Deceptive Tactics from Satan, Our Enemy (Sn4:Ep06)

Peace to Live By: Deceptive Tactics from Satan, Our Enemy (Sn4:Ep06) - Daniel Litton
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       Many of us who are Christian today understand that we are in a spiritual war. We realize that Satan and his demons are working against us, and working against the world. As we live out our Christian lives, seeking to be more and more like Christ, Satan is time and again making warfare against us. We are continually under attack, and therefore, it is important for us to understand how Satan operates—how he works. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. I want to discuss different tactics that Satan uses against us, as Christians, and against the whole world really.

       Turn in your Bibles to Genesis chapter 3. The focus of our discussion today will be in third chapter of Genesis. There is much we can be reminded of, and perhaps learn for new the first time, as we consider this familiar passage of Scripture. Let’s go ahead and read the text in full. It says:

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”

What an interesting and sobering passage, and now let’s move this and seek to learn how Satan works in our lives, some of his tactics against us as believers.

       So, in Genesis 3:1 we read: ““Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.”

       If you’ll remember, on Day Six of Creation God created the snakes. Now, it would seem that snakes originally had legs—how many, I’m not sure? But nonetheless, the snake in its animalistic form “was more crafty than any other beast of the field” God tells us. And, as we all know, the serpent here in this passage represents Satan. In all likelihood, it would appear that he had just been cast out of Heaven after his rebellion against God, in which he took one third of God’s angels with him, as they rebelled as well and took Satan’s side. Satan had wanted to be as God. If we turn over to Isaiah chapter 14, the Prophet Isaiah gives us a picture into this. Going to verse 12, he said, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!… You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High’” (12-14, ESV). So, this is a small scene from Heaven of what took place between God and Satan.

       At present, we know that Satan’s fall occurred after the creation of the world by God, for the passage I just read in Isaiah tells us that. For Satan said, “I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high.” So, we know that it had to be after God had created all the stars of the Universe. Taking this a step further, we know that Genesis 1:31 stated, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (ESV). If you were to include angels in the creation, at that point we know that all angels were good at least up until the end of Day Six. The Apostle John seems to support this point when he said in his epistle that “the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:8, ESV). He didn’t say, “the devil has been sinning long before the beginning” but “from the beginning.”

       The primary point here, though, is that Satan is “crafty.” We know that his tactics are both overt and covert. He uses both methods in his attacks. Here, in his first attack on mankind, we see that he comes at Eve in a covert manner. He possesses a snake, an animal which God had created, an animal which Adam had named (see Genesis 2:19, 20). So, Adam and Eve would have been familiar with the snake. And remember, none of the animals were against Adam and Eve since the fall hadn’t occurred yet. There was no sin in the world, so all the animals got along with each other, and they all got along with the first humans. There was no fear or animosity involved. Satan thus plays on this trust that Eve has for the animals, and even talks to her through the snake (which could indicate that all animals originally talked—interestingly enough). Eve doesn’t seem to act strange that an animal is talking with her. But don’t know for sure. Perhaps the text just doesn’t tell us that she thought it was weird. We see here our first tactic from Satan, and that is that he uses what is trustworthy and familiar to accomplish his work. Pretty sobering.

       Genesis 3:2 states, “He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’? (ESV).

       Here, we see the foundation of Satan’s work throughout time, the main surface which he builds upon, and that is questioning what God has said. Really, if you stop and think about it, that is at the heart of a lot sin. Often when we sin, we are really saying, “Did God really say this or that?” Or, “Did God really prohibit this or that?” We question God’s truthfulness. There are elements of society that are built around the premise of “Did God actually say.” Governmental institutions, universities, colleges, and even churches, are and can be built around the whole notion of questioning what God originally has told us in his Word. Theories of science like evolution are based on this one simple question. Instead of just trusting God, people want to question what he has said—to put it to the test and try to prove it to be wrong. You see, if you can undercut what God has said, and show him to have said something untrue, you undermine his whole foundation. If you could prove God wrong, then he loses his authority.

