Primer on Satan’s Strategies
If you need a refresher for what those “designs” are, here is a summary. May God make you a mighty warrior! May he “train your hands for war and your fingers for battle” (Psalm 144:1).
1. Satan lies, and is the father of lies.
“When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). We are dealing with the essence of falsehood and deception.
2. He blinds the minds of unbelievers.
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). So he not only speaks what is false. He hides what is true. He keeps us from seeing the treasure of the gospel. He lets us see facts, even proofs, but not preciousness.
3. He masquerades in costumes of light and righteousness.
In 2 Corinthians 11:13–15, Paul says that some people are posing as apostles who are not. He explains like this: “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.”
In other words, Satan has servants who profess enough truth to join the church, and from inside teach what Paul calls “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1), our love will be suckered into stupidity.
4. Satan does signs and wonders.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:9, the last days are described like this: “The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power, and with signs and wonders of the lie.” That’s my awkward translation. Some translate it “with false signs and wonders.” But this makes the signs and wonders look unreal. In fact, some people do say that Satan can only fake miracles. I doubt it. And even if it’s true, his fake is going to be good enough to look real to almost everybody.
One reason I doubt that Satan can only fake his miracles is that in Matthew 24:24 Jesus describes the last days like this: “False Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible even the elect.” There is no hint that these “signs and wonders” will be tricks.
Let your confidence be grounded in something far deeper than any supposed inability of Satan to do signs and wonders. Even real signs and wonders in the service of anti-Christian assertions prove nothing, even when they are done “in the name of Jesus.” “Lord, Lord, did we not do many mighty works in your name?” To which Jesus will reply, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt 7.22–23″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Matthew 7:22–23). The problem was not that the signs and wonders weren’t real, but that they were in the service of sin.
5. Satan tempts people to sin.
This is what he did unsuccessfully to Jesus in the wilderness—he wanted him to abandon the path of suffering and obedience (Matthew 4:1–11, Paul warns against this for all the believers: “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”