The Devil and His Methods.
- The Devil: His Beginning.
- The Prince of this world.
- The Devil a Busy Character.
- The Devil and the Church.
- The Devil and the Church (conti.).
- The Devil and the World.
- The Devil and the World (conti.).
- The Power of the Devil.
- The Power of the Devil (conti.).
- The Devil and His Methods.
- The Devil and His Methods. (conti.)
- Exposed Positions.
- Exposed Positions. (conti.)
- Our Defense against the Devil.
- Our Defense against the Devil. (Conti.)
Christ fought three notable battles with the Devil and his demons. I am pleased to call them:
1st The Battle of the Wilderness.
2nd. The Battle of Gethsemane.
3rd. The Battle of Calvary.
In the battle of the wilderness, there were no seconds, and no trench warfare; and in the open, Christ met the three onslaughts of His wily adversary; three times His enemy retreated. The first charge we call DISTRUST; that is, Satan suggested: ”Leave off a life of dependence on God; take things in your own hand and make these stones bread.” Jesus drew the sword of the Spirit up to the hilt in His adversary when He quoted this passage, viz, “ Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4)-
— H. W. Hodge.
BOTH in the New Testament and in the Old, the devil is represented as being most assiduous and tireless in his activities and efforts. In Job, in answer to God’s inquiry, “Whence comest thou?”’ he replies, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” The declaration is one of rapid and extensive goings and of repeated and careful observation. In Peter he is said to be “walking about as a roaring lion/* Activity, scrutiny, power and purpose are in his methods.
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Thomas á Kempis says: “Know that the ancient enemy doth strive by all means to hinder thy desire to be good and to keep thee dear of all religious exercises. Many evil thoughts does he suggest to thee, that so he may cause a weariness and horror in thee» and to call thee back from prayer and holy reading.”
The careless and half-hearted Christian knows nothing of the devil or his devices, but the souls astir for God and the good, on a stretch for heaven, they are the ones who demand his attention, provoke his ire and call forth his machinations.
Says that marvellous man of faith and power. Pastor Blumhart: “He who is ignorant of the wiles and artifices of the enemy, only beats the air, and the devil is not afraid of him.” Blumhart himself is an illustration. “In interesting myself in behalf of one possessed,” he says, “I became involved in such a fearful conflict with the powers of darkness as is not possible for me to describe.”
Christians may live and die all unaware of the devil’s being and hate, and he may be as indifferent to their religion because they are unharmful of his kingdom. But wherever one of the Blumhart type lives, there is a big commotion and fear in Satan’s realm.
Satan works by imitation. To make something as near like the true as possible, and thereby break the force and value of the genuine. This is one of his favourite methods. As Jannes and Jambres
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withstood Moses by their false tricks, so is he carrying on by lying wonders his work. As his apostles arc transformed into angels of light, so his wonders arc looked on as first class miracles. They do indeed discount true miracles.
What of the revelations of his person? God and Christ have been revealed to men in bodily shape, by figure, by representation. Matchless, majestic, beatific theophanies have holy men seen of God. Has the devil power to clothe himself in form and object to the eye? Can he incarnate himself? He seems to have clothed himself in some visible shape at the temptation of Christ The form is not recorded. Perhaps in that of a man, doubtless a pious man, gathering in the assembly of the righteous, or as a pious hermit in the seclusion and retirement of the desert. In the days of Christ he revealed himself by taking absolute possession and sway over the person, and used other personalities through which to manifest his being and power. His manifestations are disguises, insidious and deceptive. Sometimes as “an angel of light,” with the bloom, beauty, and spices of paradise on him. His person unearthly in splendour, his voice gentle, musical, winning, with no lines or traces of the fall.
The devil affects the body, and through the body affects loyalty to Christ. Job was tried by his sickness. So the devil tries us by sickness. In the days of Christ, he carried on a large business
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by affecting the body, not simply by ordinary diseases, but by what is termed, ” possessed with a devil” In those cases his work was by breaking down the body in some of its chief functions.
His method is to assume that shape which will suit his purposes at the time. Doubtless there was something in the shape or character of the serpent which gave him the readier access to Eve. Garbed as an angel of light his appearance commends him fully to the pure and unsuspecting. As a thorn he desires to give only pain to those who, like Paul, cannot be seduced nor swerved from the fixed course of fidelity. The Christians at Smyrna he puts in prison that by that process he may fetter their bodies whose souls he could not fetter. With matchless cunning and unspeakable fidelity he plies his trade to seduce and damn.
He has access to the minds of men from which he ought forever to be barred. But he has so much of diabolical trickery that he clothes the meanest act with the fairest guise, and conceals a world of infamy with beautiful rainbow colourings. He hoodwinked good David and provoked him to number Israel in opposition to God’s will, and brought swift and fearful judgment on the nation.
