Satan is the enemy, the adversary, the opponent of every faithful Christian on this earth. He afflicts different people in different ways, according to their areas of weakness. Jesus withstood the full panoply of Satan’s temptations (Mt. 4:1-11), and in so doing he showed us that Satan uses various methods. So, how is he opposing you? Let me suggest a few ways he may be working on you, in the hope that considering these will help you more effectively withstand him. Then we can confidently say with Paul that “no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices,” (2 Cor. 2:11).
- By afflicting you physically. In our heavenly home there will be no more physical illness. No disease, no sickness, no pain and no death. But in this sinful world, these burdens can weigh us down and complicate our lives. As we age physically, such difficulties may become almost overwhelming. Trips to the doctors’ offices, wranglings over medication, insurance and appointments can be confusing, oppressive and nearly overwhelming. If we are not careful, we may surrender to the seeming impossibility of keeping up with the requirements of our physical bodies. This is especially true in a nation currently battling a deadly pandemic. The news is constantly focusing upon issues of sickness and death. We are repeatedly commanded to “stay safe” and “be careful!” Like never before, our attention is riveted upon maintaining physical health. Satan can use these burdens to discourage us, to distract us and keep us from focusing upon what really matters in life.
- By afflicting you mentally. It is a deceitful lie of Satan that mental illness is the fault of the one afflicted. Such lies add profound guilt to the sufferings of many individuals, who are led to believe that they must be doing something wrong, or they would not be having such struggles. Thus their predicament becomes bewildering and hopeless. They cannot understand why the Lord is not helping them. After struggles upon struggles, they may give up in despair, or even take their own life. Satan surely smiles at such outcomes. If you are struggling with mental illness, do not be ashamed or embarrassed to seek professional help. We need to be more understanding and supportive of those who are suffering with mental illness. It is not their fault, and we usually have no idea of the burdens they are bearing.
- By afflicting you socially. Friends and companions can be a tremendous life support in this lonely world. But beware, they can also confuse your thinking and lead you in the wrong direction. They can feed you a lie, cause you to be emboldened in your error, and prevent you from seeing the issues clearly. Often, this is done with good intentions, because they like us and are trying to support us. But be careful about relying upon what your friends are saying. They may be telling you what you want to hear, or what they mistakenly think you need to hear. Job’s “friends” were no doubt telling him what they thought was right, but they were feeding him a load of poison. There simply is no substitute for following God and his word. Always check what your friends are saying against what your Lord says.
- By afflicting you spiritually. The confusing maze of religious error around us is truly alarming. As we delve deeper and deeper into false doctrine, our minds are darkened, our understanding is clouded, and our hope of salvation is destroyed. Religious people are quick to give answers, but they are often wrong, because they are not in harmony with God’s word. If you are following a spiritual course dictated by your pastor, your priest, even your parents or spouse, you should be hearing alarm bells. These are simply not reliable sources when it comes to our spiritual welfare. The Psalmist wisely observed, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path,” (Ps. 119:105). Don’t be fooled by the false light of denominational doctrine. Or the errors of modern religious thought, secular humanism, atheism, or popular political movements. They can, if relied upon, become most effective devices of Satan.
How is your enemy opposing you? Have you sized him up lately? These are some of his devices we need to remember. Like Jesus, we need to advance “in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God and man,” (Lk. 2:52). Advancing in these areas, rather than succumbing to Satan’s afflictions, is the proper path forward to our heavenly home.
-By Robert C. Veil, Jr.