Most of us are not as familiar with the schemes of the Devil as we ought to be. They’re pretty simple, though; being a master of deception and an expert at manipulation, he uses the same old bag of tricks repeatedly, enabling him to fool one generation after another. Years ago, when Lois and I first accepted Jesus, it was a common practice to look at our record collection and get rid of any questionable records. As we began to go through them, one album, in particular, I can’t remember the album’s name or the song playing, but the needle fell into a groove, and the phrase Going to Hell, Going to Hell began to play over and over. We looked at each other and threw it into the burn pile without saying a word.
The Devil works like that scratch on our old vinyl record. You listen to a lie long enough and before long, it forms a groove in your memory. The more we habitually respond to the lie more the groove turns into a super highway called a neural pathway. Over time our response to the lie has formed a deep groove in our brains that changes the very way we think. The more the Devil gets us to question what is true or false by continually bombarding our thoughts with blatant lies, half-truths, deceit, and innuendoes, the more we struggle to tell the difference between what is right and wrong. That is why Jesus refers to the Devil as the father of lies, and further, Jesus says that when he lies, he speaks his native language. John 8:44, “You belong to your father, the Devil, and you want to carry out your father‘s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
When we believe a lie and allow it into our thought process, we give it the power to change who God originally intended us to become. Let’s say you are bombarded by a lie that says you are unlovable. No matter where it originated, your parents, or a past relationship, after a while, it begins to shape who we are and how others see us. The longer you live as if the lie is true, the more the lie changes you from the person God intended you to be into the person Satan wants you to become. That is why John 10:10 is so true, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” We all face danger when we fail to distinguish between what is true and false.
But this is not a given; we can all know the truth. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jesus says that truth is something that can be known. When the church struggles with the concept of good and evil, right and wrong, that God can’t be known, and that it is only through faith that we can come to a belief in him, we miss out on what the scriptures tell us. The scriptures clearly show us that faith is based on knowledge. Paul wrote in Colossians 2:2-4, “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.”
When Satan attacks our thought process with fine-sounding arguments, it creates within us a pattern of deceptive thoughts, which lead to internal narratives, causing us to take on new and deceptive belief structures. These thoughts and ideas begin to have a malignant will behind them. Scriptures teach us that Jesus is our savior, but it also states in the scriptures that he was a teacher. What is a teacher but one who imparts the truth to another? John 18:37 says, “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Our fight with the Devil is a fight to take control of our thought process and not allow the lies of the enemy to influence how we live and who we will become. When Satan plants a deceptive idea within us, and we fail to recognize it, we open ourselves to becoming more like the Devil than Jesus. No one starts out evil, rather, they become evil slowly over time through a long series of choices.
The Devil plants a thought, and if we fail to counter that false narrative with the truth, our flesh will accept the false narrative and allow it to ultimately shape our desires substituting the truth of God for the lie of the enemy. We must be aware that everything that comes into our thought process is not necessarily true and should be held to a higher degree of accountability than we typically give it. If you have a compromised immune system when it comes to knowing what is true or not, you will react much like your brain is on autopilot. After all, how many of us find ourselves driving miles down a highway to a destination that we have gone to so many times that our brain just does it without thinking. That same principle works in our thought process. Ask if what you are feeling is absolutely 100% true? Remember, the Devil is an expert at giving you just enough of the truth for you to accept it. Think of Eve in the garden with the serpent. Then ask yourself how it makes you feel? Sad, angry, frustrated, depressed, and in doubt.
Remember, Satan knows how to trigger our emotions. He has had thousands of years to study how humanity responds in a given situation and then uses his ability to put a false narrative in our minds that will put us in a tailspin of emotional negativity causing us to be ineffective and caustic to those we come in contact with. That is why the way we think can be habitual, especially when it comes to having negative thought patterns. We do have a say over what we will believe or not.
To change the way you think, begin to be aware of your thought patterns, how they make you feel, and whether they are accurate. Jesus was known to go off by himself and find a place of solitude where he could redirect his thoughts, aligning them with his father in heaven and making his responses opposite of where Satan was leading him.
When Jesus met the Devil in the wilderness, he did not do so with flashing swords and loud speech as if he was doing a Pentecostal deliverance session. But with a quiet assurance, Jesus would dismiss the Devil’s attacks while not giving him any ammunition to use against him. In other words, do not choose to engage in negative attacks. Calmly speaking out the truth as found in the scriptures has a power all its own.
The Devil said to Jesus in Matthew 4:3, “If you are the son of God” which was similar to the trigger that worked against Eve; in Genesis 3:1, “Did God really say?” But just before He questioned his sonship, God said this to Jesus in Matthew 3:17, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased.”… Jesus did not have to counter defensively Satan’s claim to his sonship, he just calmly dismissed it as if it were a non-starter.
Writing down scriptures that counter the enemy’s attacks will help you quickly turn aside from those attacks. When told how unworthy you are, have scriptures that you can quote that speak of your worth in the eyes of God, and watch how the devil’s attack will evaporate. The Devil will repeatedly use the same attack, which will give you an excellent opportunity to write down the attack and give a biblical response to the attack.
Make it a practice to go into a place that will put you in a positive mindset. In other words, take yourself out of the place where the enemy is familiar and put yourself in a place where the pattern can be easily broken. Make sure you stay clear of triggers that the enemy has successfully used against you for years.
May we be ones that “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5. Through Him who gives us discernment and strengthens us to do so.