Have you ever heard the legend of Sisyphus? In Greek mythology, Sisyphus cheated death twice and was subsequently sentenced to push a boulder uphill forever. Every time he approaches the top of the hill, his boulder rolls back to the bottom and he starts all over. Tough way to spend eternity.
Life can feel that way sometimes, even when you do everything just right. You’re dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, straining to push that boulder step by arduous step toward the top of the hill, and just when it feels like you have everything under control… things fall apart. The boulder rolls down. It almost feels like the universe is out to get you, like someone just doesn’t want you to win. It can be so frustrating, so discouraging! It almost makes you want to give up.
Satan is a Very Real Enemy
The reason you feel like someone is out to get is because there is. His name is Satan.
The Bible calls Satan the Father of Lies (John 8:44), and he is the archenemy of God. Of course, he isn’t God. He doesn’t know everything, he can’t be everywhere at once, and he isn’t all-powerful. We need to be careful not to give him too much credit, but we also need to acknowledge that he’s real. He’s smart and strong, and if you love Jesus, he’s got it in for you (see 1 Peter 5:8).
Satan is a Very Tactical Enemy
Not everything that goes wrong in life is his fault – we certainly bring a lot on ourselves, and sometimes bad things just happen. Having said that, here are six ways Satan works in the world to trip you up and make life hard – especially when you are actively seeking to minister to others.
He is the father of lies. Wrestling with self-esteem? Doubting the existence of God? Convinced you can’t go on dealing with the struggles of life? Yup, there’s a good chance Satan has had a hand in that. He’d love nothing more than to beat you down and leave you weeping and broken from the messages of worthlessness, futility and hate that he can spread from a thousand sources. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words leave scars on our hearts and minds that last far longer if not met with careful and deliberate truth. (John 8:44)"Sticks and stones may break bones, but words leave scars on our hearts and minds that last far longer if not met with careful and deliberate truth." -Jon Smith #collegiatedisciplemaker 7 Ways Satan Works Against Us Click To Tweet
Satan tempts you to sin.
Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He tempted Jesus in the wilderness. He’ll tempt you also if you give him half a chance. It’s kind of his signature move. Anything he can throw at you to distract you from following God, he will. He’ll even use good things to keep you from better ones. He’s devious and persistent that way. (1 Thessalonians 3:5)
Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers.
It’s almost painful to think that Satan is out there blinding people to the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ, but he is. The gospel is often met with apathy and hostility. Could this be the reason why? It certainly highlights the need to pray before, during and after you share the gospel with someone, doesn’t it? (2 Corinthians 4:4)
Satan sets traps to keep people from the truth.
When it comes to misdirection, Satan is a master magician and a hustler. He’ll draw your eye in one direction and hit you from the other. He’ll let you win just to create blind spots. He’ll let you win just to get your confidence up before he crushes you from a blind spot. And he’s especially good at the long con; he’ll sometimes wait for years before he makes his moves. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
Satan steals the Word of God from people’s hearts.
Can you imagine anything more insidious than snatching away the Word of God from people? Yet, according to Jesus, that is exactly what Satan is in the habit of doing. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explains that there are those who will hear God’s word, not understand it right away, and have it ripped away before it can take root in their lives. If that doesn’t make you a little bit angry, it should. It’s the kind of thing that should guide the way we pray and the way we share the Gospel. (Matthew 13:19)
Satan deals the combo punch.
Don’t kid yourself. Like any great fighter, Satan knows his moves are even more devastating when delivered in a combination. He’ll do anything and everything to beat you down. As a follower of Jesus, you are his enemy, and he does not play nice. Not everything bad that happens is on account of Satan or his minions, but spiritual warfare is a real thing, and that’s something to remember. (1 Peter 5:8)
Satan is a Very Beatable Enemy
As a leader, you probably know this isn’t the whole list: the point is that there is a list. Don’t forget it. And don’t let your students forget it, either. Discipleship is hard enough without giving the enemy a foothold by ignoring his influence in our world. You aren’t Sisyphus, and Greek mythology is just that—myth. Yes, sometimes things don’t work out. So what? The task isn’t endless and Jesus saw it coming. In His strength, you can handle anything Satan has to throw at you, even if it means pushing the boulder back up that hill one. more. time.
There’s an old expression, “The next time Satan reminds you of your past or present, remind him of his future.” That’s actually pretty good advice. Jesus handled Satan by throwing Scripture right back in his face. Peter says to be alert, stand firm and remember that you are not alone. The idea that no one can relate, that you’re the only one, is just another form of attack. The war is won and you, living in Christ, are among the victors. Keep that in mind. Satan may be real and he may be tactical, but in Jesus, he’s also very beatable because the battle is already won.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”1 Peter 5:10 ESV