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Be Aware of Satan's Schemes

Wednesday, March 16, 2022 @ 1:23 PM Be Aware of Satan's Schemes ATTENTION: Major social media outlets are finding ways to block the conservative/evangelical viewpoint. Click here for daily electronic delivery of The Stand's Daily Digest - the day's top blogs from AFA.

Ed Vitagliano Executive Vice-President MORE

(Unless otherwise specified, all Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible.) 

Most Christians should by now be fully aware of the intense spiritual warfare underway in our nation. Any that are not cognizant of it must either be willfully ignorant of this important subject attending churches that neglect the topic or are completely distracted by the latest streaming event. 

Even followers of Christ who understand this clash of kingdoms can develop a numbness about spiritual things. It’s very easy to think, “I know, I know, the Devil prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I’ve heard it a thousand times.” 

However, understanding the devices of our spiritual enemy is imperative for the Christian. There is no expiration date on the New Testament warnings to remain alert to the dangers posed by the kingdom of darkness. 

The devices of our enemy 

In 2 Corinthians 2:11, the apostle Paul taught the church to be alert “so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 

Satan schemes against Christians. The noun “schemes” can be translated “devices,” and the word pictures someone carefully thinking through a matter and creating a way – a device – to accomplish a purpose. 

This is very similar to the way people plan out vacations or, perhaps more to the point, deliberate about war campaigns. It is also akin to the way human beings invent things to accomplish as a goal – like the combine harvester or a hydroelectric dam. 

What is the purpose for these demonic devices? Paul says the Devil uses these schemes in order to gain an advantage over people. 

The New Testament word “advantage” is sometimes translated “defraud,” implying some form of trickery that gains the upper hand. Satan doesn’t fight “fair,” but rather deceives and cheats. 

Most of us have probably been warned about phone or email scams that utilize cunning to trick us into surrendering important information. The end result of these scams is to steal money from unsuspecting victims. 

In the spiritual realm, of course, Satan isn’t trying to steal money. He’s trying to harm us, destroy relationships, cause us to fall into sin, ruin our effectiveness for Christ, etc. 

However, Paul is also teaching us that we must not allow it. We should not only be aware of Satan’s devices, but the apostle is suggesting that we can prevent his schemes from ruining us – precisely because we are aware of them. 

The worst thing is to be “ignorant” of these demonic strategies. The Greek word used here is the one from which we get the word “agnostic.” While an atheist is someone who claims, “I know there’s no God,” an agnostic simply says, “I don’t know if there is a God; I have no knowledge one way or the other.” 

Similarly, to be unmindful of Satan’s scheming is to have no idea what he is up to. The consequences of such ignorance could prove tragic. 

But Paul is saying the Devil need not succeed because we are not ignorant of these schemes; we are not “agnostic” about them – unknowing or without knowledge. 

An example of satanic scheming 

It’s fascinating to note that Paul actually gives us an example of the nature of these sorts of demonic devices. 

The exhortation of 2 Corinthians 2:11 comes in the middle of a passage about a very terrible sinner in Corinth who was committing wickedness but still wanted to be a part of the church there. This is explained in 1 Corinthians 5. It was a sexual sin, and Paul ordered the man excommunicated in order to save his soul. 

However, now in 2 Corinthians 2, we see that the man has repented, but apparently, some in the church did not want to allow him back into fellowship. 

Paul admonishes them: “forgive” and “comfort” this man (vs. 7), then “reaffirm your love for him” (vs. 8). This was commanded as a “test” for the church (vs. 9) to see if the Christians there would be “obedient in all things” (vs. 9).

That’s when Paul exhorts them: the Christians, to restore this brother so that Satan would not gain an advantage over them (vs. 11). 

Thus, it seems that Paul is saying that Satan gains an advantage through unforgiveness, unloving behavior, and disobedience. 

After all, why should the devil risk being spotted in a bold temptation when he can succeed – and remain hidden – in the shadows? Sure, the Devil might ensnare someone by suggesting that he bow down and worship an idol. But it appears here that Satan can be more successful with gossip that is whispered, a grudge that won’t be released, or a refusal to receive back into fellowship a penitent man. 

