As Christians, we are at war every day. There is the constant battle of taking up our crosses daily and having our born-again spirits rule over our carnal nature (the flesh). It is so important to keep ourselves submitted to the Lord. We also have to be aware of a very real and yet invisible spiritual enemy that is out to destroy us. In realizing who we battle with and the tactics used by the devil and his wicked team, we can know better how to stand against it. The first rule of war is always: Know your enemy.
The Lord said in speaking of the devil's purpose against us and of His own purpose for us,
John 10:9-10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
On one hand, we have an awesome and loving God who created us for life and even abundant life. And on the other hand, we have a thief who wants to steal us from the Lord and rob us of the blessings of the abundant life He has for us. We must never forget the enemy's ultimate goal is for our death and eternal destruction.
The Lord revealed so much when He said,
John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
When Jesus said this, he was speaking to the lost, of whom, many were the religious ones of the day. When Jesus said “the desires of your father you want to do” it was because they were not children of God. We are all one of the two: either children of God or children of the devil and the ones He was addressing were not of God. While all people are children of God in the physical sense, in the spirit, it is not always so. The hard truth is that, until we are born-again, we are children of the devil. When people become Christians, they choose to please God and bear the fruit of His lordship while the lost, continue live to fulfill the fallen nature that we are all born with. Jesus was saying that day, that they had their hearts set to fulfill the purpose of their father, the devil, which in their case, was even to the point that they wanted to kill Jesus.
It is recorded in the preceding verses,
John 8:42-43 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.”
And afterward, look closely at what Jesus said:
John 8:45-47 “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."
The Lord said: “Why do you not understand My speech?” And then answered “Because you are not able to listen to My word.” People who want wrong more than right, cannot even hear what is right. People hear what they want the most. The only way a person can have sound reasoning, is to fear God and want sound reasoning the most. Look closer at the latter part of what Jesus said in these verses “He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."
So as we look at the modes of operation of the evil one and his helpers, we need to realize that the enemy is well aware of these truths. The enemy plays on the fact that people hear what they want to hear the most and that the people who reject God are walking around spiritually blind and cannot hear God. As a person begins to be able, to come to real salvation, they will also start to be able to hear God's Words. Eventually, if they yield to God, they will be able to hear clearly and discern the influences and voices one hears in their daily walk.
The Lord says that the devil is a murderer and the father of lies. From the moment the devil chose pride over God, he has been the spewer of lies and rebellion ever since. He is the rebellious one. And if he can get us to fall, he thinks it is points for himself against God. There is no doubt that righteous living furthers the kingdom of God and on the contrary, unrighteous living furthers Satan's plans. And all this is true, whether anyone realizes it or not.
We need to realize that we are spirits. We are spirits with physical housing. It is a very subtle trick, but the devil and his demons (fallen angels under his leadership) have the ability to speak into people's minds. And it is done most often in the first person. Many people think all the thoughts they have, are all their own, when in fact, many are “planted thoughts” by the evil ones.
In doing the study for this message, it became very clear that the many whispered lies and evil tactics of the enemy fit into common modes. By recognizing the lies and tactics, we can reject them. And by knowing who we are in Christ and what the Bible says; we can replace the wrong thoughts with the truth and the power of the truth and when necessary, even do warfare by putting on the whole armor of God and using it wisely against the attack and deception.
All of the evil tactics and lies have two purposes: to separate us from God (which is what sin does) and empower the enemy. Usually, if one trick gets a foothold, it will give way to a whole stronghold. In other words, when we fall for one lie, it often opens the door to more. Just as one drink can lead to more, one cigarette, one bite, one hit, etc. The first objective of the enemy in regard to us as Christians, is to get us to trip up. And as long as we are in sin or deceived, we are not only missing out on our potential, but we lose our effectiveness in the kingdom of God. To make matters worse, when we fall for any lie or sin of the devil, it give him opportunity to further his purposes. All our actions empower one side or the other, good or evil.
When it comes to enemy deception: "Lies and deception about self" are at the top of the list. Lies about God would seem right to list first, but the sad fact is, man is always most concerned about himself. And the devil plays it to the max. It is important to realize that the enemy's lies are usually whispered in the first person, but sometimes, the lies are spoken in the second person, from what someone spoke over someone else, like a parent, teacher, boss, child, spouse, friend or associate, etc.
