Excerpts from “Dealing with the Devil”
by C.S. Lovett
All throughout God’s Word He teaches us that satan is alive and works in Christian lives, trying to do evil. The Word also teaches us to watch out for satan and God gives us weapons to use for satan’s defeat. The first thing we must realize is that satan exists. His success depends on his secrecy and the way he rules mankind, practically unnoticed, is a fascinating mystery. Scriptures that teach us about satan as being: An Angel of Light (2 Cor. 11:14); An Adversary (1 Peter 5:8); A Tempter (1 Thess. 3:5); A Deceiver (2 Cor. 11:3); A Hinderer (1 Thess. 2:18); A Beast (Rev. 19:19); A Restless Lion (1 Peter 5:8); The god of this world (2 Cor 4:4); Prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2).
We have an enemy who is all of these things and God has warned us about him. In order for us to bring honor to Jesus Christ and what He did for us by dying on the cross it is our duty as Christians to learn to defeat our enemy. God has given us weapons so that we may live lives that are victorious and bring Him glory. In our lives Jesus Christ is our personal savior who gives us salvation and satan is our personal devil who is trying to defeat us and therefore we must pay very close attention to satan and his work in our lives so that we can have victory against him. In other words I am asking you to concentrate on two people in your life: The Holy Spirit and the unholy spirit. See both of them as: 1. Present with you; 2. Giving you personal attention; 3. Possessed of fantastic powers in the spirit – world; 4: Ready to exercise whatever dominion you will permit.
Yes, you have a free will. You are responsible for which spirit exercises the most influence over your thoughts and actions. That’s what makes this a subtle business. If the unholy spirit can get you to do his will, you do so of your own free choice. Subsequently you are judged for it, because your choice is deliberate. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll agree you are nowhere near what you ought to be in Christ. Don’t you want to be a better Christian than you are right now? Sure. Without realizing it, your personal adversary, the devil, is directing your life. His subtle wisdom, his ingenious devices, makes it easy for him to manipulate you. An outsider maneuvers you in such a way you neither suspect it or notice it. Everything you do and say appears to be your own idea, but it isn’t. Most Christians can look back a year to see little or no change. They are still the same persons. Their personalities are no sweeter, the dedication of their talents is stabilized, their pocket books just as tight and their occupation with the world is as solidly fixed. There’s no increase in surrender, devotion or service. They go year after year without much change. Do Christians want this? No. Yet it happens. Why? If you haven’t begun to suspect a mighty adversary is dedicated to keep us from living Christ, we will when we see how he works.
Proverbs 23:7 “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he!”
The Apostle feared satan as the attacker of our minds: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3)
Paul knew of satan’s crafty ability to lead Christians from pure devotion to Jesus. All the evil one need do is reach our minds with his corruptive suggestions and we bend to his will. The subtlety which beguiled Eve is just as mighty today. The devil manipulates the minds of god’s people with surprising ease. Ever wonder why you cannot remember Scripture passages as you would like? Or why your mind wanders at prayer time? And when you are in prayer-fellowship with others you find it difficult to remain in focus with them? Satan is responsible. Christians have badly underestimated him at this point. The undisciplined mind is wide open to satanic attack. If you do not consciously control every thought going through your head (and who does?), the resulting slackness makes it easy for satan to introduce his own ideas. You are not aware that he does this, for the thoughts appear as your own. You say “How can I control every thought?” “If you don’t, a master-mind is ready to.”
“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:4,5)
Notice “every thought.” Thinking is a contest. If you don’t believe that, try keeping your mind on Jesus for 5 minutes solid. You’ll find a state of war exists – a thought war.
“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers…. against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. :12)
Evil strongholds are maintained for the purpose of clouding our minds. Spiritual forces are arrayed to keep us from occupying with Christ. Dignitaries make it their business to keep us from setting our “affections on things above” (Col. 3:1).
The resources of spiritual wickedness are organized to make us forget Jesus most of the day. So again, try “bringing into captivity every thought unto the obedience of Christ,” and see if it doesn’t amount to a military campaign!
The Holy Spirit warns of mental weariness in devoting ourselves to Jesus: “Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and Faint in your minds…..” (Heb. 12:3)
See the battlefield? It’s the thought-life of the Christian. Spiritual war is real. Look at the equipment the Apostle cites as Christian armor. Observe that it is mental preparation. If satan’s lordship over humanity is maintained by his control of our thought life, Christian victory surely rests in the area of the disciplined mind. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus….” (Phi. 2:5) is thought-war strategy.
