By Candice Lucey, Crosswalk.com
Never underestimate the power of Satan to lead us into a lie. Even self-deception can start with a tale told by the evil one. Jesus announced that “when [Satan] lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
He inspires fear, which is often based on lies. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
If you are already a Christian, then Jon Bloom warns that “Satan’s primary goal in the thousands of his various attacks on us is to take down our faith.” One tactic is to lie to us, and our weakness is to believe him.
Certainly, we fall prey more easily when we ignore Christ’s truth, which we call our defense against deception more easily when we are reading our Bibles regularly.
Also, people will lie to us, and we have to use discernment. It’s no good to blame Satan for foolishness on our part. Satan doesn’t have to do all the work if we ignore the wisdom that begins with knowing God (Proverbs 1:7).
Still, the devil is crafty, and he wants us to follow the wrong path. What’s worse is that his lies often resemble the truth. How do you know Satan is at work, lying to you?
Here are seven signs you are being deceived by Satan. Once you get started thinking about the devil’s strategies for killing your peace, you will see more and more of them, developing a long docket of evidence against the devil, and not only that, a defense against his schemes.
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1. Forgetting That God’s Teaching Is Different
Jesus never lied, so if you are concerned about a choice you are making, ask yourself: could Satan be deceiving me? Maybe a lie is wrapped up in a truth?
For instance, Jesus told the disciples to go out and make disciples all over the world (Matthew 28). This verse has motivated tens of thousands of Christians to become foreign missionaries. Missionaries go where men, women, and children haven’t heard about Jesus.
But what if you are going overseas believing that one must go overseas to share the gospel? What if you think you should embark on foreign missions in order to be saved?
What if you want to be a hero, not a servant of Christ and his people? Ask yourself: why am I going, who is it for, and what makes me think this is God’s plan for me? This is one of those times when Satan lies by highlighting half the truth.
Jesus said, “Go, make disciples” (Matthew 28), but there are unsaved people all around us who need to hear the Good News.
Overseas work is not every person’s individual path. As for salvation, “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Our salvation was bought by Christ, we cannot earn it. Not only that, but even if we believe Christ is leading us into foreign missionary work, this is for his glory and not our own.
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2. Believing 'It’s Too Good to Be True'
You have heard the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
In one sense, this means that a friend will tell you what you need to hear, and an enemy will say what you want to hear.
What you want to hear, of course, is too good to be true, too appealing to be correct. Satan’s deception today is an echo of the serpent’s question in the Garden: “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1).
Perhaps Satan whispered in Judas’ ear, “Is this the King of Zion, whose ‘dominion shall be from sea to sea’? (Zechariah 9:9-10).
He keeps talking about his death! Jesus has nothing for you, but the local rulers can give you money and power.” His greed made him an easy target for Satan’s deception.
Did David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, long for recognition and power? Saul certainly showered him with love and attention (1 Samuel 18).
But Saul’s jealousy and rage put David’s life in danger. The pleasing facade of welcome, safety, and significance was a deception, aided by David’s willingness to believe.
If he had been paying attention, David might have noticed that Saul sought glory for himself through David’s success, not glory for God.
Ask yourself if God would be glorified in the direction you are choosing. Ask yourself what is motivating another person’s offer and motivating you to accept. “One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor” (Proverbs 29:23).
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3. The World Agrees with You
The 21st-century Christian is battling public opinion that wants everyone to live and let live, and not interfere with anyone’s personal truth. Right and wrong and truth all change, they are subjective, and the culture defines them.
But the Lord says that, for those who follow Jesus, his teaching is different from that of the world, and it does not change.
1 John 12:15-16 instructs, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life — is not from the father but is from the world.” Malachi 3:6 says, “I the Lord do not change.”
Satan would love for the Christian to believe that if it feels good, God can’t be against it. He wants us to be happy. That’s not biblical. God has not suddenly decided that extramarital affairs are fine with him, gossip, vigilantism, or defacing property.
His views of rape, slavery, and lying remain the same. When we love God with our entire selves, we also love our neighbors, and when we love our neighbors, we respect their hearts, minds, bodies, and property.
And remember that love, unlike Satan’s deceptions, is not the same as “live and let live.” It’s much more in-depth than that.
