The greatest mistake you can make with evil is to underestimate its power and influence. While true evil will never be able to win over the Lord, it also isn't powerless. The devil is active, and working to take hold over your entire life. Satan has many strongholds in the lives of average Christians. It’s harming them, wrecking their spiritual life, contaminating the life of their family and church. He uses that stronghold to war against God and His work. Jesus Himself even talked about Satan and discussed his power, and wanted us to recognize just how manipulating he can be.
Here are some ways that the devil is manipulating you, and how you can stop him.
Feeding Your Ego
Arrogance can creep in so easily among Christians. There are a few ways one can start getting a big ego, but the most common is due to success. Those who are successful, in work or at home, can forget where they originally came from. It is very easy to humble yourself when you feel like you are failing, but it's easier to take all the credit when things go well. We forget to thank God for blessing our lives, and instead focus on ourselves. This leaves a space for Satan to come in. He will continue to encourage you to inflate your ego, and think you are better than others. In 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 Paul shares that knowledge puffs up, while love builds up. We are not any better than others because we are successful or knowledgeable.
Convincing You to Sin
One way Satan will start to manipulate you is by convincing you that sins are not that bad. You will start to think things like "it will only be one time", "this isn't a big deal", or "no one is looking." When you give in, even if it is only once, it can begin to push you down a slippery slope. There is no way to justify actions that are against God. While all humans make mistakes, it's important to pay attention when we slip-up and make sure we don't continue to repeat these mistakes in the future. As C.S. Lewis says in the Screwtape Letters, “the safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
Telling You to Wait
Everything is perfect in God's timing, and it's important to wait for His direction. However, one way the devil can manipulate Christians is by convincing them that opportunities aren't passing them by. The Lord may be trying to speak to you and laying out what He wants you to do next, but you aren't making any moves because Satan is telling you it's not actually a sign. Satan will tell you that you aren't ready or you aren't good enough. He will feed into all the fears that hold you back. This all causes good Christians to stay inactive and lose momentum to reach the goals God has set out for them.
If you are on any social media platforms, you have had a moment where you saw someone else's lavish life and wished you had the same. You might even look right over to your neighbors see the things they have in their house or the seemingly perfect marriage, and have felt that your life wasn't as great. You compare your career income and status with those of your same peer group and co-workers, or think to yourself that your life sucks in comparison to your friend’s. We have this perception that the grass in the yard over the fence is so much greener and better than our own, and that's all Satan's doing. He wants us to feel terrible about ourselves, and that our lives are actually terrible and not worth living.
Degrading Your Self Worth
For a lot of Christians, they fell guilty after they have committed a sin.No one likes to let God down. However, sometimes we can be a little too hard on ourselves. You might say to yourself: “I already messed up. I’m a failure, might as well keep going since I suck anyway." The devil wants you to hate yourself, and feel terrible about all the actions you have made. Instead of seeing yourself the way God sees you (someone that is worthy of love, respect and forgiveness), Satan will tell you that you are worthless, inadequate, and not good enough for God. You feel discouraged, and that self-pity will begin to grow. You will feel that there is no way out, that this is how things will always be, and that everything is your fault. Living in a state of self-pity means you don’t need anyone to take you out of the game because you’ve taken yourself out.
Satan can sometimes creep into our lives without our conscious knowledge. By spending time with the Lord, we understand the difference between evil and good and can more easily recognize when evil comes into our lives. If you don’t recognize Satan’s strategies, it’s hard to defeat them.