ARE YOU IGNORANT OF SATAN'S DEVICES?
have a desperate fight on your hands. Satan is your sworn adversary,
obsessively working to exterminate you! You must learn to recognize
your enemy and expose his tactics. Here's how you can successfully
recognize, combat and thwart Satan.
We live in a rapidly
changing world. Each day brings out another advocate of a new morality
or understanding coupled with the rejection of the established ideals
and principles. The truths of yesterday are the jokes and myths of
The world is polluted with an avalanche of contradictory
information, conflicting ideas and opposing opinions. Confusion
abounds. People are perplexed and frustrated. Is this the way God
designed the world ? No, God is not the author of confusion (I Cor.
14:33) but Satan the devil is — and God warns us not to be ignorant of
his devices (II Cor. 2:11).
Before God opened our minds,
most of us thought "Satan and his demons" were the superstitious
figments of primitive imaginations. Even today, many in God's Church
are still unwittingly duped by the years of materialistic propaganda
absorbed from our pseudo-sophisticated society. Brethren, we tend to
discount the terrifying reality of Satan — and he is quick to take
Satan Is Real
myth that Satan does not exist was maliciously foisted off on a
gullible populace by Satan himself. He knew that man would easily
swallow any doctrine exalting man himself as the most supreme being.
Satan has deceived much of the world into believing that he is a
fictional character. Not only does this facilitate Satan's work but it
also gives him a perverted chuckle.
Satan realizes that every
puny, insignificant human being — "stupid and ugly" —
has been given the
opportunity to literally become God while he — "brilliant and
beautiful" — will be banished forever. Twisted and vindictively
malicious, Satan is thus desperately striving to destroy all men — it
is his all-encompassing, compulsive passion !
Who would Satan
most like to destroy? Some ignorant child in Asia? Some Bantu in
Africa? Some politician in Europe ? No, brethren — it's us — you! Our
eternal destruction is Satan's most fervent goal — because we will be
the firstfruits in God's Family, qualifying for the high ranking jobs
for all eternity.
As we draw nearer to Christ's return, Satan
will apply even more pressure "for the devil is come down unto you
having great wrath because he knoweth that he hath but a short time"
(Rev. 12:12). Satan is going to bolster his churches with great wonders
— his ministers will be able to perform tremendous miracles. God warns
us that we could fall prey to Satan's tricks — we can be swept away
from life! "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets,
and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were
possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24:24).
the power of Satan and his multiple millions of demons: spirit,
immortal, invisible, supernatural, indestructible, mobile, potent, able
to manipulate objects, events, animals, people. And what about us ? —
physical, mortal, visible, natural, fragile, sedentary, weak, able to
manipulate nothing. Sitting ducks!
Surrounded by Lions
yourself into the African jungle. You are alone. Lions are prowling
about on all sides. Their ferociously hungry snarls pierce the jungle
night. Your eyes are blindfolded, your ears are stopped, your hands are
bound. As you timorously shuffle forward, a foreboding realization
possesses you: at any instant, without any warning, a lion could pounre
on you and dismember your utterly helpless body! Your pulse has become
rapid, your breaths are shallow and quick, your wobbly knees are ready
to buckle; cold sweat beads along your forehead and moistens your
palms, your mouth has dried out and your tongue now sticks to your
palate. Brethren, this is neither melodramatic nor simple-minded. We
are as a blind, deaf, bound body — helplessly vulnerable to Satan. God
Almighty warns us that "the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about,
seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8). Do you fear that scripture?
Do you act as though you believe it? Or do you nonchalantly go about
your daily routine, relegating "Satan" to exhortative sermons and
speculative bull sessions? Don't you believe God? You had better — your
salvation depends upon it!
Many of us have assumed that our only
battle is against our own human nature. Satan is naively discarded. "He
is the deceiver of the world — not God's Church" is how we like to
reason. We couldn't be more wrong. Paul was writing to God's Church
when he admonished: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but
against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the
darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness [wicked spirits]
in high places" (Eph. 6:12).
Satan and human nature work
hand-in-hand; they are kindred spirits. God patterned man's mind after
the mind of Satan — saturating it with vanity, rebellion, covetousness,
jealousy, selfishness. Satan knows every facet and nuance of human
nature — and can subtly exploit it.
But We Can Fight Back
let's not immediately jump to the opposite extreme and clench our
teeth, stoop over in a corner and brace ourselves for imminent
destruction. Surely God has not created and then called us merely to be
the "game" for Satan's hunt. Would our loving Father give Satan
complete freedom and absolute authority to do whatever his
perverted mind desires?
