[Originally published as Same Old Tricks]
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
We think we are so smart! We carry around in our pockets devices with more computing power than the computers that sent the first American astronaut, Alan Shepard, into space. With it, we talk or send text messages to friends and loved ones instantly. We stay in touch with current events, check the weather, watch video programs (even live TV), find answers to all of our questions with a few clicks of the tiny keyboard, just entertain ourselves with mind-numbing games.
We fly across the country in a matter of hours, send probes to distant planets, or view the ends of the universe with our powerful satellite telescopes. We have developed medical devices that look inside our bodies to produce images of injured or diseased tissues. According to a 2013 report, knowledge doubled every 12 months, and the report predicted that it would soon double every 12 hours.
God told the Prophet Daniel that this would happen.
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Daniel 12:4
However, for all our smarts, we still fall for the same old tricks Satan has used since the beginning of time.
Look at what transpired in the Garden of Eden. God had given man absolute freedom and dominion over the entire planet and placed them in a perfect environment with only one stipulation.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 2:16-17
Satan’s goal is to separate God’s supreme creation, humankind, from their Creator and he continues to employ the same strategy and tactics that he used in the garden to cause man to fall. His strategy is to cause man to doubt God and to turn to him to meet their perceived needs. His tactics are threefold.
- First, he instills doubt in God’s Word: “Is that really what the Bible says?”
- Second, he declares God’s Word as untrue: “You can’t believe the Bible. It was written by man, and it is full of myths and factual errors. You can’t trust the Bible!”
- Finally, he slanders God by accusing Him of withholding total autonomy from you: “God knows you will be like gods, and He doesn’t want competition!”
Man does not need Satan to cause him to sin. Man succeeds at sinning very well on his own, and Satan uses man’s own natural bent to sin against him.
The Apostle John warns us against loving the world system which is really man’s system. 1 John 2:15 characterizes it in three ways:
- The lust of the flesh
- The lust of the eyes
- The pride of life.
Look at how Satan used man’s own nature against Eve. He first executed his strategy to cause doubt in God, and then he stood back and allowed Eve’s own human nature to go to work.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [pride of life], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. Genesis 3:6
It seems we are not so smart after all. In almost 6000 years, Satan has not changed his methods one bit, and man’s nature has not improved through countless unlearned lessons. As the preacher said, “there is no new thing under the sun.”
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. Galatians 4:4-5
The Son of God and Son of Man accomplished what no other man could; He did not succumb to the wiles of Satan.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
After He was baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days in preparation for His earthly ministry. Satan took advantage of His weakened condition to make his attack.
Satan knew who he was facing. Jesus is the Word of God and very God indeed (John 1:1), so there was no point in trying to cause Him to doubt God’s Word. Instead, Satan attacked His human nature.
First, he went for the lust of the flesh: “And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread” (Luke 4:3).
Then he attacked through the lust of the eyes: “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it” (Luke 4:5-6).
Finally, he used the pride of life to make Jesus fall into sin: “And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Luke 4:9-11).
There is nothing that you or I face that Jesus did not experience fully. Satan uses the same old tricks and we have all the same weaknesses of all who have come before us. However, as the Apostle Paul said,
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13
Christians have the power to defend against Satan’s assaults and to combat the weaknesses of the flesh because, as the Apostle John reminds us, “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Jesus defeated the devil, and now His power is available to us, if we will only take advantage of it. We do not have to fall for the same old tricks Satan uses.
The way to defeat Satan is to pray daily and often, meditate¹ on God’s Word daily, and “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25), i.e., get involved in a good church and fellowship with other believers.
- Reading the Bible is good practice, however, meditating on God’s Word requires a little more effort than just reading. One has to read and think (meditate) on what God is saying. Paul said to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15). That requires diligent effort.