Thus the mind of man is the theatre of satanic operation. The extent to which he can influence the thoughts of people, is the extent to which he can control them. In fact, he must work with the human mind for he has nothing else. That may surprise you. You say, “Doesn’t he attach men’s bodies?” Ah, but only as the author of psychosomatic disorders. Doctors quickly allow that 65%-85% of the cases coming to them show no pathology (tissue disease). The huge bulk of body afflictions originate in the human mind, not in the members. Clearly the center of our warfare is our mind.
If Satan can keep Christians from storing God’s Word, their prime weapon against him is gone. If he can cause a mind to flit among the trash and trivia of our day, it will be useless to the Holy Spirit. Since satan has the power to introduce ideas, mental wandering is accomplished easily. The mind, also the channel for the Spirit of God, is quickly blocked with foolish imaginations and notions. Can we understand Peter’s concern now? “Gird up the loins of your mind,” he says. And why? It has to be ready to move fast. An adversary lurks who can plant ideas faster than an arrow leaves the bow. So, “Be sober,” he warns. “Be vigilant, for your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion goeth about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8)
He blinds the minds of the unsaved and leads them to substitute gods of their own manufacturing in place of the True god. He leads Christians to occupy with physical things to the neglect of the Lord Jesus. Occupation with this world renders them useless for Gospel-obedience, forfeits their future rewards and blinds them to the swift approach of the day of accounting. Doubt that he has such power? Then ask yourself? Do I come anywhere near being what I ought to be for Christ?
- How far am I from bringing every thought into captivity for Christ? 2. Does making a living and providing for my family concern me more than “Laying up treasure in heaven?” 3. Is what I do and say carefully weighed in the light of the Judgment Seat of Christ? 4. Do I consciously work at preparing myself to live with a Holy God? 5. What have I deliberately done today to make myself more like Christ?
When satan is allowed to feed suggestions into the Christian’s thought life, spiritual growth is thwarted. Therefore, it is the plan of God for us to deal with the devil. Salvation does not include automatic victory over satan. The glad news that “Greather is HE that is in you than he that is in the world,” makes victory possible, but there is nothing automatic about it, nothing which makes us immune to satanic attack. In fact, the New Testament teaches the opposite, that we are highly vulnerable. If we had any immunity our Lord would not have cautioned “Watch and pray”. Neither would the Apostle have bothered to list “The weapons of our warfare.” Clearly we are in for a fight, a vicious fight for the usefulness of our lives. We are not guaranteed victory, we are guaranteed a fight. Is it not Bible-mockery to read of our weapons and then fail to use them?
Indeed. The Christian who fails to take up arms against satan is already defeated. The lack of resistance invites satanic control. Satan has a perfect disguise that allows him to acquire almost total dominion of a Christian’s life, yet the victim doesn’t suspect the identity of his evil master. The satanically led Christian doesn’t give one thought to satan. Yet, all the while the god of unrighteousness is ordering the steps of his life. You wouldn’t think such a thing could happen to a Christian, but when you learn the nature of his disguise, you might blush. It could explain why your life in Christ isn’t all you would like it to be. His disguise? Hang on for the surprise. The mask is…….self.
What could be more subtle than satanic suggestions which arrive in your mind as your own ideas? Perhaps it has never occurred to you to look beyond your behavior pattern to see if someone has a hand in it besides yourself. There is someone. Just as our Lord Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get thee behind me, Satan” – just as He stood in the boat and rebuked the one behind the storm – so must you learn to see the unholy spirit at work in your life. Behind most of our thoughts and actions is the evil one. Because of his disguise, we don’t suspect his presence. It never occurs to us that someone else has the power to engineer our behavior without once violating our free will.
Satan is a self-centered man. God said so. Satan got into trouble in the first place for saying, “I will be like the Most High”. He lives for himself. He is completely selfish. Look at the “I Will’s” in Isaiah 14:13-14: “I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne; I will sit also upon the mount; I will ascent above the heights; I will be like the Most High”. Enamored by his own beauty, wisdom and power, satan was sold on himself. There it was, the spirit of satan. Full of self-will, self-exaltation, self-satisfaction. Wherever you find it, the spirit of self is the spirit of satan!
We all have this spirit. Certain lip phrases give it away: “I can’t see how anybody would want to….” “You ought to see how I do…..” “I don’t care what anyone says, this is the way I…..” “You’d think he’d know better than to…..” “Let me tell you what I’d do……..” “If I were you, I’d sure……..” “I always do it this way……” “You know what I think a person ought to do…….”