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4. Ignoring the Holy Spirit
Have you ever felt like the Holy Spirit was nudging you to turn back, run away, don’t make that choice, don’t believe what that person is saying to you? When we feel that strong urge to change directions, there is a chance Satan is involved.
Jesus promised to send a helper in the form of the Holy Spirit: “he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). God knows how easy it is to fall for one of Satan’s lies, which is why he lives in us by his Spirit.
He has entrusted us with spreading the Good News, with growing in Christ, and with glorifying his name. These tasks are important but difficult: we are constantly assailed by temptation and misleading messages.
But Christ’s Spirit can defend us against deception by Satan — if we know the Spirit well enough to hear the difference in their voices. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
We must immerse ourselves in Scripture and spend time in the Father’s company, praying and listening. Otherwise, how will we recognize the counterfeit?
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5. Not Seeing the Harm
At first, you might think you’re not hurting anyone. Adam and Eve might have said, “It’s just an apple, what’s the harm?” This simple, seemingly harmless choice led to the fall of all mankind into a place from which only God could redeem us through Christ.
Satan did not paint a full picture but led Eve directly to what looked like a loophole in God’s instructions (God doesn’t create loopholes). If you’re asking, “What can it hurt,” be wary.
The cost of believing Satan’s deception is frequently shame. Mark Talbot explained how “Eve had thought eating would bring pleasure and wisdom. She had sought to become shrewd only to discover that she was nude.”
He goes on to say that what was once a beautiful difference between her and Adam — their sexual difference — suddenly became a source of shame. “A world that had once been beautiful to see was now spoiled in the seeing.”
Subtly, strangely, you will see relationships affected, or Satan’s whisper of “you deserve it” transformed into ugly lies about how worthless you are.
We follow all the way to the Kingdom of God and our eternal place by his side. That is the final outcome for all genuine believers, but believing Satan’s lies only leads to death.
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6. You Get Defensive
If you’re unwilling to take responsibility for sin, Satan has deceived you into thinking your status is more important than God’s status or your neighbor’s.
David repented “against you only have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4) after he had slept with Bathsheba and had her husband killed. He had placed himself at the top spot. That spot belongs to God only.
The world might agree with your reasons for doing something God regards as sinful. But you’ll recognize a lie from Satan when you refuse to hear evidence, and when you know you are shutting down loving discipline. Your response is quick, terse, even hostile.
Satan’s deceptions can leave you stuck in someone else’s sin when the Lord is trying to get you out. Godly friends urge you to leave, but the defensive reaction is to ignore their pleas and their evidence.
As they argue that “God does not love abuse,” moved by their love for you and their understanding of God’s character, you might react quickly and harshly with “God hates divorce!”
Even though marriage is a solemn covenant, God’s promises are not contingent on our ability to needlessly withstand violence or humiliation. You are valuable to God, and tolerating abuse is not redemptive or glorifying to God.
Our Father is not always magnified by our pain, only by the ways in which we lift Him up in our response to it, or in the ways we humbly submit to rebuke when we sin.
A defensive response — one in which we argue away God’s love, grace, forgiveness, discipline, and mercy — is a sign that Satan has deceived you.
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7. You’re Not Supposed to Think
God has told us to come and reason with him (Isaiah 1:18). He formed our minds, and we are being transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). The Bible is an intelligent book populated by unpredictable but fascinating figures.
Yet, God is totally reliable and consistent. He frequently asks us to explore the evidence of who He is and who Jesus is.
Christian scholars have presented arguments that are very difficult to refute, which are well presented in a course like Alpha or in books like More Than a Carpenter (Josh McDowell), The Case for Christ (Lee Strobel), and the gospels.
But Satan doesn’t want you to think. Tamar’s brother Amnon wanted her, so he took her. And then he hated her (2 Samuel 13). “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Feelings aren’t bad, but when Satan wants you to commit sin, he will use your emotions to lead you there.
Anger and jealousy led Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery. Shame caused Judas to kill himself when he could have repented and received forgiveness.
Fear caused Jesus’ followers to despair in spite of what he had taught them. “‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!’  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25, 27).
The truth will appeal to your heart, but it will also appeal to your mind. Remember that Satan loves to deceive your heart, especially with words like “Did God really say…?”
The best way to fight Satan’s lies is to know Christ. Our first and best source of wisdom is the Bible, God’s teaching about himself and about who we are in relation to him. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13).
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