All of us need to be enlightened about the schemes and devices of the Devil. It is very dangerous to be ignorant of his strategies and methods for leading us astray.
Paul gives that very warning when he counsels the Corinthians to take care "lest Satan take advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2Corinthians 2:11).
In this lesson we reveal three strategies that Satan uses to get an advantage over us. By being aware of these, we'll "be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil" (Ephesians 6:11)
This is one of the Devil’s favourite ploys. “Let them have their faith, and cherish it in some corner of their heart, but don't let them pay much attention to it. Keep them busy with worldly problems and pursuits.”
A day in the life of Martha illustrates this device. "Martha was cumbered about with much serving" when she ought to have been at Jesus’s feet with her sister Mary (Luke 10:38-42).
Jesus chided Martha for being ignorant of the Devil's devices and for complaining about her sister Mary instead of imitating her.
¶“38As people departed, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39Martha had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40Martha, however, was distracted because she was very busy preparing food. Martha went up to Jesus and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left all the work to me? Tell her to help me.' 41But Jesus answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. Really, only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen that good portion. It will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42).
Mary recognised what really mattered that day: the opportunity to be taught by Jesus. She refused to be distracted by the lesser opportunity to show him hospitality. Martha was so worried about food for the body that she missed out on food for the soul.
The Devil can find plenty of things to distract us from the one thing that's important. Let's not be ignorant of this device. Let's not be distracted by things we need the least.
The Devil can frustrate and discourage you by taking away things that mean a lot to you, or hindering you from getting things you'd really like to have.
The Devil is cruel in this device. Remember how he treated Job, taking away his farm; his beloved family; his wealth and health? We shouldn't be ignorant of this device, because the Devil will throw it at us time and again in an effort to wear us down.
A man's predicament at the pool of Siloam well illustrates this device. For years the man had been waiting at the pool longing to be healed. But because of his illness he couldn't get into the pool quick enough when the angel stirred the waters.
¶“2Now at Jerusalem, by the sheep market, there is a pool. It is called Bethesda in the Hebrew language. Around this pool there are five collonades. 3In these lay a great multitude of sick folk, blind, halt, withered. They waited for a disturbance to appear in the water. 4At a certain time, an angel would go down into the pool, to trouble the water. After the stirring of the water, whoever stepped in first would be made whole of any disease.” (John 5:2-5).
¶“5There was one man at the pool who had been unwell for thirty-eight years. 6Jesus noticed the sick man lying there, and knew that he had been sick a very long time. Jesus said to the man, 'Do you wish to be made well?' 7The sick man answered, 'Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is troubled; but every time I try to get myself in, another person steps down before me.' 8Jesus said to him, 'Rise, take up your bed, and walk!' 9And immediately the man was made whole. He picked up his pallet and walked.” (John 5:6-9).
This man had lost his health thirty-eight years previously. For the greater part of his life on earth he'd been discouraged by this deprivation.
The Devil can always find something we cherish that he can take from us; or something we wish for that he can deny us. When this happens, let God’s grace be our sufficiency. "My grace is sufficient for you" (2Corinthians 12:9).
God’s grace is of far more value than even the lovliest thing in this world; and Satan cannot deprive us of God’s grace. God may permit Satan to deprive us of things less precious however desirable. Satan deprives, but we shall endure.
Satan puts on the pressure in circumstance that you are least equipped to handle. It might be financial problems, or quarrels, or lack of sleep, or any of a hundred things where you don't function well.
The Devil will see that you get into such a situation. Having got you into the frying pan, he'll turn up the heat. We should not be ignorant of this device because the Devil will use it every chance he gets. We need to be watchful and keep ourselves out of the trap the Devil sets.
The story of Peter’s denial of Christ illustrates this device (Luke 22:31-34,54-62).
¶“31Jesus said to Peter, 'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.' 33But Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!' 34 And Jesus said, 'I'm telling you, Peter, that the rooster will crow today, but not before you have three times denied that you know Me.'” (Luke 22:31-34).
¶“56Later, a servant-girl saw Peter as he sat in the firelight. She took a good look at him and said, 'This man was with Him too.' 57But Peter denied it, saying, 'Woman, I do not know Him.' 58A little later, somebody else saw Peter and said, 'You are one of them too!' But Peter said, 'No I'm not, man!' 59Another hour went by, and another man insisted, 'I'm sure this Galilean fellow was among the companions of that arrested man.' 60But Peter said, 'Man, I do not know what you are talking about.' Immediately, while Peter was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, 'Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.' 62Peter went outside and bitterly wept.” (Luke 22:54-62).
Peter was brave enough when it was sword against sword. He could handle a sword. But later, when it came to a confrontation of words, and he had to tell the truth without denying his Lord, he just couldn't handle it.
Don't judge Peter too harshly. The cock may someday crow for you. Peter returned to the Lord quickly. He helped others to be strong where he had been weak —in the thing he was ill-equipped to handle.
Let's not be ignorant of this device that the Devil used on Peter. Let's not be caught off guard when the Devil contrives to distress us with things we handle the worst.
Satan has other schemes and plots and wily ways of taking advantage of us when our guard is down. We should learn as much as we can about the Devil’s devices. However, if we understand the three methods of Satan revealed above, we can certainly say, with more than a beginner’s confidence, "We are not ignorant of his devices".