       Another tactic, though, that we see right off the bat here is that Satan pinpoints and focuses on that which God said the humans could not have. He is questioning God’s trustworthiness and kindness. In essence, Satan is saying, “But it’s not fair that God let’s you have everything but the fruit from the two trees of which he has forbidden it. He doesn’t want you to have that fruit because he is mean and cruel. God is holding back something good from you.” And, here again, we see another way by which Satan works. He gets us to think that God is cheating us out of certain things in life—that God is a killjoy. He wants us to believe and see God as a mean God who just doesn’t want us to have everything good. But we know that God only prohibits something if it will actually hurt us, or if the time isn’t right for us. He says both “No” and “Wait” because he wants us to experience good life. And good life includes prohibitions.

       We understand that, in our current fallen state, we each have the sin nature, and Satan can play off of our sinful desire to want to fulfill all our desires, anything we want to do, regardless of what God has said. Now, he didn’t have that privilege with Adam and Eve, but he definitely has that privilege with us. Because we each have a fallen sin nature with fallen desires, Satan can try to play off of those desires. Really, if you consider it, it’s true that a lot of New Age thinking (though it’s not really ‘new age’) is based on the premise that we should fulfill all the desires we have in our bodies, in our flesh. We might also call this postmodern thinking. People don’t want to deny themselves anything really. If we are honest with ourselves, though, we know that way of living really doesn’t work. It’s just not reasonable to say one should fulfill all his or her desires. Some people have desires inside themselves where they want to hurt other people, for instance. And most of us would agree that those people shouldn’t fulfill those desires.

       Genesis 3:2, 3 states, “And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

       Notice that God had told Adam that he and Eve could eat of any tree in the garden—all but two of them, that is. That’s important because it shows God’s generosity and kindness. Indeed, God was very generous. He said they could eat of any of the trees, all of them, except the two he prohibited, the two that Satan so poignantly focuses on. And God is very generous with us today. He gives us great freedom as Christians to pick and choose many of the things we want in life. Yes, he has set perimeters, but he gives us tremendous freedom within those perimeters. As the Apostle Paul has told us, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17, ESV). I also want to note that I’ve heard a few Bible teachers talk about how Eve had added to God’s command by adding the phrase, “You shall not touch it.” But we know that’s not the case because neither Adam nor Eve had sinned yet, so Adam didn’t add the phrase, and neither did Eve. Apparently, God had said it on another occasion, of which is not recorded for us.

Genesis 3:4, 5 states, “But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

       This is the underlying attack of Satan against God. There are four statements, four things, that he says here that are of critical importance, and they can help us greatly understand his tactics and how he works against us. Let’s break down this sentence phrase by phrase.

       First, Satan starts with the only part of what he said that is not true. That’s right, the beginning here is the only part of Satan’s statement where he lied. He said, “You will not surely die.” He lied to Eve, and went against what God had said, in fact, challenging what God had said. He basically said that God is a liar, for God had said that in the day they ate the fruit they would die. Recall that the Apostle Paul had told us God cannot lie (see Titus 1:2, ESV). It’s impossible for him to lie. If God ever lied, even just one time, he would be undermined and, again, lose his authority. But really, in part here, it was not only true that eating the fruit would cause physical death, but it would also cause spiritual death—which is really the larger of the two issues. Spiritual death meant separation from God, and that was exactly what Satan wanted to accomplish.

       It’s also true that there is a sense in Satan’s statement where, in saying “You will not surely die,” he was playing off the fact that the physical death that was to come upon the humans would not occur immediately. In other words, both Adam and Eve ate, and they didn’t die physically. It would take years for them to actually, physically die. And here, we see another tactic that Satan uses to deceive people. He tells them to sin and that it will not harm them. Often since immediate punishment doesn’t come for a sin, people think they can sin at will and not face any consequences. But that is where they are gravely mistaken. For the unbeliever, every sin committed in this life will be judged in the future by God. So, a person who fornicates, for instance, while they may not see God’s hand against them now for this sin, God will judge them in the future for it. Indeed, God is keeping track of everything everyone does. And he doesn’t forget sin, let it slide by, or grade on a curve. People are responsible for every sin they do whether or not they realize it or not.

