What Satan Did to David: Provocation

And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1, K.J.V.)

Ask the average Christian to name the greatest mistake of King David’s life and the answer you’ll get is, “His affair with Bathsheba.” And that affair certainly was a major mistake, no doubt it, a mistake that produced consequences that plagued David for the rest of his life in the area of his children. But in terms of the sheer loss of human life David’s greatest mistake was something else. It was a census that he had conducted in the latter years of his reign. “Sounds harmless,” you say? Well, by the time everything was said and done that census had cost 70,000 of Israel’s citizens their lives. And who provoked David to take that census? Answer: Satan.

I like the old King James translation’s use of the word “provoked” in our text verse, but other translations go with other renderings. The New King James and the New American Standard both go with “moved.” The New International Version, the New Revised Standard, the English Standard Version, and the Holman Christian Standard all go with “incited.” Perhaps The Amplified Bible catches the flavor of the situation best by saying that Satan “stirred up” David to number Israel.

It should be understood that there was nothing inherently wrong in having a census taken. In the Mosaic law, God had actually given specific instructions for how it was to be done in Israel for the purposes of taxation (Exodus 30:11-16). Furthermore, the book of Numbers opens up with a major census being conducted in Israel, and another one is conducted in Numbers chapter 26. The problem with David’s census was his motivation for it. He wanted a head count of how many fighting men were at his disposal. You see, at this stage of his life he was now trusting in numbers instead of God. He wasn’t the same guy who had once penned the words:

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7, N.K.J.V.)

David’s old general, Joab, wasn’t exactly a spiritual giant, but even he instinctively understood that David’s census was a mistake. He begged David not to go through with it, but David wouldn’t listen (1 Chronicles 21:3-4). Remember, David was being provoked by Satan.

So Joab and the captains of David’s army set themselves to the task, even though the king’s word was “abominable” (N.K.J.V.) to Joab. The census took almost ten months to complete (2 Samuel 24:9), and when the numbers came in it was found that Israel’s large northern region (generally known as Israel) had 1,100,000 men who could draw a sword if needed. The smaller southern region (generally known as Judah) had an additional 470,000 (1 Chronicles 21:5). 2 Samuel 24:9 cites a number of 800,000 men in the northern region, but that probably doesn’t include the approximately 300,000 who were already soldiers in the standing army there (1 Chronicles 27:1-15). Similarly, 2 Samuel 24:9 cites a number of 500,000 in Judah, but that probably doesn’t include the 30,000 soldiers of the standing army there (2 Samuel 6:1).

Actually, as impressive as the numbers were Joab didn’t even complete the census (1 Chronicles 21:6). Why not? It seems that the priestly tribe of Levi and the small tribe of Benjamin were scheduled last for the census, but by the time Joab came to them David had already realized his mistake. Since both those tribes were part of the southern region of Judah, with David’s palace being located in Judah’s city of Jerusalem, it was logical for Joab to personally report to David on the progress of the census before completing it. But when he did David told him to stop everything because David was already in confession mode, saying to God, “I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing; but now, I pray, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly” (1 Chronicles 21:8, N.K.J.V.).

And how did God respond to David’s confession? Being highly displeased with the census, He spoke through the prophet Gad to offer David one of three punishments. Option 1: Three years of famine. Option 2: Three months to be defeated by the sword of his enemies. Option 3: Three days of the angel of the Lord going through Israel and inflicting a plague.

David told Gad that he’d rather fall into the hands of merciful God than the hands of man, which amounted to David choosing option 3. So for three days the angel of the Lord moved throughout Israel inflicting the plague wherever he went. All told, 70,000 people died.

That death toll evidences the truth of 2 Samuel 24:1, which says that God was angry with Israel the nation, not just David the king. It’s been speculated that the 70,000 who died were those who had sided with David’s son, Absalom, in Absalom’s failed coup (2 Samuel chapters 15-18). To be clear, though, there’s no Bible evidence to back up that speculation.

Finally there came a moment when David visibly saw the angel standing between earth and heaven over Jerusalem, with the angel having a drawn sword in his hand (1 Chronicles 21:16). David and the elders of Jerusalem then clothed themselves in sackcloth (garments of mourning) and fell on their faces. David personally begged God to stop killing those who hadn’t ordered the census and strike him and his family instead (1 Chronicles 21:17). By that time, though, God had already instructed the angel to relent and cease the killing (1 Chronicles 21:15).

