Devices And Wiles Of Satan
In Eph. 6:10-19 Paul speaks of the Christian’s conflict, or wrestling as being with four classes of wicked spirits, and in this conversation speaks of the “wiles of the devil.” Possibly the mention of the devil’s wiles alone is because he knows and practices all the wiles that any of the rest practice, so that to know his would be to know all. In 2 Cor. 2:11 he speaks of not being ignorant of Satan’s devices — the word meaning also counsels or purposes.
Hence we see that a knowledge of the devices and wiles of wicked spirits is a practical need in a Christian’s life — as much so as it is for a wrestler to know the methods of his antagonist, or a soldier those of his foe. Ignorance tends to defeat, and often God’s people are deceived, or defeated, by their, adversary, and do not even know it.
In one of Paul’s early epistles he speaks of Satan hindering him (2 Thess. 2:18). Probably it came through some device with which, at that time, Paul had not become acquainted, for we do not find him speaking again of being hindered by Satan. The Lord Jesus was not hindered by Satan from doing God’s will at any time, and it is evident that the ideal for us all is to be as He was on earth — never hindered by Satan. There are times when we who do not know God as our Lord did, have to be restrained by Him as we see in the Acts 16:7, but trustful prayer and patience will bring God’s enlightenment as to whether the hindrance is from Him or from Satan.
How does Satan, or evil spirits, hinder? Sometimes by sickness. I have known of an evangelist giving up a meeting on account of sickness at home. In another case a preacher became sick, stopped his meetings and went home, Satan hindered.
They also hinder the effectiveness of preaching by creating disorder in a meeting through careless or reckless people. They have interrupted a sermon by stirring up a drunken man to come forward and ask for prayer. ‘The preaching stopped in order to try to help the supposed penitent, but he received nothing and the meeting was hindered for that night.
And how often have dogs come into a meeting and hindered it by distracting attention! On one occasion there was a cat fight just outside of a tent meeting.
And there are hindrances in the home — times when things get into a tangle, and the inmates get out of fix badly. This may be due to natural causes, which of course God controls.
A Christian may be hindered in money matters by these evil spirits detaining, or turning aside, money that is needed for personal needs or for God’s cause.
Some years ago I was invited to go to a place and when the time came I had not money for the trip. So I wrote saying the Lord seemed to will otherwise, though I was not conscious of any divine favor in writing this. My friend replied that he thought it was Satan’s hindrance. In a few days some money was handed me that had been needlessly delayed and I found that what I thought was, on my part, submission to God’s will, was really submission to Satan’s and that I should have trusted God for help and protection.
And these evil spirits hinder prayer. They do this by stirring us to work when we should be in prayer; or they cause wandering thoughts; or they interrupt prayer by sending someone in; or the door bell, or phone bell, may ring. Or they may direct opposition so that it is difficult to pray.
Another of their wiles is to get a hearer to criticize the preacher’s manner, appearance, or speech instead of listening fairly to what he has to say. Or they may get the preacher into a hard, abusive, impatient method, or into extreme statements. And they get people to eyeing and criticizing each other, and so hinder them from receiving God’s blessing. A spiritual work was once almost entirely ruined because the people in it were deceived into “discerning” each other’s condition.
They work on people’s fear or prejudices to keep them from getting the benefit of God’s truth. Or they may misrepresent the truth. How many people have a wrong view of the teaching of those who uphold the truth of sanctification by faith!
And Satan can help as well as hinder when his help is to hinder the right. He helps the cause of Christian Science by some deliverance from sickness. If a modern Jonah decides to avoid the way of obedience he can easily help that person along by making it easy to go the wrong way. Jonah found a ship at Joppa to take him to Tarshish when he wanted to disobey God. There are “doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1 R. V.) by reason of which even some true servants of Christ are injured in their usefulness and do positive harm, for a wile of Satan is to get false doctrines into people’s minds and then make them think it is their duty to God to diligently spread the doctrine. Some of these errors are ruinous to the soul. Demons are back of the doctrines of no hell, no devil, annihilation of the wicked, soul sleeping, sanctification by hell fire, Christ a mere creature and not God, sickness and sin not a reality, Divine Healing a delusion, no salvation from sin.
These spirits stir people to bigotry, intolerance and persecution, so that they think everyone not in this movement is on the way to hell, and they say so. They work on spiritual people to get them into reform or political work instead of giving their energy and money to spread the gospel and save souls.
As regard one’s attitude towards an offending brother or sister, they tempt us either to wink at and slur over sin, and be compromising or to be inconsiderate, impatient and hard, making no allowance for any purpose or possibility, on the part of the offender, to do right, and being faithless towards God as regards His power to restore and save.
Another method of these spirits is to hinder, or destroy faith in God and in Christ. They do the former by getting people’s attention on themselves and their feelings. Anyone who is looking and waiting for feelings before trusting in Christ, will never trust in Him until they give up that delusion of Satan for the purpose in it is to hinder faith, and it does so effectively. We never believe on Christ by looking at ourselves. For the same purpose Satan and his aides magnify difficulties and get people to practically believe that their case is too hard for God and that He will not keep His promises. They also accuse and misrepresent God.
These spirits work, too, in the realm of the affections, awakening improper affinities between men and women. A correct married man once told me that he had had a strange drawing to a woman, but could not describe it. “Was it affinity?” I asked. “Yes, that is it,” he said, and I was glad to tell him where it came from.
The body also is worked on sometimes by causing disease; sometimes by causing abnormal desire for food, and thus leading to gluttony. They also stir up lust and thus lead to many of the crimes of the day. Immodesty in the fashions of women’s clothes is traceable to the same unclean spirits, and women who dress immodestly are aiding the immoral tendencies of our time.
Demon spirits delude people into religious fanaticism. A friend once told me of a man in a tent meeting who leaped from the platform, and putting his hands together in front of him, ran down one side of the tent, and up the other to the platform. Why? He said he was chasing the devil from the meeting! In reality, the devil was chasing him.
As regards speaking in tongues, while some of it is evidently of God, some is also the work of evil spirits, for they imitate the work of the Holy Spirit in more ways than one.
Finally, a method of demons is to stir people up against a servant of God to try to break him down, or at least trouble him. Unconsciously a Christian may lend himself to demons to be used against another Christian.
A friend once urged me to go to a Christian worker and correct what appeared to be a mistake. I went to God about it, and never went to the worker. The stir did not come from God, and to take part in what does not come from God is to lend ourselves to Satan. If I had gone to that man I would have only increased his trial, and possibly he was already much tried.
Our attitude and course in regard to all these matters should not be one of fear, but of faith in God to guard and teach us so that we shall be kept from the paths of the destroyer. As regards doctrines, we need to prayerfully and patiently search the Scriptures, allowing plenty of time for God to teach us. We should also trust Him to deliver us from the “snare of the fowler” if we are unconsciously in it, for of course Satan does not tell us of his snares. “The whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:11) is also necessary, and that we be “sober and watch unto prayer” (1 Pet. 4 :7). Christ has defeated these “principalities and powers” (Col. 2:15; Eph. 1:21), and can easily instruct us as to their activities and lead us on in victory.