If you know me, this article is for you. If you’ve ever discovered my arrogant heart by teaching me or disagreeing with me, this is for you. In a more general sense, if you’ve ever tried to collaborate with or constructively critique another person, and they lacked the teachability or humility...
Have you ever experienced a time when, the more you prayed, the more your troubles seemed to grow? This has been one of those seasons, one that’s lasted nearly decade. Many days it’s a fight, a constant battle, to keep my eyes fixed on God’s truth rather than my trials. Often I give way to fear, complain, and moan in my exhaustion, succumbing to anxiety and stress. I assure you, Satan loves to take advantage of us when we’re down, tempting us while we’re weak, and whispering lies that justify our self-pity and sinful responses.
Sometimes his flaming arrows wound. Other times, by God’s grace, we experience victory using our spiritual armor and weapons of warfare. One day, Satan will be defeated once for all, but for now, we must be on guard against his tactics.
Satan’s Four Lies
If you are in a similar place as I am, unsure of what God is doing and feeling battered by life (or if you are walking alongside of a loved one who is), I pray that being aware of some of the enemy’s lies will help you guard yourself and fight back with the truth.
Lie #1: “If God is in control and he’s allowing you to suffer, then he cares more about his own glory than he does about you.”
This lie is so subtle, because it’s true that God’s glory is his greatest aim. However, he also knows that we will be more satisfied, content, and joy-filled in his glory than anything else. As John Piper often says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”
The enemy, however, wants us to believe that God’s glory is at odds with our happiness. To the contrary, it’s because God wants to bring us into unspeakable eternal joy that he allows short-term pain for a time (1 Peter 1:3-9). He knows that it often takes the painful process of pruning (which may appear as though God doesn’t care) for us to realize that we were created, not only to bring God glory, but to find our ultimate satisfaction in Christ, which does bring God glory!
God allows all suffering to bring us to that place as undeserving forgiven sinners, basking in his glory.
Lie #2: “If God really loves you, he would answer your prayers for that new job or promotion, spouse, or baby, and protect or repair your reputation, etc.”
Satan hides himself in the prosperity gospel. He knows that we would recognize his evil ways if he tried to convince us of an obvious lie, so instead he preys on something more reasonable: our unmet desires (often good and natural). When something “good” is taken from us, or a desire isn’t met, the enemy tempts us to conclude that God isn’t really good (see Asaph’s response in Psalm 73). The thought, “If he really loves me and I have enough faith, he will give me what (I think) I need” is so close to the truth that it’s easy for even a seasoned Christian to fall victim to this false way of thinking.
Even when I know God loves me, I can be quick to question his love and goodness when my heart aches over something I can’t understand. I want an answer; I want to know why; I want to find an explanation that comforts my confusion over devastating circumstances. However, we aren’t always given those answers. Instead, we are given a never-changing God and unshakable evidence of his love through the cross.
Satan will work fervently to make us question God’s love for us because this love is the essence of the gospel: the heavenly Father’s great love shown through the death and resurrection of his Son for the salvation of all who believe (despite our rebellious hearts). He has shown his love for us in the greatest way possible—and continues to do so in many undeserved ways—so let’s not be blinded by the misleading appearance of our circumstances or this destructive lie of the enemy. Let’s not be fooled into thinking that prosperity and ease are a sign of God’s favor.
Instead, let’s fill our minds with the truth that we are infinitely cared for and treasured as Christ’s own possession. Our eternal prosperity in Christ’s presence may come at an earthly cost, but it is coming and, when it does, it will never end.
Lie #3: “If you had stronger faith, then you wouldn’t struggle with emotions such as anger, despair, confusion, or sadness.”
This lie is meant to keep us from being real with our Savior and, therefore, make us suffer the ill effects of stuffed emotions and ungodly grief. But we can fight back with the truth that many godly men and women, and even Christ himself, displayed an array of emotions (John 11:35).
Our emotions can lead us to sin, so we must be cautious and not excuse ungodly responses, but we are created emotional beings in the image of God. He knows and understands every emotion we feel. Rather than shaming yourself when you feel confused and upset by something God has allowed, bring it to him honestly and trust that he will provide what you need by his strength.
Lie #4: “You’re all alone. Nobody can understand your pain.”
We are far more vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks when we feel alone and aren’t connected to the body of Christ. Therefore, Satan works hard to isolate us. One way he does this is by convincing us that no one can understand or relate to our circumstances.
It’s true that no one (other than Christ) can fully enter into the multi-layered dynamics and effects of our specific trials, but many can relate to pain and suffering in one form or another. Even believers who haven’t suffered in the same way we have (whether by nature or intensity) can offer us the hope, encouragement, and truth of the gospel. The body of Christ is an incredible gift to all believers, which is why the enemy will do all he can to keep us from experiencing its beauty, protection, and blessings (1 Corinthians 12:24-27).
We were never meant to be alone. Christians are each members of Christ’s body and, therefore, must be on guard that we don’t live and act as though we are independent of it, especially in times of suffering. Even though Jesus Christ is the only One who can fully understand and comfort us in the deepest sense, he often provides brothers and sisters to walk alongside us to encourage, serve, and speak life giving gospel-truths to sustain us.
God Uses Satan’s Lies
Just as Satan’s crushing blow to Christ was God’s means of ushering in his eternal destruction, Satan’s relentless attempts to destroy my faith have been the very means by which my love for Christ has grown and my faith, increased. Though my life may always be filled with some form of heartache, loss, and illness, by God’s grace, it will only serve to increase in me an unshakable hope and greater longing for my glorious eternal future with my Savior, Friend, and Lord.
Friend, if you find yourself believing these lies of the enemy, would you join me in recognizing them for what they are and fighting back with truth? We must anchor ourselves daily in the Word of God, pray continually, and be involved in a local church.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10)