It is interesting that a parallel account of the story, found in 2 Samuel chapter 24, says that it was God rather than Satan who provoked (moved, incited, stirred up) David to take the census. The two seemingly different accounts can be harmonized by understanding that Satan was the vessel through whom God moved David. Such a thing speaks to the absolute sovereignty of God. He’s so sovereign that He can even use Satan to accomplish His purposes. It’s hard to say whether or not Satan knew that God was using him to orchestrate events to bring judgment upon sinful Israel, but either way Satan was surely eager to provoke David to do something not of God.

Here, then, is the story’s application lesson for us. We must never forget that Satan enjoys nothing better than motivating us to do things we shouldn’t do. He loves whispering in our ears, causing us to become infatuated with actions that will take us out of God’s will. If he can get us to do something wrong, he racks up another win in his efforts against us. Unfortunately for us, he’s a master provoker who has far too many wins in his column.

And so I’ll ask you right now: What plans are you pursuing these days? What goals are you chasing? What projects are you working on? Well, whatever they are, have you paused long enough to make sure that God is in them?

Perhaps some Joab in your life has been trying to tell you that what you are planning isn’t of God, but you have been ignoring that godly counsel as you forge on ahead with what you want to do. But is it really what you want to do or is it what Satan is provoking you to do? Ah, now there’s a question. And it’s one that you’d better have the correct answer to before you plow ahead and end up doing some major damage not only to yourself but to others. As someone has wisely said, “It’s bad not to finish what you start, but it’s even worse to finish what you shouldn’t have started.”

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What Satan Did to Michael: Disputation

“The Wiles of the Devil” series (post #5)

Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude verse 9, N.K.J.V.)

The death of Moses is recorded in Deuteronomy 34:1-7. He died in the land of Moab, and God buried him somewhere in a valley of Moab. Why did God Himself see to the burying? It’s likely that He knew the Israelites would be tempted to make a shrine of Moses’ tomb, possibly even worshiping the body itself as an idol. After all, they would later on go to do this very thing with that bronze serpent that Moses had once erected in the wilderness (2 Kings 18:1-4, Numbers 21:4-9).

Perhaps such idolatry is what Satan planned to produce when he got into his dispute with the archangel Michael over Moses’ body. Whatever sinister purpose Satan had in mind, Michael wasn’t about to let it happen. We are left to imagine what this encounter between these two awesomely powerful angels must have looked like. It was the two mightiest angels that God ever created (one unfallen, one fallen) going at it, and the prize was the body of Moses.

There is just so much about the story that we can’t know because scripture doesn’t tell us. Was Michael attempting to take the body to the burial site so that God could do the burying? Did God use Michael to actually do the burying? Since it seems that Moses was alone with God when he died, did the Israelites wonder what happened to him? Deuteronomy 34:8 says they mourned Moses’ death for thirty days, but how did they know he was actually dead? So many questions, so few answers.

What we do know is that the encounter between Satan and Michael wasn’t a hand-to-hand-combat type of deal. It was, instead, a conversation. We aren’t told what Satan said to Michael, but we are told what Michael said in response. He said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Isn’t that interesting? Even the great archangel Michael wouldn’t get into a argumentative debate with Satan in which he “trash talked” Satan and cast aspersions at him. Our text verse even says that he dared not bring a reviling accusation against Satan.

Jude uses Michael’s response as a stark contrast to the behavior of certain apostates in the days of the early church. Those apostates thought nothing of speaking harsh words against authoritative figures such as apostles, angels, and even God Himself. Their audacious words showed their rejection of all authority, even God ordained authority. They were rebels to the core, having the same basic spirit as:

  • Cain, who refused to bring God’s mandated type of offering (v.11)
  • the “sons of God” angels of Genesis 6:1-4, who refused to abide by the lines of distinction between angels and humans and instead took earthly women for their wives and produced children through those wives (v.6)
  • the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, who refused to abide by God’s natural laws for men and women (v.7)
  • the first generation of Israelites, who refused to obey God’s command to take possession of Canaan (v.5)
  • Korah, who led 250 of the most prominent Israelites in a rebellion against Moses’ leadership (v.11)
  • Balaam, a wicked prophet who advised the king of Moab to corrupt Israel by having the idol worshiping Moabites intermarry with the Israelites (v.11)

But to get back to the point, what lessons can we learn from Satan’s dispute with Michael in regards to how Satan tries to bring us down? I’ll mention two. First, the dispute shows us that Satan has evil plans. We don’t know what he planned to do with Moses’ body, but the goal surely wasn’t anything good. Sad to say, the same holds true for our lives. Whatever plans Satan has for us, they definitely aren’t good.

