I spent four years in the US Army, where much of our time was spent studying our enemies. The reason is simple: the more you know your adversary, the better the battle will go for you. This same principle applies to spiritual warfare. Whether we realize it or not, Satan is waging war against humanity, and if we are to have any hope of victory, we must know his attack strategy.
You may be surprised to learn that Satan employs just one tactic against us, which he has been using since the very beginning—to great success. He hasn’t needed to update his approach because it’s proven so effective. His strategy? He deceives us.
Jesus put it bluntly: lying is Satan’s native language. (1) Everything that comes out of his mouth is deception and falsehood; the only power he has over us is the power we give him when we believe his lies.
His first victim was Eve (and Adam, who was with her), whom he tricked into believing that disobeying God was more beneficial than obedience. I’m not implying that Adam and Eve were innocent— they willingly chose to follow Satan’s advice—but the fact remains that they were deceived, nonetheless. And the same scenario has been repeated countless times ever since.
What does Satan lie about? Everything. Do we think we’re worthless? That we could never be forgiven? That God is either too weak or too indifferent to help? All lies. Satan knows our weaknesses and where we are susceptible to deception. He has no problem saying one thing to one person and the opposite to another, and he’s a master at twisting what’s true just enough to make it a lie—anything to get us to do his will and keep us from believing the truth.
So how can we protect ourselves? We have three lines of defense. First, we must recognize the threat. When we know Satan’s goal is to deceive us, we’re more likely to be on our guard and carefully evaluate every thought that comes our way. Unfortunately, those who deny Satan’s existence or influence become easy prey because they don’t even acknowledge the danger.
Our second line of defense is God’s Word—the measure by which we can determine the truth. (2) The Bible is God’s revelation to humanity and enables us to evaluate what is true and what isn’t. I realize that many have doubts about the Bible, and so I’ll briefly list the reasons why I believe in the absolute reliability of Scripture: a) the historical record, b) fulfilled prophecy, and c) its life-changing impact. The Bible explains our world and human behavior like nothing else can.
Thirdly, the Holy Spirit helps us to distinguish between truth and falsehood. (3) He works inside the human heart to guide and direct us while at the same time pointing out the lies we’ve believed. Not only does he help us understand God’s Word, but he also enables us to correctly evaluate those areas in life that the Bible doesn’t mention. No wonder he’s called the “Spirit of truth.”
In one of his letters, Peter describes Satan as a roaring lion looking for victims to devour. (4) Although we must be vigilant, we have no reason to fear. The better we know and believe the truth, the more impervious we’ll be to his attacks.
(1) John 8:44
(2) John 17:17
(3) John 16:13
(4) 1 Peter 5:8