See Through Enemy Eyes

Expecting Temptation Before It Comes

Fortresses have been lost through sheer lack of imagination. The general cannot see with his enemy’s eyes, anticipate his enemy’s strategies, and so he invites his enemy’s feet into the citadel. Do we let the evil one into our lives, heart, and mind through want of simple thought? Fighting the enemy at the front gate is hard enough; let’s not leave back pathways and rear entrances unmanned, unsealed, unwatched.

How do we discover the breach? Play devil’s advocate. Ask the question, If I were Satan and desired to destroy my soul, how would I do it? Really consider it, first, because it will help you better know yourself. Second, because Satan is considering you and means to exploit every possible means to your damnation.

In other words, watch film of yourself. Championship teams study their opponents to learn their weaknesses and discover vulnerabilities. They watch and replay and rewatch the opponent. How do they think? What are their tendencies? What do they try to cover up? If they would defeat us, they must do so with their weak hand. And the best teams watch film not just of their opponents, but of themselves. When the enemy watches us, what does he see? Where are we weak, susceptible? What does he mean to exploit? How is he planning to strike?

Stairways to the Soul

First, consider which members Satan longs to commandeer. Over what well-worn paths does he bring his seductions into your life?

Does he mean to burrow into your soul through your eyes? Does he lure you with illicit images? Does he encourage binging upon show after show, game after game, app after app? Most may not be evil, but when amassed, they form a swamp of worldliness where spiritual affections die. Notice, the fruit traveled through Eve’s eyes before it came into Eve’s mouth: “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes . . . she took of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6).

Or perhaps your temptations are auditory, approaching through the side door of your ears. You listen to song after song, podcast after podcast — some of such a nature that, should they accidentally play during church, you would sooner break your phone than let them continue. What lenient watchmen stand post at some of our earlobes. Be reminded, Christian, that the first temptation came through the ear before the eye: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman . . .” (Genesis 3:1).

And once he has the ears and the eyes, Satan desires your hands to handle and distribute evil: “She took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her” (Genesis 3:6). Do your hands flash and thunder through ill temper? Do they grab the mouse at night and click, click, click (in privacy, you think)? “If your hand causes you to sin,” Jesus warns, “cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43).

“To best defend yourself, know yourself.”

But Satan needs you within reach of sin’s fruit, so he loves careless feet. You may know by experience how much damage you invite when those feet wander to the bar, or to that friend’s house, or to those parties. The wise father advises his son, “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house” (Proverbs 5:8). Traveling even near her door can be a death sentence:

Though she flatters and smiles and feigns to adore you,
The ambush is set by the hunter before you.
She stands at her door, beckoning to the trap;
Keep your feet from her house and your head from her lap,
Your lust from her beauty, your heart from her care,
Your frame from her bed, and her knife from your hair.

Let not the shoes on your feet betray the prayer on your lips: “Lead me not into temptation.” Feet that stray toward sin soon flee from God: “The man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8).

And we must not forget about the tongue, that vessel of fire sailing from the ports of hell (James 3:6). Are you a harsh father? Do you lash your spouse upon the stocks, cut down your dearest companion with sharp criticism? Are you a gossiping or nagging wife? What chocolate can Satan place upon your tongue for you to indulge that sweet slander, flattery, grumble, or half-truth? “The woman,” Adam was quick to accuse, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12).

Times of Treachery

Beyond this, we should consider, When is it best to strike? How about late at night when you should be warding off temptations with unconsciousness? When do you feel most stressed and anxious and unwatchful? As tests approach? When you fall behind at work? When home life is tense or finances tighten?

I’ve noticed that Satan often waits to attack me until the day after a spiritual triumph. The dove falls upon us, we hear afresh, “You are my beloved son,” and then Satan visits us in the wilderness. He is a fool to ambush you on the day of victory. No, he withdraws and waits for you to relax before springing reinforcements. The dark spirit returns with fiends eviler than itself. Perhaps when the house is asleep; perhaps at midday when your vigilance flags; perhaps on the weekday when monotony dulls sin’s seriousness, and Sunday’s refreshment wears thin.

Perhaps it’s on the weekend, when the world is abuzz and immorality is sold at discount. After a long week, does the thought arrive, I’ve worked hard; I deserve a little pleasure, don’t I? Satan knows the best times to attack you. Do you? It was when Jesus “ate nothing” and “was hungry” that Satan brought his full assault upon him (Luke 4:2–3).

People as Puppets

Can you detect a pattern of the people Satan loves to use as his carrier pigeons to deliver temptation against you? “Woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” (Matthew 18:7). When your guard is lowest, whom might Satan want you to spend time with? Which Delilah will cut your hair? What bad company threatens your good morals? Does a foolish wife counsel you to curse God and die? Do friends heap misery upon your deepest sorrows? A gossiping roommate, a flirtatious coworker, an unfaithful father, a worldly classmate — upon which relationships does Satan seek to write his signature?

Next, consider not only whom he loves for you to be around, but also whom he doesn’t. Whom does he mean to keep you from? Gondor needed Rohan, David needed mighty men, brothers need brothers, sisters need sisters. How can Satan ruin this blessed need in your life?

Oh, the delicious sin of envy may prove most effective here. He loves disturbing the hive with this sin — bidding us to withdraw from those more godly, more gifted, more likable than us. What suspicion or spiritual pride can persuade that you don’t actually need the church after all? Or perhaps he corners you more subtly through overworking or pointless recreation. “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment” (Proverbs 18:1).

What crabgrass is Satan sowing in the fields of your friendships? Selfishness? Apathy? An unwillingness to go below the surface? Which relationships do you need to strengthen? Which people do you need more time around? What hobbies or acquaintances need to take the backseat? Who inspires you to pursue Christ with all your heart?

Goods as Gods

Finally, as just the beginning to your contemplations, consider what weights Satan would use to bind your soul to this world. Many things are lawful, but not all are helpful. They may even be helpful for others, but not for us. The former alcoholic refuses a beer at the game. The man who struggles with lust deletes his Instagram. The single woman limits her reading of romance novels.

The hand is a good thing, designed to glorify the Lord. But if it causes you to sin, cut it off, brother (Matthew 5:30). The eye is for beholding beautiful sights, but if your eye causes you to sin, sister, tear it out (Matthew 5:29). It is better, says Jesus, to hobble through this short life maimed, or endure here partially blind, than to hold on to all these good things, misuse them, and go to hell.

But we can’t stop at just weights. Consider, at last, an interest of the devil’s heaviest surveillance: God’s best gifts to us. Perhaps he accuses, as he did with Job, that we fear God only because of all of these. Is he right?

Which relationships, if threatened, might cause us to recant our Lord? Which loves — mother, wife, child — transgress their proper boundary and sit rival to the throne? Which Isaac would we not lay upon the altar should God require it? Over which blessing could we not, through darkest grief, utter, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21)? Satan means to twist God’s choicest blessings around our souls to choke the seed.

Christian, you have an enemy who crouches at your door. His desire is to have you, and you must rule over him. To best defend yourself, know yourself. Through what channels does he mean to entangle my soul? At what times, with what people, and by twisting what gifts does he mean to ruin me? Take time and effort to simply consider: If I were Satan, how would I destroy me?