Satan cannot overpower God. If God wants to give you a blessing, Satan cannot stop that. But, God has allowed humans to make good and bad choices which have true consequences, and God sometimes allows Satan to tempt people. So while Satan cannot literally take your blessing by force, he can influence your behavior so you willfully block your own blessing which God wanted to give you.
One powerful example of missing out on a blessing that God wanted to give is the story of Israel and the promise land. By studying Numbers 13 and 14 and Deuteronomy 1, we can see at least 7 ways Satan will try to get you to sabotage your own blessing from God.
1. Satan Will Try to Steal Your Blessing By Tempting You to Focus More on Your Earthly Problems and Less on God’s Promises
There’s a common trend throughout Scripture where God makes a promise but then sets the stage to require faith from those who he made the promise too. God promised Abraham a son, and yet God let Abraham and Sarah get very old before giving them this blessing. God promised Noah that he would save him and his family from the coming flood, but then he made him build the ark while it was sunny outside and everyone laughed at him. God promised David he would be king, but then he let Saul hunt David for years before giving him the kingdom. On and on it goes.
Whenever God makes a promise, he will also require faith from those to whom the promise was made. Therefore, Satan will always try to get us to miss out on God’s promise by tempting us to be faithless during the waiting and the trials. Notice how these principles played out for the Israelites. They sent spies into the land who came back with a mixed report. In Numbers 13:27-29, it says:
And they told him, ‘We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.’”
It’s the “however” objections in our lives that end up getting us. They saw the goodness of the land just like God had promised. But they also saw the problems with receiving the land. Moses tried to redirect them away from these earthly problems and back to the promise giver, God himself. In Deuteronomy 1:29-33, Moses said:
Then I said to you, ‘Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the Lord your God, who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go.”
God had been faithful, but the people lost focus because they spent too much time looking at the barriers to their blessings. This is what Satan wants for you too.
2. Satan Will Try to Steal Your Blessing By Tempting You to Have a Poor View of God Which Will Also Cause You to Have a Poor View of Yourself
Whenever we lose sight of the truth about God, we will also then have an inferiority complex about ourselves. God did not make us to be the hero of the story. When we lose sight of Christ as our savior, we end up feeling the pressure ourselves. Like David, we are just meant to be vessels for the power of God. As David said to Goliath, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:47, NIV).
David possessed the opposite attitude than the Israelites. Instead of having a right view of God and thus having a right view of themselves, they had a wrong view of God which led them to see themselves as inferior to their enemies. Numbers 13:32-33 states:
So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, ‘The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.’”
Because they lacked a proper faith in God’s power to save, all they could focus on was how short they were compared to the giants of the land. They literally started calling themselves derogatory names, for it says, “we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” They viewed themselves through the eyes of their enemy rather than through the eyes of their God.
Satan wants you to ask, “Who does the world say that I am?” That’s the wrong question. Instead ask, “Who does God say that I am?” And then answer that question with what God has said in his word. As 1 John 3:1 states, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
3. Satan Will Try to Steal Your Blessing By Tempting You to Talk and Think Too Much Instead of Obeying in Faith Immediately Once God Gives the Command
We live in a culture that encourages us to always “share how you feel” and “always talk about your problems.” While there is certainly a time and place to be honest and open about your fears and feelings, sometimes talking about your worries just gives them more life. This is especially true when the conversations we have are more about complaining than actually finding a solution. In Deuteronomy 1:26-28 Moses said:
Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. And you murmured in your tents and said, ‘Because the Lord hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us Into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.”’”
The people murmured in their tents together. They listened to all the bad news outlets pumping out negative stories. But notice how Caleb responded. Numbers 13:30 says, “But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.’” He “quieted the people” because the people were talking too much. He was ready to obey God “at once” rather than sitting around worrying like everyone else. And notice how short his words were. One sentence. He was saying, “Stop complaining and let’s go.”
Satan wants us to be talkers rather than doers, complainers rather than Christ followers, and whiners rather than wisdom seekers. As Philippians 2:14-16 commands:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
4. Satan Will Try to Steal Your Blessing By Tempting You to Follow the Crowd of Complainers Rather Than the Faithful Few
Following up on the dangers we just talked about in point 3, to avoid complaining and grumbling which will sabotage your faith, you have to avoid the people who are doing this. Complaining is a contagious disease. It spreads like a pandemic. Proverbs 18:6-8 explains:
A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.”
The world will always have more complainers than doers in it. But by the grace of God, there are always a faithful few who resist the ways of the world and submit to Christ. These are the people you need to spend time with and listen to. While all the Israelites complained about the problems blocking them from the promise land, there were a few good men left. Moses, Aaron, Caleb, and Joshua did not join in with the crowd of complainers. Numbers 14:5-10 says:
Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, ‘The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.’ Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.”
