Evil seems always to be celebrated on Halloween. So I will take the opportunity of this day to give you this excerpt from my book Purpose of Prayer, from the chapter entitled Prayer Warfare – Part 1. Christians: be on your guard today, as always, by knowing Satan’s strategy against us.
Yes, Satan has a strategy. He has defined goals and has considered how he can accomplish them. In Job 1:7, when Satan told God that he was “…roaming about on the earth and walking around on it” (NAS), he was not just taking a leisurely stroll for recreation. He was looking over the earth, over its government, and over all the people on the earth, pondering and considering how he could lead the world astray.
And he is still considering us today, to determine our weaknesses and to figure out how he can do the most damage—how he can tempt us and cause us to sin, and then devour us (1 Pt. 5:8); though, by now (after 6,000 years), he must have us almost figured out.
In his pondering, he especially considers individuals (as well as local churches, communities, and nations); he devises schemes as to how he can hinder their progress. Consequently, he has a special temptation for each of us, according to what he perceives is our weakness or strength. I think He focuses most on spiritual leaders and the more godly, but, no doubt, his temptations include everyone. His objective is to track us down, lead us astray, and destroy us.
Now, when he considers us, and determines how he can trap us into sin, his temptations will be in just three areas: in the area of the flesh, of the eyes, and of our pride. These areas (sited in 1 John 2:16 as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life) are really the only three areas or avenues of temptation that exist. The first area, the lust of the flesh, is that avenue of temptation that appeals to our bodies—such as the lust for food or sex. The second area, the lust of the eyes, is that area of temptation that brings a delight to the eyes (Gen. 3:6). It is a lust or a greed for all the beautiful things such as clothes and houses and cars, etc. The third area, the area of pride, is that area of temptation that appeals to our status, our popularity, or our sense of power.
Therefore, when Satan tempts us, he may temp us in one of these three areas or perhaps in two areas or even all three areas. When Satan tempted Eve, for example (Gen. 3:6), the temptation to take the fruit was in all three areas: it was “good for food” (lust of the flesh), “a delight to the eyes” (lust of the eyes), and “desirable to make one wise” (pride of life).
Notice that each of these areas of temptation is designed to make us feel better. For Satan wants us to believe that what he is telling us to do (tempting us to do) will benefit us—so that we will obey him and follow him willfully (wholeheartedly).
And it happens that the more we give into his temptations the more we become trapped. For Satan has worked in us and with us to build in our minds sinful strongholds. A stronghold can be defined as an accumulation of thoughts or ideas, which Satan has fed us with that seem to give us a good reason to sin. It is an accumulation of arguments for evil (Read 2 Cor. 10:4-5). Consequently, this is how Satan traps us into temptations; he plants beautiful and pleasurable seeds of evil—one at a time—in our mind until they form a stronghold.
A stronghold is a place of moral darkness. It is a place in the mind that one has allowed Satan to enter, where he has given the demons legal access, and has even made them feel comfortable. I suppose we could say that a stronghold is the grip of Satan on one’s mind, compelling him, by his own lusts, to think and do certain sinful things. To put it simply, it is a sinful habit encouraged by demons.
In some cases, sin and Satan have managed to control us through our lusts, but not totally deceive us; that is, we willfully engage in sinful habits, even though we know (in our mind) that they are wrong. Thus, sin and the demons overcome us, and we find ourselves doing what we don’t want to do.
In many other cases, when the stronghold is more built up, people have become totally deceived by Satan’s arguments—so that they don’t believe or even know the truth. Thus, lies have become truth to them. In fact, these people like to argue against the truth, saying, for example, that there is nothing wrong with abortion, or homosexuality, or adultery, or lust, or the occult. Therefore, these people have firm strongholds in their mind because they have believed a lie. For them, Satan no longer has to tempt them—they sin on their own. I would say that in most cases these people are non-Christians, who don’t have the Holy Spirit in them to show them the truth. However, if Christians constantly reinforce Satan’s lies without being repentant, I believe it may be possible for them to be deceived—that is, to believe a lie. In such cases (since there is no repentance for sins) the Holy Spirit would no longer be effective.
To close this chapter let me leave you with three secrets to Satan’s strategy.
Three Secrets to Satan’s Strategy
1. The devil doesn’t care much about you; his battle is against Christ in you. He hates to see people coming to Christ and people growing in Christ. On the one who is seeking salvation Satan will bring the worst doubts. He will attack him with accusations and judgments and say to him, “What, you be saved? Think of your past life.” Then, to the newborn, he will tempt him to loose hope, disbelieve the inspiration of scripture, the deity of Christ and his salvation.
2. Satan hates those who are righteous and prayer warriors. Thus, if you are righteous and a prayer warrior, like Job, he may hinder you and try to get an advantage over you by afflicting the ones you love. For he killed all of Job’s children and servants and turned his wife against him.
3. One of Satan’s greatest tactics is to leave us alone for awhile. Then when we think we are so righteous and strong we get lazy and think we don’t need to be vigilant. Consequently, Satan catches us sleeping and he gains victory over us. Spurgeon writes, “A roaring Devil is better than a sleeping devil. There is no temptation much worse then that of never being tempted at all.”