Being sober and alert 

Another exhortation to Christian watchfulness is in 1 Peter 5:8, a verse familiar to most students of the Bible: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 

Peter admonishes believers to “be of sober spirit.” When this word is applied to life in the natural, the word means what we would expect: don’t let your mind be clouded with drugs or alcohol. These substances degrade the mind’s ability to function at 100%. 

When applied to the spiritual life, the word means don’t let anything cloud your thinking about the devil – or any other spiritual matter. 

In 2 Corinthians 2:11 the issue was are we going to be ignorant of what the devil is up to? However, here the issue is that, even though we’re not ignorant, that doesn’t mean our minds cannot still become clouded regarding spiritual things. 

What clouds the mind? Of course, things like anger can – and such sinful emotions will give the Devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27-29). Yet here Peter seems to be warning Christians about simply not paying attention. When he exhorts us, “be on the alert,” the word means to stay awake, be vigilant, and be watchful. 

In ancient times, of course, there were no remote sensors or surveillance cameras. There were only people keeping watch and standing guard. If a guard fell asleep, disaster could be the result. An entire city could fall to its enemies! 

Therefore, Peter’s use of these two words meant that followers of Christ should keep their minds clear and focused as they stood guard, trying to spot the Devil and his activities. The Devil is our enemy (“adversary”), who is always scheming to gain an advantage. 

A lion in the thicket 

Christian watchfulness is necessary because the Devil is a malignant entity, intent on causing destruction and suffering. Here in 1 Peter 5:8, the apostle says the Devil is “like a roaring lion.” 

Animal behaviorists have studied the behavior of lions and why they roar, and while fascinating, Peter is not concerned with that here. Instead, he is reminding Christians about what people do when they hear a lion roar. In the ancient world, when a lion roared, people didn’t think about the scientific reasons for this behavior. Instead, the roar of the lion signaled that a predator was close – indicating heightened danger for nearby people. They would become more alert and watchful. One wouldn’t let down his guard if he knew a powerful predator was in the area. 

It is along this line of thinking that Peter is writing to believers. He is warning us that the Devil is real, he is close at hand, and he is dangerous. Be wary! 

Satan is not a toothless lion who is only able to roar. Instead, Peter says Satan is “seeking someone to devour.” Clearly, this is not a description of being “gummed to death!” This refers to being torn apart and eaten. 

There is another reason for being watchful because this spiritual lion “prowls” about stealthily “seeking” a victim. Satan wants to gain an advantage over a person in order to destroy them. Most people who suffer ruin don’t fall into a destructive sin on a whim. It’s usually not accidental. It is the result of Satan executing a carefully laid trap! 

It is interesting to note the context of Peter’s exhortation to watchfulness. The context is suffering, mostly through persecution. In fact, this entire epistle is primarily about such suffering, and the theme continues in 1 Peter 5:1, 9-10. 

How does Peter exhort us to handle such suffering? In chapters 1-4, there are all sorts of ways. When he gets to chapter 5, he tells the church that elders should shepherd the flock properly (vv. 1-4); younger folks must be subject to their elders (vs. 5); all Christians should be humble toward each other, for then God will give them grace, but He will oppose the proud (vs. 5); when believers are worried, they should cast those anxieties upon God, who cares for them (vs. 7). 

It is at this point that Peter turns to the subject of the Devil – who preys on the suffering. How do we know this is what Peter meant? Because his exhortation about Satan is linked to it: “But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world” (vs. 9). 

We gain insight here into how Satan operates. When we are in the middle of an intense trial, the Devil – prowling around stealthily – is looking for someone to blindside. 

This is why Peter exhorts the Christian to be clear-headed and focused (sober) because suffering can cloud your vision. How? If we understand the encouragements to proper behavior in 1 Peter 5:1-4 as protections, then the opposite would be true, wouldn’t it? Things like rebellion against spiritual leaders, arrogance toward one another, pride toward God, and even anxiety can cloud the Christian’s mind to what Satan is doing. 

But if we will be vigilant, watchful, and obedient, then we will be able to spot the lion in the thicket. 

When we see this lion, what do we do? We “resist him!” We fight back! This word means to stand opposite someone, withstanding and opposing what your adversary is doing. 

Finally, Peter encourages us to remain “firm in your faith.” We are to remain steadfast in our faith because it is Jesus who makes us more than conquerors. He will help us because He is a far more powerful lion than Satan (Revelation 5:5)! 

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