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As believers, we need to understand how our enemy works if we are to be effective in our efforts to avoid falling into his trap.
The Deception Trap
Photo by Nick Fewings / Unsplash

The Enemy's Most Powerful Tool

Deception is probably the most powerful tool the enemy uses to undermine the integrity of believers, both individually and collectively. The Scripture gives us a great example through David’s experience as he responded to impulse that seemed logical but which led to severe consequences. Take a quick look at 1 Chronicles 21:1-8:

“Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, ‘Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.’…But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel. And David said to God, ‘I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.’”

If you go back and read this in context, you’ll see that David suddenly got the idea to do this. It really didn’t make sense, especially when God had told him not to take a census of Israel. David acted on impulse. David wasn’t known for his disobedience to God. Neither was he one prone to compulsive behavior. You see time after time where he would approach the Lord for wisdom and direction to know God’s will, performing it out of his love and reverence for God.

So, where did that impulse to disobey God come from? Taking a census of Israel seemed like a logical thing to do since he was king. Certainly he had a right to know how many people were in his kingdom! But, what was his motive? And why, when God had told him NOT to do this, did he suddenly think it was necessary? Note also that even his military commander argued with him. And, when God’s judgment fell upon Israel for this sin, David knew immediately why God was angered and he immediately repented saying, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing…"

We've all had random thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere — thoughts that seem to make wrong look right, thoughts that tend to bend or embellish the truth, thoughts that some would consider the “gray area” between truth and falsehood. Many times those thoughts seem to be logically reconciled; they seem harmless and even beneficial. Does the human mind just conjure up thoughts that are contrary to God’s word? Or, is there something else going on? I suggest the latter … those thoughts are not your thoughts. The impulse to act on those thoughts is another story altogether! Those impulses originate in the mind of the enemy to lead us into a trap of disobedience and sin. If we allow those random thoughts or impulses to take root, if we contemplate them and give them some validity, we are close to being deceived. The only thing lacking is our agreement through action. The trap. Bought. Hook, line and sinker.

The author of 2 Corinthians 2:11 suggests that even a believer can be “outwitted” by satan. The Apostle Paul suggests that in order to prevent this from happening we must not be “ignorant of his devices" or schemes. In other words, we need to understand how our enemy works if we are to be effective in our efforts to avoid falling into his trap. This, among a large portion of Bible is dealing with spiritual warfare, a topic many don’t discuss because it doesn’t give us warm, fuzzy feelings of being loved and adored by our Creator.

So, what is the enemy’s strategy? What traps does he set to catch us unaware? And, why do believers find themselves falling short of our high calling in Christ Jesus?

Dr. Ed Murphy says, “Human sin always has a dual source. It has a human source, one’s wrong choices. But it also has a supernatural source, Satan’s temptations. He plants the seeds of evil thoughts and imaginations into human minds and hearts, intensifying the evil already there."

I would suggest that the battle must begin before the point of that first impulse. We must be keenly aware of how the enemy works and be on guard. Then, when the impulse comes to do something that’s questionable or unprofitable for a believer, we can quickly recognize it as a trap that’s intended to lure us away from God’s plans, purposes, ways, and commands. If we allow that impulse to overshadow God’s command, we are on the road to losing the battle. If we even entertain the thought beyond the point of purposely dismissing it, we have allowed that overshadowing to begin, leading us down the path to entrapment by the enemy and bringing dishonor to our Creator.

It’s time we, soldiers in the army of the Living God, became keenly aware of the enemy’s schemes and stopped the process before we find ourselves in situations that lead us into the trap of disobedience and sin. Think about a nation's military and the lengths they go to in order to know every step the enemy takes so their adversarial efforts can be thwarted before an assault is initiated. Our responsibility toward the enemy’s schemes and devices is no less important.

While ours is a spiritual battle, it is our responsibility to recognize an attack before it begins by knowing how the enemy works and stopping him before we find ourselves in a situation like David. We must keep in mind that the enemy disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). He knows our goal is to do God’s will and fulfill His calling to be a Light shining brightly against the backdrop of darkness in our generation. His devices — his manipulations and deception — will appear to make sense, be logical and even promote a form of godliness. We must remain sensitive to the Truth by remaining sober, alert, and keenly aware of the deception meant to entrap us and use us to hinder God’s plans and purposes in the earth today.

We don’t have to be outwitted by the enemy. We don’t have to allow random impulses to lead us down the path to sin, bearing consequences for us and often for others as well. We do, however, have to understand how the enemy works, refuse to respond impulsively, and walk in victory refusing to fall for his schemes and devices designed to lure us into his trap.