Grace & Truth Chapel
131 Fardale Avenue ~ Mahwah, New Jersey
Phone 201-327-6226 ~ E-mail

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"The Tactics of the Devil" (posted June 1, 2003)

...lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
   - 2 Corinthians 2:11

The world as man's dwelling place is looked at in three ways in Scripture:

  1. as Adam's dominion in innocence, by God's appointment (Genesis 1:28);
  2. as Satan's dominion in wickedness, by usurpation (Luke 4:5-6);
  3. as Christ's dominion in righteousness, by redemption and conquest (Psalm 2:8; 72:8).

The first, as we know, soon passed away. Adam fell and forfeited all. The third awaits the Messiah's reign in power. But the second still exists, and exists as a constant element of danger. The youngest convert is called to face that danger; the oldest saint cannot afford to ignore it; yet God's ends will all be gained in spite of it.

Three times Jesus speaks of Satan as "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). To malign God and ruin man has been his aim from the beginning and will be to the end. In deception has been his success. See 1 Timothy 2:14; Revelation 20:10. His methods differ. He blinds the minds of those that believe not (2 Corinthians 4:4). He beguiles the believer where he can (2 Corinthians 11:3) and buffets where he cannot beguile (2 Corinthians 12:7).

When the Apostle Peter speaks of him, he says, "Be sober, be vigilant." And it is surely enough to sober us to be told that his aim is to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Not only would he spoil our joy and cripple our service, he would -- if he could -- accomplish our entire destruction. He acts as though he considers our profession to be only a sham, and that, in the long run, he will be able to prove it so. Blessed be God, though the Good Shepherd clearly indicates that the destroyer would endeavor to pluck us out of His hand, and even out of the Father's hand, yet we are distinctly assured no one is able to do it. The purposes of eternal love cannot possibly be brought to naught by God's enemy! (See John 10:27-30; 17:12; Hebrews 2:13.)

All along, he has been making mistakes to his own confusion, and will do so to the end. He cannot read men's hearts. "You alone, [O Lord God,] know the hearts of all the sons of men" (1 Kings 8:39). He has no spiritual discernment and can neither understand the purposes of God nor the spiritual exercises of the saints of God; but he can form his own judgment by men's actions, and he does closely watch them.

In Matthew 4:3 he is called "the tempter," and there is little doubt that, in order to provoke to some form of self-will, he studies the natural propensities and personal weaknesses of every saint on earth as closely as he once studied Job and his circumstances. If he finds a believer proof, for the time, against self-gratification in a carnal way, he may try to ensnare him by what will lead to self-admiration in a religious way, or to self-exaltation in a popular way (see 1 John 2:16).

How wholesome, then to remember that neither special gift, nor success in service, nor biblical knowledge, nor gray-haired experience, nor all put together, can be any bar to the tempter's aim. Into each of these self-will may creep; and where self-will gains entrance the enemy finds an effectual open door. Force the way, he cannot; but wherever he can either allure or provoke us to the secret working of our own wills, he can find ready access. And if self-will opens the door for him, self-confidence keeps it open.

On the other hand, we may with unwavering confidence expect that where there is willing-hearted obedience and conscious dependence [on God], he can positively do nothing. Obedience effectually shuts the door against him, and dependence keeps it shut.

George Cutting

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