Jesus has come so that we can have life and life to the full. The devil comes to kill our peace, steal our identity and destroy our purpose (John 10:10).
What is an effective defense against the devil’s tactics? First, we must know the tricks he uses to destroy us. There are two specific tricks he uses to hijack us from the fullness of life Jesus died to give us: accusations and division. He is the great accuser and the great divider. He is opposed to the will of God and uses accusations and division to scatter the flock… bump them out of the will of God.
Stephen, who was full of faith and the Holy Spirit, was the first martyr for his faith and witness to the Gospel message in the book of Acts chapter 7. It is the best laid-out summary when it comes to the history of the Israelites and their relationship to God in Scripture. Look closely and you will notice the 2 tricks of the devil in action.
First, he separates Stephen out, divides the people, and alienates him from the crowd. Then he infuses the people with such a strong fire of accusation toward Stephen that they were enraged to the point of grinding their teeth at him before they rushed together and dragged him out of the city to stone him to death. Right before hat moment Stephen saw and declared the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. The accusation of the crowd was so intense that they covered their ears, perhaps because the truth burned them within which either convicts one of sin or evokes denial of truth (Acts 7:54-60).
Satan will often use external attacks as he did with the execution of Stephen in the form of intense accusations. We see this example in our culture today, spreading like wildfire into our towns, businesses, churches and in our own homes. If that doesn’t work then he goes in for division or uses both at the same time to bring about destruction of relationships between God and man.
Let’s take a step closer. In what ways has the devil used the trick of division in your life? We are told in Scripture to keep watch over our minds (Romans 12:1-2) particularly being double minded (divided in thought and focus). “If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God, who gives to us all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:5-7). What is it that tosses you into double-minded thinking? Below are a few examples of what this sounds like:
- I want to show kindness to the people around me | I get triggered and take offense which overrides my desire to be kind.
- I want to do God’s will | I get upset when God doesn’t answer my prayers the way I want Him to answer them.
- I want to make God recognizable at work | I lose my temper when my direct reports don’t buy into my suggestions for improvement
- I want to trust God so much that I experience peace in the midst of hardship | I continually stress myself out overworking and overcommitting by my own efforts to create security in my life.
Take a moment and write down a divided statement that aligns with your own experience with double-mindedness. Be aware that this is a big trick of the devil: to divide you within so that you fall. After he captures you in this area, he then uses you as a conduit for division. You can’t give out what you have not first mastered within. All things are possible with Christ’s strength and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit within you. Remember, Stephen was filled with faith and the Holy Spirit… as are you as a follower of Jesus.
Division walks hand in hand with the trick of accusation that the devil uses to steal your identity and destroy your purpose. As soon as he ropes you in to double-minded, divisive thinking, then it’s easy for him to dump all kinds of accusatory thoughts in your mind that spill out to people around you. A few of his specialties include: judgment, self-doubt, insecurity and fear.
Accusatory thoughts create division and vice versa. The serpents of guilt, shame and doubt are quick to rush in and clean up the after party of accusation and division. It sounds like this: “Go ahead, accuse that person for your undesirable situation, it’s their fault you don’t have a better life.” The devil uses victimization to distract you and override the spirit of courage, love and self-control that the Lord has given you (2 Timothy 1:7).
Consider Stephen, he spoke truth in the midst of the devil’s 2 tricks: division and accusation and was killed for it. How did he stand firm to the end? Instead of shrinking back from his purpose, he leaned into the Lord and stood firm to the end of his life. Jesus met him in the valley of the shadow of death. As Stephen surrendered his identity to Jesus, he was able to forgive and love until his last breath. He was 100% honest and 100% respectful to the people who persecuted him. Consider the connection of some of Jesus’ last words on the cross: “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24) and Stephen’s last words: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60).
Keep watch, the devil uses an accusatory spirit to fuel pride in our hearts. “God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
Action Step: Stay small. Pray the Litany of Humility. Continue to commit your Spirit and ways to the Lord. Remember, you are Christ’s ambassador, He is making His appeal through you for His glory (2 Corinthians 5:20). Don’t forget, it is God who works within you both to will and to act according to His good purposes (Philippians 2:13). It is not by your own might and power that you will gain victory over the devil’s trickery but by the Spirit of God within you (Zechariah 4:6).
Invite the Holy Spirit to increase your awareness around the inner accusations the devil plants in your mind that fuel negative divisive behaviors (James 3:6). When the Holy Spirit wakes you up to the thoughts and behaviors that are not of God, you are then in a position to course correct with the guidance of the Holy Spirit within you (the third step of the Emotional Intelligence in Christ EIC Method).
Learn Who You Are and Whose You Are in our Lead Like Jesus 6-Week Study Guide.