1. Doubt and lies about “self image"
The harsh negative: I am not smart enough/You are not smart enough; I am stupid/you are stupid; I am not pretty enough/You are not pretty enough; I am ugly/You are ugly; I am not talented enough/You are not talented enough; I am worthless/you are worthless; I am not good enough/You are not good enough; I am a failure/You are a failure, I can't/You cant; I will never amount to anything/You will never amount to anything; I will never get past my past/You will never get past your past; I messed up so bad, it is hopeless/You messed up so bad, it is hopeless; no hope for me/no hope for you; I always mess everything up/You always mess everything up; I break everything/You break everything, I will never measure up/You will never measure up; I can't win/You'll never win; it will do no good to try, I might fail, I will fail/You might fail, you will fail; why try, its impossible, etc.
The false positive: I never make mistakes, I never sin, I am better than he or she is or they are, I am self sufficient, I do not need anyone, I never had anyone's help, I am a good person, I don't need anyone's advice, from God, the Bible or anyone else, etc.
Random other unhealthy lies about self: My lack of appearance defines my worth, my appearance defines my worth; what others think of me defines my worth; I know what is best for me; my lack of talents, skills and abilities define my worth/my talents, skills and abilities define my worth etc.
This category includes improper thoughts of inadequacy, pride and misconceptions of self. The destroyer wants people to think they are alone and helpless which is totally contrary to God's love, provision and omnipresence. Who will we believe, the truth of God's Word that says how valuable and precious we are to God or the enemy?
2. Doubt and lies about "God and His Word"
Doubting God: God is not real; God cannot be proven; God does not exist, if He ever did, where is He? If God is good, why do bad things happen to good people? If God is good, why does He let the devil do bad things? God would not really send anyone to hell; God and I have a special agreement; God is not fair; God is a tyrant; God is boring; God does not love me; God could not love me; Even if God loves me, He does not like me; God would never want to use me; God does not do miracles any more; God made the earth and left it to be on its own; I must be doing something wrong, because if God approved me I would not be having such a hard time in life; God is disappointed in me; God is punishing me for my mistake; God is making me suffer because I messed up; no matter the religion, it is the same God, etc.
Doubting God's Word, the Bible: The Bible is not God's Word; the Bible is just an ancient text; the Bible has many errors; the Bible contradicts itself; I do not need to read the Bible; the pastor or priest is paid to read the Bible and what they say is all I need; Does the Bible really say that? That is not what the Bible says; That is what the Bible says, but not what it means; the bible is not for today; the bible is out of date; God did not make the world in 6 days; evolution is right; evolution is the only way; science proves the Bible wrong, etc.
Errant doctrines: That there is no such thing as Judgment day or hell, that one can be once saved, and are always saved; repeating a prayer alone means I am a Christian (without true repentance); that just "anyone" can ask in Jesus Name and God will grant it; that all the gifts, signs and wonders stopped with the Book of Acts (cessationism); that being "good alone" can "qualify entrance to heaven" and that being religious is enough, etc.
Lies about salvation: Being baptized means I am a Christian and heaven has to let me in; I am saved by being a church member or going to church; being good qualifies me for heaven; I don't have to forgive others to have my forgiveness; helping the poor and needy; serving the community will get me into heaven, etc.
3. Doubt and lies about "sin and temptation"
Such as: When I sin, I am only hurting myself; there is no such thing as sin; calling something sin is just negative condemnation; if I do wrong and no one sees it, it won't matter; my sin does not effect others; my sin does not hurt others; bad habits are not really bad, harmful or sinful (smoking, drinking, drugs, gluttony, “self-medicating” etc); its my life, its not sin to me; sin now, repent later; have fun now, I can always repent later; its not wrong to look at pornography, as long as I am not doing it; it won't hurt me to do something bad just once; one little lie won't hurt; I do not want to get in trouble, so I had to have to lie to keep my job; I need the drink; I need the fix; I need the item that will give me this overwhelming debt; I need to look good in people's eyes so that I can accomplish my goals; I need to gratify my self, if I take care me then I can help others; I need to keep up with the neighbors; little white lies never hurt anyone; innocent lies are not sin; etc.
Notice where sin comes from:
James 1:12-16 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
The fallen nature, the carnal nature that we all are born with, must be crucified daily. In other words, we must control it and not let it control us; for we cannot serve God and the sinful nature both. The devil and his underlings, know how to work the system. He has been at it since the Garden of Eden. Run from temptation. Bad company corrupts good character. Stay away from people who have no fear of God. Love them, be kind to them but do not have them in one's personal circle.