       Let’s consider this concept a little bit further. A person driving on the roadway may be in a hurry and decide he or she is going to run a red light. The person looks around first, sees no cops around, and decides to run the red light. And let’s say the person is successful in doing so. The person is not seen by a cop and there are no consequences for this action. The person feels he got away with it. And often this is how people think. They think that if there is not immediate punishment, that they ‘get away’ with whatever it is. But that’s not how it works with God. Often God does not provide immediate punishment to people for the wrongs they do. And yet, he is keeping track of every wrong each individual does to be reckoned with in the future. Any person who does not have a payment for their wrongs done by Christ will in fact be guilty of all the wrongs they’ve done. Christ sacrifice on the cross for sin is the only acceptable payment to God for sin in the whole world.

       And so this leads to Satan’s deception toward individuals. He tries to convince people who believe the truth of the Gospel that they have plenty of time to give themselves to God. He tries to get them to put off accepting Christ’s sacrifice for them. He says, “You don’t have to worry about this right now. You’ve got plenty of time. You’re not gonna die anytime soon.” And so people become deceived, and they don’t give their lives over to God by accepting Jesus. They just kick the can down the road and decide that, even though they feel this is true, they’ll deal with it some other time. You see, the problem is that God said we’re all going to die. It’s just a statement of fact. Unless the Rapture happens in our lifetime, each of us, at the sound of my voice, is going to experience physical death—we’re going to die. An obstacle for us is that we really don’t feel like we’re going to die. We certainly don’t live like we’re going die. We think life will just carry on and on and then someday, when we’re elderly, we’ll die. And certainly, for some of us, that will be true. But not for all of us.

       I was like this when I was younger. I first heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ when I was at a summer vacation Bible school at a Grace Brethren church out east of Columbus. I was thirteen or fourteen years old. I didn’t even know it was required that we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, even though I had attended many church services growing up at other churches. So near in the end of the week, at the vacation Bible school, I was brought into a room with two teachers who told me the Gospel. After hearing it, I thought to myself, this sounds like a good deal, I accept Jesus and I get to go to Heaven when I die. So, I thought, I’ll accept Jesus. And I prayed the prayer with the teachers. The problem was that this conversion only lasted a day or two, because as I sought to recondition my life—to try to act like a better person—I thought it was just too hard. And I threw in the towel and gave up.

       It wasn’t until a few years later, when I was sixteen years old, that I found myself in the springtime at a Grace Brethren church again, coincidentally (for I didn’t even realize the churches were the same denomination until later). I started going to church with my cousin on Sunday mornings. There was a girl he liked who was attending Worthington Christian at the time, and he want to try to, I guess, get in good with her. So, I was going with him as well, and it wasn’t until September 3—I think we started going in April or May and went a majority of the Sundays throughout the summer—that I finally accepted Jesus in my heart as Lord and Savior. I heard Pastor Jim Custer tell the Gospel many times at the end of his sermons, but it took many times—probably eight to ten times—for me to really accept it. I remember on other occasions, before this, hearing the truth and thinking, “Yeah, that’s true. But nobody lives like this.” And I also remember thinking, “I’ll just wait and accept this another time.” And that’s what Satan does. He gets people to put off salvation for another time, in hopes that that ‘nother’ time will never come. Don’t wait 8 to 10 times like I did.

       Let’s read Genesis 3:4, 5 again: “But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

       Let’s consider the rest of Satan’s statement here. We have already established the fact that Satan lied in the first part of what he said. But what I want us to see here is that the rest of what Satan says is in fact true, believe it or not. He mixed truth with error to deceive Eve.

       So, he says “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” It was certainly true that eating the fruit would lead both Adam and Eve to becoming like God. What this means is that, as the King James Version says, “Ye shall be as gods.” The sinning by Adam and Eve would move God from being God of their lives, to themselves being god of their lives. You see, when we reject God, we become a god to ourselves. We reject God’s commands, and we create our own version of morality. We decide what is right and what is wrong. And this is what most people do today. Sound familiar? They have rejected God, and they have decided they will follow what they ‘feel’ is right, what they think in their own minds. This is why we have so much chaos in our world today. People have decided to reject God and do what they ‘want’ to do.