All satan has to do is deceive the Christian into living for himself and he frustrates God’s ambitions. Satan’s name is not mentioned. There’s no hint of serving satan in all this. Just self. This is what hurts God. He is painfully wounded when one of His children is led off like this.
If the devil can keep Christians out of the Book, from prayer, from taking note of their own growth in Christlikeness, faithfulness in investing their time and money, he accomplishes his purpose. He rubs his hands with glee. When a Christian lives from himself, satan jumps with ecstatic joy. He has hit God were it hurts most. It’s easy for satan to do this as long as he can work under the disguise of self. What Christian is about to equate self with satan? Yet satan can plant all sorts of things in the Christian’s mind and they appear as one’s own ideas. He can get Christians to covet, boast, gossip, judge and condemn others; lust, waste their time, and all the while they feel it is their own doing. Never once do they suspect anyone is behind the mask of self. They just wish they were better Christians. Sadly they admit they fall far short of what they ought to be. Most know about the Holy Spirit and Christ’s indwelling. They can’t explain why they don’t live for Jesus more than they do.
How easily God’s people are defeated. No wonder the Bible is full of warnings and cautions. Sneaky Suggestions: When an idea arrives in your mind, what is there to make you suspect it is anyone’s but your own? Until one knows about Satan’s access to our minds and his method for planting suggestions, who suspects anyone but himself? But here’s an example of just how sneaky he is: You plan to go visiting for the church. You’ve already signed up. But the thought strikes, “I’m too tired tonight. I think I’d better stay home. I’ll go next week.” That sounds like your own judgment. But it isn’t. The one who lives to render your life useless sent that notion to your mind.
You’re in a conversation. Some things coming from your lips are self-centered. Count the “I’s”. “I think, I always, If I were you, If you ask me, take me for example, etc.” Watch yourself as others are speaking. How do you focus? Really listening, or thinking about yourself and what you’re going to say next? Let a name come up. Is it someone with whom you disagree or who has hurt you? Watch the feelings rise. What words are perched on your lips?
How do you react when people disagree with you? Satan’s favorite and best disguise is self. He has 2 others which are whoppers. People and circumstances. Satan uses others to get to you. It is easy to see him use Peter in an attack on the Lord. Jesus had been telling the disciples how He must go to Jerusalem and be crucified, to rise again the third day. Peter spoke up, “Lord, let this thing be far from Thee!” Jesus, recognizing the real author of the suggestion turned to Peter saying, “Get thee behind me Satan!” Satan will use your dearest ones to hinder your life in Christ.
An extravagant wife can pester a man to live beyond his means, driving him to the place where he begins to “worry” about bills. That dilutes spirituality fast. Children can get into trouble to the point of causing “anxiety” and “embarrassment”. Well meaning friends can draw you away from a commitment already made to Jesus. The man of God has to watch for satan in those closest to him. Even in death, satan can use a loved one. At funeral time Christians often behave as heathen. They spend huge amounts of money for caskets and flowers, to honor a dead body, while the grand truth of being with Jesus is trampled in the dust. God’s people often carry out a pagan farewell that makes it appear death really is good-bye. They splurge. Money which has been withheld from missions and Christian literature goes into the ground or supports a mausoleum. Watch Christians at funeral time. Do they really act as if physical death was a glorious transition into Jesus’ presence or as if it were the end of everything? What a terrible testimony is presented when God calls a loved one.
Yes, satan uses bereavement to make fools of God’s people. Satan has the power to arrange events in his world. He is the author of accidents, floods, famine and disaster. And God uses them all. In fact, our Father weaves the activities of satan into His master plan so that everything works out for good. However, the devil is the sponsor of every destruction in this world. He cannot create, he can only destroy. He can arrange for that Christian, whom wealth would destroy, to make it. He can cause the Christian for whom money would be used to exalt Christ, to stay poor. He can engineer loss for one man and profit for another.
No Christian gets 10 minutes warning prior to satanic attack. He doesn’t get 10 seconds.When satan plants a suggestion in the thought-life, there isn’t even a 1/10th second warning. There is no warning. You have to be watching for him all the time. To avoid the satanic snare, the Christian must:
- Believe what god has said about this enemy 2. Learn how his enemy operates 3. Know of his enemy’s weaknesses and strengths 4. Have a definite plan for resisting his enemy 5. Know how to use his own resources in Christ 6. Go into action at the first hint of satanic suggestion
Watch and pray is the Lord’s priority in the matter: “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation; for the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”. (Matthew 26:41) Watching comes before prayer. Once you fall into one of satan’s traps it’s too late for watching. Thus watchfulness is a part of our anti-satan defense system. The anti-satan defense system Just like in home protection the following are useful for preparation for detecting and resisting an intruder: Light; detection; alarm; weapon – these four words give us the basic defense plan.
- Light: Darkness invites the prowler. The Christian who gives no thought to satan, grants him all the freedom he needs. When we say nothing about him we contribute to the blackout. He has enjoyed obscurity all these years because God’s people have refused to take him seriously. When his person and work become common knowledge and people start watching for him, serious limitations are placed on his operation. 2. Detection: Watch yourself….see the attached list of weaknesses which we all have and pay close attention to the areas that satan uses in your life. Next it’s time to set the trap. You will set up watch over the selected weak areas. And the trap consists of a continuous watch over this area to notice the first attempt of satan to use this area in your life. Since this is new to you don’t expect to catch satan too early in the attack. You could be 5 or even 10 seconds into an attack before you suddenly awaken, “Hey, wait a minute!” That’s all right for beginners. Later on you will be able to react the split-second a planted notion hits your mind. The hardest part of this 4 step resistance is detecting satan. Once you learn how to catch him in the act it is a simple matter to deal with him. You can expect him to do all he can to keep you from penetrating his disguise. The last thing he wants is for you to become skilled in recognizing his role in your life. He knows what can be done in the power of Jesus’ name once he is discovered. Therefore you can understand that learning to focus on your weak areas might not be as easy as it sounds. Satan will do all sorts of things to move your mind from the target area. He can cause distracting interruptions. A difficulty may arise which will shift your mind from the weak area to a problem. If he is successful, your day will scarcely begin before he has you concerned about something other than trapping him. Should God permit it, you could go out of your house to find a flat tire on your car. That might be enough to make you forget satan for a whole day.
Here’s a great prayer to help you set your trap first thing in the morning. “Lord Jesus, help me to learn how to detect the devil’s working in my life and to deal with him in Your Name”. Then warn yourself: “satan will be after me today. He’s going to work on that weak spot. The place I have to watch is my mind. He will try to keep my mind on the ___________ problem. So I’m going to my eyes open. I’m asking the Holy Spirit to nudge me the first time an idea pops up in that area.” Then as the day goes on at the first sign on your mind involved in that problem the Holy Spirit nudges and you suddenly remember “satan’s here”. You’ve caught him. See how it works? When you find yourself involved with the weakness and suddenly your mind moves to satan, aware that this is precisely how he works, the trap is sprung.
Putting the weakness and satan together is the whole point of this step. If you can bring yourself to think of the devil the moment a weakness strikes you’ve got him. From there on the power of the Holy Spirit makes the task easy. Detecting the devil is the hardest part of our defense system. You might not catch yourself right away when you first start to use this method. More than likely you’ll drift deep into a weakness before it occurs to you, “satan’s doing that.” But that is only because it’s new. The more you work with it, the quicker you will catch on. Every time you detect the devil it will be because the Holy Spirit has nudged you. We can depend on Him for that. That’s His part. We do our best to be satan-conscious, but even with our best efforts we don’t succeed apart from the Holy Spirit’s gentle touch. Sound The Alarm: satan moves in darkness satisfied that his self disguise is working as usual. All of a sudden….”satan!” you call his name. It’s not enough that you have penetrated his disguise, but to hear his name like that is a shock treatment.
Step 3 is a shock treatment for satan. Calling out satan’s name is but the first word of our resistance. After that comes your command to him “Go!” Our Lord Jesus set the patter. The Scripture is clear, our Savior met the devil in His wilderness testing and dealt with him. “satan, begone! For it is written “(bible quote)”….
There it is. We can’t expect to improve on something our Lord Jesus used when He dealt with satan. The success of this method is recorded too, “Then the devil left Him.” Matthew 4:10-11. Yes, satan is defeated, praise God. But he is not dead, neither is his strength diluted. He is just as powerful as ever and as deadly. He is just as ready to fight. He has never yet been defeated by a Christian. Satan has not an ounce of fear of any man. He can do almost anything he wants with you and me. We have no strength to match his. For us to challenge satan to a fight would be a joke. Jesus defeated him. He does fear Christ. And he truly dreads the Name of Jesus. He hears the One on whose name we speak, not us. The very sound of our Savior’s name must be awful to satan. When it is spoken to him directly it stabs his memory. Five letters J-E-S-U-S carry him back to the cross where he was openly whipped in his own blunder. What an agonizing reminder that name must be! The name of Jesus is our authority for speaking directly to satan, even as it is our authority for approaching God and making requests. Again and again our Lord through the Scripture tells us what we can do in His name: “Whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus…” (Col. 3:17) Resisting satan is no exception. I submit that the very mention of Jesus’ Holy Name is a shock for the unholy spirit.
