Not fooled by the devil’s tricks – Are you falling for the tricks of the devil and are you allowing the devil to hinder you in your walk for the Lord?
Trick or treat. When I was planning this week’s sermon, I was thinking about Halloween – the scary movies and how many people, both young and old, love to dress up and cosplay as their favorite fictional or non-fictional character. Then there’s the trick or treat aspect of it where kids hope to end up getting the good stuff and not end up like Charlie Brown who got rocks in his trick or treat bag.
I reference Halloween today not because I feel like mankind’s great adversary is always playing a game of Halloween with us. The devil always has an offer of a treat for us but the devil’s treats always end up being nothing but a trick. Satan, I want you to understand, is always playing a very dangerous game with the lives of mankind that leads to nothing good.
God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33); He makes things plain to all who follow and listen to Him. Satan, on the other hand, is one that loves to stir up a bunch of mess and causes a great amount of confusion in the heart of man; he’s been doing that for a very long time. So we must be very careful in our walk because it is very easy to be fooled by and fall for the devil’s tricks. Falling for his tricks can hinder us in our walk and should we fall, it leads to nothing but destruction. So I want to take a look at our adversary – why he relentlessly pursues us, his wiles, and how we combat the devil’s tricks.
Mankind’s Great Adversary
Scripture does not attempt to hide who the devil is and what he is all about. Jesus tells us that Satan was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in truth because there is no truth in him (John 8:44). In the beginning, the devil rebelled against the Lord and war broke out in heaven which led to the fall of himself along with many other angels that chose to follow him (Rev. 12:7-9).
In the beginning for mankind, the devil showed up in the garden and deceived man into eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam that he could not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because he would surely die if he had done so (Gen. 2:16-17). Yet Satan came along and whispered in Eve’s ear that they would not die if they ate from the tree, and that they would be like God, knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:2-5).
Adam and Eve ate from the tree and from that, both sin and death entered into the world. The devil, let’s note, lied and deceived. As Jesus told us, the devil is a liar and that there is absolutely no truth in him – He is the father of lies and has been doing so since the beginning. Do not think for one second that the devil truly has a treat to offer to you; it is nothing but a lie – a trick.
Satan’s Motivation Against Man and God
So, why is Satan this way? Why is Satan mankind’s adversary? Why does he desire to trick us so much? Let’s briefly take a moment to understand the devil’s motivation.
The mad ruler
There is something we see Jesus speak of in John’s gospel that gives us insight into Satan’s motivations. In John 12, Jesus briefly speaks of the judgment of both the world and the ruler (or prince – KJV) of this world (John 12:31). The ruler of this world, Jesus says, will be cast out. Now, who is this ruler that Jesus is speaking of? Jesus was not speaking of the Lord, He was speaking of the devil. So, how is the devil considered the ruler of this world?
After Satan rebelled against God, he was cast out of heaven and in the book of Job we see that the devil took up home in this world. We also see in Job that the devil still had access to heaven and one day he went and spoke to the Lord about his going to and fro on the earth. What was the devil up to?
I believe Peter described it best when he said that Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). The lion, we like to say, is the ‘king of the jungle’. We say it is the king because it is the top predator in the jungle. Like the lion, the devil is the top predator of this jungle that is our world – he runs the jungle, if you will. Now, for those that will be moved with fear, do not fear because Jesus tells us in John’s gospel that the ruler of this world is going to be defeated and cast out the world.
The devil’s sealed defeat
The devil’s defeat comes in three stages but I am going to take a moment to focus solely on the first stage of the devil’s defeat today because it is the one that seals his defeat and is ultimately behind what drives him today. (I have an upcoming bible study next week that will dive deeper into Satan’s defeat.)
This first stage of the devil’s defeat has actually already passed. At the cross, the devil believed that he would finally destroy the Lord by killing his only begotten Son. Satan had worked his way into the heart of one of Jesus’ closest followers – Judas Iscariot – and got him to betray Jesus. Satan then worked his way into the hearts of the religious leaders that finally got the Romans to do their bidding and order the execution of Jesus. So, the cross was to be Satan’s crowning achievement where he would deal a death blow against the Lord.
Yet, we know things did not go quite as planned for the devil. Yes, Jesus physically died on the cross but we know that after doing so, Jesus went to hell and proclaimed victory over the grave (over sin and death) (Eph. 4:7-9; 1 Pet. 3:18-19). You see, because of the cross, and through His resurrection, Jesus overcame the devil, the world, and sin as well (John 16:33).
Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, He brought about peace to those that would believe in Him. Jesus’ death was not the death nail to God as Satan had intended it to be. The only thing Satan managed to do was to reveal he has no power and authority. He revealed that God truly is the sovereign God over all things. Lastly, Satan got to see that his defeat truly has been sealed.
So, he became even more bitter, more angry, and more upset – the devil was never going to be gracious in defeat. He is now driven to drag down with him to the pit as many as he possibly can. He is relentlessly motivated in his drive to bring others down with him. All he has left to do is be that roaring lion in the jungle, seeking who he can devour.
The Wiles of Satan
So, we face today what Paul calls the wiles of the devil. Wile: a trick or stratagem intended to ensnare or deceive; a skill in outwitting. So, we must understand that the devil is a master strategist in the art of deception – he is very cunning. What this means is that when he does move against us, he will not do so openly, but will do so covertly (hidden and veiled). There is always a plan behind his attacks. Satan is like a chess player and you better believe that he has studied you intently. The lie is one of the devil’s most well known tricks but he certainly has other tricks.
For believers, one of his most prominent attacks is to twist the word of God. He does this in an effort to get the believer to doubt and question the word and then tempt the believer to act against (betray) the Lord.
