When facing an enemy, being aware of the strategy to be used against us becomes a significant advantage. Such knowledge enables us to anticipate specific indicators that would arise from the modus operandi of our opponent; consequently, appropriate countermeasures can be applied. From a spiritual perspective, our adversary is formidable. He is truly out for our destruction. He is tireless in his pursuit for our demise. Even so, we fret not; interwoven throughout its fabric from Genesis to Revelation, the scripture clearly exposes the enemy’s tactics.
The framework of the evil one’s schemes is recorded in the December 3rd reading of our devotional Bible. The Apostle John insists, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16, NASB) Here he has plainly unpacked three major facets of combat; three distinct advantages the devil has in our sinful, fallen nature. Being aware of this can, through the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christ follower, keep us on guard when satan comes against us.
Consider examples from God’s Word. One doesn’t need to venture very far into the Bible before this diabolical method of assault is displayed. In Genesis chapter three, satan, in the form of a serpent, employs all three devices in the temptation of Adam and Eve toward action that would ultimately plunge humanity beneath the curse of sin. He begins his enticement of Eve with, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it (fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5, NASB, emphasis mine) This temptation appeals to the boastful pride of life. Just as Lucifer tried to elevate himself above God out of pride (A deed at which he was unsuccessful, I might add!), he beguiles Eve by persuading her sense of pride that God is hiding something from her; He is keeping knowledge from her that she has a “right” to know. To simplify, Eve was fooled into thinking all knowledge should be accessible to her; she deserved to be “like God.” The text discloses that Eve believed the tree to be “desirable to make one wise (v. 6).” This, of course, was a fool’s errand that continues to plague every human being to this day.
The Genesis account goes on to say that she “saw the tree was good for food (v. 6)” This exposes the lust of the flesh. It is similar to Esau’s sin of selling his birthright to his brother Jacob because he was controlled by his immediate desire of the lust of his “belly,” instead of managing that lust for something exponentially more significant. For Eve, the grumbling of her stomach took precedence over the desire of her Creator; the consequences of which resulted in her spiritual death, as well as that of every other individual.
The fruit of the tree became a “delight to the eyes” for Eve. This obviously falls into the category of the lust of the eyes. Once she fixated on it, she was hooked. A reflection from the Book of James in the New Testament reveals, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15, NASB) Once the fruit glistened with perceived beauty in Eve’s eyes and she did not look away, she lusted, she ate (sinned), and she died (immediately spiritually and physically later). In like fashion, David, upon seeing Bathsheba bathing, instead of looking away, gazed intently at her leading to ramifications that followed him his entire life.
Incidentally, the text of Genesis reveals that Adam was standing alongside Eve the entire ordeal and did not intervene in any way. He was in the place of spiritual guidance and leadership for the two of them and he stood silently by! When given the fruit to eat by Eve, he did not refuse; gladly sinking his teeth into the demise of his potential race and the abrogation of his responsibilities from his Creator. Thus Adam bears the charge for the seed of sin in all of us.
Satan even employed these three devises in his temptation of Jesus found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The flesh of Jesus was drawn in by the temptation to turn a stone into bread (especially since Jesus had not eaten in 40 days!). The eyes of Jesus were appealed to by the evil one showing Him all the kingdoms of the world in an instant and offering them in exchange for worship (which was also a lure of the flesh because of the pain Jesus would have to endure in order to become King through the cross; satan was tempting Jesus toward a crown without the cross). The pride found in the world was provoked by satan’s tactic of taking Jesus to the highest part of the temple, over 100 feet in the air, and prodding Him to jump off; (satan invoking scripture) then assuring Him the angels would catch Him lest He dash His foot on a stone. In this Jesus would have selfishly been using God’s Word for His own personal fame causing those who would have witnessed the event to marvel at the immediate, an influence toward pride; not to be ultimately convinced of Christ’s life and mission by entering into His sufferings through death and resurrection; an influence toward selflessness. An outward appeal of flash and glamour may impress for a moment (easy “believeism”), yet does very little toward eternal heart change. Such things are only temporary and would have equated to nothing more than Jesus fame resembling that of a first century “rock star.”
Interestingly, Jesus victoriously countered these temptations with scripture. This makes the Renovate movement all the more important as we internalize God’s Word in our daily life following the admonition of the psalmist, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.” (Psalms 119:11, NASB)
Can you say that you know and recognize the strategies of the evil one as he seeks to devour you each day? Do you know how to extinguish his fiery arrows using the “washing of water with the Word?” (Eph. 5:26) These are very relevant questions for a fruitful and effective life lived in the shadow of Christ’s cross and in the victory of His resurrection.