Life is war! Our enemy is powerful, cunning, experienced and supernatural. His minions are multitudinous. His ways are devious and destructive. He is a ravenous lion (1 Peter 5:8), appears as an “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14), and is working 24/7 all around the globe to undermine the work of the church and hurt the heart of Christ.
If I Were the Devil
In recent months, I’ve thought a lot about the tactics of our enemy. In my limited understanding I will never comprehend the full strategies of the devil. Still, I want to consider one aspect of his work by postulating what I might do if I were in his shoes.
What I would KNOW…
While the devil is NOT all-knowing, he is brilliant, supernatural and shrewd from thousands of years of experience. There are some things he certainly knows.
The Bible – James 2:19-20 tells us, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” Satan and his demons are well-versed in biblical information. They seek to twist, undermine and cast doubt with respect to the Bible. They also know what the Bible says about them and their work. When it comes to our battle against evil, they are familiar with our classic instruction about the war and supernatural weapons we have for the battle. As it says in Ephesians 6:18, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
Church History – For millennia the devil has been engaged in spiritual warfare. He is fully aware that his greatest defeats have come during seasons of spiritual awakening and revival. It is during those times that the church has advanced in supernatural power—converting lost souls, transforming society in countless ways, and counteracting evil in its many forms. He is also aware that every one of these seasons of exponential Christian advancements has been rooted in movements of united, biblical prayer which fueled repentance, powerful preaching and massive ministry expansion.
Human Nature – The devil cannot read our minds but is an expert in observing human behavior. He knows our tendency to live independently of God’s supernatural provision for our lives. He was active in Laodicea, for example, as he assisted that church in living by their own riches, efforts and sufficiency rather than pursuing intimacy with their Savior. He likes things this way.
What I would DO…
So, if I were the devil I would use my best deceptive tools to keep Christians from praying together. I would keep them busy and isolated from one another. I would do everything possible to keep them distracted and disinterested in biblical, balanced, revival-style prayer gatherings.
To accomplish this, I would do the following…
Fuel the Spirit of Rugged Individualism – By keeping Christians independent of each other, I would keep them independent from God. I would do everything possible to make sure they believed that the only way to pray was at home in a “closet” even though the New Testament evidence is overwhelming about the priority of praying together. I would keep them frustrated in their personal prayer lives by preventing them from learning to pray by praying together.
Dig Ruts of Boring Prayer – When they did try to pray together, I would make sure the prayer meetings were based on old, traditional approaches that focused more on human needs than God’s power. I would do everything possible to encourage boredom and gossip in these gatherings so most people would stay away from these sleepy, passionless “prayer” times.
Delight in Theological Orthodoxy Without Spiritual Passion – I would know how effective it is to get Bible-loving Christians to delight in theological correctness without spiritual intimacy. It worked very well for me in Ephesus (see Revelation 2:1-7) a once-great church that fell out of love with Jesus, even though they had great theology and teaching. I would let them be content with good sermons and grand theological ideas, as long as they stayed off their knees in trying to make it real in their hearts.
Encourage “Idle” Preaching on Prayer – I would know that sermons on prayer frequently fall on deaf ears, especially when the leaders do not model prayer. I would keep pastors content to just talk about inspiring prayer ideas as long as they did not actually lead their people into extraordinary gatherings of prayer. I would know that prayer information without prayer action just anesthetizes Christians from spiritual reality. This would be a “win” for my team.
Promote “Success” in the Ministry – Crazy as it sounds, I might even promote church growth as a replacement for real revival. I would encourage an interest in numbers, activities, strategies and events. This would keep them away from brokenness, repentance, and passion for God’s transforming presence. This would distract them from a real pursuit of the awakenings that have undermined my malevolent work.
Knowing that I could not keep people from eternal life because of the power of the Gospel, I would at least try to keep them from eternal reward by getting them to rely on their own flesh rather than the Spirit of God in their ministry efforts.
Yes, if I were the devil, this strategy would be one of my most important. I would amass all of my most subtle and deceptive troops and tools to prevent spiritual awakening at all costs. As long as Christians were sincere but isolated—active but powerless—entertained but shallow—I would win. And I would love it so.
This article originally appeared here.