Have you ever been betrayed by someone you trusted? Maybe at work, you promoted someone, or gave them a special project, and they let you down or even stabbed you in the back. Perhaps you trusted a close friend with confidential information, only to find out that your friend had used that information to spread rumors about you to others.
Betrayal, disappointment and broken trust are some of the most hurtful experiences that we suffer as humans. Have you ever thought about the fact that God knows what that feels like? God has been betrayed as well.
Before humanity existed, God created a host of angels, led by His most powerful, beautiful angel—the highest-ranking cherub named Lucifer. This same cherub eventually led an uprising against the throne of God and he continues to wage war against those who worship the Lord today.
Through the apostle Paul, the Lord warns us not to be ignorant of Satan’s schemes and devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). Evidently, a better understanding of the devil can go a long way in our battle against his lures. So, let’s take some time to better understand our evil enemy.
WHO IS SATAN?
God gives the most vivid description of Satan to the prophet Ezekiel as He instructs His prophet to deliver a message to the king of Tyre. While it appears that Ezekiel is speaking to the king, he is actually delivering God’s message directly to Satan, who has either possessed this king, or was working behind the scenes directing the king’s actions. This speech reveals attributes and characteristics of Satan that we do not find anywhere else in Scripture, making this a most important passage in engaging in spiritual warfare.
Ezekiel, speaking God’s words, says, “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12b). In other words, Satan was originally an angelic model of perfection, wisdom, and beauty. While God knew, in His omniscience, what Satan would become, He did not create him as a worker of evil, but as a model of good.
Ezekiel continues, “You were an anointed guardian cherub” indicating that Satan, or Lucifer as he was called then, was in the “inner circle” of the angels, closest to God Himself. The cherubim were the angels tasked with guarding God and declaring His holiness. You may remember the ark of the covenant constructed with two cherubs on the lid as if protecting the holy presence of God. Additionally, cherubim were ordered to guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden after God exiled Adam and Eve. Later, the figures of cherubim were embroidered into the curtain separating the Holy of Holies, as if to signal their role in protecting the purity of God.
God also created Satan with a free will—the ability to exercise his own will and make his own choice. Ezekiel reveals Satan’s downfall as he became corrupted with pride and self-glory; “Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground” (Ezekiel 28:17a). And we know from other passages that a third of the angelic host followed Satan and were cast down with him.
HOW DOES SATAN WAGE WAR AGAINST GOD AND HIS PEOPLE?
The apostle Paul reveals three different approaches Satan uses in his efforts to defeat, divide and discourage the believer. By attacking humans—those made in God’s image—he attempts to attack the very nature and heart of God.
As Paul encouraged the church at Corinth, he charged them to “not be taken advantage of by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11 CSB). That word schemes literally means “purposes of the mind.”
Paul goes on to say, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5a). The schemes Satan uses to keep unbelievers captive to his kingdom are mental arguments and opinions that counter the truth of the gospel and discredit Scripture.
Have you ever witnessed to someone who seemed to have an answer for everything? Have you noticed how people will readily debate you, rather than take the word of God at face value? According to God’s word, these arguments and opinions are generated and originated from the scheming mind of Satan himself.
To the church in Ephesus, Paul wrote, “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). The word translated "schemes" is different from the previous one; this word is methodeia, from which we get the word “method” or “system.”
While Satan’s schemes are targeted at unbelievers, his systems are directed toward believers, discouraging their faith, diverting their attention, distracting their worship away from God, and hindering their close fellowship with the Lord.
Satan is described by Paul as someone using “craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). In other words, Satan uses deception and lies to attack the foundation of our faith, and the joy of our hearts.
- Satan tempts in order to discredit the believer.
- Satan persecutes in order to silence the believer.
- Satan deceives in order to distract us.
- Satan schemes in order to divide the assembly of believers.
Finally, Paul warns Timothy in his writing about qualified church leaders; “He must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:7). This snare is a very specific plan by Satan to discredit God by discrediting His most visible followers.
When a church leader, pastor, or elder is caught in some scandalous behavior, have you noticed how the world exploits it to discredit the gospel? A scandal seems to prove to our world that Christianity is an insincere, hypocritical religion, led by leaders who don’t practice what they preach.
This particular snare is a most powerful one, damaging the reputation of the fallen leader, but more devastatingly, the credibility of the gospel and the church.
Let’s be mindful of how much Satan hates God. He’s a roaring lion, seeking one of God’s children to devour. He can’t have our soul, but he can certainly destroy our testimony.
Beloved, let’s be alert and aware of his constant attack on the credibility of the gospel, the church, the believer, and the glory of God.