You may right now be tempted of Satan and yet be totally unaware of it. You may even have yielded to his temptation, be sinning and not know it!
Deceived people don’t know they are deceived. Christians are warned not to be deceived. This warning would not be necessary if Christians never could be deceived. But his warning is necessary because you may be caught off guard and get into a wrong spirit or attitude without knowing it.
Before we were converted Satan had deceived each one of us in one way or another. In fact he has deceived the whole world (Rev. 12:9) and has blinded the minds of all unbelievers (II Cor. 4:3-4).
Just how has he done this? Not only by the false religions of this world, that appear right. Or, by politics and worldly governments. Or, by secret societies, lodges, fraternities and by “false science.” But above all, he deceived each of us by appealing to our vanity, to our lusts, and our carnal desires. He, before we were converted, led us to accuse our neighbors, to talk behind the backs of others. Or the devil let us become dejected, discouraged, seduced us to want to quit living! Yet he made it appear to be the right thing to do. We have all done what seems right to a man (Prov. 14:12).
But has Satan found since our conversion that he is no longer able to deceive us? No! Many of you, unaware of Satan’s devices and wiles, are perhaps being caught off guard and yet you may not even know it! We need to learn of these satanic devices, and not be ignorant of them. The Apostle Paul was not ignorant of Satan or his devices, as we read: “For we are not ignorant of his devices” (II Corth. 2:11). Yet some still are!
Everyone has problems. At times some blame God or even brethren in the Church for these problems. We are not in a physical battle only, but in a spiritual battle. The apostle Paul explains it in Eph. 6:12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness (that is wicked spirits) in high places.”
Paul recognized Satan’s devices and he knew when Satan hindered him. We have an example of this in I Thess. 2:18. Here Paul mentions that “Satan hindered us.” When Satan hinders us today, we often blame physical conditions only. Some who are delayed or prevented from going to services on the Sabbath, or to one of the Holy Days, blame the weather, financial problems, car trouble, or a host of other things. Satan is not recognized as a hindrance.
Yet Satan is angry with God’s Church as John reveals in Rev. 12:12. Here is God’s Church, the Church that keeps the commandments of God, and has the testimony of Jesus Christ. Satan is not angry with those who are still deceived by his many devices, but he is angry with those keeping the commandments of God. He is angry with the Church of God. He knows that he has but a short time left. He will do all he can to hinder this work, to hinder any of those in God’s Church. It is his desire to sift us as wheat too (Luke 22:31), or to divide us against each other, and he has done that!
Just what are the signs or fruit of Satan’s work? We can recognize the work of God by the fruits. They are the fruits of the Holy Spirit of God. But the fruits of Satan are entirely different.
One of the “fruits” of Satan is found in Rev. 12:10. He is here called the accuser of our brethren. He accuses the saints before God day and night. But, Satan does not stop there. He also accuses us to each other.
An example of Satan’s accusation is found in Zech. 3:1, “And he showed me Joshua the High Priest standing before the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.” In this place, the RSV renders the word “resist” by accuse. A Lexicon will bring out this fact. Satan was there, not only resisting Joshua, but he was accusing him. Here was Satan at his usual business of accusing the brethren.
Satan does not appear in bodily form to accuse us before our brethren. If he did, Christians would not be deceived by his devices. They would then know that the lies were coming from Satan. Instead, Satan puts thoughts in the mind against a brother. They appear very logical and right in every respect. The thought of the accusation seems entirely correct, and yet it has been devised by “the father of lies.” He has twisted the facts in our minds so that they appear logical and right. Yet in almost 99 times out of 100, these accusations are completely wrong, and without actual basis.
Here is another example of Satan and his accusations. Back in the Garden of Eden, he said (Gen. 3:1) “Hath God said.” Here Satan accused God. He was imputing wrong motives to God. He wanted Eve to think that God had made a mistake, or was unreasonable, or had not given due consideration to the problems of Adam and Eve. It appeared right in every respect to Eve. She was deceived, and yet she was wrong!
Has a thought ever come to your mind about a brother, “Hath your brother said certain things?” If so, he had a wrong motive, your mind will reason – influenced by Satan or his demons. He was sinning. Satan may even use scripture as he did to Christ in the book of Matthew. He may twist scripture in accusing your brother before you.