He readily snatches away from the mind the truth which is superficially received. He also blinds the minds of them which believe not and obstructs the light of saving truth. His process of taking the word out of the heart to prevent
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faith, and of blinding the mind to the beauties and light of salvation, is a very common one with him. He makes people sick for the same end as he did Job. He entices men to do wrong, and inflames and urges them on to evil. He keeps at it and eats no idle bread. He takes the Word of God out of the untilled heart and sows tares among the wheat The devil goes out into the wilderness, finds us in a fainting, discouraged condition, the pulsations of faith weak, its sky cloudy and its vision misty. Then he shows us the world from the loftiest peak of observation, apparelled in its most attractive form, and tries to ensnare us by its bewildering glories. He never tires in trying to ruin us till the coffin lid is on our folded arms and closed eyes, and our happy spirits are bathing in the land “where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest” With the wisdom of an archangel and the observation and experience of half an eternity, as the Captain General of all the hosts of hell, he is an adept in the acts and arts of deception and trickery, and has almost exhaustless resources at command to serve his purposes. A wiser and more powerful spirit than Satan (save God) perhaps does not live, a more malignant one than he could not be. There is no greater worker than he. His inveterate industry and tireless perseverance arc the only things in him worthy of imitation. There are in him the things that make him so patent and so dreadful.
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In the Parable of the Sower, we are taught the devil’s ability to work on the mind, and take away the good impression there made. “And those by the wayside arc they that have heard; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved.” We are also taught how the devil influences the mind to do the most dastardly things, in the case of Judas, chosen as an apostle, into high and holy fellowship, a royal vocation, a select company. Satan had much to do in influencing Judas to the great crime that brought him to despair and suicide, and to immortal infamy in this world and hell in the next.
Satan’s thorn in the flesh changed Paul’s sorrow into joys, his poverty into wealth, his weakness into strength, his reproaches into sweet heavenly solaces. So mightily does God work to make Satan’s all bad work together for good to the faithful ones. As an old saint says, “ The devil is but a whetstone to sharpen the faith and patience of the saints.” He may keep God busy polishing the stones which he makes rough, but the devil’s dirt makes their luster brighter, and they become genuine diamonds of first water.
His methods are as varied as the men with whom he deals. The devil knows man, and that which is much more, he knows men.
To Eve he came in the guise of a well-wisher, subtle, serpentine, and deadly, behind the guises
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He incites her to disobedience by pointing her to higher heights of godlikeness, along paths of sensual and animal enjoyment. A fearful charge of the false and selfish is lodged in her mind against God. No malignity is seen, no distress or anguish does he use. He allures, deceives, ensnares.
How striking the contrast in his method with Job. A man, by God’s own estimate, of divinest mould, “None like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil.” What methods can he devise for this the saintliest of the saints? He begins by accusing him to God as selfish in his motives, reducing his piety to the worldly, selfish and sinister. No alluring paths, no divergent flowery ways are pointed out to Job, not a word is said to him. With not a premonition, without a note of warning, as an awful surprise and shock, at one fell and desolating blow, his family of ten children are dead, his princely fortune gone, and one dark hour has bereft him of family and fortune. Stripped naked by the fearful rapidity and depth of his losses, he becomes homeless, childless and friendless, in a grief inconsolable, and a pall of mystery impenetrable and insoluble.
The integrity of Job, like a column blackened by the smoke, but unrent and unshaken by the fiery ordeal, is still pursued by the devil. Still he insinuates and charges the genuineness of Job’s piety.
He sees nothing of noble fidelity, of lofty loyalty in Job.
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He still attributes low motives as the basis of his integrity. No touch of sympathy, no relentings, with heartless cruelty and malignity, he pursues his death-dealing work. Out of his magazine of hellish enginery he comes with a loathsome disease. He concenters on this one saint, woe after woe, and affliction upon affliction, till his wife is alienated, his friends estranged, his enemies triumphant. His hopeless, bitter grief has not one ingredient to relieve, his pious reputation blackening, his body tortured, his mind in agony. This is one method of Satan’s to distress and defame those whom he cannot seduce.
To the Son of God in the wilderness, he comes not as he did to Job in lowering and seething storms of distress, but in the form of apparent sympathy and friendliness. It may have been in the guise of a saintly hermit in the wilderness. “If thou be the Son of God” — you want this matter of your sonship to God settled, and so do I. You are very hungry and faint. “Command that these stones be made bread.” An innocent and a proper way to settle at once a great question and to appease a great hunger.
Then he comes to Christ with the sanctity of the holiest place, and affords Him an opportunity to attest before the wondering and awe-struck worshippers His Messiahship, a shorter and a better road tills to gain credence to His mission than the slow and thankless process of daily teaching and daily
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ministering, and marching to the cross with the dark shadows of its shame and heaviness ever darkening His way.
Satan’s desperate venture was to seduce Him by the world’s array of grandeur, power and glory.
Satan plunged Job from serene and cloudless, heavenly height down to a midnight, starless and stormy. To the Son of God he would be a present friend to save Him from pain, poverty, hunger, shame, toil and death.