How can we defeat Satan’s deception?
Think back to all those magic shows we loved as kids. We would be spellbound, watching a man in a tuxedo tap his magic wand over a top hat and pull out a rabbit. Or how about those fascinating card tricks? And best of all was a woman sawn in two. All hoaxes, but we loved the thrill of being tricked.
But magic is evil. Think of a dark veil made up of lies and trickery that we wouldn’t—and couldn’t—see through. As Christians, though, aren’t we immune to deception?
In order to answer that question, let’s begin with a definition. According to Merriam-Webster, deception means:
the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid : TRICK fooled by a scam artist’s clever deceptionhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deception
Where did deception originate? We would all point to Genesis. That old serpent, the devil, deceived Eve to believe a lie and commit an act of sinful disobedience. Let’s listen in on their conversation and pinpoint how Satan’s trickery worked.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.Genesis 3:1-7 NKJV
Step 1: Twisting the truth
The first step involves questioning what God has said. (“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” ) Satan expected Eve to refute his question in order to engage her in a conversation to confuse her logic. But let’s review God’s exact words:
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”Genesis 2:16-17 NKJV
Now let’s backtrack. When God spoke this command to Adam, where was Eve? Apparently, not yet created. So if Adam had instructed her himself, it may explain Eve’s embellishment–that even touching the tree would result in death.
Step 2: Using Naivety Against Us
Satan knew that if he could deceive Eve about what God had said, he could win a battle against the Almighty. How? By dragging His trusting creation into the devil’s evil world of sin.
When Eve misquoted God’s command, the serpent used her mistake to his advantage. The serpent played upon Eve’s emotional naivety to convince her to bite the forbidden fruit. He dangled sparkling lies to convince her it wasn’t dangerous but would make her wise like God. He tricked her into trusting his words to be true.
Step 3: No Fear
Step 3: The serpent took away Eve’s fear of death. (“You will not surely die.” v.4) Remember, no one had ever died yet (her son Abel, not yet born, would be the first), so the concept of death was a great mystery. Satan’s false assurance must have given Eve comfort from her fears as she trusted the serpent’s words.
Step 4: Be Smart and Powerful
Step 4: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v.4). Here Satan claims to know God’s words, which he falsely twists. He tells Eve the end result of her potential disobedience, promising her that she will be equal to God Himself in power and knowledge. No longer will she take orders from God–she will be wise enough to make her own rules, to live her own way. The tantalizing promise of the knowledge of good and evil would be a glorious promotion to omniscience and omnipotence. And she fell for Satan’s bait–hook, line, and sinker.
Step 5: Justification of a lie
Step 5: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (v.6). Eve, no longer afraid to touch it, listened to Satan’s voice of justification. Who doesn’t want to be wise? Why not eat such beautiful fruit? Eve reached out to pluck the fruit and share it with Adam. At that moment, deception led to sin.
Like Adam and Eve, we can use our God-given free will to either obey or disobey. Our choice, yes, but also we must face the consequences.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.James 1:13-16 NKJV
How do we apply these truths to our lives today?
Lesson 1: Know God’s exact Word
Let’s make sure we know God’s exact Word so Satan can’t deceive us. He’s a master at serving up a glass of truth with a twist of lies. If the devil can confuse us about the truth, we drink it down, falling into deception and thus into sin. Memorizing and knowing the Word will cancel those plans.
When Satan tempted Jesus
Remember when Satan came to tempt Jesus after the Lord’s forty-day fast in the wilderness? Each time Satan tried to deceive Him, Jesus quoted Scripture to refute those lies mixed with truth. (Click HERE to read about it.)
Lesson 2: Naivety, our worst enemy
Satan deceives us to turn away from our beliefs at any age. Especially when we’re young, about to enter teen years, Satan uses our naivety to trick us into sin.
For example, kids will entice those who are inexperienced about the world, luring them with the promise of thrilling fun–drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. If they balk at first, the tempter will use other ploys, such as shaming them for not being cool, being a scaredy-cat, or threatening their inclusion in a group of friends. As innocent kids submit to rejecting their true beliefs in exchange for lies, their lives can be ruined, or in extreme cases, ended too soon.
Thankfully, Jesus provided forgiveness of our sins at the cross.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9 NKJV
Lesson 3: Living without fear of God
For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.Psalm 96:4 NKJV
Not too many years ago—back in the ’80s—kids used to wear tee-shirts emblazoned with No Fear. When the fear of authority and a living God are absent in the human heart and mind, falsely-enlightened people easily break rules and laws. No longer afraid of any repercussion or punishment, they have a cyclonic heyday, leaving behind a wake of destruction. Today we can especially witness the results of this deception in many crime-infested cities, failing schools, and corrupt governments around the world.
Beware of NO FEAR deception in the church. Have you wondered why Seeker-Friendly churches never display a cross or mention sin and its consequences? Their weekly talk is only positive, laced with the serpent’s classic cunning found in Genesis 3:1: “Has God indeed said,” and verse 4: “You will not surely die.” But a one-sided or twisted gospel is a deceptive gospel, smearing the truth of salvation and sanctification to afford sinners comfort and acceptance to remain as they are. And it’s another way Satan’s kingdom grows.
Churches must preach the truth of the whole gospel, which convicts sinners and brings them to the altar of repentance and saving grace.
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…Romans 3:23 NKJV
Lesson 4: Not little gods
Satan also promises to give us God’s power and knowledge to make us equal to God. His false reasoning convinces us that we won’t need God anymore. We can be our own little gods, following our own false wisdom.
This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.James 3:15-17 NKJV
Lesson 5: Don’t buy the lie
Where do we find this principle? Advertising, for example. Companies pay a fortune for an ad or video to convince consumers they can’t live happy, complete lives without their product. That’s the lie. They play on our emotions and our five senses to make us crave it, rather like Eve: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” (Genesis 3:6)
Satan is waiting to deceive each one of us with his lies: good is evil and evil is good. He tempts us through sight, arousing our desire. He reasons falsely that we will benefit in some way–beauty, wealth, comfort, or status.
Here’s a description of Satan in Jesus’s words:
‘He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.’John 8:44b NKJV
Are Christians exempt?
No. Satan comes to everyone with his deception—even Christians. The difference is that the Holy Spirit provides us with the gift of discernment to know the truth so we don’t fall for Satan’s lies.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: …to another discerning of spirits, …1 Corinthians 12: 7, 10b NKJV
Let’s discern the spirit of truth by reading and memorizing God’s Word. His Word is truth–our sword of the Spirit that divides truth from lies. With the Word in our mouths, Satan can never deceive us with his false trickery.
Let’s always be prayerful that God will give us His truth and wisdom to discern Satan’s clever deception.
Let’s conclude in agreement with Paul’s prayer:
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Amen.Philippians 1:9-11 KJV
How have you been victorious in using God’s Word to destroy Satan’s deceptive lies?