Satan’s Stratagems

Satan has been relegated, in our modern Western society, to an impersonal and nebulous force. One who is not a severe threat.

The forces of darkness are fundamental. As Scripture says there are powers and principalities of evil in the spiritual world.

Demons are one manifestation of these dark powers.

Yet, most in the West would laugh at the notion that demons exist. Much less at the idea they somehow play an active role in our lives.

In our post-Enlightenment, post-Christian world, the idea of some tangible evil presence is simply relegated to the fantastical, a holdover from the Dark Ages. It’s something that scares you in horror movies, but in reality, you don’t even think about it. Surely demons don’t exist people exclaim. And even if they did exist, they don’t pose a threat to us, they tell themselves.

This mindset is precisely what Satan wants. He wants people to think he doesn’t exist, to be unguarded. He wants us to believe demons are not real. Scripture tells us we, as believers, are engaged in constant spiritual warfare. We are told to put on the full armor of God to fight Satan and his minions. Satan doesn’t care about the natural man, the unregenerate, he already has them in his snare. His target is Christians. He seeks to deceive, kill, and destroy us. But we can rejoice and fear not, for our Lord Jesus Christ defeated Satan once and for all time at Calvary on the cross.

As we grow in sanctification, which is strictly monergistic, we are better equipped and empowered to resist the schemes of Satan and forces of demonic oppression. Only unbelievers can be possessed by demons. As believers, our bodies are living temples of the Holy Spirit Who resides in them.

Here are some salient Scriptures to meditate upon:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
1 Peter 5:8

Scripture likens Satan to a powerful lion, seeking to stalk us and kill us. We are told to be sober and vigilant. To be on guard and sensitive to the spiritual battles being played out in our lives every day.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

Satan is driven to kill, steal and destroy man. But Christ, having defeated Satan, won for His elect eternal life.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-39

All the various demonic forces and dark spiritual entities which rage against us are powerless to separate us from Christ’s love and protection.

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

Colossians 2:15

Jesus nullified the evil forces and made them defenseless. He triumphed over them and showed all the world that neither Satan nor them could stop or hinder His complete victory, which He won on the cross.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

Ephesians 6:10-18

Here we, as believers, are instructed to wear the full armor of God. It is a metaphor for those things which are vital to us, in our spiritual battles against evil powers and forces.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact, the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:1-11

Those who are in Christ have no condemnation. We are to live according to the Spirit. The Holy Spirit resides in us as believers. We have been set free from sin and the schemes of Satan.

Here are some quotes by Spurgeon on spiritual warfare:

“When you plead the name of Christ, you plead that which shakes the gates of hell and that which the hosts of heaven obey, and God Himself feels the sacred power of that divine plea.”
― Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon on Prayer & Spiritual Warfare

“Remarkably, Psalm 50:15 was originally written to those who had mocked God. They had presented their sacrifices without a true heart. Yet the Lord said to each of them, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee.” I gather from this that God excludes none from the promise. You atheist, you blasphemer, you immoral and impure one, if you call upon the Lord now, in the day of your trouble, He will deliver you! Come and try Him. Do you say, “If there is a God”? I declare that there is a God. Come, put Him to the test and see. He says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee.” Will you not test Him now and find Him true? Come here, you enslaved ones, and see if He does not free you! Come to Christ, all of you who labor and are burdened down, and He will give you rest (Matt. 11:28)! In both temporal and spiritual things, but especially in spiritual things, call upon Him in the day of trouble, and He will deliver you.”
― Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon on Prayer & Spiritual Warfare

“True prayer is the trading of the heart with God, and the heart never comes into spiritual commerce with the ports of heaven until God the Holy Spirit puts wind into the sails and speeds the ship into its haven.”
― Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon on Prayer & Spiritual Warfare

“does seem an incredible thing that such guilty nothings should have power to move the arm that moves the world.”
― Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon on Prayer & Spiritual Warfare

“When the Creator gives His creature the power of thirst, it is because water exists to meet its thirst. When He creates hunger, there is food to correspond to the appetite. Even so, when He inclines men to pray, it is because prayer has a corresponding blessing connected with it.”
― Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon on Prayer & Spiritual Warfare

“Alas, a great many people play at praying; it is nothing better. I say they play at praying; they do not expect God to give them an answer, and thus they are mere triflers who mock the Lord. He who prays in a businesslike way, meaning what he says, honors the Lord.”
― Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon on Prayer & Spiritual Warfare

