It would be convenient if Satan would show up as a talking snake. Then, we could run away screaming or call animal control. Perhaps, the bravest of us would grab a stick and whack him until he left. We know a talking snake is not to be trusted. But, though murderous deceit is still his tactic, Satan's approach has changed since his day in the garden with Eve. We are told that he disguises himself as an angel of light. And, terrifyingly, he comes to us as an agent of reason.
When the father of lies has come to tempt me, instead of immediately banishing him with truth, I have often invited him in, asked him to sit on my couch and engaged in chats with him to hear his perspective.
Christ did not enter into conversation with Satan when he was tempted in the desert. Instead, he responded, “It is written…” Yet, God’s Word isn't always my first response. I have often asked to hear more of what Satan has to say. I have mulled his words over in my mind and considered them in my heart.
Satan spoke the first lie in human history, “You will not certainly die. He knows that if you eat it you will be like him, knowing good and evil.” What Satan said is not completely untrue, but it is the truth twisted. Yes, Eve would be like God in that she would know good and evil. She would remember what it was to be wholly good and she would watch sin mangle her innocence as she converted to a child of wrath. She would feel evil seize her heart and separate her from God’s holy presence. And, she would certainly die.
One of the oldest lies in my life has been, “Be less of what you are. Be more of what you aren’t.”
On one hand, it’s true. I need to decrease. I need to triumph over sin. I need be less selfish, prideful, fearful and overall, less sinful. I need to be less of the old creature ruled by flesh enslaved to sin.
Here's why that lie was so convincing to me for so long. Satan doesn’t always slither in, hissing out hate. Instead, he takes what's true and twists it slightly, posing as a voice of reason and sense.
“Be more of what you aren’t.”
Not “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2).
Not “grow up into the stature of the fullness Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
Not “consider yourself dead to sin and alive in Christ” (Romans 6:11).
Not “put off the old self and put on the new self, which, in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth” Ephesians 4:24).
Not “walk in love as Christ loved you and gave himself up for you” (Ephesians 5:2).
Not “forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13-14).
No, the lie preoccupied me and I spent a lot of valuable time striving to be the best version of myself I could imagine. The goal was to become my idea of the perfect helpmate for my husband and my idea of a better woman. This arbitrary standard opened me up for every manner of comparison, self-condemnation and discouragement. Satan’s manipulation sent me on a fool’s errand, chasing the phantom of what a ministry wife and woman should be.
Satan will always ask us to consider ourselves instead of Christ. “Eve, consider how you can be like God...” “Tish be more of what you aren’t, and less of what you are...”
Satan hates that we are one with Christ and, though he cannot make it untrue, he will try to divorce us from our identities in Jesus. In Christ, we have everything we need for life and godliness. As we clumsily and, at times, inconsistently work out our faith into action, there is His grace, power, peace, strength, hope, patience and steadfast love to sustain us and compel us forward.
What lies are you entertaining? How are you considering your weakness, needs and desires over considering the goodness and sufficiency of Christ in your life and ministry?
Would you take the time to identify the lies you believe? Let’s kick Satan off our couches. He is an uninvited guest of which our slain Savior's blood gives us victory and the power to stand firm against.