There’s an old song by The Platters called the “Great Pretender.” The first line is: Oh-oh yes I’m the great pretender”. I used to belt it out because it is one of the few lines I can sing well. That line could also be Satan’s tag line. Satan, the great pretender. Pretending he is God. Pretending that he has our best interests at heart.
According to Oxford, to pretend is to speak and act to make it appear that something is the case when in fact it is not. A second definition from Oxford is to lay claim to a quality or a title.
This is Satan’s problem. He speaks and acts as if he is God and tries to lay claim to the throne of God. He knows he is defeated, and he knows his claim is false. Yet he continues to “prowl around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
As we read in last week’s article, Satan does not directly attack God since he would lose such a battle. He prefers guerilla warfare. Small battles hidden in the shadows mostly unseen but striking with deadly accuracy at the minds and hearts of his victims.
In Vietnam, the US had the big guns, big equipment, and big bases but their enemy had small, lethal, and quick attack forces. A direct head-to-head war would have ended with a decisive US victory. The Vietnamese soldiers took what the Americans’ thought was their strength and used it against them.
Satan does this as well. God gave us free will and a brain. These are two of our strongest characteristics. We have the ability to think and to decide. Used wisely, these bring us to a relationship with God. Used selfishly, they bring us all kind of self-centered troubles.
Just as Guerilla fighters hide in the darkness and then strike, Satan lurks in the darkness of our desires and wants. Then he suggests a temptation. This may be what the Bible calls a fiery dart in Ephesians 6. It could be a lusty thought, a prideful or angry thought or even fear and despair. Not all temptation is pleasurable, some are designed to destroy our spirit.
The two main threads of temptation are propping ourselves up and tearing ourselves down. In the first instance, temptation directly feeds into our ability to reason and think. Thoughts we generate get perverted by a suggestion by evil. For example, a pastor of a large church may feel a sense of accomplishment at the opening of a new church. The devil suggests that it’s his own doing and that it is his own strength and ability that did this. Pride will follow.
Or it could be lust or jealousy. The temptation to want what others have turns into a thought that I deserve to have what they have. This leads to a road in which we start to feel resentment and our focus moves from positive things in our life to anger and bitterness. This is destruction through puffing up. And in the end, we believe we don’t need God.
The second area of temptation is the opposite. It is one in which we feel worthless, depressed, suicidal, or fearful. These condemning thoughts are caused by the suggestion that we are weak, powerless, useless, or a loser. In the first area, we compare ourselves to others. In this area we compare ourselves to our failures. In the first we see only what we don’t have. Here we see only what we did or didn’t do. We feel condemned and unloved. And in the end, we believe God won’t help us.
In both cases the devil manipulates our thoughts through a series of suggestions to take us away from God. Our rational thinking leads us to logical conclusions based on the wrong starting points. We then exercise our free will to choose the path that confirms what we think. Temptation leads to thoughts that lead to beliefs that lead to actions. Ultimately, we freely chose sin and death over faith and life. With these consequences hidden from our view, the devil gets us to focus only on the pretend prize of self-pleasure or of self-destruction.
We must be prepared to fight against our enemy, Satan the Pretender. And that is for next week.
More in this Spiritual Warfare Series:
- Spiritual Warfare #1: Fear or Freedom
- Spiritual Warfare #2: Guerrilla Warfare
- Spiritual Warfare #3: Mind Meld
- Spiritual Warfare #4: Who am I?
- Spiritual Warfare #5: When Do I Win?
Andy Becker is a retired counselor and author of The Travelers, a fictionalized account of spiritual warfare (available on Amazon) as is, Stupid Thyroid, a book he co-wrote with his wife, Stella. Andy and his wife, Stella, lead Lighthouse Ministry in North Central Regina, one of Canada’s poorest and roughest areas. He is a retired counselor, speaker, and writer. Andy Becker is working on his second book about spiritual warfare. His first book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.