When we come face-to-face with a moral decision, we sometimes make the wrong judgement call and compound a problem, rather than solve it. Many then just chalk it up to human nature and move on. Others, however, will feel some guilt, at least for a while. If you include yourself in this latter group (guilt), then you are expressing the correct Christian reaction, for that means you are sorry for your error and are feeling remorse — you are repentant.
That guilty feeling is your feedback system at work to let you know you failed to process your decision-making abilities in a Godly way. How high your built-in ‘guilt meter’ registers, usually concerns how serious was your moral offense. It is God’s way of telling you that you sinned, or missed the proper mark in living your life by his righteous rules. A righteous life will provide a smooth highway in your journey, whereas an unrighteous life will bring many bumpy roads and bad detours.
In making moral decisions, we sometimes get a gut feeling on what to do. Many people believe that gut feeling is generally best to obey, because it involves a sixth sense which links you spiritually to God. For a study on this subject, see “Is that Gut Feeling a Message from God?” listed in References & Notes at this end of this article.1
The real question, for this article is why do we even get those sinful thoughts in the first place? I mean, it is only the human animal that has a conscience and can make a decision based upon what is right or wrong. Why is that?
God created us lower than angels, but higher than all the other animal life on earth and he gave us everything we needed, including a home in pristine condition and a variety of foods to sustain our lives. He also provided us a special gift, a portion of his spirit. This gift included free will to make our own decisions and the possibility of everlasting life. He then gave us instructions and only one single and simple law to obey — a very good deal, right?
Humans were left in charge of this planet. We were to take care of it and all life which lived upon it (Genesis 1:28). We were to make the decisions on how to expand the garden in Eden to cover the entire globe, but what did we really do? We broke the only law on earth and we lost our everlasting life, and society has gotten worse ever since.
How did this happen? How did we go so wrong so fast?
Well, God may have taken a rest after six days of creation (Genesis 2:2), but his good work wasn’t finished, yet. His time of rest was to give us a lesson about the consequences of our actions. This lesson is ongoing and we are now taking the final course. It began when Satan entered the garden in Eden and tempted Eve (Genesis 3:1-7), and will end in the coming new age of righteousness, ruled by Jesus Christ, as mentioned in the last book of the Bible (Revelation 21). All through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, are recorded the life lessons about good and evil, and what was and what will be. Many will graduate from our schooling, but some will not.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, for we are still in the mist of our schooling and we need to know more about the entity that was and is and will continue (for a time) to corrupt us and make us sin. We are now living in a world being ruled by Satan. “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one, (1 John 5:19, ESV).2
Read the account of humankind’s fall into sin in Genesis 3, when the serpent tempts Eve in the Garden of Eden. Here the serpent displays his modus operandi3 and that is what we will study; the methods he uses to trap us and strip away what little spirit of God we still possess. For a detailed study of whom, or what, this serpent or snake is, see the article “Nachash: the Snake in Genesis 3 — was it Satan or Not?” listed in References & Notes.4
Satan and his fallen angel followers, as well as the demons they created on earth,5 are so crafty that they can even snare the best of Christians, so knowing how they operate can actually save your life. Satan is a very real creature and not a myth. Even today he is still at war with God and wants to remove the Almighty’s sovereignty by taking control of us. But, although we have no ability to destroy him personally, we must still fight off his attacks, so we need to know all about him to do so.
There are many complicated lists and charts describing Satan’s ways of taking control of us, even entire books devoted to describing his methods of operation. Although they are fine for detailing his attributes, I believe a few simple points will help you understand when you are under attack. I break down Satan’s methods into four main categories: deception, temptation, accusation, and destruction.
Deception. “When Satan wanted to lead the first man and woman into sin, he started by attacking the woman’s mind.” Paul the Apostle wrote: ”But 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,” (2 Corinthians 11:3). It is easy to understand why Satan does this, for it is your brain through which God communicates with you. When he sends his messages to you, it is ultimately the mind that processes this communication.6
Deception comes in many forms, but it is usually through lies. Either outright falsehoods or partial ones that disguise or obscure reality. Look around today and you will find counterfeit churches, ministers, and sermons deceiving attending Christians with unscriptural messages. “Remember that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, so it is expected that his servants do, too.7 ”For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds,” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
And as for large governments and organizations, what better way to control large populations, than to create false fear, with its associated mental problems of anxiety and worry. Many people believe the ongoing world virus pandemic is a lie, for example. If you aren’t worried, I’m sure that someone in your family is scared. A government can control whole countries through lies that forecast sickness and death. If the disease doesn’t get you, the associated anxiety will.
Temptation. A temptation is not a sin unless you accept its invitation, but it is a test. Although we can be tested by God, our study is about Satan, so his tests are in the form of an opportunity to do evil and commit a sin.
