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Staying Alert to Subtle Schemes

Several weeks ago, Tara Orchard wrote about discouragement as an often-overlooked scheme of the enemy. Discouragement can arrive at any time and paralyze our faith. It often comes out of nowhere and catches us off guard. But there are other schemes that can ensnare us if we are not on the alert.

Solomon said, “Moreover, man does not know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net and birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are ensnared at an evil time when it suddenly falls on them” (Ecclesiastes 9:12).

We don’t plan on falling for these schemes. We just do. Therefore, part of being alert is simply being aware of some of the snares.

Here are three more tools of the devil.

 

Pride, the Devil’s Tool

In listing qualifications for elders, the Apostle Paul says one must not be “a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). Conceit is a synonym of pride. Pride is always a particular sin to watch out for. We don’t want elders full of pride.

But there is a broader principle here that applies to all. We must be careful of placing young, untested Christians into positions of prominence. We naturally and rightly celebrate conversion to Christ. However, oftentimes that celebration unwittingly produces a celebrity.

This is dangerous, and we should protect new believers. Why would we take a new Christian and put them into a position which we know the enemy will use to snare them? The answer is to make sure God always gets the glory when people come to Christ, but also to not push young believers into positions of authority and prominence. The enemy is waiting to create conceit and snare them into condemnation.

 

Hypocrisy, the Devil’s Tool

Continuing in the qualifications for elders Paul says, “And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:7). What’s at stake here is the testimony of Christ in our community. Elders should be men who live lives of consistency before the world. Their testimony in the community should match their testimony in the church.

As with the qualification of an elder not being a new believer, there is a principle here that applies to all of us. When we say one thing and do another, that’s hypocrisy. How many times have you heard people say they don’t want to have anything to do with religion because of all the hypocrites? A fair point, this. When we live lives of hypocrisy before a watching world, people don’t want to have any part of what we’re serving up.

Sure, you will be criticized for your faith. But if you are to be attacked, don’t let it be for sin, but for righteousness: “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).

But hypocrisy? It is a tool of the devil to bring reproach on the name of Christ, and to keep people from believing the Gospel.

 

Jealousy, the Devil’s Tool

James 3:13-16, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”

Jealousy, selfish ambition and arrogance are mere quarter turns on the multifaceted lump of coal called pride. As James said, Jealousy begins in the heart. It is not godly wisdom, but instead a so-called wisdom that is of this world system, and in fact, demonic. And what is the outcome? Disorder among God’s people.

Jealousy is negative feelings over the achievements of others. It is a resentment that starts in the heart. But don’t be fooled, others can see it. Like so many things that begin in the heart, they leak out into our words, attitudes, actions and facial expressions. When we are jealous of what others have accomplished, we begin to resent, not just what they’ve achieved, but also them as people. It becomes personal.

We explain it as being “hurt.” But what we do with that hurt is gather support from others for that hurt. By doing so we infect others with our own bitter jealousy and the enemy uses it to divide brothers and sisters in Christ. These things ought not to be.

 

The answer to all of these? Check your heart. Be on the alert and ask God to show you any blind spots you may have. Ask him to keep you from the trapper’s snare, the sins that so easily entangle us, and the disorder that most certainly will follow.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

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