       I mean, this is the whole premise behind false religions right? False religions are built around people just deciding their own morality—just making up their own system and adhering to it. That’s what Hinduism is. It’s just a bunch of old worldly wisdom from humans. That’s what Islam is. It’s the beliefs of one man, yes, you have that right, one man who tried to say what is right and what is wrong. He believed, for instance, that Christians and Jews should be murdered. Hmm, I wonder where that came from? Or just take Mormonism. Again, the belief of one person (and eventually two), who lead a bunch of people out west in this country on a religious expedition. The man, Joseph Smith, claimed to hear from God through an angel, and he wrote down supposedly what the tablets he supposedly found said. And interestingly enough, the tablets, which the angel said where from 400 A.D., supposedly had King James Bible verses on them (the King James Bible was translated between 1604 and 1611 folks). But that’s ok. Maybe the angel just was able to make this happen. Seriously folks.

       In contrast, the Christian’s Bible, which comprises of both the Old and New Testaments, was written by over 40 different authors. That is, over 40 men wrote down all the different books and letters. And, we have over 5,300 manuscripts of the New Testament today, which were written in the original Greek language. Even though we don’t have any original copies, there are also many secular works of which we do not have original copies. But there are more copies of the New Testament than many accepted secular works, like those of Plato, Homer, and Aristotle (see Simmons, p. 58, 2013). Now, bear in mind that none of the Biblical books have any contradictions. They all work in harmony with each other, even though they were written over a period exceeding 1,500 years. People do try to point out insignificant contradictions, but really, there are no contradictions. The Bible, even though it was written by man, claims to have been written by the Spirit of God. It says that the words of Scripture which men wrote were actually written by God himself.

       And it’s not just false religion that people have come up with, but it’s other philosophies and empty deceit, as the Apostle Paul talked about (see Colossians 2:8). In order for people to get out of the dilemma of creation, they’ve ended up creating the theory of evolution. It’s interesting how people first rejected the morality or rules around God, which is what we call deism. Of course, deism saw it height’s in the 1700s. People didn’t feel it reasonable to reject God totally because as they saw creation and how everything was made, they thought it illogical to reject the fact that the world was created. So, they just rejected God’s morality. But then by the 1800s, a new theory emerged, the Theory of Evolution, which finished the job. It allowed people to not only reject God’s morality and order, but also to reject God as creator himself. Rather, evolution wants people to believe that the world we see today, all the intricate order and design, just came out of nothing. It just came into being from particles from outer-space. It becomes much more difficult to believe in evolution, it takes much more faith, than believing in God. Believing in evolution requires the earth to have won the lottery many times over, beating all odds trillions of times over and over again. It’s hard enough for just one person to win the lottery.

       And so, even though people know good and evil, they really know deep down right from wrong, as the Apostle Paul also told us, they make up their own morality to live by. And we can see this in our world today very easily. In our own country, we can see how people used to believe that fornication, two people engaging in sexual conduct, outside of marriage, used to be considered wrong. Nowadays, most people believe there is nothing wrong with it. They believe that fornication is good. And there are other areas where we can see this kind of degradation of morality. People decide what they want to believe; they form their morality from their own thoughts. But the issue here is that people differ on what they believe is right. No, we must use an ‘external’ source to determine morality. We don’t use our internal minds to determine our laws in this country. You cannot tell a police officer, “Well, I thought it was okay to do this or that.” The officer will ticket you based on the law. And so it is with morality. We understand morality by reading what the Bible says, by reading what God’s has penned in his Word. God is the one who decides true morality, not people.

       Understand that anything good comes from God. Just a couple chapters back, in Genesis chapter 1, we read, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (ESV). God is the author of good. If evolution is true, and there is no god (because remember that the Bible and evolution are not compatible; you have to have death occurring for evolution to work, and death doesn’t occur in the Bible until Genesis chapter 3), then there is no good, and there is no evil. Nothing people do is good and nothing they do is bad because good and evil are just figments of people’s imaginations. I still do not understand to this day why people who believe in evolution follow any rules. There is no good and evil under an evolutionary mindset. I don’t understand why they just don’t do what they want to do. And indeed, I guess some people do. King David penned in Psalm 14, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good” (ESV). Indeed, there is no one in the world who is inherently good. All are initially evil, and they only way for people to become good is to accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, as a payment for their sins, which then makes them good before God.

       Let’s go ahead and finish up the passage in Genesis chapter 3, which says, starting in verse 6: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Genesis 3:6, 7, ESV).