Temptation begins with one's own carnal nature, when from it, one is “enticed” - so we should not allow bad thoughts. If they come, send them away and fill the spot with the truth of God's Word about whatever is going on. To keep allowing the thoughts of temptation is opening the door; “when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.” To have an unwanted thought pass through one's mind is not a sin. To allow it to park, is. Do not think for one second, that one of the devil would waste a good opportunity for a Christian's demise. Those already sunk in sin do not warrant much attention, but those standing and living in faith, are prime targets.
When Eve was in the Garden (and Adam close enough for Eve to hand him some of the forbidden fruit) the devil came to Eve to deceive her. The tactics used are commonly called today: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The devil knew that there was the one tree that Adam and Eve were not to partake of, so he kept trying to get her to doubt what God said. And he told her that God did not really mean what He said and he showed her how desirable the fruit was and that if she ate it, she would be like God. This type of deception has been in operation for over 6000 years. For Adam, his sin was worse (1 Timothy 2:14; Genesis 3:1-24). The Bible says that he was not deceived but willfully disobeyed. How does anyone truly repent when we willfully disobey? It is truly harder. There is so much revealed in Genesis 3 that no one will finish preaching or teaching on it in their lifetime. We need to keep reading and re-reading God's Word because as we get more light in one area and go back over a previous area, more light shines in the previous area and by this process we grow in God's Word. We can learn things the easy way from others mistakes and accomplishments or from the school of hard knocks. Why not study and live wiser, with more wisdom?
4. Doubt and lies about "the devil/demons/hell/his domains"
Such as: There is no such thing as a devil; there are no such things as demons; there is no such thing as hell; hell is not real; the devil got a bad rap; the devil is not really a bad guy; no one prays for the devil; no one gives the devil a chance; the devil is everywhere (which is big, big lie, only God is omnipresent); there is an evil unholy spirit (another huge lie, only God is a trinity and omnipresent); the devils office is in hell from which he comes and goes (nope, hell is a prison and Jesus has the keys and total control- the devil is only loose on the earth and the spirit world connected above it); calling astrology, witchcraft, occultism helpful, real or good; (all forms of such are terrible sins according to the Lord), etc.
5. Doubt and lies about God's Kingdom "heaven, angels, church/body of Christ, Christians"
Such as: Heaven is not real; heaven is just a figment of someone's imagination; there are no such thing as angels, angels are not real, church is not important; heaven is boring; God has lone rangers; only hypocrites go to church; all churches are the same; churches only want money; churches do not help anyone; only this or that denomination is going to heaven; my kids do not need to be in church, they can learn all they need from us and the schools; being a Christian is boring; there is no fun in being a Christian; etc.
6. Doubts and lies about "prayer, praise worship, etc."
Prayer: God does not hear my prayers/your prayers; God does not answer prayer; God only hears the prayers of certain Christians; my prayers don't make any difference; I don't/you don't deserve an answer to prayer, I am/you are unworthy; I don't/you don't deserve God's help (The Lord operates on undeserved, impartial mercy; its called grace); I am sick because I am being punished; God wants me sick to teach me a lesson; God does not answer prayers any more; God does not do miracles any more so why pray, etc.
Praise: God does not need or want my praise; praise is just for church; praise can only happen in church, etc.
Worship: Singing about God is plenty; worship is sitting in a pew on Sunday morning; worship is singing about God; worship is only for church; worship is only for Sundays and special holidays, etc.
Communion: I can't take communion because I am unworthy; I can't communion because I'm such a bad sinner; I can't take communion because it can only be administered by a priest or preacher, etc.
This category involves huge misconceptions that happen in the body of Christ that result from human logic and not the Bible. Prayer is our communication with God. If the devil can get Christians to doubt their prayer or not pray, how long will they last? Praise glorifies God and worship is intimate praise and communion with God. Both have to be in spirit and in truth to be effectual. Communion is part of the covenant relationship we have with Jesus. We are to continue to taking communion until we are gone from this earth. We have an entire article here that explains Communion deeply. If you have been intimidated or bullied by the enemy or have serious questions, please see the message: Communion, The Lord's Supper.
7. Lying deception, "bad appearing as good"
Counterfeit good: like nutritious looking food that is really harmful or empty, a pretty woman or handsome man that appears to someone as 'good' but is really there to wreck their life; all the following can be used for good or bad and much of it seems good but really is not: music, TV shows, movies, religions other than Christianity; etc.
Infiltration of the church: Sometimes we encounter "wolves in sheep's clothing" such as: false: teachers, leaders, apostles, preachers, etc. There are occult activities and rituals that appear to be of God, but are really of the devil, for example, reading tea leaves or coffee grinds, fortune tellers, astrology, mediums, new age etc; evil disguising itself as light, etc.
Bait and switch: Just take the carrot, only to find out it has evil strings like the arms of an octopus; one puff of smoking something that makes one less in control, one drink of it, one shot of it, one taste of it and before long, the self control is gone and the thing that was tried is mastering the person; etc.
Sex outside of marriage: All sex is good; if it feels good do it; if it was wrong, why do I want it; if I want it, it must be okay; etc. God made sex for one man and one woman within the confines of one marriage. God blesses and wants sex in marriage; He created mankind for procreation in the first place. But the devil does all he can to take advantage of the carnal eyes and nature to lure anyone willing to go beyond what is right and good.
8. The use of "fear and intimidation"
Such as: Fear of someone's approval; fear of failure/disappointment and other(s) seeing; fear of failing one self; fear of cost/expense; fear of persecution; fear of trying again; etc.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9
The devil is a bully. And once a bully finds someone he can intimidate, he does. The enemy uses irrational fears to hold one back.
Open wounds are an open door, that if allowed, the enemy uses to instill fear and pain. An “open wound” is any wound that has not been addressed and given to the Lord (healed) and kept in check (the battle can be life-long).
Any trauma can be used for attack. Something simple as getting water in the nose while bathing can become a huge fear of water and drowning or something as serious as getting mugged or raped can lead to all kinds of personal pain, mental torment and disorder. All personal trauma really needs to be prayed through, filtered through God's Word and if necessary get help from a godly source to help in healing.
Rejection, can leave a strong open wound. All hurts left unaddressed and unhealed leave a person open for attack.
Unforgiveness can be in this area also. For example, one person is truly wronged and violated while the other person or persons are not (and perhaps never will be) sorry. In the natural, unforgiveness seems totally fair and reasonable. But God! We must follow Jesus. By not forgiving them, we forfeit our own forgiveness “for as we forgive others, so are we forgiven.” And even worse, somehow the devil convinces people that we hold their eternal destiny in our hands by forgiving them or not. When in reality, only God is the final Judge. They will face God for this particular circumstance and others. By withholding forgiveness, their judgment is not only still in tact but ours is too for not forgiving.
Insecurities, anything that causes a person not to feel whole, as special as God made them. Insecurities are an open door for the evil ones and oftentimes are the result from “swallowing a lie” about a person falling short from a perceived idealism. Things like too fat, too thin, too tall, too poor, too dumb, too whatever. A person who reads their Bible should stand on who God says they are and not the lie.
Depression is to not have the peace and joy that God has for us. Depression is allowing our focus to be on something negative instead of God's remedy for the situation. It is a sin to despair, for to despair means to doubt God. No Christian has time for depression or despair and if one cannot get help alone, they need to seek Christian guidance about it. The entrance may have become a stronghold and require not only the truth of God's Word but deliverance. We cannot be depressed and be the healthy person God's wants us to be both.
9. Lying deception: "socially"
Dissension: Causing both real and imaginary friction between people, division brings peace and purpose to a halt; many times people misunderstand what someone else said or did and the devil may have been the originator of the whole thing. And even if the cause is real, grace will take a person places that are wonderful. Getting hurt is not optional but holding a grudge is; unforgiveness causes people to go to hell (we are forgiven as we forgive which also means that as we do not forgive we lose our forgiveness), etc.
Educational brainwashing: through media, music, laws, family, schools, etc.
Slothfulness: it is true that idle hands are the devil's workshop (people that are busy being productive and making the world a better place are a threat to the devil); so by self gratification and distraction through such things as games, gaming, Facebook and other social media, cell phones that can keep people preoccupied away from the reality of what is in front of them; books, social activities, etc ; all these can be good things but when they become obsessive they can be huge pitfalls. Omission is the sin of not doing what we are supposed to do in a given situation and can be just as much a sin as committing a direct sin.
Peer pressure when young is very similar as political correctness in adulthood. Going with the crowd usually means going with those on the broad path instead of through the narrow gate.
Utter rebellion: there are some who disagree with everything and everyone, while thinking they are not going with “anyone” but in fact, this kind of attitude shows they are rebellious against God and actually holding hands with the devil (whether they realize it or not).
10. "Blatant" lies
The big lie – I can do what I want, I do not have to answer to God, I will be my own boss: translation: I will be like God, I will be my own God.
Other blatant lies:
There is no absolute truth.
There is no absolute right or absolute wrong.
Evolution has to be true (even though there is no absolute truth).
God did not create the world.
God did not create the world in 6 days.
All religions lead to the same God.
All paths lead to one heaven.
“Media” in all forms (TV, phone, video, gaming, etc.) is a good and safe babysitter and are never harmful (when in reality, all that enters through the eyes and ears matter tremendously and must be guarded).
More is better- more, more, more.
Have fun now, repent later.
When we die, we die, there is no hereafter.
If someone did me wrong and they are not sorry, I do not have to forgive them.
I am not going with God or the devil (to not go with God is going with the devil).
One might say, how could someone do something so evil or so dumb, when they hear of a terrible choice by another human being... And the truth of the matter is found in the same Scripture about temptation in James 1:16, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”
The areas we are "weak in" are the result of "how much more we want the sin" than "the truth and to obey God." The principle is deep and wide. One will: sell out to delusion, anytime the desired thing is wanted more than the truth. For example, if I want to smoke cigarettes more than I want to take care of my body, and then I will listen when the devil comes along and whispers seductive thoughts to me about how much better I will feel when I succumb to smoking just one or to have just a puff of another person's or take advantage of someone else' second-hand smoke. I can only be tempted as much as I am willing to be. The secret to not giving an ear to delusion and error, is wanting the truth the most, that doing the right thing is the better choice.
The problem with most addiction is even worse. Not only did it come from selling out to a bad choice, but there are demons involved. And a person who is not strong in the Lord is very much more vulnerable to it. When we close the door to the truth and open the door to a lie, we are closing the door that God put there and opening the door to the deceiver. God will empower the one who opens the door to Him, with the strength they need to do right but going the wrong direction, opens the door to the devil, the lying destroyer, and will put the person in bondage. Human psychology declares addictions are diseases that come from physical weakness alone. But the fact is, human psychology is not equipped for the devil. Once a person has fallen into the same lies or pit many times, we need God's truth and His power to get really free. And stay free.
There is such a thing as “a sin unto death” and it means a terrible sin. Like the difference between gossip and physical murder. There are also addictions unto death. This is not seen with the naked eye. But the bondage that comes with alcohol and drugs, pornography and sexual sin is far greater than one can know or see. Modern psychology looks at the brain impulses involved and makes statements such as, the excitement in the brain area shows extremely strong; like the highest levels possible. Well, the devil knew it long before man. Sins that come with bondage especially need the power of the truth and the power of God, much more than smaller sins.
The common thread in all the enemy’s strategies is delusion with temptation. If we want something wrong more than something right, then we are susceptible to the delusion that would lead to the mistake or sin. We must want the right thing more than the wrong thing.
Another way to put is: What our desires are for “the most” - rule us. If we desire wisdom more than foolishness, wisdom will rule us, love more than hate, good more than evil, etc. Sin is not a physical weakness; it is a spiritual choice. The born-again spirit is true to God and the carnal nature is at enmity with God. Christians learn to rule over the carnal nature and live their lives submitted to God.
Do Christians fail and still fall prey to sin and stupidity? Sadly, yes. But the Christian lifestyle is a life pleasing to God and living a righteous life; and to slip is the exception. When a person is truly sorry, they try not to make the same mistake or sin again. If they continue, over and over, then there is a deeper issue and should seek help with a pastor or elder in the body of Christ. Jesus came to deliver us from sin, not just forgive us of it. For Christians, Jesus is our real Lord. If not, then perhaps the person was never truly saved or has backslidden and in need of a serious turn-around.
Remember, God created a good world and all that was in it was good. God warned man not to sin. But when man chose sin, it separated man from God and with the result of bringing spiritual death. There is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood and only through Jesus' pardon is it possible for us to be saved. And to not only be right with God again, but to be born-again. This means we leave the darkness and evil nature we are born with behind. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us and it is like a light comes on inside and we no longer want to sin. We go from being children of the devil to children of the Lord. It is a wonderful thing. The spirit is new in Christ, and each person must grow in the Lord and His Word to reprogram the bad things a person learned before becoming a believer. Everything now needs to be filtered through the Word of God, the Bible.
If you are a Christian, praise God. Sin is not your master and perhaps this message might stir your heart to be more on guard. However, for anyone reading this that is still a child of the devil, get free! Sin does not pay well. The Bible says the wages of sin is death. That means separation from God; and from the benefits of His love forever and cast into eternal darkness, damnation and destruction. While we still breathe, there is the chance to sincerely turn-around. But when this life is over, for those who rejected God and His ways, it will be eternal and it will be in indescribable misery. Choose wisdom, choose life and choose Jesus Christ!