It is a rule of our kingdom that you should make it a top priority that our Enemy’s followers not become like Him in any way. They talk about having been made free of their kingdom’s law, but you must ensure that they take it to its extreme. Push the envelope as far as you can. Encourage them to cross every boundary. Find out where their weak spots are and massage these carefully and often. It has proven best to do this whenever they least suspect it. Encourage them to “be themselves,” and if they have any hint of remorse, simply whisper in their ears that it’s just who they are and urge them to continue. If they prove resistant, try creating a feeling that our Enemy doesn’t mind an occasional transgression so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.
If, on the other hand, they are persistent in becoming like Him, push them as hard as you can in the opposite direction. We often find that they are hardwired to legalism. Point out the minutiae of laws and make sure they become obsessed with the details. Encourage them to make up new laws. Suggest to them how good they are, or better still, how much better they are than His other followers. Encourage them to point out the lack of obedience in other followers. Pride lies just below the surface and is easily accessible even for a novice demon.
Encourage a sense of unease about their relationship with Him and the idea that to gain His favor, they need to obey a little more.
Whatever you do, make sure you don’t let them dwell on what they obsessively call “the gospel.” As soon as they begin to think about our Enemy, or worse, begin to talk to Him, distract them at once. Tell them how unworthy they are and that they need to be far more holy if they intend for Him to listen to them. Encourage a sense of unease about their relationship with Him and the idea that to gain His favor, they need to obey a little more. Uncertainty about their relationship with Him will make your task so much easier. And when they fall, suggest to them the impossibility of recovery. If this fails, try telling them to keep their lapses quiet. It will be our little secret. This way, you can blackmail them whenever you need their attention. Whatever you do, don’t let them start telling Him about their transgressions.
Some of them will try to find more mature followers to be their mentors. You must do all in your power to prevent this. If you can’t stop it, sabotage the relationship. Make the mentor feel a sense of pride about how much better they are. And if the mentee confesses a sin, make sure that the mentor reveals it as soon as possible to someone else and thus breaks the confidence they have in each other. One tried and tested method is to suggest to the mentee that progress is too difficult. This will induce a sense of defeatism and lethargy. If you cannot stop the relationship, you can at least slow it down and make it difficult. Backwards and downwards is the strategy.
Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas is senior minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C., and Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. He is a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow and author of many books, including How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home.