“…for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Cor. 2:11
I wrote something recently about countering the devil, but as I indicated in the article, we may roust him temporarily, but we’ll never be completely rid of him, until we are bodily removed from his realm to God’s (Lk. 4:13), or he is banished to his final destination: the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). In the meantime, our best defense is knowledge–not of ourselves, but him. We waste far too much time analyzing ourselves, when we should be concentrating of our deadly enemy. If you’ve read Paul’s Epistles at all, you know one of his great burdens was ignorance to the important things in the Christian life. And this is one of them: ignorance to the workings of Satan. “To be forewarned is to be forearmed,” as they say. And to that end, I offer a few examples, by no means complete, of some devilish devices.
Obviously, the one that occasions our text should be the first. Refusing to forgive and re-associate a repentant brother or sister in Christ gives the devil unnecessary advantage over you, the repentant, and other believers. “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us…” In this case, a brother had been openly rebuked for open sin, which caused him to sincerely and openly repent. Now, says Paul, it’s time to put it behind us and go on. The confirmation of their love to him was to be as sincere as his repentance. The longer you or I withhold forgiveness makes us that much more susceptible to the devil’s wiles. It’s a good device, and it works.
Here’s another: “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost…?” (Acts 5:3). Whenever we find ourselves lying and deceiving, it’s easy to see, the devil is applying the tools of his trade quite capably on us. I have come to believe lying is as addictive as other activities you might associate with that adjective and is a ready-made substitute for repentance, which makes it especially dangerous. It’s a good device, and it works.
Then there’s Matthew 16:23: “Then he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence to me…” Was Peter Satan? No, but like Ananias, Satan had filled his heart to the point that he became a mouthpiece for him. Satan used someone Jesus loved to try to thwart the Father’s will for Him. He didn’t merely say Peter had offended him; he accused him of being an offence, an aggressive opponent, to Him. Loved ones and dear friends, esteemed saints even, can be used temporarily to stand in the way to the will of God or spiritual growth in our Christian lives. This is hard to withstand, to be sure; but a definite, “Get thee behind me, Satan” is called for here. Not verbally, of course, but certainly, inwardly and outwardly, as far as our resolve to follow the Lord. Because it was tried on Jesus, we can be sure, it’s an especially good device, but in His case, it didn’t work.
Finally, one of the devil’s most devastating devices, I think, is his practice of stealing the words of God out of unsuspecting hearts. “…then cometh the devil, and taketh the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe…” (Luke 8:12). I see this trick played expertly on young people, who reverenced the Word growing up, but ignore or question it, as they get older. There are many reasons, I’m sure: for instance, the tendency for many of us to let an admired preacher decide for you us what are, or are not, God’s “words”; peer pressure by “cool” or so called, “intelligent” friends; a the desire to shake off anything that may be part of what is now viewed as a “restrictive” childhood; or maybe just negligence. Life can get very busy, and unfortunately, temporary dialogue can quickly trump eternal truths, to our immeasurable loss. This is a most cunning and diabolical device, and oh, how it works!
These are just four of the Wicked One’s devices. He has many more, and what a shame it would be if he were able to skillfully use them on us over an over because we’re ignorant of them. God has forewarned us in His Word. Will we forearm ourselves now against our enemy? That’s the question.
“He that fights with an enemy, whom nothing but blood can pacify, will give him no advantage.” – Thomas Adams