Of course not.
But Satan can gain control over your life! That's entirely up to you whether you will let him.
the word "MAY" in I Peter 3:8. Satan seeks whom he may devour. Who may
Satan devour? This is an important question — may he devour you? That
is your most important question.
We can best know who Satan may
devour by first learning who Satan can not devour. "But he that is
begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not"
(I John 5:18). The wicked one (Satan) cannot touch a begotten son of
God (you) who "KEEPETH HIMSELF."
Do you get the point?
you believe this absolute guarantee from your Creator? God states that
Satan cannot even touch us — so long as we "keep ourselves." If we do
not "keep ourselves" — if we are not vigilant and sincerely dedicated
to God — if we "open ourselves," then Satan will have his cherished
opportunity to devour us.
Satan cannot attack any converted
individual unless that individual "opens himself." Ephesians 4:27 warns
us: "neither give place to the devil," or in other words, don't give
Satan an opportunity or a "base of operations" to launch his attack.
Remember how Fidel Castro used his "base of operations" in the Cuban
mountains to conquer the entire country? It's the same with Satan. Even
the smallest "base of operations" is sufficient to give him the wedge
to pry us away from eternal life. Satan will search our minds to find
any opening — to ferret out any "loophole" in our character by which he
can take advantage of us. Once he finds the weak spot — and he only
needs one — his work begins. Satan broods over our weaknesses like a
mother hen over her young — protecting, encouraging
and nourishing them.
In His mercy, God has
given us ample ammunition to ward off Satan's attacks. But we must do
the fighting. We are told to "keep ourselves" not giving Satan his
coveted "base of operations." But how does Satan establish his "outpost
of death" in our minds? He has many "devices" and we must unmask and
Sin and Satan
have heard that God hates sin but loves the sinners. Well, Satan is
diametrically the opposite — he hates the sinner but loves the sin!
Satan is the personified embodiment of all sin. Therefore every one of
our sins becomes an "outpost of Satan's mind" intruding into our mind
(which must now be Christ's mind). "He that com-mitteth sin is of the
devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning" (I John 3:8). As we
harbor that sin, Satan establishes and solidifies an effective base of
operations for expanding his corrupting influence — and this outpost
does not remain idle! The longer any sin is left festering in our
lives, Satan's base of operations becomes progressively more fortified,
more powerful and more active. The longer we wait to eliminate the sin,
the harder it will become to destroy these outposts of Satan in our
We are not trying to cleverly develop some cute analogy.
This is reality! God tells us that every time
we're disobedient, Satan's spirit "works" in us — it is actually
invigorated by our sin. (Eph. 2:2, last part). Every time we disobey
God — whether it be in the letter or in our minds — we open ourselves
Do you realize that Satan may not want you to
continuously sin. All he requests is that you conscientiously harbor
one consistent sin — no matter how small. Satan is perfectly happy to
let you delude yourself into believing that you are obeying God by
keeping the Sabbath, not eating unclean foods, disciplining your
children, etc. He knows that if you habitually protect just one sin,
you might as well be breaking every commandment of God's Law; you are
guilty of all (James 2:10) and you will be exterminated. This would
make Satan extremely happy. Ponder that!
Satan's Favorite Sins
any sin opens you to the wiles of Satan, there are certain varieties of
sin that are particularly attractive to him. Satan surely rejoices in
all sin, but he is especially fond of those sins of which he himself is
guilty: lying, an unforgiving nature, being discouraged,
self-righteousness, accusing the brethren.
When we even start to
consider to commit such sins, a beacon radiates out from us, heralding
an open invitation for Satanic incursions. Satan is quite personally
familiar with these sins; he enjoys working with them and has had much
Will your gullible human nature fall prey to Satan? God is warning! Hear and fear!
carefully examine each of "Satan's favorite sins" — and learn how we
can avoid them in our daily lives. Remember, brethren, this is neither
an academic exercise nor some pseudo-spiritual sentimentality. Your
eternal life — as a vibrant member of God's Family — is at stake. These
words mean nothing in themselves — nor do the scriptures. It is the
attitude of your mind which is critical. Meditate about these sins. On
every point, level the accusing finger at yourself. Realize that to
some degree you are guilty — and "work out your own salvation with fear
and trembling" (Phil. 2:12).
nature hates the truth. Lying is a reflex as natural as
self-preservation. We are constantly striving to present ourselves in
the best possible light, so "naturally" we must "shade" the truth.
