darkness, the sons of Adam are inclined to evil…all the time (Gen 6:5; Jn 8:34; Rom 6:6, 16–20; Col 1:13). Men love darkness because their deeds are evil (Jn 3:19). All their works are as filthy rags (Is 64:6), born of a wicked heart (Jer 17:9) and a mind given over to vanity (Eph 4:17). Their evil intent is also to be like gods (Gen 3:5).
To entice people into deeper rebellion against Creator God, the father of lies deceives individuals, groups, and nations (Jn 8:44). This main strategy blinds the mind of his subjects from knowing the truth that would set them free from his bondage (Jn 8:32; 2 Cor 4:4). Sinners are denied access from hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in some cases. In other cases, they may hear but the truth is mingled with lies that leave them confused in unbelief.
God’s restraint upon the devil fuels his hatred for the Persons of the Trinity and the works of God that bring beauty and order to this dark world of chaos. Satan’s strategy list includes destroying whatever is good in the world. The children of the devil (1 Jn 3:10), filled with the spirit of disobedience (Eph 2:2), are employed by their father to do his dirty deeds that lead to death (Jn 8:44; Rom 6:23). God establishes order and authority (Gen 1–2); Satan disrupts order and promotes chaos. God, who is true (Rom 3:4), reveals truth (Heb 1:1-2); Satan lies. God builds (Heb 3:4; 11:10); but Satan tears down that which is good.
Sin is lawlessness (1 Jn 3:4). To transgress the Law of God is to do the devil’s work. It is the very nature of man to sin (Eph 2:3). Sinners are excused by the “ruler of this world” as Jesus called him (Jn 12:30; 14:31; 16:11). When world rulers of this present darkness refuse to restrain evil in their cities, states, or countries, one denotes the principalities and powers of evil in authority (Eph 6:12). The people groan.
Punishing people who do right puts a target upon Christians. Christians are sinners, but they have received the baptism of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Mt 3:11; Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11). They are new creatures (2 Cor 5:17), part of the new creation that is coming. The new life of the born again has a new and powerful influence of holiness derived from an imputed righteousness. The elect, redeemed soul has been transferred from the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col 1:13). The righteousness of Jesus Christ, peace with God (Rom 5:1), and joy in the Holy Spirit signal the kingdom of God is at hand (Rom 14:17).
Satan’s subtle stratagems attack Christians with variance from the sinner’s experience. The adopted children of God are enticed to sin by the deceiver, but once they have acted on the temptation, they discover the one who promised to excuse them now serves to accuse them before God (Rom 2:15). For this reason, God has equipped His holy nation of royal priests with the whole armor of God to be worn in the spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10–20; 1 Pet 2:9). Christianity is no cakewalk. It is not a life of ease. If some angel of light told you that, he was deceiving you.
In this war, we must not be ignorant of our enemy’s many devices to trick, terrorize, and tear down God’s chosen people. Just as Jesus came into the world, in part, to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn 3:8), so Christians are charged with the task of exposing evil (Eph 5:11). False teachers, false religion, and the many versions of counterfeit Christianity must be addressed by apologists and elders in the church, who are apt to teach (1 Tim 3:2; 2 Tim 2:2) and are given the task to defend the faith (Phil 1:7, 16; 1 Pet 3:15).
God’s Word of truth is the source and substance of sound doctrine (1 Tim 4:6; Titus 1:9; 2:1). Men of God, filled with the Spirit of God, set their hearts to study the Law of God (Ezra 7:10) and to steward the mysteries of the Gospel of God’s grace toward those sinners Jesus came to seek and save (Lk 19:10; Eph 3:2; Col 1:25; 1 Pet 4:10). Rightly handling the Word of truth is the Gospel preacher’s primary assignment (2 Tim 2:15). He wields the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, in order to destroy the devil’s fabricated strongholds in human government, business, education, sports, entertainment, arts, etc. (Eph 6:17).
It is the Spirit of truth demonstrating the power of the Word of truth to reconnaissance God’s lost elect in enemy territory. The Gospel task is not to change the world, nor is it to secure territory that Christians may live a life of leisure in peace. The church militant marches onward in the wake of Christ’s triumph over sin, death, the world system, and of course, Satan (Jn 16:33; 2 Cor 2:14; 1 Jn 5:4). Servants of Christ suffer for the sake of the elect (Eph 6:6; 2 Tim 2:10), and we rejoice with heaven when even one sinner repents (Lk 5:32; 15:7).
The human mind, the human heart, and the human body are all subject to Satan’s subtle stratagems. Inspiring a spirit of fear in people, with lies about everything, including the existence of God and even the devil’s own existence, the adversary of God and foe of humanity prowls the earth with devilish designs to deceive and destroy. We must resist the devil (Jas 4:7).
Christian, God has set you free from the slave market of sin. He has loved you and incorporated you into His own family by adoption (Rom 8:15, 23; Eph 1:4–5; 1 Jn 3:1, 10). You belong to Christ (1 Cor 3:23), who redeemed you with the price of His precious blood shed for the forgiveness of your sins (1 Cor 6:20; 7:23; Eph 1:7; Heb 9:22; 1 Pet 1:19). He is risen from the dead (1 Cor 15), ascended to the throne of God (Ps 110:1), as King of kings (1 Tim 6:15). He must reign, and for those in glad subjection, we have the missionary assignment to serve as ambassadors for Christ in the hostile kingdom of this world (2 Cor 5:18–20). Our simple message to all people is, “Repent and be reconciled to God (Acts 17:30), by coming to Jesus Christ (Mt 11:28), the one and only Savior of sinners (Titus 1:3; 2:13; 3:6). Trust Him (Ps 118:8; Prv 3:5–6).”
Our Gospel to proclaim declares the new order of the new heavens and new earth — the place Christ has gone to prepare for us (Jn 14:2–3; Rev 21–22). God has positioned you strategically where you are, today, to declare the excellencies of Christ in the Spirit of God, so that the chosen citizens of New Jerusalem may be manifest, and also to expose the fraud and corruption of the deluded imposter, who will be dealt with on the last day, by the coming King of glory, Jesus Christ. To Him be all glory, honor, and praise — for thwarting the wiles of the devil with the truth.
Spokane Valley, Washington
June 24, 2022