- The Weapon: “Is not my Word like as a fire, saith the Lord! And like a hammer that breaketh the rock into pieces! (Jer. 23:29) God’s Word is described as “The Sword of the Spirit” or a weapon. It is the only offensive equipment listed in the armor of Ephesians 6. It is the solitary means for countering satanic suggestion. When an ungodly notion arrives in our minds it amounts to “satan says”. The only counter is what “God says”. So many of us take comfort in God’s Word and receive instruction from it, we just don’t think of it as a weapon. But we’d better. It’s the only thing we have that is effective against satan. Perhaps this is the first time you have taken a serious look at the bible as an anti-satan cannon.
I trust it will be God’s encouragement to take up arms against the enemy. The devil trembles at the Word of God, but it is not due to the fact that millions of them are in print, or when Christians study the bible, or when they quote scripture passages in their gatherings and sermons. Satan knows the bible by heart and can quote chapter upon chapter. He’s so clever with the Word, he can design subtle twists in it for his agents. He enjoys distorting the Word so that it becomes his tool, instead of God’s. That’s fun for him. There’s only one time when satan fears the Word of God…..when it is used against him! When the bible is used as a weapon against satan, he shudders under the impact of it. When a Christian speaks the Word of God to satan, the Holy Spirit moves into action. Something amazing happens which smashes the power of satan and crumbles his spirit. Bible study itself doesn’t make satan flee, though it arms the Christian with the weapon to use.
It is God’s Word used as a weapon in the hands of the saints, that is like a flashbulb fired in satan’s eyes. There is pain. And since darkness and light cannot remain together, he must flee. This is the Christian’s strength against the devil, the floodlight of God’s Word shining in satan’s eyes! The thing to notice, though, is that it must be turned toward him to be used as a weapon against him. It has no anti-satan force until the Christian speaks that Word in Jesus’ Name. The next time you have an attack of worry, depression or doubt, try quoting Scripture verses to yourself. Hours later you’ll still be suffering. Why? They are aimed in the wrong direction. Turn them toward the devil, and in Jesus’ Name and the miracle happens.
The difference between practicing with a weapon and firing it is obvious. One act amuses the enemy, the other scares him away.
satan says: Worry; God says: “Be anxious for nothing.”
satan says: Gossip; God says: “Love one another, bear one another’s burdens.”
satan says: Covet; God says “Set your affection son things above.”
satan says: Lust; God says: “Be ye holy for I am Holy!”
satan says: Be dissatisfied; God says: “Be content with such things as ye have.”
satan says: Fear; God says: “My peace I give unto you…”
satan says: Defeat; God says: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
If you memorize verses which have to do with your weakness areas, the Holy Spirit can bring them up as soon as satan strikes. That gives you a “fast gun!” It is a thrilling experience to see how quickly satan flees when god’s Word is fired at him. The pressure release comes at once. That’s a different use of God’s Word. You can understand how any weapon is ineffective until used.
Here is our basic scheme for resisting satan: Light / insight into satanic operation Detection / watching over a weakness Alarm / Speak to God, then to satan in Jesus’ name Weapon / use God’s Word to counter satan’s suggestion This teaching has provided enough biblical insight for you to take satan seriously. It has outlined a simple defense system for safeguarding your thought-life. This is the real target of satanic attack.
You may have to practice a few times before you taste the flight of the devil, but everything needed is here. The flight of satan makes it possible for you to lay hold of God’s word in a wonderful new way. His Word has the power to change you into the likeness of Christ, but that can’t happen until its truth dominates your mind to the same extent as satan’s self-centered suggestions. Even though we live in a world of temptation, every attack of satan can be a stepping stone to maturity. Once you experience the way this know-how releases you from satan’s grasp; weaknesses in your life can be eliminated by the miraculous power of God’s Word!
After we study this material satan will have a suggestion “I don’t need that. My life is so dedicated to Jesus, satan couldn’t have any real influence. Besides, my whole life evolves around Christ.” Don’t you believe it! Won’t you just take one weakness, one area and work with it? See if you don’t become alert to satan. You’ll find you can catch him in the act. Then don’t be afraid to speak to him in Jesus’ Name. You’ll thrill to the power of God’s Word as it does its work before your eyes. And the Name of Jesus will become more precious than ever.