In the Old Testament, the most remembered temptation was presented to Eve and Adam in the garden in Eden. In the New Testament it was Christ’s temptation in the wilderness. There is still temptation in the world and it is our duty to escape its grasp.
Remember, “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it,” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Or as one modern author stated, “When you come face to face with temptation, look for the way out — the way of escape — that God has promised. Then skedaddle. Flee. Run as fast as you can.”8
Accusation. Satan will falsely imply or accuse someone of an untruth or sin, or use past sins to cause guilt and remorse.9 In most cases, he will employ someone else to be the accuser. “Satan wants you to feel guilty. He wants you to experience regret and remorse, but not repentance. He wants to keep accusing you so that you focus your attention on yourself and your sins . . . As long as you are feeling guilty, you are under indictment and you are moving farther and farther from the Lord.”10
Sometimes the accusation will be completely false, and that works for him, too. “False accusations are often spewed out of the mouths of people who are either hurt, insecure, or perhaps just wanting to put themselves in a more advantageous position. Those who are on the receiving end often feel hurt, taken advantage of, and feel treated unjustly.”11
The Bible tells us that, eventually, those who speak false accusations will receive God’s enforced justice, and those who have been falsely accused have God as their defender. Why? It’s because God hates false testimonies. “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape,” (Proverbs 19:5).12
Destruction. This includes control or possession of our bodies, minds, spirit, and will, and it can cause illness and disease.13 This control, many times, leads to impatience, one of the best pathways to destructive behavior. We are, by nature, impatient and that leads to costly mistakes.
To do this, he uses our minds to try and make us impatient with God and lose our faith. If you have ever read the book of Job, you know that this is true. We can however resist, as Job did, but it is not easy. Whenever you find an impulsive or impatient believer, you can be reasonably sure that the person is not walking in the Spirit, but is living only by choices of the flesh.14
This strategy is often Satan’s way of using demons for complete control of humans. Demons are the disembodied spirits of half-breed creatures from the pre-flood era of our history. These entities are used to possess people already in a weakened state by disease or illness. “Demons seek to possess bodies and seems rather uncomfortable being outside of them. From Scripture, we see that both fallen angels and holy angels have bodies. In contrast, demons greatly desire bodies because they do not have them. Demons are clingy, needy, angry, tormented creatures.”15
Read an interesting Bible story of Jesus casting out demons in Matthew 8:28-34. And for an article about this event, read the deeper study titled “Demons, Jesus, and the Pigs” listed in References & Notes.16
Demons are Real
Churches teach an inadequate view of demons. They speak of people having demons, but it is usually in the context of some addiction or mental malady that someone finds has griped their lives. Demons are real and they do possess people. Jesus knew this and others in his day, and before, knew this, too. And many other biblical texts “attribute human sin to the temptation of demonic forces. In attributing human sin to demons, these texts suggest a motivation significantly different from the one behind texts that reflect the ‘innate inclination to sin’ paradigm.”17
We know that sin can be inherited. The apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned,” (Romans 5:12). And anyone wanting to know deeper details about this fact, can read a special article titled “The Science of Sin — is Evil Inherited?” listed in References & Notes.18
But we now know sinful behavior can also be a result of demonic possession. Some suggest that we live in a demonic age that is more evil than it was in biblical days.19 I believe it is so. Take a look around and you may find yourself agreeing with this suggestion, also.
There are a lot of evil people and social activities causing much chaos in this world today, terrible things that attack the basic rights of people and their families, as well as their freedom and liberty. Demonic activity is rampant and it is not just members of the general population causing the problems. World leaders, as well as local politicians are trying to control whole populations in evil ways. They circumvent the law and do what they please, without any compassion for the people they manipulate.
And if they are possessed by demons they still look like humans, but they are controlled by an invisible evil spirit. So, a demon is a demon, no matter what name you give them. You find these people not only in politics, but also in giant corporations and organizations, and even worse, you will find them in many churches.
Governments of the world sometimes try to control the church by suggesting that God wants it that way, and the church administration is complicit, because they don’t want to lose their tax exemption and member’s tithes. In a twisted way, they quote from the book of Romans: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment,” (Romans 13:1-2).
Or course, in the proper context, this scripture is suggesting that governments have the authority to uphold the law to protect the innocent and punish the criminal. But governments sometimes pervert use of this scripture for their own agenda. As an example, Adolf Hitler, with the pre-Nazi clergy, used their own perverted interpretation of Romans 13 “to justify Christian non-involvement in government and their non-resisting subordination to tyranny.” This opened the door to genocide, where millions of Jews were slaughtered, and paved the way for absolute evil to subjugate the entire nation of Germany.20
It is often said, “give a government a little bit of power and they will soon take much more,” and that is exactly the way it is with some government leaders in the world. Today, in the United States, one group of politicians wants to separate from Godly ways for their own benefit and greed, while another group wants to stay close to biblical counsel and do what is right. I’m sometimes saddened by the side that wins in public elections.
