The Bible teaches us that there is such a thing as a doctrine of demons (1 Tim. 4:1). This implies that demons, under the direction of Satan, attempt to give instructions to people, including churchgoing Christians.
Jesus even called the devil a liar and the father of lies who cannot abide in the Truth (John 8:43-44). Paul, the apostle, taught that strongholds are thoughts, arguments and imaginations that set themselves up against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:5). Hence, the main tactic of the devil is to deceive people into believing a lie. (A lie is any thought or concept that contradicts the Bible.)
The following are seven effective lies the devil tells believers:
1. Keep things in the dark. Satan operates in the dark. He doesn't want his deeds exposed by the light. All temptation to sin starts in secret (Prov. 9:17). For example, when a believer is offended or struggling with something and keeps it in the dark, he creates the perfect ecosystem for satanic deception. This is one reason why Jesus urged offended people to go to the offender instead of first going to others with their issue ((Matt. 18:15-18). I have found that most offenses and demonic activity can be stopped in a church if people follow this principle. Walking in the light exposes and renders useless the hidden agenda of Satan. It also enables Christians to enjoy genuine fellowship with each other and God (1 John 1:7). Satan greatly opposes this principle of walking in the light in order that his deceptive agenda can continue unimpeded in the dark.
2. Leave your shepherd. God has assigned specific leaders in the church to oversee certain people. They protect the sheep and care for their souls (Heb. 13:7; Heb. 13:17). Satan will do anything in his power to separate sheep from their divinely assigned earthly shepherd. The most common demonic method is unfounded accusations and slander against spiritual authority. If the devil can isolate the sheep and pull them away from their proper covering, then the wolves can come and devour them (John 10:12).
3. Leave your church family. I have seen people come to a church, get saved, mature in the faith and then get pulled out by demonic deception. Usually, their friends leave and get them to attend another church. Consequently, most of the time, they stop growing and may even fall away! It may also begin a habit pattern of instability. Instead of being established in the house of God, their tendency will be to leave a church without a good, biblical reason. Even though there are many good churches to choose from, a church is a family and when you leave the family assigned to you, it's often difficult to fit in with another family. Satan does not want believers to be planted in the house of the Lord since he doesn't want them to mature and bear much fruit (Ps. 92:13-14).
4. Leave your spouse. There is no perfect marriage and no perfect husband or wife. After the initial romantic feelings of love begin to wane, conflict in the marriage usually begins to manifest. This is where the covenant to the marriage vow should kick in. Instead of getting counseling and working things out, the devil attempts to connect a spouse with another person to ignite a romantic spark between them. Although there are a few, biblical reasons for a divorce, in most cases, it is caused by breaking the sacred covenant due to an expression of selfish desire (Matt. 5:31-32; Matt. 19:8-9; 1 Cor. 7:15). Since God hates divorce, that's a sure sign that Satan loves divorce and will promulgate it in the church to destroy the nuclear family unit.
5. Leave your ministry. During the COVID pandemic, I heard of many instances of pastors either resigning or seeking other fields of work. When times get tough, the devil will tempt you to take the easy way out and quit your assignment. When Peter attempted to talk Jesus out of going to the cross, Jesus addressed him as Satan and rebuked him (Mark 8:33). Representing Christ in the ministry is very hard — just ask the apostle Paul (2 Cor. 4:7-12). However, as hard as it is to remain faithful in the ministry, it will be harder in the long run if you abandon your post — just ask Judas (Acts 1:15-20).
6. Isolate yourself. When things get difficult, the Bible says to encourage one another lest we fall into the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:12-13). Hence, we need even more to stay connected to the body of Christ when undergoing temptations and challenging times. Of course, the devil desires the opposite and will attempt to influence believers to separate and isolate themselves from the church under the guise of working out their issues alone. Isolation is the perfect environment for satanic deception, since the possibility of receiving truth and encouragement from other Christians is cut off.
7. Quitting on yourself. Finally, the Word of God admonishes believers to look unto Jesus for endurance amid challenges and while resisting sin (Heb. 12:1-4). If, and when, we experience failure, we will be tempted to give up on ourselves due to shame, self-doubt and feelings of condemnation. The devil feeds off of condemnation and worldly sorrow that leads us to death and separation from God. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit brings conviction when we sin, which leads us back to God through repentance (2 Cor. 7:10).
May this article expose the works of the devil so that we are no longer ignorant of his schemes (2 Cor. 2:11).
Dr. Joseph Mattera is an internationally-known author, consultant and theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence culture. He is the founding pastor of Resurrection Church and leads several organizations, including The U.S. Coalition of Apostolic Leaders and Christ Covenant Coalition. Dr. Mattera is the author of 13 bestselling books, including his latest "The Purpose, Power, and Process of Prophetic Ministry," and is renown for applying Scripture to contemporary culture. To order his books or to join the many thousands who subscribe to his newsletter, go to josephmattera.org.
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