Satan’s ordinary attacks

We often think of the Christian life in terms of spectacular events and experiences, but vocation teaches us that Christianity is to be lived in the most ordinary spheres of life.  By the same token, Satan also tries to attack us in those ordinary spheres of life.  Pastor Matt Richard draws on John Kleinig’s spiritual classic-in-the-making Grace Upon Grace to show how that works.

From Rev. Matt Richard:

In the book Grace Upon Grace the author, Dr. John Kleinig, describes Satan’s attack on Christians and the Church. Kleinig notes that we too quickly think of spiritual battle in supernatural or spectacular ways. We think of Satan doing glamorous things like sending demons to attack or haunt us. Rather, Satan, as “the father of lies,” most powerfully emphasizes himself by lying to us, and getting us to believe a lie. Specifically, Kleinig cites Satan’s attempts to lead us to sin—to engage in behavior which promises comfort or pleasure—as Satan’s “front door” lie. By believing such a lie, we are led away from our faith in Jesus Christ, or we are lead to a sense of guilt that tempts us to believe that Christ could no longer forgive us.

Kleinig then comments on Satan’s “back door” attack. I find his description powerful, convicting and fascinating; I read it as a serious caution. Kleinig writes:

“In the front door attack he [Satan] tries to break into the conscience by attacking our faith in Christ; in the back door attack he attempts to gain a secret foothold by attacking our love for our fellow Christians, our brothers and sisters in Christ.

This is how it works! Satan gets another Christian to sin against us in deed or word. It pleases Satan if a person with spiritual significance or authority, such as a parent, pastor, spouse or leader in the Church sins against us. Their spiritual status, their office, magnifies their offense and intensifies the damage that it does. This is a kind of ritual abuse, the misuse of holy things against us.

After the offense has occurred, Satan gets us to brood over it, like a stuck track or a video loop, repeatedly and obsessively in our minds, with every greater emphasis on the gravity and injustice of it. As we process the offense and its effect on us, Satan gradually distorts our remembrance and our assessment of it. He uses this offense to encourage us to bring our mental accusations against the offender in the court of our minds. There he presides over the proceedings as we hold a secret trial in which we both prosecute and pass judgment on the wrongdoer.

The more we brood on the offense, the angrier we get against the offender. We remember all the other offenses that we have ever suffered from that person and all the other people that have ever hurt us. And that fuels our anger and our desire for justice. We maintain that we are in the right; we are justified in our judgment of them. We hold the moral high ground against them. Then, before we know it, anger leads to bitterness and resentment. This, in turn, leads to outrage, hatred, and lust for revenge. And so we end up stewing in our own poison.

When we begin to hate those whom we should love, Satan has us where he wants us. Once hatred sets in, he can slowly and patiently dislodge us from the Church and from Christ.”

via Steadfast Lutherans » Be Aware Of The Back Door Tactic Of The Evil One.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Grace

    There are all sorts of scenarios, in our lives that serve to stop us in our tracks. Meaning, we trusted people who were not worthy of our trust – that doesn’t mean we question Christ. What it does mean is; we must realize that Satan does cause havoc, he does so by twisting the truth. It’s up to those who are Believers to EXAMINE, what they hear, read and see, and then prayerfully ask the LORD what HE would have you do.

    God does not leave or forsake us, when we call upon HIS Name, nor does HE lead us astray. Take comfort in our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ, HE will see you through.

    5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

    6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

    7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
    Proverbs 3

  • kempin04

    This is quite good.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Wow, I can’t even comment on the irony of this being posted at steadfast Lutherans, without actually doing the very thing he warns against here. Well, a little leaven leavens the whole lump, but forgiveness covers all.

  • Matthew

    It’s frightening how accurate this is. I wonder, does he then go on to describe how that resentment becomes a thing desired for its own sake? How we then reach a point where we would consider giving up love before we will give up hatred? And it all just happens so easily.

  • Sam

    I’m not at all comfortable with this description of how Satan works, for one significant reason: it strongly implies that Satan is something very much like omnipresent, attacking and tempting and misdirecting Christians everywhere, all the time. I reject any notion that Satan is a being who can be in more than one place at a time. If he’s personally responsible for all that temptation and misdirection, then he gets around the world WAAAAAY better than Santa Claus ever dreamed of.

  • Jon H.

    Kleinig’s description may be true, but I wonder if sins like envy, resentment, etc., are rather our fault, sins of the flesh (Gal. 5), that we produce naturally, without Satan’s help.

    Perhaps Satan’s focus is on maintaining structural sins, the kind that facilitate our concupiscence.

    For example, while we labor to avoid sexual sin, Satan ensures that our culture celebrates it, making the temptation available everywhere. Same for guns. We’re angry or resentful or depressed, and Satan ensures that guns, the means to worsen those circumstances with violence, are easily obtainable. Same for the glorification of greed, resulting in massive income inequality in the US. Satan keeps the structures of our culture in thrall.

  • Jon H.

    Kleinig’s description may be true, but I wonder if sins like envy, resentment, etc., are rather our fault, sins of the flesh (Gal. 5), that we produce naturally, without Satan’s help.

    Perhaps Satan’s focus is on maintaining structural sins, the kind that facilitate our individual concupiscence. He lays snares, as it were, and we fall into them.

    For example, while we labor to avoid sexual sin, Satan ensures that our culture celebrates it, making the temptation available everywhere. Same for guns. We’re angry or resentful or depressed, but Satan has ensured that guns, the means to worsen those circumstances with violence, are easily obtainable. Likewise for the glorification of greed, resulting in massive income inequality in the US. Satan doesn’t need to deal with us individually, assuming he can. Rather, he monitors the structures of our culture, which exacerbate our tendencies to sin.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Sam,
    Kings don’t build castles, but they get the credit for it. Kings rarely even fight in a war, but they get credit for it. So Satan is credited for the work of his henchmen. He may not be omnipresent. Though I don’t really know what his interaction with time and space is like. Paul seems to think he is much more powerful than any earthly ruler, and capable of much more.

  • reg

    I always thought the most common lies were the ones we see at the beginning:
    1. You will be like God;
    2. Did God really say that ___?;
    3. God didn’t really mean what he said.
    I guess the lies listed in the article could fall under these rubrics, particularly the denial of the promised forgiveness or the meaning of the promises.

  • Sam

    Bror, I absolutely agree with you. What threw me in this article is the statement in which the author downplays the idea of Satan “sending demons to attack or haunt us”. Thereafter, he writes only of Satan as though Satan were doing all the work. Perhaps that’s not what he means and I need to read the entire book to see that.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I’m thinking it is high time I moved “Grace upon Grace” up in my to read queue.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Sam, I don’t think the author is denying that Satan sends demons to do his work, but that he has his demons constantly working in spectacular and obvious supernatural ways, like making young girls spew green vomit across the room.

  • Linda Hull

    I feel I have this kinds of attack going on in my family right now. I wish I could forward this article to one of my sisters, for her to read….any suggestions? She isn’t on Facebook for me to share that way.

  • rvs

    Thanks for this. Hell has been a very big topic at my school over the past couple of years (Love Wins debates, etc.), but I notice an absence of discussions about the Devil.


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