“Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations [Greek, “crafty acts”] of the Devil.”—EPHESIANS 6:11.
7. Why can Satan concentrate his efforts on Jehovah’s people?
7 The great Adversary is not idle. (1 Peter 5:8) Perhaps that is why a proverb says, “The Devil finds work for idle hands to do.” He is out to subvert all genuine Christians. (2 Timothy 3:12) And he can concentrate on Jehovah’s people for one simple reason—he already has the rest of the world in his power! (1 John 5:19) Today’s world is Satan’s world. He is its ruler and god, whether people recognize it or not. (John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4) As a consequence, he will resort to every crafty or subtle act or suggestion in order to subvert Jehovah’s people, either individually or collectively. Let us examine some of the ways he operates.—Mark 4:14, 15; Luke 8:12.
Satan’s Subtle and Crafty Acts
8. With what advantage may Satan be working against us?
8 Satan has had a long time to study human psychology, to analyze human nature with all its inborn and acquired defects. He knows how to play on our weaknesses and our vanity. Now, what is the situation if your enemy knows your weaknesses and you fail to recognize them yourself? Then you are ill-equipped to defend yourself, since you are not aware of the chinks in your spiritual armor. (1 Corinthians 10:12; Hebrews 12:12, 13) How appropriate the words of a Scottish poet: ‘O would some power the gift give us to see ourselves as others see us! It would from many a blunder free us.’
9. What may be the unhappy result if we fail to analyze ourselves and change?
9 Are we willing to see ourselves as others see us—especially as God or Satan might see us? That requires honest self-analysis and appraisal and the will to make a change. Self-deception is so easy. (James 1:23, 24) How we sometimes rationalize to justify our course of action! (Compare 1 Samuel 15:13-15, 20, 21, 24.) And how easy it is to say, “Well, nobody is perfect, you know!” That is just what Satan knows, and he takes advantage of our imperfection. (2 Samuel 11:2-27) How sad to reach middle age and come to realize that because of the despotic, impersonal, or unkind way one has dealt with others over the years, one has become friendless; or to realize that one has done little or nothing to make other people happy. With subtlety Satan has perhaps led us through life using our inborn selfishness to blind us. We have failed to capture the essence of the true mind of Christ—love, compassion, and kindness.—1 John 4:8, 11, 20.
10. What questions might we ask ourselves, and why?
10 Therefore, in order to resist Satan, we must examine ourselves. Do you have a weakness that Satan could exploit or is exploiting right now? Do you have an ego problem? Must you always be number one? Is pride your hidden motivating force? Does jealousy, envy, or love of money distort your personality? Do you have a chip on your shoulder? Are you cold and cynical? Or are you hypersensitive when offered suggestions or criticism? Do you resent or even refuse counsel? If we know ourselves, we can rectify such problems, provided we are humble. Otherwise, we are leaving ourselves open to Satan.—1 Timothy 3:6, 7; Hebrews 12:7, 11; 1 Peter 5:6-8.
11. By what subtle means might Satan try to undermine our spirituality?
11 Satan can also undermine our spirituality in a subtle, insidious way. Perhaps we get upset about the way things are being done in the congregation or the organization. Often we do not have all the facts, but we easily jump to conclusions. If our relationship with Jehovah is weak, then it is a short step to negative thinking and doubts about the truth. Some may look for a self-justifying way out of the responsibilities that the truth entails. Satan then puts disloyalty and treason into their hearts. Soon they are victims of apostasy, and Satan rejoices.—Luke 22:3-6; John 13:2, 27; 2 John 9-11.
12. (a) How have some been emboldened by Satan? (b) How does Satan trap many into immorality?
12 Others are emboldened by Satan not only to commit gross sins worthy of disfellowshipping but even to resort to lies and deception in order to try to fool the congregation elders. Like Ananias and Sapphira, they think they can deceive the angels and God’s holy spirit. (Acts 5:1-10) Many thousands in recent years have fallen into Satan’s trap of immorality. The Devil knows that mankind’s sexual impulses are powerful, and through his world system, he highlights, perverts, and distorts the role of sexuality. (Numbers 25:1-3) Unmarried Christians may be tempted into fornication or other sexual abuses. (Proverbs 7:6-23) If married Christians allow their minds and hearts to wander, they can easily fall into treasonable conduct, betraying the spouse to whom they vowed fidelity.—1 Corinthians 6:18; 7:1-5; Hebrews 13:4.
