lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. – 2 Corinthians 2:11
Apostle Paul, when writing to the people of the city of Corinth, made quick mention of the devil that provides us with some useful insight. He says, “we are not ignorant of his devices.” In other words, “we know how he works.”
The devil operates in a fairly predictable manner. He has a limited amount of weapons in his arsenal. But even in his limited state, he has found that the same old tactics have worked well against the human race for thousands of years. His trickery works well on those who are ignorant of his ways. But thank God, we don’t have to be ignorant! If the people in the city of Corinth were not ignorant (who had less access to the scriptures than we do), then we don’t have to be ignorant either.
One of the greatest tactics of the devil is to distract us away from reading and studying the Word of God. The less we know of the Word, the less we know about his crafty ways. The more we know the Word, the easier it becomes to see his shady workings around us.
This is how Paul and the people of the Corinth knew about the devil’s schemes. They read the stories. They read about Adam and Eve, and the snake in the garden. They read about him in the book of Job. They knew what Isaiah and Ezekiel said of him. And most importantly, they knew what Jesus taught about him. This is why they weren’t ignorant. We shouldn’t be ignorant either.
One of the most important aspects of our enemy that we need to know about is found in the very beginning of the bible, in the story of the first humans on earth. In Genesis chapter 3, the devil quickly comes onto the scene after the creation of man. He comes in the appearance of a snake (which itself speaks a lot of him). The bible says that the snake was more crafty than any of the other animals that the Lord had made. The word crafty means: “to be clever at achieving one’s aims by indirect or deceitful methods”. And although snakes are crafty creatures, the intent here is for us to undertand the power behind this snake, which we know is Satan (Rev 12:9). And ‘crafty’ is the right word to describe him.. This is exactly how the devil works.
The devil has very limited power to cause direct damage to the earth or to the people of the earth. Otherwise, wouldn’t he simply kill those who he risked losing to the gospel? And since he can’t destroy man directly, his only option is to deceive man into destroying himself and each other. Therefore he tempts and deceives, and masquerades about as an angel of light, seeking to cast God as a unreasonable tyrant, and himself as a friend to man.
This is exactly what he does in Genesis chapter 3. As the devil speaks to Eve, God becomes the bad guy who is holding out on Eve, and he becomes her friend, the one who will give her the good things that God so unreasonably forbids. Satan convinces Eve to question the character and nature of God. He doesn’t need to destroy Eve. He simply deceives her into subjecting herself to the judgment of God.
Satan is overjoyed in this. He achieves two ends: man is destroyed, and God has to do it. He knows that God brings judgment reluctantly. It pains His heart to do it. He has no desire in the death of the wicked. He only desires to bring life, and life abundantly. The devil knows he can’t defeat God, but just like a sore loser, he wants to inflict any kind of pain that he can. Each soul he can keep from God, will mean one less party in heaven; for all of heaven rejoices over one soul that repents (Lk 15:7), and sorrows over the souls that are lost (Romans 9:2).
The devil is no dummy. He has been around for a long time. He is crafty enough to convince a third of the angels of heaven to follow his futile attempt to abdicate God. He’s sly enough to convince a great part of the world that he doesn’t exist at all. He’s cunning enough to trip up even the greatest of saints. He walks about as a roaring lion, looking for weak spots, ready to attack.
Look at how he does this with king David in the story of Bathsheba. Although the devil is left out of the record of this story, we can surely see his sly ways intertwined into it.
Being a king, David was not unfamiliar with the pleasures of the world. For the most part, he ate and drank what he wanted, his every need was provided for by servants, and his carnal desires met by the multiple wives that he took. But the devil knows that the flesh of man never says ‘enough.’ (especially when it comes to women!) When David asked about Bathsheba and heard that she was married, I know exactly what the devil whispered in his ear: “You are the king. Kings get what they want. It doesn’t matter that she is married. Besides, her husband is at war, no one will ever know.”
But David wasn’t the only one the devil was working on. He was working on Bathsheba, as well. It was no accident that she was bathing in direct sight of the king. If the king could see her, then she was able to see the king. She saw that he would often go out on the balcony to walk alone. She wasn’t bathing to clean up, she was deliberately putting on a show for the king! Before all this, I know exactly what the devil was whispering in her ear as she looked into her mirror: “You are a very beautiful woman. You deserve more than this peasant life. You could be a queen!”
