By Dr. Harold Sala

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Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  1 Peter 5:8-9

Have you ever wondered exactly how you would strive to defeat people if you were the devil?  It’s a different sort of mental exercise but one worth thinking about.  I’ve been pondering this very issue.

First, if I were the devil and wanted to strike a blow at believers, I would strive to convince them that God doesn’t mean what He says in His Word, the Bible.  I would use the argument that you can’t really take the Bible at face value.  I would convince people that it’s nice and poetic but not practical, something like a benchmark, to shoot or strive for but completely impractical in the world of the twenty-first century.  I would stress the fact that God can’t expect you to be unhappy; therefore, I would want people to believe that if they are not happy in a marriage, don’t stay for a minute.   Divorce should always be considered preferable to personal unhappiness.

Time out for a moment.  Come to think about it, this is not original logic.  I’m reminded that when Satan first confronted Eve in the garden, he followed the same line of logic.  He said, “God has not said you should not eat of the fruit.”  Not so!  Today the widespread belief that happiness is more important than holiness is behind the plague of broken homes that confront us today.

Second, if I were the devil and wanted to strike a blow at believers, I would infiltrate the church and stress emotions over truth.  In other words, I would create the environment that the most important thing is to feel good about ourselves, no matter what it takes to create this.  I would encourage pastors to generalize in their preaching, avoiding specifics.  Platitudes and generalities are non-offensive.  Everybody likes to be on the side of God, motherhood, and civic duty.  No problems with these; just avoid Paul’s teaching and discount the Old Testament in its entirety.  Too old.  Too harsh, and too much anger to have the same loving God as is found in the New.

Third, if I were the devil and wanted to strike a blow at believers, I would strive to create a non-offensive sort of religious expression.  Religion is never offensive to Satan but the cross and what it represents is grossly offensive.  A gospel that requires no change, that makes no demands, and that is inclusive enough that everyone goes to heaven, provided they do their best, should be warmly received without resulting in actual conversions.

Fourth, if I were the devil and wanted to strike a blow at Christianity, I would strive to convince Christians that God is not a good God when He doesn’t give us everything we desire.  I would strive to make them think that if God has the ability to keep bad things from happening and yet he allows them, then He cannot be loving.

The fact is, what I’ve described isn’t unique or original.  It’s the same old stuff the enemy the Bible describes as a liar and deceiver has been using for 2000 years.  Peter warned, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering” (1 Peter 4:8,9).

The devil is not a Halloween type character replete with a red suit, horns, and a pitchfork, but a shrewd deceiver who still takes more than a few victims with distorted truth and logic.  Be on guard, friend.  He knows your greatest weakness but He shrinks from Scripture and flees when you resist Him.

The book of Revelation says he’s a doomed enemy; but meanwhile be on guard.  He’s got a warrant out for his demise but is still deceiving those who are weak enough to fall for his strategy.

Resource reading: 1 Peter 5:6-14.

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