13. (a) How could television shape our thinking? (b) How can we resist such influence?
13 We live in a world in which lies, deceit, and violent anger are commonplace. Satan makes full use of the media to put across this degraded mentality. Television serials or soap operas portray attractive-looking people living in a web of mutual deceit. If we allow that thinking to affect us, we can soon start giving way to “minor” sins, which become the thin edge of the wedge for “major” ones. Satan’s subtle suggestions easily insinuate themselves into our thinking. How can we resist such influences? Never “allow place for the Devil,” as Paul counseled. That also means to control whom you allow into your home through the television. Should we not abhor the intrusion of violent, immoral, foulmouthed persons who bring pollution into our living room?—Ephesians 4:23-32.
How Can We Resist Satan and Remain Faithful to God?
14. What twofold resolve is needed in order to resist Satan, and what does this require?
14 With such a powerful, superhuman enemy ranged against us imperfect human creatures, how can we keep our integrity? The key is found in James’ words: “Subject yourselves, therefore, to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Notice that James’ counsel is twofold. While we oppose the Devil and his will, we must subject ourselves to God’s will. That involves loving God’s will and hating Satan’s. (Romans 12:9) Thus, James says: “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you indecisive ones.” (James 4:8) Yes, in our resistance to Satan, there is no room for halfheartedness and indecision. We cannot afford to risk our integrity by seeing how close we can come to the line of demarcation from wickedness. We must thoroughly “hate what is bad.”—Psalm 97:10.
15. Why is “the complete suit of armor from God” essential? Illustrate.
15 Outstanding counsel on resisting Satan is found in Ephesians chapter 6. How does Paul say we can resist Satan’s “craftiness,” “schemes,” or “tactics”? (Ephesians 6:11, Phillips, New International Version, The Jerusalem Bible) “Put on the complete suit of armor from God,” he counsels. This expression “complete suit” leaves no room for a sloppy attitude toward Christianity, any more than a Roman soldier could afford to be sloppy when preparing for battle. How would the soldier fare if he prepared himself with the entire suit of armor except the shield and the helmet? He could have thought, ‘That really is a large shield, and the helmet is so heavy. They weigh a lot, and I don’t really need them.’ Imagine the situation—a Roman soldier armed to fight but without his main items of defense.—Ephesians 6:16, 17.
16. (a) How must we follow Jesus’ example in using our “sword”? (b) How may we keep up our guard against Satan’s “burning missiles,” and with what result?
16 Imagine, too, a soldier without his sword. “The sword of the spirit” is a fine defense, as it is used to slash away the weaponry that Satan brings against the Christian. Our “sword” should be ever at the ready. It will be that way if we do not neglect our personal and family Bible study. But preeminently, this “sword . . . God’s Word” is our instrument of offense. Jesus used it both ways. (Matthew 4:6, 7, 10; 22:41-46) So must we. We must keep sharpening our appreciation of the truth. We cannot maintain our spirituality on the basis of what we learned in our first few months or years in the truth. If we failed to renew the spiritual circuits of our mind, our spiritual vision would become dimmed. Our zeal for Jehovah’s true worship would diminish. We would become spiritually feeble. We would no longer be able to repel the attacks of relatives, friends, companions, and apostates who may heap scorn upon our beliefs. But God will save us from the Devil and his “burning missiles” if we keep equipping ourselves with “the complete suit of armor from God.”—Isaiah 35:3, 4.
17, 18. Against whom is our fight, and how can we win?
17 Yes, Paul emphasized the danger involved in the Christian fight when he wrote: “For our fight is not against human foes, but against cosmic powers, against the authorities and potentates of this dark world, against the superhuman forces of evil in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12, The New English Bible) How can we puny humans resist and win in such an uneven battle? Paul reiterates his point: “On this account take up the complete suit of armor from God, that you may be able to resist in the wicked day and, after you have done all things thoroughly, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13) The key expression is: “After you have done all things thoroughly.” This again leaves no room for halfhearted or distracted Christianity.—1 John 2:15-17.
18 Therefore, let us stand firm in the truth, loving Jehovah’s righteousness, preaching the good news of peace, holding fast with a strong faith in the salvation that Jehovah gives through Christ Jesus, while we rely on God’s Word as our mainstay. (Ephesians 6:14-17) Remember, God cares for us and will help us to triumph over the trials and anxieties that come our way in Satan’s system of things. May all of us heed the warning: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” Yes, “take your stand against him, solid in the faith.”—1 Peter 5:6-9.