Your head pounds violently. Every muscle in your body quivers with desperate anxiety. Sweat drains from every pore. Fearfully, you squint through the iron grate of your armor, watching the heat waves wriggle upward from the dusty earth. The mid-afternoon air is heavy with an unnatural calm. Once more, you readjust your metal grip on the heavy lance, cradled in your right arm. Your massive white horse exerts a profound snort, and you feel his sinewy body twitch with pent-up energy.
There you are, bearing the burden of your armor, enduring the oppressive heat, clasping the weighty weapons, and trying to shake a smothering terror. You, insignificant, weak, and helpless, are facing the murderous Black Knight in a to-the-death joust. A trumpet, far away in the stifling heat, sounds a fiendish fanfare.
The contest has begun.
Your charger breaks into a canter. Your body is crouched, tense, tight. You raise your eyes and see him hurtling towards you—the Black Knight on his massive horse. Thunderous hoof beats mingling with the weighty clang of iron and steel reverberate from the dark form. The knight is directly ahead, rising and falling with the gallop of his gigantic steed. He picks up even more speed, coming closer, closer. A cruel black sword dangles from his gigantic left arm. And in his right arm, he holds a lance, its point aimed directly at your defenseless body.
Pretty intimidating, huh? What if that were you, and not a dream from some bygone age? Would you be nervous if I told that that is you? Sure, there are some changes. First, let’s take away the horses and lances. It’s a spiritual battle—no swords, maces, spears or machine guns. Also, you can’t see your enemy. He’s totally invisible. He possesses superhuman strength and an uncanny ability to influence your mind. By his very nature, he is murderous, deceptive, cruel, and has millions of devilish minions at his beck and call. This sinister rogue is real. This battle is real. And you’re in it. Right now.
Too much is at stake for you to enter this battle without knowing your enemy’s tactics. Paul claimed, “No advantage [will] be taken of us by Satan” (2 Corinthians 2:11). How could he be so bold as to make that statement? He explains, “For we are not ignorant of his schemes.” If you are ignorant of Satan’s schemes, it is likely that he will take advantage of you. In the next few paragraphs, I will highlight two major satanic strategies so you can be a victor, not a victim.
Fundamentally, Satan is a liar. It’s his nature. His primary strategy, simply, is deception. But how can you spot deception? After all, the whole point is to deceive, right. It would help to narrow deception down a little bit. Here are two major areas of deception that Satan uses to trip you up.
1. Satan makes sin look good. Doesn’t sin look really good sometimes? It’s true. Sin often looks very appealing. If sin didn’t look good, we wouldn’t do it. Satan makes sin seem fun, exciting, pleasurable, satisfying, and enjoyable. When you’re faced with temptation, enticing though it may be, think this thought: Lies, all lies! Satan is lying to you, as plain as can be. He is trying to destroy you. “When sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:15).
2. Satan makes good look bad. In our culture today, Satan causes what is truly good to be viewed as negative. Standards by which we protect ourselves from falling are castigated as old-fashioned or backward. Spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible reading, and church attendance are often regarded as a waste of time, a useless exercise, or brainwashing by religious freaks. There is danger in this! As our culture increasingly calls evil “good” and good “evil,” make sure that you see this for what it really is: a lie of the devil.
Be aware of Satan’s stratagems! He is a dangerous enemy! Be on the lookout for more of our enemy’s devious schemes—and be a victor for Christ.