The Devil's Antics and Tactics - Part 1
Recognizing the Phenomenon
As Christians, we must realize that we are in a battle field and the main enemy is the devil. In any typical war situation, certain things include: ammunition, trained personnel, strategy and a good knowledge of the enemy's tactics. In addition, any army going to war must have honest recognition of the enemy's threat potentials. Jesus refers to this when he says:
"what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand." - Luke 14:31
Knowing the danger potential of the enemy ordinarily will put the militants in a good stead to undertake a battle. For us however, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against witches and wizards, spiritual wickedness in high places, and against all manners of evil means deployed by the evil ones.
Christian Attitude to Demonology
The first is the demonetization of every phenomena. It must be said that every disorder is not the activity of a witch or an evil spirit. One cannot deny the ability of demons to manipulate natural forces to wreck havoc on the children of God, yet there are some natural disasters that happen without any diabolic orchestration. According to Father Pantaleon, some natural disasters are in fact God's minor or further arrangements in the extraordinary immensities of grandiose order he puts in things. If we remember that creation is ongoing, we will appreciate this fact better. God made heaven and earth and found it very good, but He continues to shape and reshape creation until it reaches the desired perfection.
A heavy rain may bring down people's houses, but for such experiences, human beings may not have invented ways of building more durable houses. God can permit a particular disease to afflict a family and perhaps even take the lives of many, if only that serves to spur a member of that family or community to go into research and find the medicine to the said disease which now save a larger number of people in generations to come. But one may ask, what about those who died before one person decided to take the initiative to find a solution to the problem?. The simple truth is that such a question is informed by the erroneous thinking that we own ourselves. For whether we live or whether we die, we belong to God and who are we to ask Him what he does with His own?. The point here is simply that not every mishap is an onslaught from the enemy meant to destroy us.
An owl for example hooting audibly at night may do no more harm than deprive some people a good sleep. Owls are nocturnal animals like the bats and some other animals and most of them are simply normal night birds. One cannot deny that evils spirits or witches do operate through animals, nevertheless, it may well be superstitious to conclude that whenever the noise of an owl or a cat is heard at night, and a baby becomes ill in the morning, then, there must be a connection (most beliefs in Africa). Also, it would be out of place for a woman to treat her mother - in - law scornfully because she dreamt that the latter was pressing her neck while she slept (African beliefs). The psychology of dreams helps us to understand that we can very easily represent our feelings with symbols (including the image of a person) that we associate with such feelings in our dreams.
For example, if the said woman already feels that her mother - in - law is a witch simply because she nags endlessly, looks dirty and old, it is very possible for her to dream that the old woman is disturbing her while in her sleep, and you can trust the human mind to dress the old lady up in the dream with all the popular features of a witch such as long nails, large breasts, broom - like legs, shinning eyes and so on.
Schools of Thought on the Reality of Evil Spirits, Witches and their likes (Examining their Thinking Content)
There are some schools of thought that deny the reality of evil spirits, witches and the likes. Let us briefly examine the content of their thinking.
The first group are the philosophers of various schools of thought ranging from empiricism to rationalism. For the Empiricists, only what can be verified or experimented upon is real. All non physical realities therefore, do not exist. J.J.C Smart is a good representative of this manner of thinking. In his book: The Kpim of Theodicy, page 34, Father Pantaleon quotes Smart as having said that "there is nothing in the world over and above the entities which are postulated (now or in the future) by the sciences". Such thinking is definitely atheistic, (that is; denies the existence of God) for God is spirit and cannot be demonstrated by the laws of science.
There is a second group who deny the reality of the devil, evil spirits and witchcraft. These people are the Psychologists who ascribe all manifestations of the demonic to psychiatry or parapsychology. For them, proper depth psychology (the scientific study of the human mind, especially the unconscious in relation to human behaviour) and/or psychiatry can resolve all cases of purported demonic manifestations. This is atleast a lie. Such erroneous opinion has it that what we call demonic manifestations are simply the result of psychic disorders which can be due to high fever or some other mental ailment.
