That Christians are engaged in spiritual warfare should be of no surprise to any believer (II Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:12). Every one who is involved in apologetics ought to especially realize this. In any conflict, it is good to understand the tactics of the enemy. Paul said that he was not “ignorant of Satan’s devices” (II Corinthians 2:11). It is good, therefore, for us to understand that with which we are dealing as we seek to point others to the God Who reveals Himself. God Himself, Who knows all the devices of the enemy, reveals them to us in His word. I want us to consider some of the major devices of our enemy.
One of the first things we should realize comes directly from the first example of Satan’s activity in Genesis three as he begins to beguile Eve by simply raising questions (Genesis 3:1). This points to the fact that all Satan needs to do to accomplish his goal is to get his victims to doubt. Satan did not, nor does he usually need to, prove his points. Just-so stories from evolutionists and questions raised by skeptics do not prove anything and are often backed up with “could be” and “possibly” statements. They do not prove what they are trying to get others to believe; but then, they do not have to. Doubt raised often is enough to keep souls from Christ.
Another common tactic is seen in the dialogue between the healed man who was born blind and the Jewish leaders (John 9:24-34) and in the prosecution case in the trials of Paul (Acts 24: 1-9; 25:7). In these cases, the weight of opinion of self-declared “experts” were presented to overwhelm any defense. Now, we are all familiar with the proper concept of “expert testimony” in a legal proceeding; however, in those cases, the experts back their opinion with evidence and reasoning supporting a certain interpretation of the events in question. In the cases cited, and in so many discussions today, the “experts” demand that all evidence and reasoning bow to their opinions merely because it is their opinions and they are the experts. This is very clear in today’s exaltation of atheist and agnostic scientists to the status of demi-gods. If Dawkins or Hawking and company said it, it must be true. After all, who are you to dispute their opinions.
Often, especially when these tactics fail, a barrage of unsupported name-calling and accusations is sent flying against the Christian. This is seen in the attack on Nehemiah (Nehemiah 4:1-3; 6:1-9) and the many exchanges between Jesus and the Jewish leaders (John 8:48). The idea is that if there are a lot of accusations made, especially by reputable leaders and experts, then at least some of them must be true raising doubt as to the character and message of the believer. The accusation of “hate speech” and profanity-laced attacks on Christian leaders on twitter, and the unwarranted disparaging of creationist scientists are good examples of this tactic. This tactic should be expected from “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10).
Perhaps the tactic most effectively used today is the suppression of the truth, a practice characteristic of a society falling towards reprobation (Romans 1:18) and has been demonstrated through the oppression and persecution of believers and truth-tellers throughout history. This practice is very evident today. An atheist or agnostic writes a book critical of Christianity and every radio and television talk show invites him or her on whereas well-written rebuttals and books of Christian apologetics by equally-qualified scholars are ignored. Any supposed research that could possibly support evolution is front-page news whereas retractions (and there usually are retractions made later) are on the back page if printed at all. The media powerfully suppresses any idea that is counter to their view of political correctness and the academic world refuses to even acknowledge the qualifications of creationists and so refuse to acknowledge their arguments instead of engaging them in debate. College campuses refuse to allow conservative speakers on campus in fear of student protests while promoting all kinds of religious and moral perversity. Indeed, “truth is fallen in the streets” (Isaiah 59:14).
Closely related to the suppression of the truth is the perversion of facts and down-right lies sold as being the truth. This, above all tactics, should be expected from the “father of lies” (John 8:44) and his ministers (II Corinthians 11:13-16). Books and documentaries make statements concerning errors in the Bible, stories concerning how the Bible supposedly was formed, and stories of how life began and how various animals evolved without any observable evidence often recycling old, long-discredited stories and, even more frequently, portraying one theory as being absolutely true when the author knows that there are many other theories held even by other secular scientists and other thinkers while ignoring the fact that all those theories have serious problems. They can get away with this because few Christians have the knowledge or the time to research every statement that is purveyed as truth.
Satan’s servants also like to intimidate making themselves seem undefeatable. This is especially demonstrated in the psychological warfare conducted by the Assyrians against Hezekiah (II Kings 18:28-35). Even so, the enemies of the gospel often speak of biblical truth and the social positions that are based on that truth as being “on the wrong side of history.” We are therefore told that Christianity must change or it will die. The implication is that biblical truth and practice will inevitably be rejected by mankind as being wrong.
Along with the stick, Satan, of course, also uses the carrot. This is seen in Satan’s temptation of Eve and his temptation of Jesus in both cases making promises and seeking to attract them by dangling an attractive offer before them. As Christianity is shown to be out of date and failing, sinful worldly philosophy and practice is displayed as attractive, the way forward, and the future. It appeals to our sin nature and made to look oh so attractive (Ephesians 2:1-3; I John 2:15-17).
What can we do? How can we contend when the other side constantly “cheats”? First of all, we should not be shocked (I Peter 4:12). The Bible clearly tells us that Satan is the “god of this world” (II Corinthians 4:4) and “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). This world system cannot receive the Spirit of truth (John 14:17) or understand spiritual truth (I Corinthians 2:14), but think of the gospel as “foolishness” (I Corinthians 1:18). The world system, then, is an enemy (James 4:4) and will hate us (John 15:18-25; I John 3:13). Here, we are pilgrims and strangers (I Peter 2:11) involved in a war not only with the world, but with spiritual beings (Ephesians 6:12). We then need to remember that this battle is not ours, but the Lord’s (I Samuel 17:47) Who has given to us mighty weapons that can pull down the enemies’ strongholds (II Corinthians 10:4). We have also the indwelling Holy Spirit and must remember that He Who is in us is greater than the forces we face (II Chronicles 32:7, 8). We, then, need to live above reproach so that the accusations made will be ineffective (I Peter 3:15, 16; 4:15), and to put on the whole armor of God fighting in the power of His might praying always (Ephesians 6:13-18). We are to faithfully speak the truth which is the word of God (John 17:17), our offensive weapon (Ephesians 16:18), in love seeking to shine the light in to the dark world (Matthew 5:14-16; II Corinthians 4:6) and recover those who are taken captive by Satan (II Timothy 2:26). In all of this, we need to expose the errors and tactics of the enemy showing those who are influenced by those tactics what they really are (Ephesians 5:11-13; II Timothy 2:25). Having done all this faithfully, we then leave the results to God (I Corinthians 3:6; 4:2). Ultimately, it is God Himself Who must work through our efforts to reveal Himself. He is infinitely greater than anything and everything which opposes Him. He will win, and He guarantees the victory for us (I Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9).