How Satan deceives God’s people
When Satan works among God’s people, he takes advantage of their natural desires and tendencies and the things that are appealing to them.
Satan is very mindful of the things of man. He knows just what appeals to people, and he uses this knowledge to tailor enticements to their individual weaknesses. For Satan to come among God’s people as a roaring lion would be very unappealing to them, but when he comes as an angel of light with pleasant, flattering words and a smile on his face, then it is very difficult for believers not to be deceived. And yet no matter what form he comes in, he presses mercilessly toward his one goal, which is to lead people into destruction.
People serve Satan when they seek their own and when they go against the will of God and the leading of the Spirit.
Satan’s deception of God’s people
God gave Israel victory in the days of Joshua, but when Achan took of the accursed things, the wrath of God came over the children of Israel, so that 3,000 of the men of Israel had to flee before the men of Ai. (Joshua 7) God warred for Israel as long as they were obedient to Him, but when they obeyed Satan, they suffered defeat. In this case, Satan worked through their covetous desires.
After Saul had sinned by sparing the best of the sheep and oxen, which God had commanded should be utterly destroyed, he said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” 1 Samuel 15:24 [Emphasis added]. A second sin followed soon after: Saul wanted Samuel to act as if nothing had happened and to continue to honor him before the elders and the people of Israel. Satan exploited the cravings of the people. Those cravings were so strong that even though Saul knew what the will of God was, out of cowardliness he obeyed the people.
Solomon had been given a wise and understanding heart so there was no one like him, either before or after him. (1 Kings 3:12) But Satan deceived him, because Solomon “loved many foreign women … from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love.” 1 Kings 11:1-2. By this time Solomon had already transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and the consequences came quickly. For when Solomon was old, “his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God … Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord …” 1 Kings 11:4-6. Solomon broke the laws of wisdom, and wisdom departed from him. He who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord is no longer wise. Solomon obeyed his wives more than God, and that was his downfall.
Jesus told Hiss that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests and scribes and that He would be killed and then raised on the third day. “Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.’” Matthew 16:22-23. Satan knew very well that if Jesus had spared Himself these sufferings and death, God would not have been able to raise Him up. And if Jesus had not been raised up, then our faith would be in vain, and we would be the most miserable of all men. (1 Corinthians 15:19) Satan would not be against that at all.
Satan also tries to deceive God’s people today
Satan is also on the attack today wherever people have a weak point. He uses the desires that are in our corrupt human nature as his weapons. He knows them very well, and he knows that people like very much to satisfy their lusts. The Scriptures call these sorts of lusts “turning aside after Satan.” (1 Timothy 5:15)
God wants to strengthen our will, purify our mind and make us of strong character, firm and resolute in every way. What more could a person desire? However, if we turn aside to vanity, fashion, honor, riches, cowardliness, weakness, softness, feebleness, etc., we turn aside after Satan, and he will weaken our character so that we become cowardly, lying, crawling, sniveling, wretched beings.
We know that God’s people do have tendencies toward vanity, fashion, cowardliness, honor seeking and feebleness, all of which serve to remove the cross and the power. This tells us that Satan is extremely active among God’s people and that it is vital now to take up a battle against him so that we can get victory and power and remain standing after having overcome everything. (Ephesians 6:13)
This is an edited version of an article translated from Norwegian, which was first published under the title “Satan among God’s people” in BCC’s periodical Skjulte Skatter (Hidden Treasures), in January 1913.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.