What I have forgiven . . . has been for your sakes . . . to keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions.—2 Corinthians 2:10–11
Suppose we receive a package from an overnight carrier. After we open it, we stare at a beautiful, oversized envelope, with our name written on it in exquisite calligraphy. Inside, the invitation starts with these words:
You are invited to enjoy a life filled with misery, worry, and confusion.
Which one of us would say yes to such an outrageous invitation? Don’t we seek the kind of life that keeps us free from such pain and distractions? Yet many of us choose such a life. Not that we blatantly make that choice, but we sometimes surrender—even temporarily—to Satan’s invitation. His attack is ongoing and relentless—the devil is persistent! Our enemy bombards our minds with every weapon at his disposal every day of our lives.
We are engaged in warfare—a warfare that rages and never stops. We can put on the whole armor of God, halt the evil one’s advances, and stand fast on the Word of God, but we won’t put a complete end to the war. As long as we are alive, our minds remain Satan’s battlefield.
Most of our problems are rooted in thinking patterns that produce the problems we experience. This is where Satan triumphs—he offers wrong thinking to all of us. This isn’t a new trick devised for our generation; he began his deceptive ways in the Garden of Eden. The serpent asked the woman, “Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1a). That was the first attack on the human mind. Eve could have rebuked the tempter; instead, she told him God would let them eat from the trees, but not from one particular tree. They couldn’t even touch that tree, because if they did, they would die.
“But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity” (vs. 4–5).
This was the first attack, and it resulted in Satan’s first victory. What we often miss about temptation and the battle our enemy levels against us is that it comes to us deceptively. Suppose he had said to the woman, “Eat of the fruit. You’ll bring misery, anger, hatred, bloodshed, poverty, and injustice into the world.”
Eve would have recoiled and run away. He tricked her because he lied and told her what would appeal to her. Satan promised, “You will be like God. You’ll know good and evil.” What a marvelous appeal to the woman. He wasn’t tempting Eve to do something bad—or at least he phrased it in such a way that what she heard sounded good.
That’s always the appeal of sin or satanic enticement. The temptation is not to do evil or to cause harm or bring injustice. The lure is that we will gain something. Satan’s temptation worked on Eve. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate” (3:6).
Eve lost the first battle for the mind, and we have continued to fight for it since that time. But because we have the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can win—and we can keep on winning.
Victorious God, help me resist the onslaughts of Satan, who attacks my mind and makes evil seem good. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen