Satan watches people closely. He knows what every person likes and has a weakness for, and he uses this knowledge to trick them. It is very unattractive for God’s people if Satan would come along as a roaring lion, but when he comes as an angel of light with sweet, flattering words and a smile on his face, then it is very difficult for believers not to be tricked. But whatever form Satan comes in, he works to reach his only goal – which is to lead people into destruction.
People serve Satan when they seek their own benefit and when they go against the will of God and the leading of the Spirit.
How Satan tricks God’s people
God gave Israel victory in the days of Joshua, but when Achan took the things that were cursed, God became angry and 3,000 men of Israel had to flee before the men of Ai (Joshua 7). God fought the war for Israel as long as they were obedient to Him, but when they obeyed Satan, they lost the battle. In this case, Satan used the fact that the children of Israel desired to have beautiful things.
After Saul had sinned by saving the best of the sheep and oxen, which God had said should be totally destroyed, he said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I didn’t obey the LORD’s commands and your words. I was afraid of the people, and I did what they said.” 1 Samuel 15:24 (NCV) [Emphasis added]. A second sin followed soon after: Saul wanted Samuel to act as if nothing had happened and to honour him before the elders and the people of Israel. Satan used the desires of the people. Those desires were so strong that even though Saul knew what the will of God was, he obeyed the people because he was afraid, he was a coward here.
Solomon had been given a wise and understanding heart so there was no one like him, either before or after him. (1 Kings 3:12.) But Satan tricked him, because Solomon “loved many foreign women … These came from the nations that the LORD had commanded the Israelites about: ‘Don’t intermarry with them. They will definitely turn your heart toward their gods.’ Solomon clung to these women in love.” 1 Kings 11:1-2 (CEB). By this time Solomon had already disobeyed the commandment of the Lord, and the results came for sure. When Solomon was old, “his wives turned his heart after other gods. He wasn’t committed to the LORD his God with all his heart … Solomon did what was evil in the LORD’s eyes …” 1 Kings 11:4-6 (CEB). Solomon broke the laws of wisdom, and wisdom left him. He who does what is evil in the Lord’s eyes is not wise anymore. Solomon obeyed his wives more than God, and that was his downfall.
Jesus told His disciples that He had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests and scribes and that He would be killed and then raised on the third day. “Peter took Jesus aside and told him not to talk like that. He said, ‘God save you from those things, Lord! Those things will never happen to you!’ Then Jesus said to Peter, ‘Go away from me, Satan! You are not helping me! You don’t care about the things of God, but only about the things people think are important.’” Matthew 16:22-23 (NCV). Satan knew very well that if Jesus had saved Himself from these sufferings and death, God would not have been able to raise Him up from the dead. And if Jesus had not been raised up, then our faith would be useless, and we would be the most miserable of all men. (1 Corinthians 15:19.) Satan would be very happy and satisfied about that.
Satan also tries to trick God’s people today
Satan is also working today – to attack people wherever they are weak. He uses the desires that are in our sinful human nature as his weapons. He knows them very well, and he knows that people like to follow their desires.
God wants to strengthen our will, cleanse our mind and make us of strong character, firm and full of courage in every way. What more could a person ask for? But if we become vain, want to be fashionable, want praise and recognition, want to become rich, are giving in to fear of people, become weak etc., we have “turned away to follow Satan” (I Timothy 5:15, NCV). Then he will weaken our character so that we become fearful, lying, crawling, wretched beings.
We know that many of God’s people to a certain extent are vain, follow fashion, are fearful of people, want praise and honour of men, are weak etc, - all these things remove the cross and the power in their lives. This tells us that Satan is very active among God’s people and that is why it is so very important now to take up a battle against Satan so that we can get power, and victory over all these sins, and remain standing after we have overcome everything. (Ephesians 6:13.)