Dr. Charles Stanley is pastor of the 14,000-member First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia and one of America's most popular televangelists. His sermons are broadcast on 850 channels in the U.S. and in 59 languages abroad. He spoke with Beliefnet recently about his new book, "When the Enemy Strikes."

You've written dozens of books, but few have focused on the devil or Satan specifically. Why is this subject important to you now?

Because we're living in a fearful time. Since 9/11 people have become more afraid than before, because of terrorism. There's a lot of confusion about evil, where it's all coming from. What is it? Is this something I'm just feeling inside or is there a devil, is there evil? What the book does is clarify that there is evil. There is someone behind the evil, and his motives and objectives are very clear to destroy us in many ways. Nations fight against nations, in marriages people fight against each other, children fight against each other. We are in warfare, in a national warfare, and in warfare with each other and with ourselves. If they're confused or anxious about something, how can people know if it's the devil?

Well, there's naturally some attitudes that we would say are not from the devil. But think about this: If I'm discouraged about something, God would not get me discouraged. Disappointment is inevitable. But to become discouraged, there's a choice I make. God would never discourage me. He would always point me to himself to trust him. Therefore, my discouragement is from Satan. As you go through the emotions that we have, hostility is not from God, bitterness, unforgiveness, all of these are attacks from Satan. Satan takes a deliberate willful moment in our life to do anything and everything he can to destroy us. It's an assault upon our emotions and an assault upon our mind.He always attacks the mind. That's his battlefield. You say that the devil can set up a series of good things in our life to lead us down the wrong path. But in the book you also say God wants us to live abundantly. How can we know what is a devil-orchestrated series of good things?

What we have to ask is, if I keep heading in this direction, where is he going to carry me? Is it going to carry me closer to God? One of Satan's most deceptive and powerful ways of defeating us is to get us to believe a lie. And the biggest lie is that there are no consequences to our own doing. Satan will give you whatever you ask for if it will lead you where he ultimately wants you.You say that even when other humans mistreat us, it's always the devil working through them-our ultimate enemy is the devil. Does this give those people a pass on personal responsibility?

No. If I am angry at you about something, I can't excuse myself. Satan will maneuver us to wrong each other. If he can divide our relationship and separate us in some fashion-get me to feel like you did me wrong or I did you wrong, now we're at odds with each other.
I can't be right with God and wrong with you. If I have an unforgiving spirit towards you, I can't be right with God. So anything [Satan] can stir up between us is to his benefit and destroys us. It steals our joy, because you can't be bitter towards someone or unforgiving and then have inner peace. It separates us from God as well as the other person.In the book you talk about your surgery and temporarily losing part of your sight. You talk about the understandable discouragement you felt then, and how some of that discouragement was probably the work of the devil. Have there been other low points in your life when you felt that the devil was attacking you in some way?

Oh, I've been attacked many, many times. And that attack, which has been the most recent one, I remember because I wanted to read the Bible but I couldn't.I knew it was all satanic as it could be, trying to get me discouraged, trying to get me to feel this hopeless, helpless feeling. After about three nights of that, I said, "OK, I can't do anything about this. But now I can pray." So I would start praying for my friends and people that I knew were on my prayer list.Prayer is the most powerful means of overcoming any kind of discouragement. It connects you with an omnipotent, omniscient Father who loves you unconditionally, who sees where you are and is going to help you in it.You talked about this hopeless or helpless feeling. A lot of people in America are feeling that way about a variety of things, both personal and national. Do you see the devil bringing about this hopeless feeling?

There's no question he's behind that. Because when you feel helpless, there's fearfulness, uncertainty.The terrorism here and all the violence and the needs, that's enough to give anybody a nervous breakdown in about 30 seconds. But if our focus is on God, then I see everything from this perspective-He's my heavenly Father, I'm eternally secure in Him. I'm His child, He loves me unconditionally and whatever He allows in my life, He's going to turn it to my good every time. I've lived long enough to watch that in my own life.
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