The Bible gives Instruction to Deflect Evil Spirits
Satan and his cohorts (fallen angels and demons) are afoot in the world today, causing all kinds of mayhem. In explaining what it is we face, the apostle Paul is very specific. It is not a struggle against other humans, but one against spirits. Flesh and blood foes are just mere tools of evil, the real foes lurk behind humans. This is a spiritual war against a devious, wicked, and a ruthless enemy.21
Paul writes, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm, (Ephesians 6:13), and then he describes the various pieces of Christian armor as though he is equipping a soldier for battle.
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (Ephesians 6:14-17).
Okay! This has been a serious and dark subject, so for a little balance, let’s end here with some fun and some rock music. The song selection for this article is “Tribute” by the American comedy rock duo ‘Tenacious D’. This humorous song (a version edited for public broadcast) is about an encounter with a demon, who demands that the musicians sing the greatest song in the world. They can’t remember the words, so they sing a tribute instead, which destroys the demon (then again, maybe not).
This song didn’t do well in the United States, but climbed the charts in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Selected lyrics are below. See a link to the music video in References & Notes.22
We was hitchhikin’ down a long and lonesome road.
All of a sudden, there shined a shiny demon
In the middle of the road. And he said:
Play the best song in the world, or I’ll eat your soul.
And we each said — Okay!
And we played the first thing that came to our heads,
Just so happened to be,
The best song in the world.
Needless to say,
The Beast was stunned
He asked us, “Be you angels?”
And we said “Nay, we are but men!”
Copyright © 2020, Dr. Ray Hermann
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Reference & Notes
- Hermann, Ray, “Is that Gut Feeling a Message from God?” (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 21 October 2018), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/is-that-gut-feeling-a-message-from-god/
- Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), ©2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The text has been used by permission. All rights reserved.
- modus operandi: noun, (plural: modi operandi) a way of doing something. the way in which something works.
Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed., (USA: Oxford University Press, 2008).
- Hermann, Ray, “Nachash: the Snake in Genesis 3 — was it Satan or Not?” (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 11 December 2019), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/nachash-the-snake-in-genesis-3-was-it-satan-or-not/
- Hermann, Ray “Angels from Heaven or Aliens from Outer Space?” (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS 12 November 2020), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/angels-from-heaven-or-aliens-from-outer-space/
- Wiersbe, Warren W., The Strategy of Satan: How to Detect and Defeat Him, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1979, 1996), p. 16.
- Fairchild, Mary, “How to Resist Temptation and Grow Stronger”, (Learn Religions, Dotdash Publishing, 6 August 2020), https://www.learnreligions.com/how-to-avoid-temptation-701018
- Thompson, Leonard, Demons, (Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company, 2005), p. 24.
- Wiersbe, Warren W., The Strategy of Satan: How to Detect and Defeat Him, (see above), p. 85.
- Cachila, J. B., “ Here’s the best way to deal with false accusations against you”, (Christian Today, International House, London, 17 September 2016), https://www.christiantoday.com/article/heres-the-best-way-to-deal-with-false-accusations-against-you/95620.htm
- Thompson, Leonard, Demons, (see above).
- Wiersbe, Warren W., The Strategy of Satan: How to Detect and Defeat Him, (see above).
- Hernandez, David Diga, “3 Subtle Distinctions Between Demons and Fallen Angels,” (Charisma News, 30 July 2016), https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/58898-3-subtle-distinctions-between-demons-and-fallen-angels
- Hermann, Ray, “Demons, Jesus, and the Pigs”, (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 13 August 2019), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/demons-jesus-and-the-pigs/
- Heiser, Michael S., Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers & The Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ, (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2017), pp. 106-107.
- Hermann, Ray, “The Science of Sin — is Evil Inherited?” (The Outlaw Bible Student, OBS, 8 June 2020), https://outlawbiblestudent.org/the-science-of-sin-is-evil-inherited/
- Heiser, Michael S., Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers & The Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ, (see above).
- Chalfant, John W., “Hitler, Obama and Romans 13:1-4,” (America: A Call to Greatness, 30 May 2011), https://greatness.us/theology/hitler-obama-and-romans-13-1-4
- Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), vol. 2, p. 357.
- “Tribute”, [this is the radio-edited version] artist and writer: ‘Tenacious D’ (Jack Black, Kyle Gass), © 2002; produced by The Dust Brothers; (licensed to YouTube by SME (on behalf of Epic Records),UMPI, AMRA, and others) – MUSIC VIDEO: https://youtu.be/_lK4cX5xGiQ