Unveiling the Schemes of the Enemy

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So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” – 2 Corinthians 2:11

The Bible tells us not to be unaware of the designs of the enemy. In the original Greek language of which the New Testament was written, design literally means a scheme; a psychological, well-reasoned strategy against us.

PSYOPS

In warfare, one of the most powerful forms of combat is Psychological Operations (PSYOPS). It sometimes more powerful that traditional weapons such as bullets and bombs because it can win a battle without firing a single shot. According to Rand.org, “Psychological Operations involves the planned use of propaganda and other psychological operations to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes and behaviour of opposition groups[1].” Wikipedia.com writes:

(PSYOPS) can also disrupt, confuse, and protract the adversary’s decision-making process, undermining command and control. When properly employed, PSYOP have the potential to save the lives of friendly or enemy forces by reducing the adversary’s will to fight. By lowering the adversary’s morale and then its efficiency, PSYOP can also discourage aggressive actions by creating disaffection within their ranks, ultimately leading to surrender.[2]

In the same way, Satan aims to use his designs (his schemes) to confuse us, to stifle our will to fight, and to ultimately cause us to abandon our love and commitment for Jesus. And as we heard in this weekend’s message from Pastor Dave, he wants to divide us from one another and cut off our communication with God, isolating us from Him. But as Peter wrote to the church in Corinth, I saw want to encourage you in this blog, that when we know what his schemes are against us, we will not be outwitted by him. So, let us find out what those schemes are.

The Fourfold Attacks of Satan

In Revelations 20:1, 2, we discover these schemes in the names the Bible confers upon Satan: “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years (Emphasis mine).”

So, as we look at these four names the Bible attributes to Satan, we are going unveil his operations against us, and we are also going to see how Jesus has overcame every one of these schemes so that you and I can walk in victory.

Dragon

The term Dragon is given to Satan to show that he is behind world powers that seek to defeat God’s work on the Earth. This is seen in the fact that Pharaoh of Egypt and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon are called dragons (See Ezekiel 29:3 and Jeremiah 51:34). Today, we can see the Dragon at work in nations that suppress Christianity or even seek to extinguish it through extreme persecution.

The good news is that Jesus has overcome the world (along with the world powers): “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:32 ESV).” It is a historic fact that wherever there is persecution in the world, the Gospel increases. This is because Jesus has overcome the Dragon. Not only that, but we know that every kingdom on Earth will eventually become the kingdom of our Lord’s and He will rule over them forever (Revelations 11:15).

Serpent

Whereas the Dragon manifests Satan’s power, Serpent manifests his cunningness, his deceit. We see this right away in the Garden of Eden as the first line of attack against humanity, and all throughout the Gospels and the Epistles, we are constantly being warned against false doctrines and false teachings. It was Jesus who said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” In Acts 20:29-31, Paul also warned the church in Ephesus to be aware of the treachery of the Serpent: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

In some ways, the Serpent does more damage than the Dragon, for while the church grows and increases under the persecution of the Dragon, it weakens under the false teaching of the Serpent. This is why small groups are so important, and why it matters to travel together and to be part of a community. It is in small groups that we learn together, that we pray for one another, and read and study the Word together, shedding light on the deceptive schemes of the Serpent and his PSYOPS.

Devil

While this is the most common name for the enemy, perhaps not all of us are aware of what it means. The name Devil literally means false accuser and slanderer. He is constantly slandering and accusing us with our failures, faults and shortcomings in order to undercut our faith and trust in God. His scheme is to cause us to look to ourselves in order to qualify for God’s love and goodness, instead of looking to Jesus through whom we have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3).

By contrast, Jesus is our Advocate. 1 John 2:1 says, “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” We are not accepted by God because of the right things we do, we are accepted by God because Jesus, our Advocate, became our righteousness! And when the devil accuses us of our mistakes and failures, we can look to our advocate Jesus who defends us.

This is why Heaven erupts in praise when the Devil – the Accuser – is defeated: “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God (Revelations 12:10).”

Satan

The fourth name by which the enemy is designated as is that of Satan, which properly signifies an adversary, an opponent. According to Luke 12:36, he is the one that holds people in bondage and stands in opposition to the plans and purposes of God being done in our lives. But thank God that “He (Christ) who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).”

Not only that, but we have been given authority over Satan and his attacks in the name of Jesus: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you (Luke 10:19).” In those moments when we feel overwhelmed by Satan’s constant barrage against us, it is him, not us, that should be afraid: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet (Romans 16:20).”

[1] Psychological Warfare, Christopher Paul. Rand.org (website). https://www.rand.org/topics/psychological-warfare.html

[2] Psychological Operations (Uniuted States). Wikipedia (website). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_operations_(United_States)