is a lie? Is it solely the pronouncement of a false statement? No! The
most diabolical "lies" are actually 100 percent true! Did you realize
Whenever you slant the truth, that's a lie. Whenever you
hold back part of the truth to make yourself look better, even though
what you actually do say is precisely true, you are guilty of lying.
a minister ever had to extract the whole truth from you — or have you
always freely told him everything, starting with your most obnoxious
sins ? Be honest! Do you attempt to feed your minister "bits and
pieces" of the story, hoping to satisfy him before the entire rancid
truth would have to embarrassingly come out? Or have you even connived
to subtly change the subject on ministerial visits in order to
alleviate the pressure generated from the possible exposure of sin?
let's not deceive ourselves: these "half truths" are malicious,
fiendish lies — hurting no one but you. When you lie, you are literally
giving your mind over to Satan, transforming yourself into a child of
the devil. "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your
father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not
in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie,
he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John
An Unforgiving Nature
II Corinthians 2:11
directly warns us: "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we
are not [must not be] ignorant of his devices." Let's not pull this
verse out of context and only apply it generally. What is Paul
specifically cautioning us about?
The first part of II
Corinthians 2 explains why Paul
had written that extremely corrective letter,
now called I Corinthians. Recall in I Corinthians 5, Paul commands them
to put the fornicator out of the Church. Well, it worked —
disfellowship brought this man to Godly repentance. But some of the
Corinthians refused to forgive him and would not allow him back into
the Church. Paul instructed the Corinthians that an unforgiving
attitude — maintaining grudges and rehashing old sins — was fertile
ground for Satan's inroads.
What about you? Do you find it hard
to forgive and forget sin? When you see "that certain person" in
Church, do his old sins immediately flash into your mind? Does your
unforgiveness of sin taint your attitude toward that individual? God
longs to utterly blot out even the faintest memory of our sins (Psalm
103:11-12). Are you more "just" than God?
Brethren, when we
rehash and harp on the bygone sins of another, we are not punishing
that person — he has been totally forgiven by God — but we are severely
damaging ourselves, opening our minds to Satan.
Human nature is
sick: it forgets what it should remember and remembers what it should
forget. Just think about this: for every sin and grudge that you
forgive and forget, another avenue of possible demoniacal advancement
into your mind is blocked.
always affected by what we see. When severe personal trials close in on
us, we quickly become disheartened and dismayed. Paul knew that the
discouragement resulting from afflictions and tribulations laid the
groundwork for the tempter to tempt us. (I Thes. 3:3-5.)
are commanded to live by faith (Romans 1:17). Faith ignores the
"around." The worse the trial, the greater the potential for developing
faith. Brethren, don't give Satan an opening by becoming discouraged by
trials. Rather, give thanks to God for this golden opportunity to
enlarge your faith. Prove this approach by putting it to the test. (I
Thes. 5:21; Luke 14:19; Mai.
3:10.) It really works.
is perhaps the most cunningly insidious of all sins. It's real easy for
thieves, prostitutes or Sabbath-breakers to emotionally and
intellectually acknowledge their sins. But the ie//-righteous — by
definition — do not even recognize the existence of their sins — and
therefore come perilously close to eternal death.
The Book of
Job was included in the Bible to teach us the lesson of
self-righteousness. Job, in his heart, accused God of both being wrong
and dealing unfairly with him. "I am clean without transgression, I am
innocent; neither is there iniquity in me. Behold, he [God] findeth
occasions against me, he count-eth me for his enemy" (Job 33:9-10).
felt more righteous than God. Have you ever accused God and felt He had
dealt with you unfairly? Perhaps you did not outwardly sin with your
lips (Job 2:10), but yet did sin in your heart by feeling bitter and
resentful toward God because of some circumstance (which you probably
There is another common type of
self-righteousness. The individual so infected, smugly thinks that he
diligently searched for, and found God's Truth. Apparently he has never
read Romans 9:16: "It is obviously not a question of human will or
human effort, but of divine mercy" (Phillips translation). He also
feels condescendingly proud that he gave up "a lot" to come into God's
Church, perhaps a lucrative job, friends, relatives, etc., not
realizing that all he gave up was death-driving sin! Obviously
Philip-pians 3:8 has escaped his study: "For his sake I did in actual
fact suffer the loss of everything, but I consider it [all] useless
rubbish [dung] compared with being able to win Christ. (Phillips
translation.) This self-righteous individual now exudes the air of
self-confident self-satisfaction because of his supposed ability to
keep God's Laws. Sadly, both Isaiah 64:6: "All our righteousnesses are
as filthy [menstru-ous] rags" and Romans 10:3: "They do not know God's
righteousness, and all the while they are going about trying
to prove their
own righteousness" (Phillips
applied to others.