       So, we see here that Satan succeeded in getting Adam and Eve to want the fruit which was forbidden. He was able to play off of their good desires to get them to fulfill them in an unlawful way—a way which wasn’t approved by God. Thus, by what Adam did, by sinning against God and eating the forbidden fruit, he gave up his right to rule the earth. He gave up that right to Satan. And at this moment, not only did Satan rule the earth, but he also ruled in the hearts of Adam and Eve—through their now fallen, sin-natures within their flesh. And Satan would have rule of the earth all the way until the cross—until Jesus would disarm him. Even today, Satan has great power and influence over our world, and is constantly seeking to work out his desires and wishes through the lives of people. He wants sin-driven people to spread evil to others. But the good news today is that for us, as Christians, Satan does not rule in our lives. Christ does. Satan only has authority in our lives where we allow him to. And so, while Satan took life from Adam, Christ gives life to all who will believe through his death and resurrection.

       But Satan’s ultimate goal in getting Adam and Eve to eat the fruit was to ruin their relationship with God. He wanted them to be separated from God, no longer having the intimate fellowship with him that they so dearly enjoyed beforehand. And this not only hurt Adam and Eve, but it also hurt God because he lost his fellowship with them. Undoubtedly, he loved being close to them and having that relationship with them. That’s our sole reason for existence, after all, to be in close relationship with God. That’s why he created humans in the first place. He wanted to have beings who would willingly choose to love him. And that’s what Adam and Eve had been doing. Satan presented a choice to love God, or to love self first. In other words, the choice really was, “Who is God? Is God really God, or should God be ourselves?” Again, that’s what sin does. When we sin, we are making ourselves God, and saying we know better than God about this or that. We are saying that our own personal choice is better and trumps what God has told us to be true. And so we put God in contempt, and we lose our close fellowship with him. Thankfully, though, today we live in the age of grace, and through Christ, those of us who believe have been restored to right relationship with God. And anytime we sin, we can have that close fellowship revitalized, and we can love God with our whole beings.

       In conclusion today, I realize that there are many of you out there who have been listening to what I have been saying but you do not believe in Jesus. Sure, you may believe he exists, but you have never given your life over to him. A big part of the problem for many individuals is that they don’t want to be wrong. You might not want to accept Jesus because that will mean you will have to admit you have been wrong, and have been doing wrong, for a long time. And you don’t feel you can do that. But, I want to plead with you today not to let pride stop you from coming to Jesus. Don’t let what others may think of Jesus, or of you coming into relationship with him, actually stop you from making the right choice today. Who cares what people think. It’s okay to admit you have been wrong. That’s what I had to do when I accepted Jesus—I had to admit I had been living my life the wrong way. I had to admit that I hadn’t been following God. And sure, it cost me some relationships, some friendships in my life. But I have never regretted my choice, and I’m so glad I made the right choice some 16 years ago.

       Let’s review the Good News of Jesus. Many of you have heard it over and over. We know that Jesus came to earth, some 2,000 years ago, he lived a perfect life, and he died on the cross, bearing the penalty for your sins and my sins. God put all of our sin on him so we would not have to go Hell in the future. He made a way for us to be guilt-free of everything wrong we’ve ever done against him, every commandment of his we’ve broken. God is a holy and righteous God, and he cannot let sin go unpunished. But God raised Jesus from death on the third day after his crucifixion, and now he is back in Heaven with God, the third realm of existence. Anyone who trusts in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for their sins will gain life now, and enter life for the future. Trust me; it’s not worth going to Hell to prove you are right, or because of what your friends might think. Please accept Jesus today, for both you and I have no idea how much longer we will be alive on this earth. Death could occur at anytime for us, and we want to make sure we are in right relationship with God today.

       If you would like to make the decision today to believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and gain eternal life, please follow my lead in this prayer:

God, I am coming to you today to give my life over to you. I have been living my life my own way, under the power of Satan, but today I understand that I can gain real life in you. So, I want to accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for me, on my behalf, and I do believe he really rose from the dead. Because of his resurrection, I now believe you will raise me from death in the future and bring me to be with you forever. Thank you, Father, for loving me and choosing to save me, and help me to become like you want me to be, a better person, more like Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton

References

Simmons III, Richard E. (2013). Reliable Truth. Union Hill Publishing: United States of America.