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What the Bible says about Satan's Stratagems
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 3:1-5

Satan made a seemingly gentle suggestion against God's word and work, first by presenting them in a negative light. God had spoken to Adam and Eve, giving them His word. They had gathered much about the mind and personality of God because of what He said.

In addition, they could see with their own eyes a great deal about God's person, personality, and mind by what He had made. They were in a beautiful garden, which reflected the mind of God. They could see the beauty of His mind, and how His mind provided things beautiful and delightful to enjoy. They knew a great deal about the mind of God simply from what they were able to observe.

By making the challenge the way Satan did, he first made them mildly skeptical about God's love, asking them, Does God really love you?

Second, he made it seem as though obedience to God was, in reality, servility. He made them begin to feel as though God's way was restrictive; that He was holding back good things from them. This thought naturally led them to think much more could be obtained from life if they just followed their body's and mind's natural inclinations.

Third, he played his trump card: Not only would they not die, but they would be in control, free to determine right and wrong. In short, they would be equal to God!

Satan successfully brought them into a spirit of competition against God, resulting in the enmity described in Romans 8:7. He indirectly lied about God Himself, and he directly lied about the penalty, giving them misinformation about the reward.

He did tell them the truth, that their eyes would be opened and that they would not immediately die. Their eyes were opened, and they now looked at things through the twisted perspective, seeing evil in everything. From innocence, they became ashamed of their nakedness. The effect began immediately.

This is important because right thoughts precede right actions; right thoughts determine the release of proper emotions. Our thoughts express themselves even in our most casual relationships, in daily work, and most importantly, in our intimate relationships in our home and family. Most of all, they express themselves in our relationship with God. False beliefs about God and His purpose for man are far more destructive than alcohol and drugs. They confuse, divide, and bring on warfare.

Satan's lies, his counterfeits, and his devices are usually so subtle that only a trained mind can discern them. God teaches us to be able to see. He trains us to be able to spot the ploys, contrivances, and stratagems of our enemy so that we can overcome and defeat him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 2)

Matthew 4:3-4

Even when Satan says truth, even when he quotes Scripture, he puts a perverse twist to it. How did our Lord fight Satan? With truth! That is how one defeats Satan: being confident that Jesus Christ has already secured the victory and that God has put a hedge around us so that we will not fall into a situation confronting Satan that is beyond us, and being absolutely reliant upon the truth of God! Even though we may not be able to see how it is worked out, even though we may feel that following the truth of God is going to require a considerable sacrifice on our part, we have the example of Jesus Himself fighting Satan by relying upon the truth of God. He trusted what God said.

One might wonder why Satan used "if." He did not use "if" to get Jesus to doubt His Sonship. Jesus knew who He was. Rather, he was trying to get Him to reflect on the meaning of "if." Satan seems to be saying, "Surely, if You are the Son of God, You have the right to expect Your needs at the moment to be satisfied."

Jesus did not fall for it. As hungry as He was, He knew it was a trap. He knew He did not have to be concerned about supplying His material needs because God would do it for Him. Did He not later say, "If God so feeds the birds of the field"?

This was a temptation for Christ to use His Sonship in a way other than its God-ordained purpose. What is the God-ordained purpose of our calling? "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). That is the truth of God. God will supply what we need. So Jesus' answer was, "Thank you, but I'll just wait for God to supply My need."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 5)

2 Corinthians 2:6-8

When put together with II Corinthians 2:11, Paul is saying that a godly sorrow unto repentance can actually give Satan the opportunity to turn a person's feelings about his sin into an abnormal self-pity, which will destroy that despairing person's relationship with the church and with God. He can turn such a person into a bitter cynic. The Devil is that clever.

It does not end there. In addition, he can turn the righteous indignation of those who are offended by another's sin into bitter self-righteousness if they do not forgive and forget and move on. He gets people going and coming unless they are aware that he can turn something good into a ploy to destroy a person's relationship with God and the church.

These are not the only weapons that Satan has in his arsenal. Remember, we are involved in a war, and a general will employ every kind of ploy, device, tool, or contrivance to rout the enemy. He will use decoys, infiltration, subversion, propaganda, rumors, misleading leaks of information, and sometimes a frontal attack with diversions on the flanks.

Satan is no different. However, God makes sure to warn us of his subtlety. The Devil creates distractions and illusions to deflect us from reaching our goal. He has the ability to make things that are in God's purpose unimportant (for instance, material things or vanity) seem important, while eternal, spiritual things he makes seem unimportant, unnecessary, and unrealistic.

Knowledge of what he is like would be unnecessary if he could not affect us after baptism. Despite his earlier defeat at the hand of God as well as his defeat by our David, Jesus Christ, he is still seeking to destroy God. Even when he fails at that, he still wants to destroy God's purpose of having us inherit His Kingdom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 2)

1 Peter 5:6-8

Satan may or may not be the cause of the situation, but even if he is not, he is prowling around to take advantage of it, in the hopes that he might pick us off. What does the roaring lion most likely attack? The strays, the ones on the fringes, and those not keeping up with the flock. Spiritually, the ones most likely to be attacked are those who are not spiritually with it. Wearied by a barrage of problems, they begin to separate themselves, then Satan, the roaring lion, picks them off.

He is especially adept at taking advantage of people's feelings. All too often, we are dominated by our emotions rather than facts or, we could say, the truth of God. In such a circumstance, it is easy for us to get our feelings hurt, ignore the facts, and proceed to lie to ourselves, just as Satan did to himself when he first sinned.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)

1 Peter 5:8-9

This verse indicates that there is little room for carelessness. We are being called upon to be thoroughly self-controlled and to be alert. Why? Because Satan aims to undermine our confidence, to sow discord, and to get us to stop believing and revert to carnality. These are the directions in which he will try to push us.

Notice Peter writes, "Whom he may devour." "May" indicates permission is given. He has the ability to devour us spiritually, but it does not have to happen. Putting the advice in verse 8 into more common language, instead of saying. "Be sober," we might say, "Keep cool," "Keep your head screwed on right," "Don't lose your presence of mind," "Try to keep calm about this," "Don't be fearful," or "Don't lose your temper."

He also says to "Be vigilant," which means "to watch." This same phraseology is used in reference to prayer. It is part of our responsibility to pray that we not enter into temptation. It is part of being vigilant.

All of these things—the roaring lion, the resisting, the afflictions, suffering, persecution, perfection, and strength—are related as parts of operations that fulfill God's purpose for us. We have to begin by understanding that Satan—despite his incredible intelligence, cleverness, and power—is still yet an unwitting dupe in God's hand to bring about His purpose. God is far more powerful than Satan. As great as is Satan's power over us, God's is far greater over Satan.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 5)


 




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