Second, the dispute shows us that Satan won’t let God’s work be carried out unencumbered. If there’s one thing that’s for certain about the devil it’s that he isn’t lazy. Wherever God is at work, he is as well. What this means for us is that whatever good work God is doing or wants to do in our lives, Satan will come against it. It could be that he will come against it personally. On the other hand, he might dispatch some of his fellow fallen angels (demons) to come against it. Then again, he might work through people to come against it. But somehow, someway, someday he’ll come against it. You can bank on that.

And what should our response be when he does? Like Michael, we should let God handle him. You and I are no match for Satan, and if you think you are then you are already easy pickings. God doesn’t expect you to attempt to exercise your authority over Satan. He doesn’t expect you to out debate him. He doesn’t expect you to outdo him. What He wants from you is a discernment that you are dealing with the Satanic and a quick transfer of the problem to Him. That’s what Michael did when he said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you!” and it will work for us as well.

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What Satan Did to Job: Devastation

“The Wiles of the Devil” series (post #4)

The method Satan used to get Job was sadistically lethal. It decimated Job’s wealth, his family, his health, his relationship with his wife, his relationship with his friends, and his reputation in the community. It took Job from being “the greatest of all the people of the East” (Job 1:3, N.K.J.V.) to being a sad, pitiable shell of a man.

Unbeknownst to Job, he became the test subject of a contest between God and Satan. When God held Job up to Satan as the earth’s best example of a servant of God, Satan’s comeback was, “Who wouldn’t serve you with a life like he has? You’ve given him a large family. You’ve blessed everything He’s ever tried in regards to work and business. You’ve increased his wealth and given Him great possessions. And you’ve kept it all safe by putting a spiritual hedge of protection around it all. Sure, it’s easy to serve You when life is perfect. But if You take all of that away from Job, he’ll stop serving you and curse you to your face.” God said, “Okay, as of right now everything he has is in your power. Do with him as you will, only don’t do anything to him physically.”

So Satan set aside one day to lay waste to Job’s wealth and family. First, he inspired the Sabeans to raid the site where Job’s hundreds of oxen and donkeys were, steal the animals, and kill the servants who were tending them. Second, he caused fire to fall from the sky and burn up not only Job’s thousands of sheep but also the servants who were tending them. Third, he inspired three bands of Chaldeans to raid the site where Job’s thousands of camels were, steal the animals, and kill the servants who were tending them. Fourth, he created a great windstorm that struck the house where Job’s seven sons and three daughters were eating, causing the house to fall in on itself, and in so doing kill all of Job’s children.

Incredibly, though, all of that didn’t create the response in Job that Satan had predicted. Rather than curse God, Job simply performed the customary ritual acts of mourning — he tore his garment and shaved his head — fell down to the ground, and worshiped God by saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Wow. Just wow.

But Satan wasn’t ready to admit defeat. So he went back to God with a new proposal. This time he said, “The reason Job stayed with you is because you didn’t let me ruin his health. But if you strike him physically, he will surely curse you to your face.” God said, “Alright, I now give you permission to strike him physically, only don’t go so far as to kill him.”

Very shortly afterward Satan struck Job with painful boils that ran from the top of Job’s head to the bottoms of his feet. Even today’s medical science wouldn’t provide an accurate diagnosis for Job’s disease. The affliction was supernatural. Job himself described its symptoms as: his flesh being caked with worms and dust (7:5), his skin cracking and breaking open (7:5), his body rotting (13:28), his bones piercing (30:17), his pain being a gnawing pain (30:17), his skin growing black and falling off (30:30), his bones burning with fever (30:30), and his flesh wasting away to the point where his bones were sticking out (33:21).

