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Satan is neither omnipotent nor free to do everything he pleases. Prince of the world he may be but the Prince of Peace has come and dealt him a death blow.
Harold Lindsell

One is hard put to find anything positive to say about the devil. If there were any good to say about him, it might be that he doesn't have any new tricks up his sleeve. In fact, he is spectacularly lacking in imagination. (Of course, that should be expected because God is the Creator and, therefore, the sole possessor of creativity.)

Because the devil has not learned any new tricks, everything we need to know about how to stand against his schemes is already written down for us in the Word of God. It is all still valid. No "revised and expanded" edition is needed.

First Corinthians 10:13 brings us this good news on the subject: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." In other words, the devil has no new tricks - and no old tricks that you can't overcome.

Still, every minute of every day countless believers fall for the same tired old traps. I am convinced that we are ignorant of his schemes because of ignorance of God's Word.

For instance, Ephesians 6 enumerates some of the most common doorways to deception. In the form of a list of "armor" we need to protect ourselves from attacks of the enemy, God's Word lays out the various areas in which we are vulnerable to deception. Let's take a look at the entire passage, and then we will examine each piece of armor for insights on common deceptions:
Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching there unto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
(Eph. 6:11-18)
Notice that we are instructed to put on our armor. In other words, God won't put it on for us. Each of us is responsible for putting it on ourselves. Now, before we examine each individual piece of armor, let's look at the primary forms of deception we must guard against.

The Deception That the Devil Is Not Real
Satan is not a metaphor. He is not a symbol. He is not an ancient and outdated method of explaining the human propensity for evil. He is a real personal entity. And his first attempt at deception will be to convince you that he isn't.

It is amazing how successful he is - even among supposedly Bible-believing Christians. As recently as 1994, fifty-nine percent of Americans surveyed indicated a belief that Satan is not a living being but merely a symbol of evil.

It is easy to understand why this would be the first and primary deception. If the devil can get you to believe that he doesn't exist, you won't bother guarding yourself against any of his other deceptions.

The devil doesn't want you to realize that he sponsors the evil in your life. But you must understand that Satan is a very real enemy who is very interested in your destruction. You need to respect - but not fear - his ability to deceive you, which will lead you down the road to death.

As Jesus said: "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

And there is a flip side to this coin of deception. The devil knows that if he can keep you from seeing him as the real enemy in your life, then you will see the people around you as the enemy. You will be deceived into thinking that you wrestle against flesh and blood.

Your problem is not your spouse, your boss, your family or any natural thing, because the battle is not fought in this natural world. As Ephesians 6:12 says, you wrestle against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness. At the head of that realm of darkness is Satan.

The Deception That You Can't Win
If his primary attempt at deception fails, Satan has a plan. Once you acknowledge that Satan really exists and that he, not people or circumstances, is your true adversary, he will try to push you into the ditch on the other side of the road by selling you the lie that you are helpless to resist his attacks. He will try to convince you that you are powerless to keep him from bringing death and destruction into your life.

Of course, this is a lie. Remember, verse eleven instructed you to put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. It is possible to stand successfully against anything the enemy can throw at you.

Satan will roar at you through false symptoms of sickness and disease. He will roar at you with fearful thoughts of financial difficulty. He will roar at you through marriage and family troubles. He will roar at you with thoughts that you will never do anything good for God.

Why does Satan come to you as a roaring lion? He does so for the same reason an actual lion roars at its prey: He wants to paralyze you with fear. You see, fear will produce either paralysis or panic. One stops you cold in your tracks and keeps you from resisting him. The other will cause you to quickly make destructive choices. Either way, if you succumb to fear, you allow the devil to devour you.

I am troubled at the number of believers I see held in the grip of fear. I believe no other single factor has more impact on our success or failure than our ability to handle the force of fear. Fear is a deadly thing, and it is much more powerful than people realize.

There is no doubt about it: Fear is a prevalent, powerful and deadly force. Why is it so lethal? Because at a spiritual level, fear is a perversion of faith! To fear is actually to have faith in negative circumstances rather than faith in God's Word. In other words, you have more faith in the devil's power to harm you than in God's promise to protect you.

How then can you identify fear when it is trying to operate in your life? You can look for one of two things: panic, which can also appear as rage, or paralysis. One or the other of these conditions is an indicator that fear is working in you.

The first effect - panic - is by far the most visible and blatant manifestation of the force of fear. Panic produces an irrational and often irresistible desire to run away. At other times fear expresses itself in the form of rage. When panic sets in, we may lash out at someone who is not really part of our problem at all.

Psychologists have a name for these two reactions. They call it the "fight or flight" response. These reactions are the most easily recognized manifestations of fear, but they are not the most dangerous.

No, the most damaging effect of the force of fear is paralysis. And it is far more dangerous because it is so subtle. On many occasions I have seen the force of fear "freeze" people into staying in destructive situations. This is the so-called deer-in-the-headlights effect. A deer crossing a highway will see the lights of an oncoming car and simply freeze. The outcome is usually not pretty.

This type of paralysis is often fear's most damaging effect because it achieves the devil's goal of keeping you from doing anything. Satan wants to neutralize your God-given power to change your life by trapping you in indecision.

A man came into my office some time ago who had been praying and believing for a new and better-paying job. He had worked at his present job for ten years and had advanced as far as he could. He was totally dissatisfied, unchallenged and unfulfilled. What's more, his family was struggling financially. Then he heard me teach some of the principles of faith and decided, "Hey, I am going to use my faith and pray for a new job!"

Not surprisingly, it wasn't long before he was offered a new job opportunity. That is what brought him into my office that day. Instead of rejoicing that his faith had worked, he was standing there fretting!

"I've been thinking," he said. "What if I take this job and it doesn't work out? I mean, there is no guarantee that I will like this job any better. In fact, I could be worse off than I am now!" What do you think he did? You guessed it - nothing. He stayed right where he was, paralyzed by the force of fear. And he squandered an opportunity from God he had prayed for.

Given fear's power to open us up to the "roaring lion," it's no wonder that the Bible tells us to "fear not" more than three hundred times!

Source: Doorways to Deception by Mac Hammond.
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Minute, which is seen locally in the Minneapolis area and can also be viewed at He is also the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.

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