We are at war! Satan hates us and wants to destroy us. We must be aware of the devil’s devices, weapons and tactics, because our spiritual life depends on it.
The apostle Paul was well aware of the dangers Satan poses for Christians. We must follow Paul’s example and not be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). The New International Version and others translate this as Satan’s “schemes.” This means we must understand the devil’s tricks and traps and examine how he uses his key weapons in individually targeted ways to attack each of us.
So, what are some of the devil’s devious devices and sinister schemes? What are the tools of Satan in his mission to lure us into sin and away from God? This article lists some of Satan’s deadliest devices.
Tool of Satan: Pride
One of Satan’s strongest weapons is pride. Pride is always a danger, especially when things are going well, such as in times of peace and prosperity (Deuteronomy 8:11-17).
Perhaps the best example would be Lucifer himself, the one who became Satan. From the time of his creation, he had always lived under God’s perfect rule. Yet eventually his heart was lifted up with pride, and he rebelled (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-17; 1 Timothy 3:6). He uses that same device on us now.
Pride is the opposite of the godly love the apostle Paul described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Pride does “parade itself” and is “puffed up.” When we think more highly of ourselves than others, it is easy to become impatient, unkind, rude and self-seeking.
When we give in to our natural selfish motivations, we naturally treat others and their needs as less important. Anything that doesn’t go our way leads us to believe we are being treated unfairly. Ultimately this leads to narcissistic thinking and behavior.
We can even fall into the trap of being proud of doing good things, as demonstrated by the Pharisee in Jesus Christ’s parable of the Pharisee and the publican. He gave the parable as a warning to those “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9).
The self-righteous Pharisee prayed “thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all I possess’” (verses 11-12). Jesus emphasized that “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled” and extolled the humble, repentant tax collector (verses 13-14). (Read more about this important example in the article “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector.”)
Paul warns that in these perilous “last days … men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy” (2 Timothy 3:1-2).
Tool of Satan: Envy
Another powerful device of Satan is envy—specifically, the kind of envy that is a distorted, selfish sense of fairness. This goes all the way back to Cain’s envy of Abel, when Abel was blessed for his offering. Cain thought it wasn’t fair. God knew the attitude of both Cain and Abel, so in His eyes it was totally fair.
We know that, because of Satan’s influence, people don’t like to be told what to do. The “forbidden pleasures” grab people’s attention and focus. Satan makes them seem somehow more enticing and pleasurable than the true pleasures God wants us to have.So what does envy produce? “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there” (James 3:16).
Tool of Satan: Anger
Paul warned about the dangers of anger. “‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27). The New International Version says, “Do not give the devil a foothold.”
When we allow anger to have the upper hand, we don’t think clearly and we often act rashly. Don’t give Satan that foothold to making further inroads in your life. See “A Foothold for the Devil” for helpful advice for avoiding this device of the devil.
Tool of Satan: Lust for forbidden pleasures
Another tool that Satan uses is the lust for forbidden pleasures.
We know that, because of Satan’s influence, people don’t like to be told what to do. The “forbidden pleasures” grab people’s attention and focus. Satan makes them seem somehow more enticing and pleasurable than the true pleasures God wants us to have. See more about this in the articles “Temptation” and “Desire.”
Tool of Satan: Itching ears
Paul warned about another device of Satan: Itching ears. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Paul was warning Timothy of a natural tendency of human beings to want to hear new things, smooth things, things that appeal to us. Satan creates or exploits a quirk of human nature that allows even the amazing truths of God to seem boring! We must not fall prey to this weapon of Satan.
The four Ds: disappointment, discouragement, doubt and division
There are many other devices Satan uses. For example, Satan has been very effective with what have been called the four Ds. The devil’s four Ds are:
- Disappointment. Any time we look to people as our standard, we can be disappointed. But if we trust and have faith in God, we won’t be put to shame.
- Discouragement. When we dwell on disappointments, it often leads to discouragement. But God has given us the Holy Bible, His plan and His promises to encourage us.
- Doubt. Discouragement left unchecked leads to doubt.
- Division. Doubts and worries can lead to division of our loyalties. These can also lead to divisions between people and distancing from God.
We must be aware of these and the other weapons in Satan’s arsenal. Then we must combat them.
The whole armor of God
The apostle Paul also explained how to defeat our enemy. God provides the ultimate protection from Satan’s devices and schemes and deceitful traps.
Paul said, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
This spiritual armor includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.
We encourage you to study the article “Put on the Armor of God,” which focuses on these defenses our great and loving God gives us. There you will also find links to articles about each of these powerful pieces of armor. Don’t try to face Satan without God’s armor!