For we are not unaware of his [Satans] schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11 NIV)
When a football team in the Premier League is getting ready to face another team they will spend hours studying their next opponents previous games.
With the help of slow-motion action replays they will study their every move to gain an idea of their tactics and their strengths and weaknesses so that when the time comes to play them they will know what to expect and how to react.
Christians are in the midst of a spiritual battle with Satan and the Bible provides for us an accurate record of many of his previous contests, with action replay footage of his tactics, and is therefore a tremendous help in facing up to his attacks.
What are some of the tactics he uses?
First, theres the surprise attack: King David was probably only going up to his palace roof for a breath of fresh air, but glancing around he saw a woman bathing (2 Samuel 11:2). In a split second David was caught off guard and was led down a path of adultery, dishonesty and murder. It all happened so quickly. A sudden, stabbing attack can so easily catch us out.
Second, theres the siege attack: The stone that can hardly be scratched by a sudden stab with a knife can be completely worn away by the slow, continuous dripping of water. This is what seems to have happened in the case of Judas Iscariot. Little by little the devil laid siege to his heart. As treasurer there was the growing realisation he could make a bit on the side. Then came the first occasion when he put his finger in the till. Gradually, petty theft became a steady habit and eventually he betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins.
Third, theres the subtle attack: The devil is the master of disguise; he masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). If he can disguise himself in this way, he has no difficulty in making sin look innocent.
The temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden is a perfect example of this. He was able to make vice look like virtue and error look like truth.
Of course its one thing to know the devils schemes but another to combat them.
How can that possibly be done?
The Apostle John tells us, The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devils work. (1 John 3:8). The only way we can defeat the devils work is by participating in what Jesus has already achieved for us.
We need to vigilantly join with Jesus in his prayer for Peter, Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail… (Luke 22:31-32)
In our spiritual battle we need to put on each piece of our spiritual armour by participating in prayer with Jesus so that we can be strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6:10-20).
As we join with Jesus in our spiritual battle we will realise that the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4) and that although Satan wants to sift us like wheat, as we are in Jesus and he is in us, our faith will not fail.
Father, thank you that Jesus defeated Satan at the cross and that our victory over him is by being united to Jesus.
Have a good week uniting with Jesus.