I don’t think we talk about Satan enough.
I think we underestimate his power and his schemes and we overestimate our own strength. And I think it’s when things are great and happy and big that Satan creeps in and starts working. The bible says quite a few things about our enemy:
John 8:44 says Satan is the father of lies. He owns them, he created them, and he thrives off of them.
2 Corinthians 11:3 says that, just as the serpent deceived Eve with his craftiness, our minds are capable of being led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.
John 10:10 says the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. That’s it. That’s Satan’s purpose. But not Jesus’s. He came so that we may have life and have it abundantly.
So what does he steal, kill, and destroy? This:
He steals our joy with lies about ourselves.
He kills our unity with lies about each other.
He destroys our progress with lies about God.
Let’s start with the first one: he tries to steal our joy with lies about ourselves. Satan works to make us ineffective for the Gospel. He wants us to think we’re useless. If you teach a soldier he is inadequate to fight the war, he is going to surrender. That’s what Satan does. He tells us that we’re worthless and that we’re no good. He points out our mistakes and reveals our imperfections. He tells us we’re not good enough to be part of the army, and that our baggage is too heavy to carry. When we think we have it figured out, he tempts us into sin and uses it to get us off course. He tricks us into thinking sin is okay. He deceives us into ignoring our conscience. He plays the game, and he plays it well. Here are lies he often tells us about ourselves:
“I’m not good enough.”
“I’m not pretty enough.”
“I’ll never be as smart as them.”
"I don't need to change--I'm fine how I am."
“Nobody would care about me.”
“My worth is found in what other people think of me.”
He also tries to kill our unity with lies about each other. Satan is the great enemy of God and his people, and one of his greatest tactics to disrupt the church is to bring about disunity. He wants to break up community. He wants there to be an absence of love and a presence of pride. And he does this by lying about the people around us. One of the ways we see this most often is through correction. Correction is a good thing. It is a noble and humbling thing in our lives. And we NEED it. We need to be corrected by the people around us so that we can be encouraged to live a life honoring to God. But Satan takes correction and turns it into a word that is so frequently used and misunderstood.
JUDGMENT. Yes, judgment. When we are corrected by the people who love us, we should immediately stop and think, “Is there any truth to what they are saying? I know this person; I know they love me and they care about me. They wouldn’t correct me to hurt me, it would be for my benefit.” But instead, Satan starts in to kill our unity. He says, “Who are they to correct me? They’re not perfect; I know what they did last weekend. They look down on me, but they’re just as bad.” Or, he convinces us correction is used to elevate ourselves. "We are better than them, so we get to tell them how to live life." His voice gets a little louder with these lies:
“They don’t actually care about me.”
“I’m better off without them.”
“They think they’re perfect and could never understand.”
“I feel judged the second I walk in the door.”
“I’m not here to be lectured by people who think they’re perfect.”
“They don’t belong here, they’re not one of us.”
Let me make this perfectly clear to you: those thoughts are lies. They are lies from Satan. He wants to kill unity. He wants our community to be gone.
Satan also tries to destroy our progress with lies about God. This started way back in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Satan said to Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’ ” Adam and Eve had made so much progress in the garden. Man was created and lived in harmony. Man named the animals and had complete freedom in the garden, until Satan twisted God’s words and deceived Adam and Eve. Satan made them believe that God was withholding good from them. Satan takes a good and loving and just God and twists our perception of him into a harsh and unfair ruler with impossible expectations. Satan takes the things we think we heard about God and changes them to be lies. That’s why it’s so important to know scripture and what God actually says. The lies that come with those often sound like this:
“He’s impossible to please, so I might as well give up.”
“I’ll never be good enough for Him.”
“I always feel bad when I sin against Him, so what’s the point in trying?”
“How could a good God expect that from people?”
So what do we do with this?
Satan comes to kill and steal and destroy. But Jesus came so that we may have life and have it abundantly. So to have life, we need to conquer lies with truth.
Truth about ourselves:
Yes, we fail. But we aren’t called to be perfect, because Jesus was perfect for us. But we are called to walk in light. All those lies of us not being good enough are silenced when we realize the price Jesus paid for us. That realization should propel us to walk in light and in freedom.
Truth about others:
Community is important. It’s a gift from God. It restores us and encourages us and corrects us. And those are all good things. We have to remember to see them as good things. We also need to remember that our community is made up of messy people with messed up lives. People expect a church family to be nice and neat and clean, but it’s actually the opposite. It’s a place for the messiest to come and be with other messed up people. But it HAS to be a place with the presence of love and the absence of pride. It HAS to be a place where we can say, “Hey, I know these people love me. I also know they’re messed up, just like I am. I know they fail, and I know I’m going to get hurt. But I know forgiveness and grace will reign.”
Truth about God:
God is good and loving and just. Yes, we will always mess up. Yes, we will always fall short. Yes, we deserve wrath and punishment and death. But God is good and loving and just. He is good because he rewards righteousness and deals with sin. He is loving because He came up with a solution for our sin. He is just because he took our punishment and completely laid it on His Son on the cross. Our God is for us. That is the truth. Satan will try to twist that in anyway he can, but we have to hold on to the truth we know.
Satan comes to steal our joy with lies about ourselves, but God tells us we are His dearly loved children. We are fearfully and wonderfully made for His purpose.
Satan comes to kill our unity with lies about others, but God tells us our community is a gift that encourages us and holds us accountable. We should see it as a joy and a privilege.
Satan comes to destroy our progress with lies about God, but God himself is for us, not against us. He sent Jesus so that we would have life and have it abundantly.