The self-righteous are not alone;
they have a great champion — consoling, sympathizing, encouraging and
sustaining them 7N their self-righteousness. Most — if not all — of the
recalcitrants, about to be cast into the Lake of Fire, will be
sneeringly self-righteous, condemning God for His inhumane ruthlessness
— just as their father Satan has always done.
Accusing the Brethren
you ever wondered why a particular individual was still attending
Church? You "knew" (we won't ask how) that he or she had been
committing some obvious sins. "Was God blind?" you wondered. "Why
hasn't God punished that person?"
despising the riches of God's goodness and longsuffering ? Didn't you
realize that the goodness of God leads to repentance (Rom. 2:4)? We
love to judge others — especially those in God's Church. Somehow, we
feel that when a brother stumbles, our status rises! In actual fact
just the opposite is true (I Cor. 12:26). We are commanded "Judge not,
that ye be not judged" (Matt. 7:1) and then warned: "For at whatever
point you condemn others you automatically condemn yourself" (Rom. 2:1
— Phillips translation). Now, "Judge not" does not mean that we can
never tell whether or not something is a sin. A man selling cars on the
Sabbath is obviously sinning — that's a fact, not a "judgment." "Judge
not" means don't impute motives, don't malign the underlying attitude,
don't condemn. Only God can look on the heart, and pass that final
All too many of us are quick to question
the sincerity, the intent, or even the conversion of others in God's
Church at the slightest provocation. We never fail to give ourselves
all the benefits of any doubt. Let's give a little bit to each other
Satan reaches the apex of his hysterical gloating when the
brethren of God's Church accuse each other. Satan himself is busy
accusing the brethren day and night before God. "The
Accuser of the Brethren" is actually one of Satan's names (Rev. 12:10)!
So, when begotten sons of God criticize and condemn one another, Satan
is overjoyed — nothing could satisfy him more, nothing is so in tune
with his thinking!
You can be sure that he immediately rushes up
to God (Job 1:6) and yells: "Look God, you condemn me for my supposed
'accusing of the brethren' — but observe that your own so-called
sons are heatedly engaged in hurling vicious invective back and forth —
explain, if you can." Brethren, how do you think our loving Father
feels when we accuse each other?
Satan is very clever. If you
have uncovered certain scurrilous information about another member of
God's Church and then used it to "judge" him (imputing evil
motivations), Satan will subsequently enable you to receive additional
dirty information; he will station you in just the "right place." The
more you judge the brethren, the more filthy opportunities will be
given to you; the closer your mind draws to Satan's mind, the greater
his control over you.
Accusing the brethren is the fastest way to open yourself to Satan. Don't risk learning this fact the hard way — by experience!
God is not a negative God. He goes beyond telling us what not to do and
instructs us what we should do in order to thwart Satan's devices. He
doesn't leave us bound, blind and helpless
against Satan's evil devices.
this regard, Ephesians 4:21-32 is an excellent section for study. The
key verse (for the present purpose) is verse 27: "Neither give place to
the devil." The other eleven verses explain exactly how this can be
successfully accomplished. We must "put off" the old man (verse 22) by
"putting on" the new (converted) man (verse 23); this shows that an
active process is involved, energy must be expended. We put away lying
by speaking the truth (verse 25). Our anger must be God-oriented,
called into action when another (not self) is hurt.
admonishes a repentant thief to go completely in the opposite
direction: work hard and then give to the poor. The application of this
principle is a strategic weapon in our epic encounter with Satan:
whatever your character flaw, overcome it by driving yourself to do the
Don't just read these words, nod your head and
say, "that sure is right; I hope Mr. So and So does this." Ephesians 4
is for all of us. Right now, list your own major character flail's and
determine specifically how you can go the opposite way.
or rotten, corrupt communication (verse 29) — is another fine way to
give Satan a base of operations. Gossip is not only the spreading of
false information about other people. It may be 100 percent true — but
it is always unauthorized, consistently derogatory and viciously
cutting. Gossip is the most underhanded technique for accusing the
brethren. Sounds all too familiar!
