The word “satan” means “accuser” or “adversary.” This word indicates not only his opposition to mankind in general, but to the child of God in particular. He is called “the accuser of our brethren” by John and is said to accuse the saints “before our God day and night” (Rev. 12:10). While satan does not work directly on the human heart, he nevertheless relentlessly attacks us on various levels and on divers fronts with sundry machinations. Because of this constant and wicked assault on our spiritual well-being, Paul admonishes us in the Ephesian epistle to put on the whole armor of God that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11).
Paul’s call to protect ourselves by putting on the armour of God shows that satan’s attacks are both real and vicious. Nothing less than the armour of God will suffice to protect us. They also show that the enemies’ attacks are of a spiritual nature since only the spiritual panoply of God can quench the fiery darts of the wicked (Eph. 6:16). We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12). In other words, our real enemies are not necessarily individuals, but the hell-spawned lies being propagated by those individuals.
The word “wiles” used in Ephesians 6:11 is translated from the word “methodeia.” In other words, he has his methods. Regarding this word, the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament states: “The reference is to machinations or (in military terms) attacks against which one must be armed. The nature of the attacks (the plur. suggests that they are constantly repeated or are of incalculable variety) constitutes their great danger, against which the armour of God is the only defence. They are distinguished not so much by technique or strategy as by refinement and insidiousness (Vulgate translates insidiae, Luther “cunning attacks,” A.V. “wiles”).” There is a madness to his method.
While the attacks of our enemy are often varied, there is one key element he employs when attacking us and that is to obfuscate the truth. The devil’s goal is to blind the mortal mind to truth, to cloud the thought and judgement (II Cor. 4:4). The business of the devil is deception (Rev. 12:9). The one thing the devil cannot afford to do is to let the word of truth be clearly spoken without attack or without distortions. Since satan is the father of lies, truth is inimical to him (John 8:44) and to those who follow him (John 3:19-21).
The devil has always tried to blind the minds of people to the truth. He did this in the garden with Eve when he told her “Thou shalt not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). This was a blatant lie. When the Lord began to show that He was going to go to Jerusalem and there be killed, satan, through Peter, said, “This shall not be unto Thee” (Matt. 16:23). Another lie of satan, couched in the language of false devotion. Down through the ages the understanding of countless millions has been darkened through the ignorance–and I underscore that word “ignorance”–and vanity that is in them relative to the truth (Eph. 4:17-20). Biblical knowledge and sound reasoning frighten satan. Against them he cannot stand.
Sometimes satan deceives the unguarded by transforming himself into an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14,15). No false teacher ever came forward and said “Follow me and I will lead you into the flames of Perdition!” He would be rejected outright. No, as Jesus said, they outwardly appear as harmless and adorable sheep, but inwardly are ravening wolves (Matt. 7:15). Thus, the influence of satan is often felt through the errors propagated by false teachers who preach peace when there is no peace (Jer. 6:14). The counsel of well-meaning but misguided friends can also be used by satan (Matt. 16:23). Sometimes satan influences us by sowing tares among the wheat (Matt. 13:24-30,36-43).
Another area satan uses to attack us is our fleshly desires. Jesus said, “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). Notice that it is we who enter into temptation. Observe the difference in the response to temptation between David when he saw Bathsheba and Joseph when Potiphar’s wife made her advances (II Sam. 11:2,3; Gen. 39:9,12). Joseph fled the temptation while David did not. We need to learn not to make provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof (Rom. 13:14).
Our adversary the devil goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (I Pet. 5:8). Unless we are always ready to recognize his attacks, unless we are always wearing the whole armor of God, we are susceptible to his attacks.
Eric L. Padgett