How does the devil attack us? What are Satan’s methods of attack? What strategies does the devil use on Christians?
These are important questions to ask since the Bible repeatedly warns us of the devil’s activity. 1 Peter 5:8 states, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Ephesians 6:11-12 also says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Martin Loyd-Jones states:
I sometimes think that our failure to realize the exceeding greatness of God’s power in us is due to the fact that we have never realized the power of the devil. How little do we talk about him; and yet in the New Testament his activities are constantly emphasized! If we but realized something of the power of the devil we would be praying this prayer that Paul offered for the Ephesians, that ‘the eyes may be opened to the greatness of God’s power’ (Ephesians 1:18) in us.”
The devil attacks us in many ways. What follows is not every method Satan attacks us with. Here are just three strategies of Satan that are common attacks against Christians.
The Devil Attacks Us Through Lies About God
How does the devil attack us? The primary way the devil attacks us is through lies about God. Right from the start of sin Satan was there with his lies:
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)
While Satan fed Eve the lie, she was the one who ate it. Satan created this lie about God but Adam and Eve had to believe it before this lie could bear sinful fruit. The devil attacks us by trying to tell us false things about God, but sin only occurs when we believe these lies. So Satan’s main goal is to get us to believe false things.
When we realize we have believed a lie, we must repent and break the agreement we made with that lie and believe the truth instead. What we believe about God will control our behavior. To overcome the devil, we must guard our minds, our beliefs, and who we receive teaching from. 2 Corinthians 4:4 states, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” You can always know what is most important by what the enemy attacks the most.
If we want to overcome the attacks of the devil, we must make sure we are continually seeing “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
The Devil Attacks Through Fleshly and Worldly Temptations
How does the devil attack us? Satan is not the only enemy the Christian has. We must also battle against the sinful flesh and the world. While these two enemies are different than Satan, you can be sure the devil will incorporate them into his strategies and methods against Christians.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:16-21)
Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:19)
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:13-15)
Satan uses the sinful urges produced by our flesh. The devil attacks us through using the world’s evil as a lure, arousing the sinfulness still remaining in our bodies. The only solution is to live by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). When we keep our minds fixed on God and seek to be led by the Spirit, we will not follow the devil (1 John 3:4-10).
The Devil Attacks Us Through Laziness and Daily Habits
How does the devil attack us? I think the first two methods of attack by Satan that we mentioned were probably not a surprise to you. Those are what most people think about when we ask, “How does the devil attack us?” But Satan’s strategies can be more subtle as well. Martin Loyd-Jones states:
We do not only have to fight the world but also the flesh. The “flesh” does not always mean gross sin; it can appear in the form of lethargy and laziness. How easy it is to feel that we are not quite fit to physically or intellectually read the Bible. You feel a prompting to read the Bible, but you say, ‘I am rather tired, I have had a heavy day in the office, my mind is not quite up to it, and it is not right to read the Scriptures when you are not at your best; so I will read the newspaper now; later on I will read the Scriptures when I am feeling refreshed and better.’ The result is that you go to bed without having read the Scriptures. We have to wage a constant battle against lethargy and laziness, and the equally subtle temptation to procrastination. These are the instruments used by the devil to hinder our progress.
. . . . Habits tend to persist and the old nature is not annihilated. It is still there and has to be dealt with. We are commanded ‘to mortify the deeds of the body’ (Romans 8:12). All evil habits do not suddenly fall away out of your life. God in His grace may, and often does remove some of them, but He leaves others. The force of habit is a terrible power, so great that there is nothing but the power of God that can keep us and preserve us against it. Though we have a new mind, and a new outlook, and desire to live the new life, certain habits tend to hinder us. It is the power of God alone that can enable us to conquer them.”
It may seem boring to talk about “habits” and “discipline,” but here is where the battles are often won and loss. Little choices made on a consistent base have huge effects on our lives. How we spend our days will be how we spent our life.
Watching TV, using social media, taking a nap – none of these things are inherently sinful. But in our flesh we can turn to these little daily pleasures rather than to Christ. The devil often works in the small details of our days.
So How Does the Devil Attack Us?
The strategies of Satan are many, but our solution is always the same – Jesus Christ. Without Christ we cannot defeat the attacks of the devil. We must always submit to God to resist the devil (James 4:7), we must seek God above all else, and we must rely on him all the time. When we do this, we cannot be defeated by the devil.