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Series Theme:  Spiritual Warfare

Title: 2. The Enemy - His Activities - a) Deception



This page starts to look at some of the enemy's activities as detailed in the Bible.

Having identified Satan and his demons, we now move onto the things he does, the strategies that he uses.

Any Christian becoming aware of the principles of spiritual warfare MUST become aware of the primary strategies or activities of the enemy if they are to stand against them.

The first of those is DECEPTION

1. Was this Satan?

In the Old Testament there are two passages of scripture that have puzzled scholars down through the years, because although they seem to be describing an earthly figure, they also seem to go far beyond mere human beings. Scholars believe the following two passages refer to Satan:

1.1   Isa 14:12-17

  •  The being referred to in these verses seems to have come from heaven
  •  Was cast down on the earth (see also Rev 12:9)
  •  Was overcome by pride and wanted to be greater than God

1.2   Ezek 28:11-19

  •  This being was created perfect
  •  His task was a guardian over Eden, he was made sinless, but he turned
  •  Because of his sin he was expelled from God's presence
  •  His perfect beauty became the cause of his pride and for this he was expelled

2. What is Deception?  

From these passages (if they do apply to Satan) we see he became proud and then became a deceiver in Eden. We will look at what happened in Eden and see what he did there.

Read Gen 2:9,15-17 & 3:1-6

  •  He questioned what God had really forbidden, he sought to bring doubt, he sought to undermine what she believed and lead her to believe untruth
  •  He denied that she would die when she sinned, he challenged the truth, he sought to get her to believe untruth
  •  He appealed to her pride, to create a desire for self-rule
  •  The woman was aware that Satan had deceived her

Note in the N.T. some references to Satan's deceiving tactics:

2 Cor 2:11 … speaks of Satan trying to outwit us with his schemes .

2 Cor 11:13,14 ... speaks of Satan masquerading as an angel of light.

1 Tim 2:14 ... referring back to Eden, saying it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.  

3. How does it appear?

Deception is us being led to believe wrong things.

It is a battle in the mind, often brought to us by Satan using others:

Mt 24:5 many will come in my name, claiming, I am the Christ, and will deceive many
Mt 24:11 many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
Mt 24:24

For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible.

Rom 16:18 By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people
1 Cor 3:18

Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of

this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise.

Eph 5:6  Let no one deceive you with empty words
Col 2:4    I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
2 Thess 2:2,3

Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the

rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed

Jas 1:22  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
1 Jn 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us

4. How do we deal with it?

4.1 Generally

  •  Know the Bible well, understand the truth
  •  Be open to the Lord to teach and correct us
  •  Be open to others in authority to teach and correct you

Remember, Satan's strategy is to fool you into

  •  believing a lie
  •  denying the truth

                       THAT is deception!

The crucial test therefore, is does this teaching conform to the whole counsel of the Bible, or is it simply a doctrine promoted by using a few proof text quoted out of context. This is the style of the cults and is to be avoided.

4.2 Distinguishing between spirits

The Bible speaks about the gift of “distinguishing between spirits” (1 Cor 12:10).which may be defined as “a supernatural knowledge of the source of activity, whether it be divine, demonic or human”. This comes as an impartation of knowledge at the moment as to the origin of what is before you, e.g.

Acts 16:16-18

  •  The girl actually had the ability to predict the future i.e. a genuine psychic gift
  •  It's likely this gift had proved accurate
  •  She actually declared the truth about the apostles
  •  Yet Paul was troubled by her
  •  He realised that it was not by the Holy Spirit that she was speaking the truth but by some other “spirit”
  •  He then commanded the spirit (NB. he didn't rebuke the woman) in the name of Jesus to leave and her power to predict was removed

NB. It is suggested that when the occult predicts the future:

  •  The enemy does not know the future, because only God is omniscient (all knowing)
  •  The demonic can only say things which it knows have already started (i.e. knowledge of present not prophecy of future) and
  •  It also has a control over, e.g. the minds & actions of those under Satan's sway.

4.3 Specific Biblical Teaching to Discern

1 Jn 4:1

  •  This is John's warning not to naively believe everything, but to check out the origin
  •  Below are three test that Scripture gives us to help make plain the origin of what is coming

i) The TEST OF the Lordship of CHRIST

1 Jn 4:2,3 / 1 Cor 12:3

  •  “Jesus is Lord” was a confession of early converts to Christianity
  •  The test is that a person can say with conviction that Jesus came in the flesh and was an historical    being, and Jesus is THE Lord who is the Son of God from heaven.


1 Cor 14:1-3 

  •  This means that every gift should be the expression of Jesus, which comes in love
  •  It should also promote an active love for God and for others


Mt 7:15-18

  •  This means we look at the fruit of a persons ministering
  •  “good fruit” will include: greater sense of love for God, of unity, of being strengthened (built up) in Him, of love for others
  •  “bad fruit” will include: anxiety, uncertainty, dissension

Each of these “tests” are to be applied with wisdom, looking to God first to give understanding. They are not to be applied mechanically.

5. Forms of Deception

Remember, Deception is being led to believe in something that is untrue, e.g.

5.1 Believing in a false religion, cult or sect

Michael Green in his excellent book, “I Believe in Satan's Downfall”, suggests the signs of a counterfeit religion, based on Paul's letter to the Colossians's. The following are those tests in simplified form:

5.1.1 A human inspired philosophy

Col 2:8 - is it a merely human philosophical system, or does it accord with the revelation in Scripture?

5.1.2 A substitute reconciliation

Col 2:9 -  Christ is the only link between man and God. Does this system provide a substitute which, in reality, is no bridge and leaves people at a distance from God?

5.1.3 A ring road round Calvary

Col 2:13-15 - is the Cross avoided or is it central to salvation?

5.1.4 A bogus ceremonialism

Col 2:11 / Col 2:23 -  does it lay emphasis on initiation rites and undue ceremonial that have to be worked on or is it the simple trust & reliance on the shed blood of Christ?

5.1.5 A shallow moralism

Col 2:20 - in 2:16-23 Paul attacks those who sought to mortify the flesh, to beat it down by rules and rituals to obtain a form of spirituality. This is often seen in false religions or cults. Goodness comes through the holy love of Christ within

Col 3:5 -   in 3:1-11 Paul attacks those who were licentious, having removed all the restraints. Again, these are often seen in cults. Holiness comes through the holy character of Christ within

5.1.6 An undiscriminating mysticism

Col 2:18 - are there claims to special mystic revelation beyond the Bible that detract from it by superimposing mystical experiences instead?

5.1.7 A hateful exclusivism

Col 3:11 - is it an open secret or an exclusive club?

5.2 Believing in something that is contrary to the truth revealed in Scripture

While all of the above fall into this category, sometimes (and more commonly) the enemy simply leads the individual (rather than a whole group) astray by getting them to believe a basic untruth, e.g.

i) Unbelievers

  •  There is no God (but see Psa 14:1)
  •  Jesus isn't God's Son
  •  You can do what you like and get away with it
  •  There are no such things as absolutes
  •  Truth is only what is right for you today
  •  Any spiritual discipline is all right
  •  We are all gods

ii) Believers

  •  God isn't all powerful all knowing
  •  Therefore I can sin and get away with it
  •  God doesn't love me unless I work to win His approval
  •  It's all right not to forgive others
  •  God doesn't mind my little failures

6. So what more can we do about it?

In 4. above we have considered submitting to the Bible, testing the spirits, and tests through Scripture, so how can we finish off with some practical helps for ourselves as individuals?

The following is a simple strategy:

  •  Identify them as thoughts of self, unbelief or untruth
    •  we need to see the thoughts as wrong
  •  Determine to reject them by renouncing them.
    •  we need to determine that they will not continue
  •  Declare the truth which opposed to the wrong thinking
    •  speaking out what is the truth is vital
  •  Ask God to help you to hold onto the truth
    •  without God we can do nothing
  •  Beware extremes of thinking
    •  the enemy will try to get us to swing from one extreme to another
  •  Realise we need God's grace for this.
    •  we really do need God's enabling to do this.

“The leader should understand how often ideas pass themselves off as virtues. Stinginess often excuses itself under the name of frugality, while extravagance hides itself under the name of generosity. Often inordinate laxity is mistaken for loving kindness while unbridled wrath is seen as the virtue of spiritual zeal”

                                                                    (Gregory the Great)

“The lifelong process of mortifying sin (putting it to death when we spot it - Rom 6:11,12) involves a gradual detection process by which the particular forms in which sin expresses itself in our lives… are uncovered to our view”

“the structure of sin in the human personality is something far more complicated than isolated acts and thoughts of deliberate disobedience… it is.. an organic network of compulsive attitudes beliefs and behaviour deeply rooted in our alienation from God”

                                                                    (Richard Lovelace)

When we understand that we are redeemed sinners, we see that when we come to Christ we start a lifelong transformation process (2 Cor 3:18) whereby our thinking and behaviour are gradually being transformed.

Because we were tainted through and through by sin, we have been deceived in our thinking and the sanctification process involves light being shed in that thinking.

We must stand against Satan as he seeks to prevent that happening by seeking to bring further deception, and we do that with the help of God's Spirit within us.

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