You may think it is impossible for Satan to put such thoughts in your mind, but let’s see what the scriptures say about this. Notice I Chron. 21:1. “And Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David to number Israel.” Notice, Satan stood up against Israel. He is standing up against God’s Church today, against you and me! Satan provoked David to number Israel, a great sin in God’s sight. And how did he do it? He first had to put a thought in David’s mind. This thought appeared right and logical to David. It was a way that seemed right to him. There were probably hundreds of reasons why it was the right thing to do, and yet it was wrong, it was sin.
Satan still does this today! Are you aware of such devices?
Another example is in John 13:2. Notice – Satan put it into the “heart of Judas. It must have seemed logical and right to Judas, so Judas too was deceived by the lies and logic of Satan the Devil.
When accusations come to our mind against a brother, they appear logical and reasonable. Satan would not make them appear any other way. We may have such accusations come to our mind against a brother, against God’s ministers, or against the Church as a whole. But they are almost always wrong.
Satan or his demons put wrong thoughts in our minds. Instead of putting these thoughts out immediately, some continue to think about it and dwell upon it. Then this idea within us grows and brings forth fruit, sin and evil. Instead of bringing every thought into captivity, our thoughts take us captive (II Corth. 10:5).
If a thought of accusation comes to our mind against a brother, you should put it out of your mind immediately, unless you are certain that the person involved is sinning. Then if you believe that the person is sinning, you must go to that person and point out their fault immediately (Matt. 18:15-17).
Another very effective device of Satan is discouragement. If we are obedient to God in everything and yet become hopelessly discouraged, Satan has won his battle. He has caused some to come to the point where they no longer even wanted to live, where they felt it would be better to die, since that would give them rest from their problem, than to continue on under such terrific load.
The book of Job gives us some valuable lessons on this. Notice what happened. In the first chapter it is recorded that Satan appeared before God. God asked Satan if he had considered His servant Job, God pointed out the good points in Job, how that there was none like him on the earth, a perfect and an upright man that feared God and shunned evil. Is that the way we do when we look at our brothers in the Church? Do we look at the good points, or do we follow the example of Satan? He accused Job, saying, “Does Job fear God for nought?” Here was Satan at his job of accusing.
You know the result of this accusation. Satan afflicted Job with severe boils or ulcers, and this, after he had taken everything away from Job. Now if you were in the place of Job, what would you say? Would you say “God is punishing me?” Or would you say “Satan is hindering me?” When troubles beset you, are you quick to blame God for it instead of acknowledging that Satan and his demons are fighting against you, or that you may be suffering from your own carnal sins.
In the 3rd chapter of Job we find how discouraged Job became. He was sorry for the day that he was born, wishing he had never been born. He said that he would like to receive death, since in death there is rest. Have you ever felt like that? If so, you can be sure that Satan was at work. But, if this has ever happened to you, did you think it was Satan that caused it, or did you blame the physical circumstances involved only? It is time to be aware of these Satanic devices.
It is vital that we recognize the works of Satan and his demons. Otherwise, how can we fight against them? Then, when we recognize that our warfare is with these unclean spirits, we should follow the examples and instructions given in the Bible. Christ commanded Satan to get behind Him (Mat. 16:23). Most of us are afraid of Satan and his demons and yet the exact opposite should be so! Notice James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” Have you resisted Satan when he came against you? Or did you slink back in fear, letting Satan win the victory?
Finally, we must put on the whole armour of God (Eph. 6: 13). Do you have the whole armour of God? (Eph. 6:14-18). Do you have the truth of God, or are you still somewhat deceived by your former teachings? Do you have the righteousness which is obedience to God? Do you have the “true gospel,” which is the gospel of peace, or one of strife and trouble? Do you have faith? You must have it in order to fight off these wicked spirits. You must have the helmet of salvation, or complete repentance of your sins, baptism, and God’s Holy Spirit. Then you must have the sword of the spirit which is the word of God, not just by carrying your Bible with you, but making God’s word a very part of your being. You must study and learn what it says and then obey it.
In addition to all of these things, you must pray always, and watch! You must watch world events, you must be ever watchful for the work of Satan and his demons. The only way that you will be able to recognize these works are by the fruits of what is happening. With this armour, and firm resistance, you will win your battle over Satan and his demons. If you lack in any of these “weapons,” cry out to God, ask him in faith believing and he will supply what you lack or need.
As you look back now, you may see where Satan has used you, with his lies and accusations. You may have falsely accused your brother in your mind, even possibly telling others. That is behind you now. You should not be deceived any longer. You should recognize this Satanic device and not be deceived by it again. Can you now say with the Apostle Paul – “We are not ignorant of Satan or his devices?”