Was at a lunch earlier this week after meeting for a Bible study called Identity Thief (written by Laurie Dodds). There was the usual conversations about the kids, summer vacations, the hot temperatures here in Texas. But it didn’t take too long for our talk to turn back to the day’s topic of our study ~ “Strategies of the Thief” ~ with lots of talk of how the topic of our enemy seems to often elude many of the pulpits, and amazingly many of us grew up knowing about the devil but not really ‘knowing’ him or his game plan.
One of my favorite comments of the gathering was, “You know, one of Satan’s best schemes was to get himself drawn as a cartoon character!” That statement really got me to thinking . . .
He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language for he is a liar and the father of lies – John 8:44
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy – John 10:10a
Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light – 2 Corinthians 11:14
Now that doesn’t sound like a cartoon character does it?!?
That cartoon character sure makes our enemy look pretty harmless, nothing to really fear. What a genius scheme to make sin and temptation look fun, exciting, enticing, not such a big deal. Remember the cartoons that showed some guy with the “good guy/angel” sitting on one shoulder and the “bad guy/devil” sitting on the other? Well, just like in the cartoons, Satan has the world at his disposal to convince us that darkness is light.
Satan is the master magician. He pretends he is the bearer of fun, excitement, and beauty – light. He changes dark into light, and if we fall into his dark pit, our true identity as a child of God is stolen. He makes it easy for us to choose the wrong path. He entices us to give in to sin, insinuating that it’s not a big deal (Dodds). But it IS costly.
His is an extremely shrewd, well-planned scheme. He knows every one of our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. He flaunts our flaws and failures and limitations until we begin to question his strategies and fight back. We can’t have one foot in the Kingdom of Light and the other in the Kingdom of Darkness. And just like in a physical battle, in this spiritual battle we have to know our enemy and his strategies.
- He robs. Just like we hear on the nightly news, thieves look for opportunity, for vulnerability, and the right moment to strike. Get in, grab what looks valuable, and get out as quick as possible without getting caught. The enemy does the exact same thing. He looks for our vulnerabilities, weaknesses, any and every opportunity he can do damage to our Identity.
- He lies. The enemy masterfully twists the truth. From the Garden of Eden to the lies he whispers into the minds and hearts of us all, Satan deceives with lies masquerading as truth. His intention is to get our focus off of God and onto self and man. If we believe the lies of the enemy, we will become desensitized to honesty. This numbness triggers our human’s natural tendency to dishonesty. We may exaggerate or embellish the truth. If we aren’t aware of the enemy’s lies, we can become liars too.
- He misrepresents. “You’re all that matters” are the words we are deceived with to distort our view of how our Creator made us. We begin to believe God is withholding something from us, just like Eve did in the Garden. God is never going to withhold anything from us that He knows will benefit us and is good for His children. The fundamental purpose of the enemy is to destroy. He never tells us he is going to destroy us, but he subtly tries to cause us to doubt the truth and the truth of God. He tempts us to believe his way is better. The enemy portrays sin as easy, fun, and necessary.
- He accuses. I can hear that accusing voice and see the pointing finger in my face. Day and night he stands accusing us. The accusations can come at any time of the day or night – awakened in the middle of the night, getting ready for the day, even in the middle of trying to make a decision. You’ve messed up again; you’re a liability to God. You’re so selfish (or fill in the blank with any other attitude); you’re never going to change. Why bother to spend time with God? You’re just going to wander away again, anyway. After what you just did, do you really believe God still accepts and loves you? Are you kidding me? You, fearfully and wonderfully made? Just remember, Satan’s voice will ALWAYS pull you away from your fellowship with God. Know the voice of the enemy.
- He seduces. Satan does not have a relationship with The Creator and he doesn’t want us to have one either. He seduces and entices our souls to doubt God. We are now in a downward spiral and the more we go down this path, the less we walk in our True Identity. Fear invades our life and we lose fellowship with the One who truly loves us. We run and hide from our Abba Father.
Know your enemy. Unlike your favorite sports team, Satan doesn’t have an extensive playbook. He uses the exact same game plan each and every time he goes out for the attack. From the fall of man in the Garden, the same schemes and tactics used on Eve are used on you and me. And unlike most of us, Satan never goes on vacation!
Know your enemy. Know his name. Know his character. Know his voice. He is not a cartoon character. He is real and he is full of the raw, dirty, evil things of this world. He wants to normalize what we know is not for our ultimate good. And know that he wants to steal you away from your Father.
He comes to Steal. Kill. Destroy.
Yet, you also know the One who gives you Life – Abundant Life. Run to Him. It’s in His Presence and Righteousness we are equipped and empowered to refuse to be the enemy’s victim. The enemy has been defeated by the Cross!