Do you know the devil, or Satan, as he is also known? You know, the funny guy in the red costume with horns, long tail and a pitchfork? No, that’s not the devil; but he sure doesn’t mind us thinking so.
Why? Because then we will not take him seriously. And that’s just the way he likes it. When we do not take the devil seriously, it becomes easier for him to use his cunning arts, deceit, craft, and trickery on us.
Peter says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1Pe 5:8).”
Paul adds, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Eph 6:13).”
The enemy wants to see us fail. Nothing pleases him more than to see a child of God make shipwreck of his or her faith.
Sunzi’s Art of War has a famous line—“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” There are four common but effective tactics the devil uses to try to pull us down. If we are aware of them and exercise vigilance, we will guard ourselves from becoming his next meal.
The first of these dangers is ignorance. Ignorance of the Word of God, ignorance of our identity in Christ; and ignorance that to be a Christian is to live for Christ.
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20).”
The devil comes with his lies that we can choose to live at different levels of holiness; that a life of godliness is reserved for the few—elders and their wives, preachers, and Bible class teachers.
The gospel is not given to only a special class of Christians, but to all. You and I are to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1).”
Stagnating in our knowledge of God’s Word is a surefire way to allow the devil to get at us. The Lord wielded the sword of the Spirit masterfully in the wilderness when the devil tempted Him (cf. Mat 4:1-11).
The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is an indispensable piece in the armour we must put on to fend against the wiles of the devil (cf. Eph 6:11, 17).
The second danger is forgetfulness. As we go along in our living and the Lord takes care of us and prospers us, we sometimes forget about things we must never forget.
It is God’s wisdom that we remind ourselves weekly in the Lord’s Supper of what He has done for us. The children of Israel were constantly reminded not to forget (cf. Deu 8:11-14), and OT history shows us the tragic outcome of their forgetfulness.
The third danger is dullness of heart. Over the years, our senses become dulled by the cares of this world. Making a living is a must, but God wants us to trust Him even in that. Matthew 6:24-34 give us this very important teaching.
The third kind of ground in the Parable of the Sower is the thorny ground, and the Lord has this to say about it.
“And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection (Luke 8:14).”
Dullness can also happen when we are not serving the Lord. In the church, are we ‘pew warmers’? We won’t miss worship or Bible classes, but we think we are too busy to serve.
The problem is that some treat the church as a social club! “It’s a nice place to socialize and participate in activities that suit my fancy, but please don’t ask me to commit!”
The fourth danger is complacency, a feeling of calm satisfaction with our current state and level of Bible knowledge.
A complacent spirit assumes we have nothing new to learn, or that surely, the Lord is pleased with us for whatever reason we can imagine. It is a feeling of self-satisfaction; it is not to be confused with godly contentment!
The Lord tells us to “Take heed what ye hear (Mark 4:24)”; and He also tells us to “Take heed therefore how ye hear (Luke 8:18).”
If we approach worship, Bible study and serving the church as if they are not all that important, we can be sure that complacency lurks within our hearts.
Ignorance, forgetfulness, dullness and complacency. These are four tactics the devil uses to plot our downfall. We must be ever vigilant to guard our hearts against them. We consistently remind ourselves to strive for what Paul strove for:
“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Php 1:20-21).”