That’s such a different message than what the faithless spies said. But the people did not listen to God’s faithful few; instead they followed the murmuring majority. This is what Satan wants for you.
5. Satan Wants to Steal Your Blessing By Tempting You to Forget the Faithfulness of God Which Has Brought You to This Point
God is a good father to us, and a good father does not just send his children into the world without training. Nor does he shelter his kids forever, stunting their growth into adulthood. Rather, a good father progressively trains his children for the seasons ahead.
This is what God did for the Israelites. He didn’t just transport them from Egypt to the land of Canaan and then say, “Okay, now express an abundance of faith by going to war with these giants.” No, he showed them miracle after miracle in the wilderness. He split the Red Sea. He sent plagues on Egypt. He was literally manifesting himself in a visible way in a cloud by day and fire by night. These acts of faithfulness were supposed to be remembered so they would strengthen the people’s faith.
But the people chose to forget the faithfulness of God that led them to this point. Numbers 14:11 says, “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?’”
You aren’t still alive by accident. You have enough food not by chance. The air you are breathing right now is not just a stroke of luck. Yes, you have gone through hard things, but God is the one who brought you through them. God has always been faithful, he always is faithful, and he always will be faithful. Satan wants you to forget this.
6. Satan Will Try to Steal Your Blessing By Tempting You to Rush Your Recovery Rather Than Truly Patiently Repenting
If you are anything like me, it can be so easy to look at all the things God wants us to do and to then begin to beat yourself up because you know how much you fall short. But this is why we must always remember that our God saves by grace alone. As Ephesians 2:8-10 teaches:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
To receive God’s grace, you must have faith. But when someone truly has faith, this will be marked by repentance of sin. The good works God has planned for us to do often go undone by us because of our sin. When we sin and rebel, God calls us to repent. This is a process sometimes. It takes time to heal and mature after we do damage to ourselves. Satan wants you to rush through this process of restoration and jump back into the battle too soon.
When Israel told God they were not going to go into the promise land, God rebuked them and told them they would die in the wilderness because of their sins. Instead of truly repenting and seeking God’s grace, the people continued to rebel. Now they decided they would go into the promise land and fight the enemy. In Deuteronomy 1:41-46, Moses said:
Then you answered me, ‘We have sinned against the Lord. We ourselves will go up and fight, just as the Lord our God commanded us.’ And every one of you fastened on his weapons of war and thought it easy to go up into the hill country. And the Lord said to me, ‘Say to them, Do not go up or fight, for I am not in your midst, lest you be defeated before your enemies.’ So I spoke to you, and you would not listen; but you rebelled against the command of the Lord and presumptuously went up into the hill country. Then the Amorites who lived in that hill country came out against you and chased you as bees do and beat you down in Seir as far as Hormah. And you returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord did not listen to your voice or give ear to you. So you remained at Kadesh many days, the days that you remained there.”
They didn’t really repent. They acted “presumptuously,” meaning they jumped ahead of God and did what God was saying they were not ready to do. They still needed to truly repent, truly heal, and truly be restored with God. Instead they rushed it and just sought the blessing rather then obeying the blesser. This is what Satan wants for you.
7. Satan Will Try to Steal Your Blessing By Tempting You to Pursue Your Blessing While Also Rejecting Your Mediator
The people sinned, just as we all sin. But that was not the major reason God rejected them. They were rejected because the rejected their mediator. Moses’s attempt to mediate for the people was really foreshadowing how Jesus alone is our mediator. In Numbers 14:12 God said to Moses, “I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.” But God did this to show all of us our need for a mediator. In Numbers 14:15-19 Moses said:
Now if you kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard your fame will say, ‘It is because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to give to them that he has killed them in the wilderness.’ And now, please let the power of the Lord be great as you have promised, saying, ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”
They still wanted the blessing even though they had rejected God. They then thought they could defeat their enemy and still take hold of their blessing even though God was telling them they were not ready because of their rebellion. Numbers 14:44-45 states:
But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, although neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed out of the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and defeated them and pursued them, even to Hormah.”
Our sin is not greater than God’s grace. But to receive God’s grace we must put our faith in the true Mediator, Jesus Christ. Moses foreshadowed the true mediatory, Jesus Christ. As Hebrews 3:1-3 explains:
Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.”
Satan will tempt you to pursue the promises of God while rejecting the Mediator between you and God. Without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5). As 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 proclaims:
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”