Though Satan can never steal the Christian’s crown, though he can never snatch him away from the hand of the Father, he is so envious and malicious that he will leave no stone unturned in robbing the Christian of comfort and peace, in making their life miserable, in giving them reason to live in constant sorrow and mourning, doubt and questioning.
Thomas Brooks once identified eight ways in which Satan keeps Christians—Christians like you!—in this sad, doubting, questioning, condition.
He causes you to think more about your sin than your Savior. He wants to so fill your mind with thoughts of the sin you’ve committed in the past, or temptations to sin you face today, that all thoughts of Jesus Christ and his finished work are displaced and erased. His desire is that you would think so much of your sickness that you would neglect the remedy that is close at hand.
He works in you to wrongly understand God’s graces. Just as falsely defining sin will lead a person astray, so too will wrongly defining God’s graces. In particular, Satan labors so a Christian will define saving faith only in such a way that it includes full assurance of salvation; he can then use that too-expansive definition to cause the Christian to make his doubt proof of his lack of justification.
He leads you to make false inferences from harsh providences. He whispers to you that providence appears to contradict your prayers, desires, tears, hopes and endeavors. Once he has shown you this he says, “Surely, if God actually loved you and delighted in you, he wouldn’t deal with you in these ways…”
He suggests to you that the evidences of grace in your life are counterfeit rather than genuine. He wants you to believe that what you call faith is actually just a fleeting fancy, that what you see as zeal is just natural and unsanctified enthusiasm, that you are not actually evidencing any true evidences of grace, but just natural ability.
He convinces you that the kind of battle you have with sin is a battle that marks only unbelieving hypocrites. As you battle against sin, and while the same old sins continue to rise up against you, Satan tries to make you believe that these very battles are evidences of hypocrisy rather than a universal Christian condition.
He suggests to your soul that the fact that you have less joy in Christ now than you once did proves that you have not been saved. He may bring to your mind a time when your heart was overflowing with joy in him, when you felt the tangible comfort of the Holy Spirit. And then he will have you contrast that to your present condition and use it to convince you that you must not be a Christian.
He works within you to make you believe that relapses into sin—even sins you have labored to overcome—are evidence that you are not a believer. He may whisper to you that you are a fool and a hypocrite to believe that God could ever love someone who battles sin, overcomes it, and then later succumbs to that same old sin.
He convinces you that only an unbeliever could face the manner and the weight of temptation you face right now. First he will weary you with constant temptations perfectly suited to your weaknesses and desires. Then he will try to convince you that the very fact that you face these temptations must mean that you are not a Christian at all.