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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Satan's Deadly 1-2-3 Punch

One of the main purposes of this blog is to point out or remind my Christian audience of all the tricks and traps the Devil uses to isolate us and destroy us apart from God.  Today I was thinking of a common three-stepped attack that seems to work well against Christians.  Using three arguments that I will analyze, Satan can erode away Christian faith, often without repair.  The good news is that Satan is not too powerful for God, and God has given us a way of escape.  This battle doesn't have to end in defeat!

Let God Fight the Battle

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.--Psalm 20: 7 NIV
A man named G. Campbell Morgan once said, "Satan's first choice is to cooperate with us.  Persecution is only his second-best method."  There is much wisdom in this.  Satan cooperates with us sometimes by making us believe that his ways are righteous, God-sent, or practical.  He convinces us that we don't have to call on God to solve every little problem in our lives, because, after all, God created this alternative source of help and meant for us to use it.  We may not even realize we are listening to a different shepherd when we begin to go down that path.

Sometimes, without realizing it, we will find ourselves trusting in the power of ibuprofen to rid us of our backache, or in the power of a warranty to keep something from breaking down.  I don't mean to speak against the miracles of modern technology and medicine, but I have to point out, again, that God is the power behind those miracles.  It is God who ordained the natural laws by which everything "works."  Nothing is more powerful than Him, and nothing can "work" without Him.

Therefore, God, not modern medicine or technology, should be trusted with every little problem.  It is true that God uses modern technology to help us, but we should not think of it as an "alternative" help.  Modern technology is not a call screening service that God uses to "deal with us" when our problems are too insignificant for a busy God's attention.  Jesus personally assured us that God has time to deal with our little problems, and is, in fact, already involved, when He said, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Luke 12: 6-7 NIV).  Don't let Satan fool you, isolating you from God with delusions of insignificance or beliefs in alternate sources of "salvation."  Remember Who is your salvation, and trust in Him.

Behind the Scenes

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.--Ephesians 6: 12 NIV
Satan's second step, once he has edged God out of immediate action, is to convince us that not everything we encounter is of a spiritual origin.  Satan especially likes to make us feel silly to think that he is behind the catastrophes that destroy our peace and productivity.  Brand new car just broke down?  You're just being paranoid....

Don't get me wrong.  Sometimes, when our plans meet resistance, it is wrong to attribute that resistance to Satan.  God can also foul up our plans when He knows they are against the plan He has for us (see Psalm 127: 1).  Generally speaking, when you know you are doing what God has told you to do, and something goes terribly wrong, you can be pretty sure it is Satan trying to work against God by bothering you.  When something goes wrong, but it opens the door for something better and more righteous to happen, it is more likely to have come from God.

There is a constant battle going on behind the scenes, between Satan's forces and God.  Often, Satan uses people and circumstances to "strike out" at God through His children (see Matthew 10: 21-22).  When he gets people to forget that he wants to use them as pawns in his personal campaign against God, he makes his campaign that much easier.

One more thing.  Yes, Satan is working behind the scenes, but then again, so is God.  As Paul reminded the Roman Christians, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8: 28 NIV).  Satan may seem to be getting away with a lot of things, but God is stronger, and He has planned a victorious ending for all who trust in Him.  David, remarking on the miraculous way God worked behind the scenes in his country's history, wrote, "Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen" (Psalm 77: 19 NIV). If you're dealing with this, you might also want to read my post, "Unseen Footprints" for more encouragement.

God Is Near

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.  But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. --Psalm 73: 26-28 NIV
If we let Satan convince us of his first two points, we will soon doubt that he even exists or acts at all, which works conveniently in favor of his third and final point of attack on our faith.  Perhaps before we fully recognize what has happened, Satan will suggest that maybe God has abandoned us, or doesn't really exist.  This lie, built on the "logic" of the previous two points, has destroyed countless numbers of people.

The good news is that God is not distant, nor is He unable to hear us when we ask Him for help.  God is watching closely enough to keep track of the hairs on our heads; He is working every day on our behalf to bring us to Him or to bless our lives because of Him.  God is not a friendly spirit cloud that *poof* is here one moment and *poof* is gone the next.  He is a person who wants to know us, and wants us to know Him.  God is real, and He is near.

If you have been led down this path, the easiest way to recover from your doubts is to retrace your steps, as I have tried to do in this post.  How did you get here?  Are all of the "logical steps" in agreement with the Bible?  Can you prove any of them wrong?  If, you ask God to help you, you will see the Devil's argument begin to crumble under the weight of proofs God sends your way.  In that way, Satan will be defeated, and your faith in God will be restored.  Furthermore, armed with such ammunition against Satan's trap, you will be able to withstand future attacks of that kind.
For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. --Deuteronomy 20: 4 NIV
Be restored, my friends, and be armed against Satan's lies.  Trust in God, follow His directions closely, and share in His victory over every foe.


Adam said...

"Satan cooperates with us sometimes by making us believe that his ways are righteous, God-sent, or practical"
-Well said, I always think about the fact that Satan was originally "the morning star." Even if he is painted as physically ugly in art or literature his lies are still beautifully seductive and misleading. In this culture of death we live in, it is easy to be inundated by those lies, and try to rationalize them. I always think about the examination of conscience practiced by St. Francis; acknowledging God's ever-presence, thanking Him for His gifts, asking the Holy Spirit to come and illuminate the truth of your thoughts and actions during the day, recognizing your failings, and hoping in God's love and mercy. It is a constant struggle to strip away the rationalization of sin, realize the truth, and rely on God's mercy.

Rachel said...

Thank you for your comment, Adam! It's significant that you should point out that Satan was once known as "the morning star." It seems that he's always ready to "shine a little light on the subject" that we are dealing with, whatever it may be. How wonderful it is to have a God whose light burns brighter than Satan's, lighting our path with His Word when Satan has so cleverly contrived to darken it (Psalm 119: 105 NIV)! God will guide us into His truth, the truth, and though we may struggle sometimes, we can have confidence in Him that He will deliver us. Thank you again for your insights!