“Furthermore, if you are still in the cave of doubt and sin, plead with God to set you free. You cannot present a better prayer than the prayer of David in the cave: “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name” (Ps. 142:7). If you are in prison, you cannot get out by yourself. You may grab the bars and try to shake them, but they are unmovable. You cannot break them with your hands. You may meditate, think, invent, and devise, but you cannot get through those bars. However, there is a hand that can cut bars of iron. Oh, prisoner in the iron cage, there is a hand that can open your cage and set you free! You do not have to be a prisoner. You do not have to be confined. You may walk in freedom through Jesus Christ, the Savior. Only trust Him, and believingly pray David’s prayer right now: “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name” (v. 7). He will set you free!”
― Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon on Prayer & Spiritual Warfare

“If God’s mercies were to come to us unasked, they would not be half as useful as they now are, when they have to be sought for.”
― Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon on Prayer & Spiritual Warfare

“There are many who appear to be very mighty in prayer, wondrous in supplications, but they require God to do what they can do themselves. Therefore, God does nothing at all for them.”
― Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon on Prayer & Spiritual Warfare

Some Puritan quotes on spiritual warfare:

The Word of God has never wanted enemies to oppose, and, if possible, to extirpate it. They have given out a law concerning Scripture, as Pharaoh did the midwives, concerning the Hebrew women’s children, to strangle it in the birth; but God has preserved this blessed Book inviolable to this day. The devil and his agents have been blowing at Scripture light, but could never blow it out; a clear sign that it was lighted from heaven.

A Body of Divinity” pg. 27

Here are some facts about Satan to keep in mind:

Satan can manipulate matter, weather systems, and bacterial life.

We see in Job 1 that Satan is able to manipulate matter and weather patterns and, in Job 2:8, he infects Job with a skin disease. His purpose is to afflict Job, and for our machinations, we note he is capable of feats not afforded to humans.

Satan can influence and sway legal proceedings and governmental structures.

In Revelation 2:10, Jesus states that Satan is in the process of influencing Smyrna’s legal proceedings by throwing a collection of Christians into prison. Likewise, in Job 1:17, he manipulates the Chaldeans, encouraging them to steal Job’s livestock. Though we are not told how he exerts his influence, we surmise he is the agent of these activities.

Satan aggressively seeks to trap individual Christians.

1 Timothy 3:7 says he seeks to trap elders. He is spoken of as a federal head type of figure. His minions study individuals and then seek to tempt and twist them in accordance with particularized patterns of sin. They cater and concoct a seemingly irresistible elixir of poison just for you. Television, social media, fast food, biology, age, and gender are all thrown into the recipe.

Satan is more skilled at deception than any other created being.

John 8:44 says his nature is to lie. If his mouth is moving, he is lying. He is the original liar and, therefore, the father of lies. Every lie was and is birthed in him. However, deception is all he has in his arsenal against Christians. As Colossians 2:15 teaches, this side of Calvary, Satan can accuse, but he knows—and his rebel realm know—that he has been reduced to utter fragility at the cross.

Satan is able to kill Christians.

He is able to kill you physically (Job 1-2), but not eternally (Rom 8). In Job 2, when Satan goes a second time to the LORD in the divine courtroom, he asks permission to kill Job, but God denies his request. I take that to mean Satan could have killed him, but God would not allow it. Everything Satan does comes crashing down on his own head, eventually crushing his skull (Gn 3:15) unto the glory of the Son of God and for the Christian’s good.

Satan is the Lord’s lackey for the Christian’s holiness.

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul says his thorn is “a messenger of Satan,” and yet the Lord kindly uses the thorn (against Paul’s will!) to produce sanctification and spiritual power in Paul’s ministry. How kind of the Lord to give Paul his thorn! Satan plays the pawn in God’s economy, and the thorn stays against Paul’s will. Thus, Satan is ever-regulated by Romans 8 and, therefore, is providentially powerless to wound Christians in any resurrected or eternal sense. Neither Satan nor death, neither “angels nor rulers … nor powers … will be able to separate us from the love of God” (Rm 8:38).

Satan will be thrown into hell in the end.

Satan can and surely has read Matthew 25:41, which states he will ultimately be thrown into hell. That is what I mean by “Satan is so smart, he’s stupid.” This is his end, yet he rages against all “born of God” (1 Jn 3:9). He lies. He accuses the brethren (Rv 12:10). But he cannot succeed in bringing a guilty sentence upon the Christian anymore (Col 2:14).

Satan is resistible.

James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” He will flee from you, Christian. Resist him. If Christians resist temptation, hold firm the promise of resurrection, and do not give in, do not accept the enemy’s lies, and do not give into his accusations—Satan will eventually depart. He is limited. He is finite. He will eventually move on to easier prey.

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