The nineteenth-century French poet Charles Baudelaire wrote that the devil’s best trick is persuading people that he doesn’t exist. In the providence of God, the devil has been quite successful in persuading people that he doesn’t exist. The truth is that the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they might not see the light of the glory of the gospel of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). As a result, the devil’s primary work is presumably focused elsewhere—on his enemy, God, and His people, the church. We who are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ know all too well that Satan does indeed exist, for we wrestle daily against our enemy and the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces of evil (Eph. 6:12).
The devil has been a liar from the beginning, and with the fall, sin became our master (Rom. 6:20). At conversion, we gained Christ and, thus, we gained His enemy—Satan and all his demons. While we know that demons can neither indwell believers nor control our minds, we also know that they can strive to wreak havoc in our lives. We see this throughout Scripture, most vividly in Job’s life and in the lives of Jesus and His Apostles. Nevertheless, God is sovereign over all things—including the demons. He is sovereign over the ends as well as the means to those ends, and He has called us in His wisdom to “resist the devil” (James 4:7), who “disguises himself as an angel of light” and whose servants “disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:13–15).
In C.S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters, a senior demon, Screwtape, composes letters to his trainee, Wormwood, and advises and directs him in a number of ways to achieve Satan’s evil ends. Reflecting on writing these letters, Lewis said, “Though I had never written anything more easily, I never wrote with less enjoyment.” In the spirit of Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, we offer here “A Field Guide from the Abyss,” a fictional manual for destroying the church. The field guide takes the form of an instructional booklet for demons who need a crash course in basic strategy for their evil ends to be realized.
The primary goal of this guide is to help Christians “escape the snare of the devil” (2 Tim. 2:26) and to become more keenly aware of our enemy’s deceitful scheme—to destroy our Lord’s church. By God’s grace, knowing the devil’s strategies will help us to be neither “outwitted by Satan” nor “ignorant of his designs” (2 Cor. 2:11). Instead, we will be more “watchful” as he “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8) and will remember that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).