Do you struggle with confidence? Perhaps you have endured one failure after another. Maybe you have developed an insecurity that hinders relationships with others and even keeps you from having peace.
Millions of people battle depression behind closed doors and are on the brink of ending their lives. However, this goes unnoticed by those around them.
Marriages and homes are collapsing because couples can’t commit to one another. Anger and hate run rampant. It seems human beings have no concern for one another.
These are the battles of life. Inevitably, we all have at least one to fight that is much bigger and more powerful than we are. It seems no matter what we do, we can’t overcome the problem. Even when we ask God to help us, we don’t get the response from Him we want. As we struggle to survive, we can become cynical, cold-hearted, and hopeless.
We may even turn against God.
Satan—the enemy of God and human beings alike—wants to destroy us. There are several ways he attempts to do this. Perhaps one of his most effective schemes distorts our sense of reality and convinces us to believe things about ourselves, others, and God, that simply aren’t true.
Satan wants to prevent us from living the life God intended us to live. When we fall into his trap, we lose peace. We no longer believe in ourselves. We lose faith in God.
It’s time for us to rise against Satan’s deception. But before we can do that, we must understand more about how he operates.
Gaslight was a movie filmed in 1944 and starred Ingrid Bergman. In the movie, Bergman’s character becomes the victim of psychological abuse as her new husband tries to convince her that she’s losing her mind.
To do this, he orchestrates a plan to make her doubt her sanity. When she’s not looking, he moves jewelry so that she’s unable to find it, hides pictures that once hung on the wall, and dims lights. When she asks about these strange occurrences, he claims that she’s doing it and that it’s all in her mind. Bergman’s character soon begins to doubt herself and wonders if she’s indeed going crazy.
Satan uses this same form of psychological abuse - gaslighting - against us. He attempts to distort our sense of reality by manipulating people and circumstances, and by exploiting our insecurities.
Satan has a plan for you.
Essentially, there are three components of Satan’s scheme:
- Other People
This post explores the first element: Other people.
Are we the problem?
We live in a fallen world. The evidence is all around us. Murder, theft, and forms of violence, such as terrorism, run rampant. While these are obvious evils, other negative elements exist, often brought on by human error. For instance, divorce and unethical business practices have harmful consequences as well.
Humans have a natural tendency to create problems for themselves. Our world is plagued by a lack of accountability—an unwillingness to take responsibility for our actions. There’s a link between this human condition—individually and globally—and Satan’s influence on people.
Let’s explore the human element first.
What is a soul?
God created us to be in relationship with Him. When we enter into that relationship and cultivate it, we can hear God speak to us via the Holy Spirit. It’s through our relationship with God that we’re led (influenced) to live the way He wants us to live.
However, when Adam and Eve committed the first sin in the Garden of Eden, the stage was set for the moral decline of human beings. From that moment on, humans would battle sin.
Sin, defined, is an offense against God.
Since that day in the garden, the harmful effects of sin have become ingrained in our DNA. We now suffer in this life, primarily for two reasons:
- We suffer from the consequences of sins we commit.
- We suffer from the consequences of sins committed by others.
Years ago, when I was in elementary school, our teacher had a rule. If one kid misbehaved, the entire class suffered by having to stay in for recess. This rule was designed to create the desire to behave at the risk of being scorned by peers. The strategy worked well because no one wanted to be responsible for causing the entire class to miss recess.
But when one kid did something wrong, everyone was forced to stay in and work while kids in other classes went out to play. You can imagine how frustrating it was for an eight-year-old to look out of the window and watch other kids playing on the see-saw and not be able to do the same—all because one person couldn’t stop whispering and passing notes while the teacher was talking.
The kid who was talking and passing notes in class suffered the consequences of his mistake in two ways. First, he didn’t get to go out at recess. Second, and perhaps worse, the other kids in the class were angry with him. Because his classmates didn’t get to go out and play, they suffered from his mistake as well.
This story illustrates how the consequences of sin impact the one committing it, as well as others who are innocent.
How Satan manipulates other people.
Peter, the most outspoken disciple of the group, rejects this claim and even reprimands Jesus for proposing the idea.
On hearing this, Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me,” adding, “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Was Jesus actually calling Peter ‘Satan’?
No. Jesus was referring to the influence Satan was having on Peter in that moment. Jesus was aware that Satan was present and that Peter was being influenced by the enemy.
Satan influences people to say or do things that are contrary to God’s will. Interestingly, not everything Satan uses is a lie. Satan can use truth to deceive us. In fact, twisted truth is much more powerful and convincing than any lie.
In the scene played out in the scriptures above, we see that Jesus recognized that Satan was responsible for exploiting Peter's aggressive nature (we learn about Peter’s attitude by reading more of the Bible).
Just as Jesus was, we’re also affected by people who may be under the influence of Satan. Perhaps someone says something that offends you. This may happen because Satan is trying to exploit an insecurity they have. For example, if they struggle with authority, they may have a rebellious attitude toward you because you are a manager. Satan will work to create conflict in this situation.
This is an example of how Satan uses other people—their words and actions—to exploit your flaws and weaknesses. Perhaps experiences with others have made you self-conscious, insecure, and defiant. It only takes a few negative interactions to shape our view of other people.
Think about it.
We must be at peace with who we are, which includes acknowledging our insecurities. Instead of resenting them, we should start changing the way we think about ourselves and other people. If we change the way we see ourselves, others will begin to see us differently as well.
Identify your flaws and weaknesses (those areas in which you feel insecure or incompetent) and how they have molded the way you think about yourself and those around you.
How have those things been exploited in your life? So often, these experiences fuel our insecurities.
Once you have identified them, ask God to show you how to change your view of yourself and to have grace for others who may have wounded you. Remember, they are insecure too.
In the next post of The Desert Walker, we’ll explore the second component of Satan’s plan and how he manipulates circumstances to build his case against you.