The similarities indeed between the symptoms of psychiatric disorders and demonic manifestations makes this position even more appealing, but honest psychiatrists themselves know their science does not solve all the problems in this area. A renowned psychiatrist in Benedict Hebron's book: I Saw Satan Fall, attests to the fact that medical practice in the area of psychiatry is limited in resolving cases of demonic involvement.
Do you believe in the reality of evil spirits, witchcraft and the likes?
The Devil's Tactics
The devil has a few tricks but because human nature changes but little, he uses them again and again on successive generations. People often do not learn from the mistakes of others. Some of the tactics the devil has used on human beings from generation to generation include:
1. Seduction and Scandal
Seduction is one tactic the devil employs in every generation against the children of the light. It refers to situation where a person lures another into an unlawful sexual union. Somehow, sexual sins are frowned at across religious and cultural lines. In African traditional religion, sexual relations are forbidden to the priest within certain periods. In the Catholic Church, Priests and religious take oaths of celibacy which implies among other things sexual chastity and continence. Such ideals bring out the importance of sexual purity in spirituality.
Experienced people know that discipline in sexual matters helps the will to grow in self control. The evil ones know for sure how much holier and more virtuous today's Christians will be if they could be without sexual sins. The devil therefore, uses this tactic of seduction to bring down many would be great men and women of God. In Genesis 39, we read about Joseph who was specially favored by God and his earthly father. Despite his brothers' envy that saw him sold off into slavery in Egypt, he once again found favor with his master, Portiphar. Just about then, the wife of his master attempted to seduce Joseph, but he resisted her and went to prison instead.
But because he could not yield to the machination of the evil one, God stood by Joseph even while in prison. He brought him out of prison and made him the second in command in Egypt. Solomon is probably the biblical opposite of Joseph. Solomon was the son of David and the result of his father's sexual escapades with Bathsheba the wife of Uriah. Now remember that Solomon like his father found favor with God at the beginning when he prayed for wisdom (1 Kings 3:6 - 14). Nut as time went on, Solomon derailed into idolatry and sexual promiscuity (1 Kings 11:1). The point here is that the tactic of seduction is one that the devil and his agents use very much against people, but especially great or popular people.
According to Father Prof. John Onimawo, during a Christmas retreat with priests of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, mentioned that the easiest way to soil the name of a Catholic Priest is to accuse him of sexual misconduct and then people become scandalized. Scandal is not always the result of revealed sin. Sometimes it is. other times, it is not. Either way, let us always remember that it is the devil at war with the children of light. Whether the accusations are true or false, they always achieve some negative purposes for the devil. The faith of people who looked up to such holy men is weakened in the process and some are led to sin thinking that if someone of such caliber could do it, then who am I not to do same.
All, especially men of God must therefore, be careful in matters of sexual relations because when the evil ones hire some people (the press inclusive) to bring down rising stars of light by peddling rumors, he usually removes their sense of patience and caution. Patience because if they become patient enough, they might find out other details that will make stale their stories and caution because that will enable them to discover that they are joining the enemy to fight the household of God. It is important to note that when the devil employs the tactic of seduction, scandal is actually the major aim. The sin involved is for him, one goal achieved, but the higher goal for the devil is the destruction of faith through the spread of the scandalous information from the sin or purported sin. The real target therefore, is the faith of the hearers of the information.
As children of God, we must therefore, resist every attempt of the evil ones to dampen our faith with the dew of scandalous information. Instead, we must assist our men of God in every way we can to live holy lives and mostly pray for them.
This first part of the topic has looked into the antics of the devil and the tactic of seduction in achieving the scandal he desires of men.
In the next part of the topic, we shall look into more of the tactics of the devil into luring men to sin.
Most of the words on the antics and tactics of the devil are from Father Michael.
Cruz, J. C., Angels and Devils, Rockford Illinois, USA, Tan Books and Pub, Inc. 1993.
Hart, Archibald. Habits of the Mind, London, Word Publishing, 1996
Iroegbu Pantaleon, Kpim of Theodicy, Ibadan, Nigeria: Hope Publications
Leon Dufour, Xavier (ed), Dictionary of Biblical Theology, London Burns & Oates, 2004.
Mbiti, J. S., African Religious and Philosophy, London Heineman, 1969.
Quacoopome, T. N., West African Traditional Religion, Ibadan: African University Press, 1987.