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Before each basketball game in college, our coaches would walk the team through a detailed scouting report of the opposing team. On the whiteboard appeared their top eight or nine players with their respective numbers, heights, weights, skill sets, and weaknesses. Half the battle was knowing what kind of competition we were walking into so that we had clear and realistic expectations. The other half, of course, was execution. Knowing that number 32 made 48 percent of his attempts from the three-point line, for instance, was insignificant if we weren’t actually going to guard him past the arc. Similarly, if we are to succeed by the Spirit’s help in resisting the devil’s temptations, we must know his many tools and have the resolve to faithfully engage the battle.

One way Satan’s diverse tool belt is exposed is the way he uses paradoxical tactics depending on the subject. For instance, Satan’s urge could be to conjure up pride in religious services and duties among God’s people. One of the remedies used to battle this device is the regular reminder of our own sinful estate and motives. On the other hand, Satan may also exploit the tender conscience by causing people to inflict themselves with despair and self-deprecation due to their sin and regret. One of the remedies for this is the regular reminder of the finished work of Christ in removing the damning power of our sin. Our battle plan must be suited to the particular device Satan is using. One person may need to focus on the particular duties and imperatives of the Christian life, while another person may require an attuned focus on the gospel indicatives that declare our certain acquittal and sure approval in Christ. Satan’s tactics are many; thus, our defenses must be many. Christians must remain well-equipped for the unending battle in this present age.

The Christian life is not easy. It is a battle—a battle that requires us to firmly pitch our flag and fight. Satan has been bound (Rev. 20), but he works more furiously than ever to tear down Christ’s church—though he himself knows the trustworthiness of Christ’s promise that nothing can prevail against His church. We Christians often have a tendency to forget the severity of the battle of which we are a part. The Puritan Thomas Brooks highlighted four categorical ploys that Satan uses to seduce us unto sin and away from Christ: (1) attraction to sin; (2) keeping from religious services; (3) condemning the soul to despair; and (4) seeking to tear down the honorable of the world. It’s important that we recognize these techniques. If we are to firmly pitch our flag and fight, we must recognize Satan’s ambitions and mechanisms. We will fight the good fight insofar as we identify our opponent. If we recognize the mechanisms, we put ourselves in a position to properly make use of God’s appointed means for us to resist the evil one and pursue righteousness. And remember, Christian: Satan’s hatred of you is no match for Christ’s love for you.

Proving Paul Right

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From the October 2021 Issue
Oct 2021 Issue