Martin Luther claimed that wherever God builds a church, the devil builds a chapel. The principle holds that wherever God is moving, the S factor kicks in. That is, Satan, our adversary, will factor in and seek to block spiritual progress and destroy anyone’s opportunity for redemption.
As the Adventist family embraces the themes of revival and reformation and the implementation of The Great Controversy project, Satan will work to counter all progress with subterfuge and opposition.
Subtle Tactics: Satan’s tactics are both overt and covert. Some are obvious and easily seen; others are like a ubiquitous virus. The good news is that believers can resist the S factor when they are aware and armed.
The apostle assures us: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). It also gives us insight that Satan: (1) is angry and motivated (Rev. 12:12); (2) wants us to be ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2:11; 1 Tim. 3:6-8); (3) is a diligent pursuer
(1 Peter 5:8); (4) is experienced (1 John 3:8); (5) is a believer (James 2:19); (6) is resistible (Eph. 6:10-11); (7) works from outside to inside (James 1:14, 15).
In April I reread Ellen White’s book The Great Controversy
, accepting the challenge to read it through in 2011 and to buy and distribute multiple copies in 2012-2013 (see thegreathope.org). The practical applicability of the book was demonstrated during the recent Spring Council held at Oakwood University in April. An agenda item had attendees publicly read the chapter “Snares of Satan,” followed by a season of prayer and testimonies.
The chapter had a powerful impact; it read as if it had been written this year. In it are more than 60 snares that Satan employs, and more than 20 strategies Christians can implement to successfully resist those snares. This insightful chapter provides a microcosmic arena outlining the controversy occurring in each believer’s life.
Camouflaged Introduction: Satan, the master of cunning and guile, appears as the quintessence of intelligence and rationality. He proposes ideas and concepts that appear so apparently reasonable and logical that if we are not attentive we risk missing their diabolical intent. His schemes often involve skepticism, secularism, humanism, modernism, and hedonism, which are merely a reprise of the heresies experienced in the early days of both Christianity and the Adventist movement.
The S factor confuses and twists the message of righteousness by faith and the spirit-filled life. It seeks to provide an excuse to consult and follow self-centered rights rather than submitting to a Christ-centered humility and self-control.
Brutal Opposition: Once a boxer was being badly beaten. Battered and bruised, he leaned over the ropes and said to his trainer, “Throw in the towel! This guy’s killing me!”
The trainer replied, “No, he’s not. He hasn’t laid a glove on you!”
Then the boxer, wiping the blood from his eyes, said, “Well, then, I wish you’d watch that referee. He sure is tough!”
Like that trainer, some people deny the obvious reality of Satan, and the lethal nature of his devices.
Each believer plays a role in the great controversy between Christ and Satan. Our choices are crucial. Some may think that if we just pray enough, God will remove the trials from our lives. Not so. Prayer is a vital component to our spiritual development. However, for our character development God allows temptations, tests, and trials. God works with us and through us to guide and deliver us through the trials.
Tell-all Theme: The S factor has a singular chorus, one rule of composition: the first person singular. It’s all about Satan’s “I.” There is no first-person plural (we) in the chorus, no third-person singular (she or he) to be concerned with, no third-person plural (they) to consider. Everything focuses on “I,” to the exclusion of all else. Satan has focused his agenda to cause the destruction of every person who would do right.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
Delbert W. Baker is a general vice president of the General Conference. This article was published June 23, 2011.