When I was a kid the phrase “shut up” was not allowed in our home. I was not supposed to say it, yell, it or otherwise communicate it anyone else. Well, one day I was roaming down the hall and as brothers do my brother had done something to set me off. So I yelled through the hallway to him, “Shut up”. Unbeknownst to me, my mother was in the middle bedroom and heard everything. She came out, “did you just tell your brother to shut up?” My response was, “The devil made me do it.” To this day I have no idea why I said that. It sure didn’t help my situation.
Does the devil make us do anything? Does he incite us to certain actions and if so, what actions? How can we know? Too often in western southern baptist evangelicalism we are slow to thinking about the spiritual forces of darkness. But they are there and we cannot ignore them! Now, just mention “satan” in some circles and people start to wander if you are becoming a “charismatic”! The scandal!
Far too often we are ignorant of Satan’s schemes to destroy our lives and lead us toward death. Which means we are clueless as to what Satan is doing and how he does it. We are quick to thank God for the slightest good--"Oh, my coffee has that little swirl today." Do we think Satan is not active today? Do we think his demonic minions have just decided to sit back with their hands folded? Think again. Just because we don’t see demon possession every day like we do in the Gospels does not mean we are not encountering darkness and evil at every turn.
Take this for example, where is the first place we see the word “Satan” in the Bible? What is he doing there? Be sure, Satan doesn’t show up in 2 Chronicles 21. He has been at work since the beginning of the Bible. But there is something telling about this text. See what it says:
Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. 1 Chronicles 21:1 (ESV)
What did Satan incite David to do? Oh, nothing. Just count how many people are in Israel. No big deal, right? Not the eyes of the flesh. But it was a big deal.
Satan used something that to the eyes of the flesh would seem amoral—not a matter of right or wrong. But a census is a way to measure power and strength. David wanted to know how strong they were, but he was not trusting the strength of God. Because of the census God was displeased and “struck Israel” (1 Chron 21:7).
What a cunning way to get David to go against God’s will. A census is harmless, its just information. What will it hurt?
Take note of Satan’s schemes! We must be concerned with Satan’s schemes and not only his power or mysterious spirituality. Satan is eager to get in between God and his people and between God's people themselves.
Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2 that we need to be eager to forgive one another, “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs (schemes).”
Likewise, when Paul tells the church be tells us to put on the whole armor of God that we might “stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph 6:11).
Maybe you are going through something right now that you don’t understand. Something that is hard, uncomfortable, or otherwise painful. Where God might be using that very thing to bring about endurance and maturity in your life (James 1:2) Satan will also incite you to get off the course of faithfulness.
Be aware of Satan’s schemes! Know that we are not in battle against flesh and blood, “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12).
We ought to pray, we ought to take our leadings from God’s sufficient word, and we also ought to be aware of Satan’s schemes all along the way. He will incite us to the most mundane and amoral evils—things that seem harmless in our eyes.
We fight deceitful schemes primarily with the word of God. It is the word of God spoken in love, for example, which counters “being like children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph 4:13-15).
Likewise, when Jesus was confronted by Satan, he did not only pray (for he had come out from praying). Rather, Jesus answered Satan with the word of God three times—being aware of his schemes. Jesus did not fall to Satan’s schemes because he was able to say, “It is written”.
For His Glory,
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