In the gospels, we study about the temptation of Jesus by the devil through the twisting of the word of God. While Jesus was hungry after fasting for forty days and nights, Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread (Matt. 4:3-4). Jesus rebuked Satan with the word of God and said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”
After that, Satan then took Jesus up to the pinnacle of the temple and told Him to jump from the pinnacle. The devil then twisted the word of God by saying to Jesus that God would give charge over Him to His angels and they, the angels, would save Jesus (Matt. 4:5-7). Jesus rebuked Him again with the true word of God, but again, notice that the devil was twisting the word of God in tempting Jesus to betray God’s word. I tell you that the devil still uses this same tactic against all believers today.
The devil desires for you to doubt the word of God and to betray it. He does this because he knows those who trust in the word will be saved from the pit. Jesus told us that the truth – the word of God – will set us free from the bondage of sin (John 8:32). So, the devil’ desires to choke this truth out of the hearts of man (Mark 4:15). He much rather you remain in the bondage of sin and to face God’s judgment of living a life in sin, rather be with God in paradise.
Halloween all the time for Satan
To further deceive mankind to stay in the bondage of sin, another of the devil’s tricks is to cunningly present himself as something that he is not – he loves to get into costume! He does this with the intent of getting close to you to earn your trust.
For those who are of the flock of Christ, scripture shows us that Satan will dress himself in sheep’s clothing. Let us remember that Jesus warned that we have to be aware of false teachers who inwardly are ravenous wolves but will wear sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15). You see, sheep will follow other sheep and so, the devil will cunningly work his way into your circle with the intent of getting you to follow him in his way. You have to watch carefully those that are near you because the devil certainly wants to get close.
To those not of the faith, Paul wrote how the devil will transform and present himself to people as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). The devil does this, again, to earn trust. You see, the devil wants to minister and present his doctrine to those that will listen and follow him. You will find that the devil’s doctrine is worldly driven and scratches and soothes the itching ears (the lusting souls) of man. The devil desires to blind the hearts of man from the truth – the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ – sound doctrine (2 Cor. 4:4). That is because he knows exactly where he is leading them and if man knew better, they would not follow.
False signs and wonders of the devil
There is one more of the devil’s tricks that I want to point out here today. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus spoke of the latter times and how false christs and prophets would rise and “show great signs and wonders (Matt. 24:24).” They will do this with the intent of deceiving people into following them. Who will lead them in doing such a thing? Who is capable of doing this?
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote of the time of the great apostasy that is to come in the last days. In the days of the great apostasy, Paul wrote of the coming of the lawless one and that he would come to the world according to the working of Satan. According to the working of Satan, Paul wrote that the lawless one would come with power, signs, lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception (2 Thess. 2:8-10). I want you to understand that Paul wrote that the lawless one was essentially coming in the image of Satan and so we see Paul describing the works (the wiles) of Satan.
Beware of signs, wonders, those magical feelings, and those whispering words you hear in your soul. You see, the devil is fully capable of scratching the ears of your soul and deceiving you in your spirit. Falling for these false signs will lead to destruction.
Facing and Defeating the Devil’s Tricks
Those who end up falling for the devil’s tricks, and are fully convinced to follow him, scripture tells us that God will give them over to a debased mind (Rom. 1:28). Those that end up believing the lie, scripture tells us, will all be condemned because they did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thess. 2:11-12).
There are many who have fallen for the tricks of the devil who believed that he was offering them a treat. Now, I want you to understand that the treats of the devil are never treats – he has nothing that he can offer you. The devil cannot bless you nor does he desire to bless you! Do not fall for the devil’s tricks lest you find yourself in a world of trouble!
In order for us not to fall for the devil’s tricks, we see Paul say that we ought to dress appropriately. Paul tells us to put on the whole armor of God so that we can be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11, 13). Because the devil is relentless in pursuing to drag us down with him, I believe we should be wearing the whole armor of God in season and out of season – wear your armor at all times!
We will see that Paul directs us to take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which he says is the word of God into battle against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:17). The very thing it seems Satan attempts to attack most, the word, Paul tells us to have with us. Why is that the case? Remember, the word of God is what sets us free – when we have the true word of God we are better able to combat the devil’s lies and deceptions. So, we ought to diligently study scripture, Jesus’ teachings, and preachings in season and out of season for when the devil tries to use the word of God against us.
As we saw last week, we must live by the word of God which we saw is still living through all that God does for us. Do not let the devil try to twist the works that the Lord has done in your life – let them remain in you and live by them and, again, testify of them! I want you to understand that we ought to carry the word of God with us at all times because it not only bats back at the devil’s tricks but the word of God is a saving word that will save you from the devil’s lies and the devil’s tricks!
The big gun of resistance
We will then see in scripture that we have one more weapon to combat the devil’s tricks, lies, and depictions. Our biggest weapon against the devil’s tricks is prayer.
In Luke’s gospel, we will see that Jesus said we ought to pray so that we are counted worthy to escape the evil that will come to pass (Luke 21:36). I want you to recall that when Jesus taught us about prayer, He said that we should pray not to be led into temptation, but to be delivered from all evil by the Lord (Matt. 6:13). We ought to pray diligently not to fall for the devil’s tricks of wickedness.
I believe James said it best when it came to dealing with Satan. James said that we should submit ourselves to the Lord, resist the devil, and when we do these things, the devil will flee from us (Jas. 4:7). You see, lions are the king of the jungle but they don’t like messing with prey that is difficult to catch. The devil wants nothing to do with prey that will resist and is difficult to catch and consume. The goal for us is to live on eternally, not be cast away for all of eternity. None of the devil’s tricks can take you away from God if you truly rely on Him as your main defense.