Satan is a formidable foe. He opposes all those who are created in the image of God and is bent on their complete and utter destruction. What makes Satan so skillful at tempting us to sin? In his little book Fighting Satan, Joel Beeke offers 6 reasons.
Satan’s Spiritual Being and Intellectual Power
When people tempt each other, they do so with overt actions. For example, Joseph tempted his brothers’ devotion to their youngest brother, Benjamin, by asking his steward to hide his cup in Benjamin’s sack. But Satan, who is a spirit, doesn’t have to use overt actions. He can prey directly on the mind, tempting us to yield to his devices. Satan could enter the heart of Judas Iscariot and tempt the disciple to betray Christ (John 13:2), and he could enter the heart of Ananias and tempt him to lie to the Holy Ghost (Acts 5:3).
Though fallen, Satan is still an angel, so he is intellectually far superior to us. That makes him very dangerous. … Satan’s great intellect and cunning deceit should make us especially wary, for we know that we cannot defeat him through our limited intellectual abilities.
Satan’s Experience and Work
The devil is old, but not infirm. His temptations are like the arrows of a skillful archer that seldom fail to hit their target (Jer. 50:9). Over the centuries he has mastered the art of wickedness. Satan knows by experience when the best time is to shoot his arrows. He knows what bait to use whenever he fishes. He tempts young people with beauty, the thrifty with money, and the ambitious with power. He has remarkable experience in overcoming every defense against yielding to his temptations.
Satan is adept at deflecting our defenses. Believers are often startled and perplexed when they are tempted because Satan responds so quickly and effectively to their arguments against sinning. Satan’s rapid response ought to teach us to deny him totally and immediately rather than dispute with him.
Satan’s Tireless Energy for Promoting Evil
Satan relentlessly and endlessly tempts man to keep him from God. He has a one-track mind, and that single-minded purpose makes him formidable. An ancient Italian proverb says, “Lord, deliver me from a man who has but one business to do.” Satan tempts us to be idle, but he is never idle.
Satan’s Kingdom of Demons
Daniel 7:10 says that “thousand thousands” of angels minister to God, and “ten thousand times ten thousand” stand before Him. Fallen angels who serve Satan are also numerous since Scripture describes Satan and his demons as a powerful kingdom.
Satan’s kingdom is also united in purpose. Every demon hates God’s glory and our happiness. Every demon unitedly promotes Satan’s doctrine, distinctions, domination, and distractions. Every demon unitedly opposes God’s position, precepts, purity, and people. There are no divisions in Satan’s kingdom (Matt. 12:26), no uprisings because of poor pay, no complaints about strenuous marches, no balking at difficult tasks. We expect the angels in heaven who dwell with the triune God to be united. But is it not remarkable that the devils in hell are more united in purpose than the church on earth? What a tragedy that the communion of devils so often exceeds the communion of saints. If devils are filled with pride, wrath, envy, and bitterness, how can they be so united? Just as enemies on earth can be united through mutual hatred of a third party, so Satan’s demons are united by their mutual hatred of God and man. As good angels rejoice over the repentance of a sinner, evil angels rejoice over the destruction of a sinner.
Satan’s Evil Suggestions
It is difficult at times to know whether a sinful thought originates with Satan or with us. It is difficult to distinguish between evil that is sown in the mind by the tempter and evil that is ours by nature. As the old saying goes: “The devil’s boots don’t creak.” Spurstowe says that a bird will hatch an egg and nourish a young bird until it discovers that the young one is not its own. Then the mother bird pushes the intruder out of the nest. Likewise, if we would recognize promptings as given by Satan, we would have the strength to repudiate them. If King David had known that Satan was tempting him to number the people of Israel, he undoubtedly would have stopped counting immediately (1 Chron. 21:1).
Satan’s Skill at Matching His Suggestions with Our Corrupt Reason
Satan cannot conquer our soul by force; his success depends on confusing us about the origin of his suggestions. Satan is a master at suggesting that we believe what we want to believe rather than believe the truth. To the atheist, Satan suggests that worshiping God is a crutch for the weak-minded. To the convicted, Satan suggests that a little religion will do. To the nominal Christian, Satan suggests that intellectual faith is sufficient. To the true believer, Satan suggests that the worldly do not suffer as the righteous do (Ps. 73).