The tactics of Satan are even more sinister than we can imagine. Somehow we think there are certain lows to which he won’t stoop. Recently my husband I experienced something that made us realise in a more real way how sneaky and underhanded the devil is. While yes, it’s right not to focus too much on him, being blind to any form of spiritual attack is also naïve and unhelpful for Christians.
From my own experience, there appears to be a pattern in some of Satan’s strategies and tactics used against us.
A temptation or incident
First of all, something happens. Either you give in to temptation, someone hurts you or an incident occurs that is out of your control. It could be as simple as a thoughtless comment, a nightmare or a tantrum thrown by your child. This is often the moment the enemy sees an opportunity to cause damage and swoops.
Accusation or twisted truth in a moment of weakness
Sometimes, harm was intended by that action, but more often than not it was done in ignorance or a moment of weakness (this is not excusing sin, simply acknowledging a reality). No matter the motive, Satan uses that thing and twists it to become something intended to trap you.
Think about it. Something happens with your kid and you feel like a bad parent. You give into an old habitual sin and Satan tells you that you’re no longer worthy to be loved by God. You badmouth your husband and he tells you you’re a terrible wife, or as a man, you look at another woman too long and he tells you you’re a sleazy, unworthy husband. This is the first prong of his deception tactic. We’ll get to the second part soon.
If you’ve done something wrong, Satan will accuse you. If you haven’t, he’ll deceive you to make you somehow believe you’ve excluded yourself from God’s love and mercy. One of the enemy’s main weapons against you have to do with attacking your identity. If you don’t know who you are, messing with your mind is so much easier for him.
This is something I recently noted in my journal:
There’s a song with the line “In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me” (Who You Say I Am by Hillsong Worship), and while listening to it I felt God say: “You’re a daughter in the house. Why are you acting/thinking like a slave? You are not trapped, not a prisoner. You are free, chosen – a beloved daughter. You have the protection of your Father and His house against all of your enemies.” I also just felt the indignation of Jesus. How dare you the devil lay a hand on a daughter of the house? The boldness and cheek of it! How dare he stage an attack on a daughter of the King?
Know who you are and whose you are.
The result of this accusation and deception is that you begin to feel ashamed. It may simply be lapping at your toes or, if you’re like me, crashing over your head, but shame is a cycle that leads nowhere good. We feel guilty then feel ashamed for struggling with guilt – all the while the devil is treating our minds like his personal playground. Shame makes us go into hiding and want to run away from God – just look at Adam in the garden. It’s the exact opposite of what God wants when we mess up. He wants us to run to him and let him restore us but shame is the looming boulder in between us and the freedom we desperately need.
So we see that shame leads to isolation. Ask any shepherd (although good luck finding one in 2019) what a sick sheep does. It isolates itself from the flock, and a lone sheep is vulnerable. When you keep something hidden, the enemy has a foothold in your life.
And here comes the second part of the deception. The enemy tells us, “You are alone. You have always been alone and you will always be alone” and although the bible promises otherwise . . . far, far too often we believe him. Take it from someone who knows, the realisation (AKA believing a lie about yourself) that we are alone results in despair. Jesus says he will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Because he is not only the way and the life but also the truth, we can assume that any message contradicting his is, you guessed it, a load of rubbish!
If you are married, strolling through the door arm in arm with isolation is relational discord. As soon as you say ‘I do’ and sign on the dotted line, the enemy is out for your unity. He’ll achieve it any way he can, he won’t fight fair and he will go for the jugular at the most unimaginable and appalling times. Trust me, he’s probably worse than you think.
This is what I journaled the day after we had experienced some spiritual attack:
So the devil was sowing discord! And I had been locked in an isolated box of misplaced shame that made me feel like I had to fight it all alone. Jacques had also been been feeling under attack but felt too embarrassed to tell me. Of course, as long time Christians, we shouldn’t be struggling with this, apparently (basically, whatever works to keep us locked in a prison of our own shame).
When we realised what was going on, we were both shocked at how absolutely evil the devil is and got really angry at him. On behalf of our one flesh and household, Jacques exercised his authority as the spiritual head and commanded the devil to leave in Jesus’ name and we prayed for our unity and marriage.
I am horrified at Satan’s cunning in isolating us both and accusing us, fill each of us with false guilt and shame. What a manipulative liar!
So after praying, we agreed to tell each other every time we’re feeling attacked like that, choosing to fight through the shame or embarrassment, and take a stand as a team.
I now realise it’s not me against Jacques but both of us (and God) against Satan. The deeper we know the truth of that the better. It’s three (us) against one (Satan) yet we allow him to deceive us into thinking it’s us alone against an army. How infuriating!
Results and hints
The inevitable result of this whole process (if we buy into Satan’s lies) is distraction from our focus on God and the mission of advancing the kingdom.
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but a few days afterwards in a church worship session I felt God telling me to say, “I believe what you say about me.” I said it in my head and felt him prompt me: “Out loud.” I spoke it out quite loudly and felt that this was a declaration that God wants to use to bring release from the stranglehold of sin, shame and deception in our lives.
I am delivered by God from the power of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:13)
I have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the earth was laid. (Ephesians 1:4)
I am predestined to be adopted as a son or daughter by the Father through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:5)
I am rescued by God because he delights in me. (2 Samuel 22:20)
I am accepted by my Heavenly Father. (Ephesians 1:6)
I am seated with Christ in heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:6)
I am saved by grace through faith, not my own works or contrived sense of righteousness. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
I am rooted and grounded in love because Christ dwells in my heart. (Ephesians 3:17)
I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Oh, the simple, scheme-destroying power of it.
I believe what You say about me.
Now it’s your turn to say it.
Image: Wallpaper Access 2019, https://wallpaperaccess.com/boxing, accessed 10 August 2019.
Backlund, S 2015, ‘25 Biblical Identity Declarations’, Igniting Hope, https://ignitinghope.com/uncategorized/1-25biblicaldeclarations/, accessed 10 August 2019.