Being in such a condition Job had to move out of his home and take up residence at the local ash heap. That’s where the lepers lived. So there he sat, day after day, scraping his sores with a broken piece of pottery to try and get a moment’s worth of relief. That’s where he was when his wife made her way out to him and said, “Are you still trying to maintain some integrity? What you need to do is just curse God and die.” And how did Job respond to that? He answered, “You talk like one of the foolish women. Are we going to be the type of people who accept good from God but can’t take adversity from Him?” Again, wow. Just wow.

It’s somewhere along about then that three of Job’s friends come out to sit with him. Give them credit for that. And they sit with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights with nobody saying a word. Finally at the end of those seven days Job breaks the silence and thus begins a running dialogue between the three that lasts for no less than 35 chapters. Each of the three friends takes his turn at trying to convince Job that Job must have committed some great sin or sins in the eyes of God for God to have done him this way, and each time Job responds with lengthy answers that defend his innocence.

It’s only after all of this that we get the book’s version of a happy ending. It begins with God speaking to Job out of a whirlwind. Curiously, though, God doesn’t even mention Satan or the contest. Instead, He basically just explains to Job that Job isn’t great enough or wise enough to question Him or accuse Him. I don’t mind admitting that I’ve always found God’s explanation to Job to be fairly cold, but God would probably give me the same answer He gave Job if I questioned Him on it.

Then God speaks to Job’s three friends and informs them that He hasn’t been pleased with their words of accusation toward Job. To make restitution they must bring seven bulls and seven rams to Job, allow him to offer the animals as sacrifices, and have Job pray for the men. If they don’t do all that, God will deal with them according to their folly.

Next, God restores Job’s health, after which Job’s brothers, sisters, and all his friends come to visit with him, console him, and comfort him. Each one gives Job a piece of silver and a ring of gold, and from that generous handout God begins the process of restoring Job’s wealth until Job has amassed twice as many sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys as he had owned before Satan took it all away.

Oh, and God also blesses Job with seven more sons and three more daughters. Commentator John Phillips says that God didn’t give Job twice the previous number of sons and daughters because Job hadn’t truly lost those first children. It’s just that they were now in the afterlife. That’s a nice way of looking at it.

Well, what a story, right? What a fascinating, amazing, profound story. It’s no wonder that it’s one of the world’s most famous. And there are a seemingly endless list of spiritual lessons and principles that we can glean from the story. I’ll just pick one, though, to close this post: Satan is a thief, a murderer, and a destroyer (John 10:10), and he will bring destruction into your life if he gets half a chance. He might do his damage personally; he might send some of his fellow fallen angels to do it; or he might accomplish it by working through others, but he will somehow get it done if he can. The only One preventing him from doing all he wants to do in your life is God. And so, Christian, you’d be wise to start devoting more of your prayer time to asking God to put a “Job like” spiritual hedge of protection around your life.

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“Christian Verses” podcast: Luke 9:23 (Interview with Malcolm Woody)

I cohost the “Christian Verses” podcast with Malcolm Woody. For last week’s podcast Malcolm interviewed me. This week I return the favor and interview him. Malcolm’s life verse is Luke 9:23. So we start there and we’re off and running as Malcolm talks about everything from: a church split his little “country” church suffered when he was just a boy, to his rededication to Christ years later, to his struggles during college, to meeting the wife whom he firmly believes was sent by God, to the birth of their four children in four different states, to attending a diversity of churches, to his current job and ministry. It all makes for an interesting interview. Here’s the link:

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What Satan Did to Eve: Deception

“The Wiles of the Devil” series (post #3)

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:14, N.K.J.V.)

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3, N.I.V.)

Deception. It is one of Satan’s most effective wiles. As a matter of fact, he’s so good at it that Revelation 12:9 says that he “deceives the whole world.” Think about that. The whole world covers a lot of territory and a lot of people.

So maybe we should go a little easier on Eve. There she was, minding her own business in the garden of Eden, when suddenly she found herself in a one-on-one encounter with the master deceiver. She got no warning. She got no time to prepare for the deception. She was just thrust into a spiritual confrontation that she didn’t ask for or want. Would you have fared any better than she did? Would I?

Satan’s primary way of deceiving is lying. It isn’t surprising then that he lied to Eve. He said of her eating the forbidden fruit:

…You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4-5, N.K.J.V.)

How much of a liar is Satan? Just ask Jesus. He once said of Satan:

…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 liars. (John 8:44, N.I.V.)

“No truth in him.” “When he lies, he speaks his native language.” “He is a liar and the father of liars.” Jesus couldn’t have been any more complete and emphatic in His description of Satan as a liar. And which one of Satan’s wiles walks hand in hand with lying? Deception.

Tonya was almost three months pregnant with our first child when she began having some physical problems, problems that seemed to indicate that a miscarriage was imminent. Naturally we prayed and asked God to heal whatever was wrong and allow her to keep the baby, but the more we prayed the more the problems intensified. It was an awful time.

One day during all of that I was driving down the road and praying while I was driving. Suddenly in the midst of that prayer I heard a voice in my head. The voice said, “Russell, your baby is alright.” As any Christian would, I took that voice to be the voice of the indwelling Holy Spirit. I’d heard the Spirit’s inner voice before and as far as I could tell this was the same voice. Needless to say, I certainly wanted the voice to be the Spirit’s.

And so what happened? A few days later Tonya miscarried. So much for, “Russell, your baby is alright.” Like Eve, I’d been lied to and deceived. I hesitated about using that story in this post because, for obvious reasons, I don’t like reliving that time of our life. But I’m including it because I want you to understand that I know firsthand what being deceived by the devil feels like. Even if he wasn’t personally with me in the car that day, one of his demons sure was, and he told that demon just what lie to tell me to deceive me about what was happening with our baby.

I’m happy to report, though, that there is coming a day upon this earth when all of Satan’s deceptions will cease. After the Rapture of the church, after the seven-year tribulation period, and after Christ’s Second Coming, Jesus will institute His 1,000 year reign upon this earth. Numerous Bible passages from both the Old Testament and the New Testament speak of that reign, but the one that is the most relevant to our subject is found in Revelation 20:1-3. Those verses describe what is going to happen to Satan at the beginning of Christ’s reign, and if you read the passage closely you’ll see what it has to do with Satan’s deceptions. That’s why I’m offering it as the close to this post:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these thing he must be released for a little while. (N.K.J.V.)

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What Satan Did to His Fellow Angels: Rebellion

“The Wiles of the Devil” series (post #2)

The Bible tells us quite a bit about angels, but it leaves certain parts of the story blank. First, it doesn’t tell us how many angels there are. Second, it doesn’t tell us when they were created, even though Job 38:1-7 indicates that it was sometime before Genesis 1:1. Third, it doesn’t tell us when Satan and his group of rebellious angels fell.

I think our best guess as to when Satan and his group fell is that it happened between the last verse of Genesis chapter 2 and the first verse of Genesis chapter 3. I say that because in Genesis 1:31 God looks at everything He has made and classifies it all as “very good.” Doesn’t that word “everything” have to include the angelic realm? And nothing happens in Genesis chapter 2 to upset that “very good” applecart. Then suddenly in Genesis 3:1 a talking serpent enters the story.

The Bible doesn’t even give us a blow-by-blow account of the angelic rebellion. Isaiah 14:12-14 hints at it in the context of Isaiah’s pronouncement of woe upon the king of Babylon. Similarly, Ezekiel 28:11-17 hints at it in the context of Ezekiel’s pronouncement of woe upon the king of Tyre. While each of these passages has a direct reference to the earthly king in question, each passage provides details that simply do not fit the king. Therefore, it seems that Isaiah and Ezekiel were not only prophesying against the kings, they were also prophesying against the power behind the kings. That power was Satan. So by pulling the relevant thoughts from the two passages, we learn the following about Satan:

  • Satan’s angelic name is Lucifer, which means “shining one.” (Isaiah 14:12)
  • He is a cherub angel. (Ezekiel 28:14)
  • Like all the other angels, he was created in perfection. (Ezekiel 28:12,15)
  • He was full of wisdom. (Ezekiel 28:12)
  • He was perfect in beauty. (Ezekiel 28:12)
  • He was associated with music. (Ezekiel 28:13)
  • His great splendor caused him to become vain, proud, and ambitious. (Isaiah 14:13, Ezekiel 28:15,17)
  • He wanted to be worshiped as God is worshiped. (Isaiah 14:14)

If these two passages were all we had to go on, we’d have to assume that Satan acted alone in his rebellion against God. However, there are other passages that teach that a group of Satan’s fellow angels joined him in his coup attempt. For example, in Matthew 25:41 Jesus speaks of an everlasting fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels. Likewise, Revelation 12:7 also mentions Satan’s angels. These other fallen angels are the “demons” described in the New Testament. Ephesians 6:11-12 is another passage that speaks of not only Satan but also the other fallen angels:

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. (New Living Translation)

And what percentage of the angels aligned themselves with Satan in his rebellion and consequently fell with him? The answer seems to be one-third. That percentage comes from Revelation 12:3-4, which symbolically describes Satan as a fiery red dragon whose tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Since many stars are actually bigger than the earth, it’s obvious that the reference isn’t to literal stars. The correct interpretation seems to be then that it’s a reference to the number of angels who were cast out of heaven with Satan.

Okay, so what do we learn from all of this? We learn that one of Satan’s wiles is REBELLION. He wants to get his victims to rebel against God-sanctioned authority. He wants people to rebel against the authority of Jesus Christ (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:5-11). He wants citizens to rebel against the authority of their government (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). He wants workers to rebel against the authority of their employers (Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25). He wants wives to rebel against the authority of their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18). He wants children to rebel against the authority of their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20). He wants church members to rebel against the authority of their pastors (Hebrews 13:7,17,24). Satan himself was the original rebel, and he’s still in rebel mode. According to Revelation 12:7-12, he’ll even lead his angels in a second war against heaven at the middle of the coming tribulation period.

And so I’ll close this post by giving you a simple warning: Beware of allowing Satan to somehow ensnare you with his wile of rebellion. What he knows that you might know is that a rebel will never fully submit to Jesus Christ. Oh, that rebel might go to church. He might read the Bible. She might pray. I suppose a rebel can even be a true Christian. But what a rebel won’t do is give Jesus the kind of authority that He demands over every corner of life. That kind of submission, you see, is what separates the spiritual “real McCoys” from the spiritual wannabes, and it’s the kind of submission that Satan works hard to keep people from giving to Jesus.


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The Wiles of the Devil

“The Wiles of the Devil” series (post #1)

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11, N.K.J.V.)

The Greek word translated as “wiles” in this verse is methodia. Obviously, we can see the word “method” in there, and so we can say that Satan’s “wiles” are his methodology. They are the means by which he seduces people, tricks them, and gets them to do his bidding. Other translations translate methodia as: “schemes,” “tactics,” “the strategies and tricks,” or “the strategies and deceits.”

This post begins a series in which we will walk through the pages of the Bible and look at the various “wiles” that Satan has used in history to trip up various Bible characters. Each post will focus upon a different story and a different wile. Our goal is to learn from the ways he has gotten others in the past so that we can be on guard against him getting us in the future. As one writer has put it:

While God never wants you to become too focused on thinking about Satan and his role in the world, God does want you to be generally aware of how he operates. The worst position to take is “what I don’t know can’t hurt me.” When it comes to spiritual issues, the very opposite is true.

It is with this in mind that we launch into this series. If what we don’t know about Satan can hurt us, then we need to learn all we can about him. And the best textbook for a class on Satan is the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Studying the Bible will help us get to know our enemy and keep us from experiencing the problem a certain British outpost experienced at the beginning of World War I.

As the story goes, when war broke out, the War Ministry of London dispatched a coded message to all of its outposts. The message read:

War declared. Arrest all enemy aliens in your district.

Unfortunately for the Brits, one of their outposts happened to be located in a very remote, virtually inaccessible part of Africa. Because of their isolation the troops there didn’t get much news and were always behind the times a bit on world events. So when they received the message they promptly sent back the following reply:

Have arrested ten Germans, six Belgians, four Frenchmen, two Italians, three Australians, and an American. Please advise immediately who we are at war with.

Make no mistake, you and I are at war with Satan. Even if you don’t think of yourself as being at war with him, you are. Even if you don’t believe in his existence, he’s still real and he’s still at war with you. That’s why I hope you will get on board with me for this series. Not only will you find the stories interesting, you’ll will find them informative. And most of all, they’ll give you the heads up you need to be able to successfully stand against the wiles of the devil. So tune in next time and we’ll get started.


Posted in Bible Study, Satan, Scripture, The Devil | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments