Our marriages are in a constant battle. Satan is doing all he can to destroy them. How does he do this? And what can we do to fight back and win against his constant attacks against us?
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10
Sabra and I have been blessed to travel many places around the country and around the world as part of our ministry. Because of this, we have been taught by seasoned travelers some strategies to protect ourselves and our possessions. We’ve also learned the hard way that no matter where you go there are pickpockets, con men, and many other crooks out to steal from you.
Yet there is someone even more devious out to destroy our marriages. Jesus warns us about him in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” This thief is Satan.
In the same verse, Jesus also said: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus is our Good Shepherd who seeks to give us a blessed life and marriage. So, it is wise to heed His warnings.
We are also warned about Satan in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The Greek word for “alert” used in this verse is “gregoreo.” It means to stay on guard and not fall asleep. And the Greek word translated “sober mind” is “nepho.” It means to be watchful and on guard.
To follow this warning, we need to be aware of Satan’s strategies and know how to deal with them. It’s always wise to know how the enemy works. And God’s Word has a lot to say about this.
Some of Satan’s Strategies
He’s Often Subtle
Expect Satan’s attacks to be subtle. You’ve likely seen the devil and his attacks portrayed in movies and TV as bold and frightening. Remember watching cartoons when you were a child? Satan was often red with horns and carried a pitchfork. But he is not that way in real life. Wouldn’t it be nice if he were?
Neither will he appear to you as a speaking serpent as he did to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3:1-7). He will, however, be just as shrewd. He will place perfectly timed questions in your mind to hopefully lead you to doubt your spouse and to doubt God. These questions may even seem reasonable and true in the moment, but they are not
Never forget Jesus’ warning about the devil: “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” (John 8:44).
Satan lies. There is no truth in him.
Satan is also an accuser. We are told this by John in Revelation 12:10 as God reveals one of the things that will happen when Jesus returns: “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night has been hurled down.’” Praise God! The accuser will be “hurled down.” But until then we must stay on the alert.
A Typical Scenario
Let’s look at a typical scenario for how this might play out in life.
Sabra picks me up from my office every evening. She’s usually there by about 5:30. But one day as I am waiting, 5:30 comes and goes…5:45…6:00. No Sabra. Then the attacks start coming from Satan–the lies, the accusations. “See. She doesn’t really care about you. If she did, would she leave you sitting there? She knows you’re tired and hungry. She doesn’t care about you.” The longer I let those thoughts play in my mind, the more I am tempted to believe them.
As I let those thoughts go on, I am in danger of allowing Satan to lead me down his pathway to sinful anger. This is a pathway we’re warned about in James 1:14-15: “But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
It wouldn’t be accurate to say, “The devil made me do it,” as in the old Flip Wilson comedy routine. No, if I get angry, the Bible tells me it’s my fault alone.
First I open myself up to the devil’s temptation by allowing my evil, self-centered desire to control me. I want to be picked up when I want to be picked up. I never consider that such a loving wife as Sabra almost certainly has a good reason for being late.
This unfilled desire, fueled by Satan’s accusations and lies, then lead me to the sin of anger. I do not do as God says in James 1:19-20: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
I also do not follow God’s command in Ephesians 4:26: “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” I do not follow God’s Word and immediately seek His help. Therefore, I give Satan a foothold in my heart. And he is more than glad to take it and entice me toward further anger and sinful actions.
It is easy to go down this slippery slope, because I am not following God’s instruction on what to do at the first sign of temptation. James 4:7-8 says: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
And James 1:22 says: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” But because I do not turn to God and His Word when tempted, I do not submit to Him, and I give in to Satan’s schemes. By the time Sabra picks me up, my sinful anger leads me to say hurtful things to my wife. And things go from bad to worse.
This type of scenario can play out in a million different ways. The details may be different, but the process is the same.
Contrary to popular belief, the devil doesn’t make us do anything. He isn’t a red man with horns poking us with a pitchfork, forcing us to lash out at each other. He is simply there encouraging us to sin…persistently. But it is our responsibility alone to know and obey God’s Word. Then, just as God promises, Satan will flee.
It’s our job to keep an eye out for the enemy, to stay alert and watchful. We may not see him or be aware of his presence. But we must never forget he’s around …watching, waiting. And when, like a lion, he pounces on us, we must immediately counter his attacks with the strategies of God.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
♦ Read this week’s teaching together. Discuss how it applies to you and your marriage.
♦ Think about this past week. Were there times when you succumbed to Satan’s methods? What was the result? How could you have responded differently? How might you have followed some of the truths of God’s Word to cause things to turn out differently? This will help you respond differently to future attacks from Satan because they will come.
♦ Discuss together ways you will respond to one another and seek each others’ help when you know you are under Satan’s attacks. Commit to each other that you will help each other follow these things and not allow Satan to lead you to have division in your marriage.
♦ Pray together and ask God to help you recognize Satan’s attacks and show you how to respond to them.
Next week we will continue discussing ways Satan tries to harm and destroy our marriages. We will also see God’s solutions for dealing with those so we can respond in a way that promotes love and strengthens our marriages.
Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
Other posts in the OVERCOMING SATAN’S STRATEGIES series:
Part 2: Know God’s Truth
Part 3: Reject the Lies…Follow the Truth
Part 4: Love with God’s Love
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Photo by stevepb via pixabay (CC0), cropped/text added.