The devil convinces David and Bathsheba to cast off the commandments of God. The great king falls, and the judgment of God falls upon him. That crafty devil set the trap, and David took the bait.
How does the devil work? He will do all he can to exalt the pleasure of the moment and to hide the consequences of the sin. He will cast God into a negative light, making Him out to be the party pooper, and his commandments old and irrelative to the time and circumstance. He’ll straight out lie to you, like he did to Eve, hoping you are ignorant to the bible. He’ll entice others to entice you, hoping to bring down two birds with one stone, as in the case of David and Bathsheba. He’ll tempt you at your weakest moment, and erroneously quote scripture to you, as he did with Jesus. He will even make himself out to be a messenger from God, as he did with Mohammad and Joseph Smith and others who deceive themselves with the pride of their heart.
But those who know their God, and are known by the same, will not be ignorant of his deceitful ways. They know the voice of the Shepard and the voice of a stranger they will not follow. His Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth, and no one will be able to snatch them out of His hand! Let all those who seek Him rest in humble assurance that God will indeed deliver them from this evil one.
The devil may be crafty, but there is no reason for us to wonder about the situations around us. The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one (1 Jn 5:19). He holds captive those that are deceived in order to carry out his will (2 Tim 2:26). You shouldn’t wonder about trials and temptations that will come your way (1 Pet 4:12). Instead, recognize who the true opposition is and resist him.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7
The devil is the ultimate source of all temptation. God does not tempt people to sin (James 1:13-14). Satan and his hordes are ever working to lure people into sin, especially we who are the saints. He runs a dark government of evil whereby he simply seeks to bring about the most destruction possible. You can see this spirit at work in modern day terrorists, where success is determined by the largest body count. Satan is not perfect, but he’s smart. He’s not omnipresent, but he’s organized. Don’t believe me? Apostle Paul shows us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against this government of darkness:
For we are not fighting against flesh- and- blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. – Eph 6:12 (NLT)
Notice how Paul mentions the word ‘rulers’ and ‘authorities’ and ‘powers.’ These words all denote some type of government position. And because there are multiple words here for authority, its easy to come to the conclusion that these represent different levels of government in the kingdom of darkness. In fact, it’s a great clue to his organizational structure that the bible calls Satan’s realm a ‘kingdom’ just like it calls God’s realm a ‘kingdom’ (Mat 12:26). It’s a complete system of government, just like the mafia, just like gangs. (You can bet that the mafia and other gangs model their leadership after the foul source of their wickedness.)
When the apostles make mention of the devil, most of the time they are not referring to the devil alone, but to his kingdom. Therefore, when the Apostle James says, “resist the devil,’ he’s not referring to the devil alone, but to all the power of his kingdom. All of his kingdom learns from him and does as he does, so we know how all his operatives work, and all of them we can resist.
Why do we need to know all this? The better we understand the truth behind the devil and his workings, the easier it will be to overcome his tactics. Just like Apostle Paul said, “We are not ignorant of his devices.”
But don’t let all of this frighten you. The devil does not have power to harm the saints of God. Jesus gave us all authority over the devil and his hordes. Nothing from that world can harm us.
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. – Lk 10:19
So what’s the point of all this? The point is that we must understand that we have a clever enemy. He studies the weakness of men in order to exploit them. He will tempt us into sin in order that we might subject ourselves to the judgement of God. But don’t fret, because we are not ignorant of his devices! His sly ways don’t fool us. When temptation comes we resist. And even if we fall into sin we don’t fall for the trap of guilt and self-loathing. Instead, we repent and receive quick forgiveness from God. This is why Jesus died, folks!
Satan will yield when you resist him. He will put up a fight, but you need to know that you can win every single time. Resist him using the sword of the Spirit, by speaking the word of God to him. Truth always vanquishes his lies. Jesus’ bout with the devil in the wilderness forever sets the example for us.”It is written” packs dynamite power.
Don’t let the devil pull the wool over your eyes by his subtle and crafty ways. Instead follow the wise instructions of Apostle Peter, who said, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” – 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV)