The Strategy of Satan
He has a diabolical plan for your life.
We are at war.
This is not a popular metaphor in some Christian circles, but the Bible is chock-full of warfare imagery.
The battles we fight are rarely against flesh and blood.
Instead, we fight “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).
The casualties of this spiritual battle are evident in the number of friends, family, and colleagues that have left the faith.
It’s hard to watch people fall prey to the strategies and schemes of Satan.
Even more disturbing is the fact that many of them are unaware of how badly they’ve been manipulated.
This article is an imperfect attempt to clarify the strategy of the enemy.
In working with hundreds of pastors and leaders through the ministry of Groundswell, I’m seeing an increase in spiritual warfare.
Yes, there is a larger satanic strategy that seeks to corrupt structures and systems of power, but the majority of his attacks begin with the individual.
He wants to take you out of commission and is on the prowl, roaming around “like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Our World Has Gone Mad
A few days ago, a friend and I were discussing the public education system when he informed me of a new trend among high school students. There is a growing subculture in America called “furries” and its members dress up and “identify” themselves as cartoonish animals.
There are now 250,000 of these “furries” in America (according to Google) and in one south Indianapolis high school, administrators are now providing cat food and dog food in local bathrooms to “accommodate the furries”.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Our world has gone mad.
What’s even more disconcerting are the millions of people who have bought into the lie that the madness is sanity.
People seem proud to be well-adjusted to a sick society.
When did accommodating sickness become a measure of spiritual health and how did we get here?
I’ve been reading a lot of books on spiritual warfare lately, and one of my favorites is The Strategy of Satan: How to Detect and Defeat Him by Warren Wiersbe.
I don’t agree with everything in the book, but his outline is excellent. Understanding the strategy of Satan is important. We are called to be “familiar with his evil schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11) and it is often a three-pronged attack.
He attacks the mind.
He attacks the body.
He attacks the heart.
Attacking the Mind- Deceiver
It begins in the mind.
Satan is the father of lies and Jesus does not mince words.
“When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). The first time Satan appears in the Bible, he lied to Eve by manipulating her with the question, “Did God really say?” The last time he appears in Scripture he is described as, “That ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray” (Rev. 12:9).
The mind is where he does his greatest damage.
He manipulates. He confuses. He deceives. He twists. He clouds sober judgment.
This is why the Bible places such an enormous focus on the mind, and why we are told to “renew our mind” (Rom. 12:1), “guard our mind” (Phil. 4:7), and “set our minds on the Spirit” (Rom 8:6).
The mind is where the enemy launches his frontal attack on unbelievers as well. 2 Cor. 4:4 tells us, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ”.
Satan speaks what is false and he hides what is true. He disguises himself as an angel of light to manipulate us.
Deception must be countered with the truth of God’s Word and renewing our minds.
We must continually remind ourselves of what is true and call out what false. Jesus defended himself against the enemy in the wilderness with the Word of God. It must also be our strategy for resistance.
How well do you know God’s Word? How much Scripture do you have memorized? How deeply are you rooted in the Bible? Do you know how to fight with “the sword of the Spirit”, resisting any spiritual attacks?
Remember those friends, family, and colleagues I mentioned earlier?
There was a common denominator in each one of them falling away. They stopped reading the Bible and allowed the lies of the Enemy to take root.
Attacking the Body-Destroyer
Not only does Satan desire to deceive the mind, but he also wants to destroy the body.
In the Book of Revelation Satan is described as Apollyon, the Destroyer. Jesus said of his accusers, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).
The reason Satan is so focused on your destruction is that your body is God’s temple. We are the hands and feet of Jesus and when he attacks the body he is attacking the primary means of God revealing himself to a lost world.
Satan came to “steal, kill, and destroy” but Jesus came so that we might have “abundant life” (John 10:10).
The goal of Satan is your ultimate destruction. He wants your life to be eternally miserable.
If he cannot get through our mind, it seems his next strategy is to inflict suffering and pain by attacking us physically. The story of Job is a case in point.
Not able to cause him to sin, the enemy attacks his children, his health, and even his life. His wife encourages him to curse God and die.
Sickness, disease, and death are not in the realm of God so Satan leverages each one to tempt us to fall away. He uses physical pain to further manipulate our minds to the goodness of God.
How do we resist the enemy when he sends physical attacks?
The answer is grace.
Paul was given “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan” and God said, “My grace is sufficient for you”. 1 Peter 5:10 tells us, “After suffering a little while, the God of all grace will perfect, confirm, and strengthen you”.
An attack on the mind is counteracted by focusing on the WORD of God.
An attack on the body is counteracted by focusing on the GRACE of God.
Attacking the Heart- Accuser
Satan is described in Scripture as a deceiver (attacking the mind), a destroyer (attacking the body), and also an accuser (attacking the heart). Rev. 12:10 says, “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say…the Accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”
If he can’t manipulate our mind or overwhelm us with pain, he will remind us of our past to keep us locked in guilt and shame.
When the Spirit of God convicts you, he uses the Word of God to speak truth to your life to bring you into fellowship with Jesus.
When Satan accuses you, he reminds you of your sin and shortcoming to push you further away from fellowship with Jesus.
He wants you to feel helpless and hopeless and walk in despair and spiritual paralysis.
Deception is resisted by the inspired Word of God. Destruction is resisted by the imparted Grace of God. Accusation is resisted by the interceding Son of God.
This is the heart of the Gospel.
Through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross we have been forgiven and now have an Advocate who “always lives to intercede for us” (Heb. 7:25).
The Accuser will try to remind us of our sin and our past, but Jesus tells us, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
The Enemy is Defeated
One final thought.
The outcome of this cosmic struggle between good and evil has already been established. Satan is a defeated foe.
The Word of God tells us,
“The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
“Christ took on human nature that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).
“God disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him” (Col. 2:15).
Our response to the strategy of Satan is to abide with Jesus, the one who has already dealt the decisive blow through the cross. James says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you!” (James 4:7) and that we overcome, “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11).
The strategy of Satan is on full display in our age. He manipulates, deceives, divides, and destroys.
The question is not whether you want to be in this war, but how you will respond.
There is no neutral zone and the battle lines are being drawn.
May we resist the enemy by leaning into the Word of God (renew the mind), the grace of God (to endure suffering), and the Son of God (to rebuke accusation) while “declaring the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Amen!
Jon thank you for this article. Ministry leaders and servants of all kinds need to hear this. While working with Celebrate Recovery we hear stories and see examples of Satans work all the time. It seems instead of drawing nearer to God people push away. Just what Satan wants.
A few other books I've been reading "Live No Lies" by John Mark Comer, "Screwtape Letters" by CS Lewis, and "Victory over Darkness" by Neil Anderson. Also wanting to read "Victory in Spiritual Warfare" by Tony Evans and "Satan a Defeated Foe" by Charles Spurgeon.