But how do we know whether
some specific information is indeed "gossip"? The latter part of verse
29 gives the basic "rule of thumb": speak only "that which is good to
edify profitably, that it may minister grace unto the hearers [which
God can use to help other people — Phillips]." Whenever you feel the
"urge" to tell, pass on, or listen to some questionable material, ask
yourself: "Would God use this information to help other people?" If you
can't positively answer "yes" — j or get it I Ephesians 4:30 states:
"And grieve not the Holy Spirit." Here is an all-encompassing method
for counteracting Satan. But how do we "grieve not" God's Spirit? Let's
see. God's Spirit does not pull or coerce; it leads and suggests by
triggering thoughts in our minds. This constantly happens to everyone
in God's Church. Whenever we ignore these triggered suggestions, and
proceed to carry out our pre-arranged actions, we grieve God's Spirit —
and do indeed give place to Satan.
Finally, verses 31-32 inform
us how to quickly eliminate all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil
speaking and malice: "Be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
6:11-18 is the classic section describing our defenses against Satan's
kingdom. God exhorts us to "put on" (verse 11) and "take" (verse 13)
"the whole armour of God" so that we will be able to stand against the
wiles of the devil. Notice three points. 1) "Putting on" and "taking"
are both active processes. We must consciously struggle to
wholeheartedly do our part. 2) We need the whole armor of God, nothing
less than full protection is necessary to repel Satan, since he will
exploit any and every weakness. 3) We have no alternative but to stand
against Satan; we dare not turn and run, or we will surely be
The two most essential parts of armor are the
movable pieces — the defensive shield and the offensive sword. Our
shield is faith: "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye
shall be able to quench all the darts of the wicked [one]." (Eph.
6:16.) The wicked one is Satan. What are his fiery darts? They may come
in various guises and forms from persecution and tribulation to
discouragement and despondency. But so long as we have the
faith of Christ (Gal.2:16) as our shield,
Satan's fiery darts will be rendered harmless.
The sword is the
only offensive weapon in our arsenal, the sword is the Word of God
(Eph. 6:17). Military strategists have long agreed that the best
defense is a powerfully sudden offense. In any situation, at any time,
when we are threatened, tried, or tempted, a blistering offensive
thrust of the appropriate scriptures will irrevocably turn the tide. In
each of the three recorded Satanic temptations of Christ (Matt. 4), the
immediate counterattack of the opportune verses stopped Satan
God promises to bring the appropriate areas of scripture
to mind in time of need (Matt. 10:19-20). However, God will not do our
work for us; wc must do what we can do: continuously study the Bible,
diligently building up our scriptural vocabulary and understanding.
Ephesians 6:18 shows us how to integrate and vivify all the divergent
pieces of armor into one, vibrantly cogent, united team: "Praying
always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" (in accordance
with God's will).
Satan's Sorest Spot
have seen that the easiest way to open oneself to Satan is to engage in
the same repugnant mental contortions which permeate Satan's mind:
lying, un forgiveness, discouragement, self-righteousness, accusation.
Conversely, it stands to reason that the surest
method of completely thwarting Satan is to immerse oneself in whatever
activity or work is most repulsively hostile to Satan — the very
antithesis of his desires.
That work is God's Work!
hates God's Work with an immeasurable, seething, fiendish disgust.
Indeed, he has two good reasons: 1) God's Work is heralding the
triumphal return of Jesus Christ to take the kingdoms of this world
away from Satan; 2) God's Work is proclaiming the mystery of God — that
every person can qualify to become God, far overshadowing Satan.
then is the best way to decimate and disintegrate Satan's attempts to
penetrate your mental defenses. Participate in God's Work! Throw your
whole being into God's Work.
How? Get off yourself. Get on to
God's Work. This was the prevailing theme set by Mr. Herbert W.
Armstrong in his long years in the service of God.
pray, how much time do you devote to God's Work — the plans, progress,
income, top leaders, ministers, foreign offices, departments,
broadcasts, co-workers, magazines, and on and on ? Are you spending
more efforts on your own personally petty "spiritual problems"? Surely
don't ignore your problems, but put them where they belong — after
Are the financial dilemmas of the Work your personal
worry? Do you financially sacrifice as a consistent rule, or only "when
you can" or "when you feel like it"? The whole issue is really very
simple: "Who comes first, you or God?"
Satan is very interested
in your day-to-day answer to this question. He knows that it is utterly
impossible to even confront a mind solidly committed to God's Work,
much less puncture it.
Yes, we have an arch-enemy, but if we are
wholeheartedly committed to God's Work, Satan will have no choice but
to "tuck his tail in" and, in a frustrated spasm, slink away.
paraphrase James 4:7: Dedicate yourselves therefore to God's Work; this
will effectively resist the devil and he will flee from you!
by Dean R. Wilson and Robert Kuhn Good News Magazine July 1969