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The Devil's Antics and Tactics - Part 2
We continue from the first part which we ended with the first tactic of the devil: seduction and scandal.
It is a fact that the devil is an intelligent spirit. The unaided human intelligence at best will reason less deeply than the devil can. As a result, he is able to deceive many into buying his logic on many issues. It is not for nothing that Jesus calls him "father of lies" (John 8:44). In Genesis 3, we read of how Satan deceived our first parents into eating the forbidden fruit. The method of deception as employed by the devil is very visible when he makes a person do evil and convinces the person that other agents are responsible. The devil uses his strategy very much against the so called highly educated people. He has so worked on some people, even theologians that they now ascribe all his activities to other causes. Today, there are so many doctrines flying around in the name of Christ, that discerning minds cannot but suspect some calculated attempt at deceiving God's children on what is right or wrong.
Today, there are several men and women of God of all sorts of denominations and answering all kinds of titles that one needs serious discernment to separate the wheat from the chaff, Many of such men of God are deceivers and their employers are evil spirits and their stomach. About such deceivers, Saint Paul wrote the following words to Timothy:
For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. (2Timothy 3 - 4).
Speaking of Satan, Cardinal Medina emphasized that "the nefarious influence of the devil and his followers is exercised habitually through deceit, lying and confusion". Just as Jesus is the truth, the devil is the liar par excellence. From the beginning, lying has always been his favorite strategy. He deceives men by persuading them they have no need of God and that they are self - sufficient, without the need of grace and of salvation. He also deceives them by minimizing - worse yet, by making the sense of sin disappear, substituting God's law as the criterion of morality with the customs and conventions of the majority.
He persuades children that lying is a good way to solve many problems, and thus, little by little, an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion is created among men. Because of the lies and deceits of the Great Liar, uncertainties and doubts are awakened in a world in which there is no longer any security, or truth and where, instead, relativism reigns as well as the conviction that liberty consists in doing whatever one wants. There is no understanding that true liberty is found in doing God's Will, the source of good and sole font of happiness.
3. Affliction and Persecution
This is another strategy used by the devil to remove people from the way of the Lord. The devil always wants to oppress children of God, but he cannot oppress those who are spiritually healthy. Nevertheless, he continues to throw stones at them. Once in a while, for His own all knowing purposes, God allows one or more of such stones to hit His faithful ones. This is a puzzle that has rattled even the best of theologians. Why should the just suffer? The story of Job is a clear example of affliction. Job was a righteous man, yet God allowed Satan to afflict him with numerous calamities. He lost everything and was severally tempted to curse God and die. He however, hung on in faith and his reward was abundance of multiple blessings in every way that he had suffered loss. Saint Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7 - 10 speaks of his afflictions thus:
"even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated."
Many saints including the stigmatized St. Padre Pio, and St. Francis of Assisi suffered spiritual and physical diabolical attacks (more details on this is found in the book of Benedict Heron: "I Saw Satan Fall" at page 134 - 135).
Diabolical or spiritual affliction is never a sign that God has abandoned the person or that the person has sinned, but to teach a lesson either to the afflicted or to others. Mystical theologians like St. John of the Cross teach that God permits afflictions on the just as a way of chastising (purgation) them and keeping them on the track of spiritual progress towards more illumination in the way of the truth until they enter into pure unity with Him. In the case of St. Paul for example, God allowed him to be afflicted to purge him of his pride. If we think we are holy yet suffer, and reflect on our afflictions carefully enough, we would discover that there is something for our spiritual benefit in every affliction God allows to reach us.
God however, always supplies sufficient grace to enable the afflicted to carry their crosses. The above quotation from St. Paul continues, "about this, I three times pleaded with the Lord that it might leave me, but he has answered me, 'my grace is enough for you'..." (2 Cor. 12:18). The afflicted is not subjugated to the evil ones; his affliction is permitted by God for a specific good reason which always culminates in the glory of God and the good of the individual, and he has sufficient graces to cope with his troubles while they last, whereas the oppressed person is simply under diabolic subjugation because of his own carelessness about his spiritual welfare and the end of his torments may well be his own ruin.
Persecution is a kind of affliction. The devil can employ the tool of persecution to make people backslide in faith. Throughout scriptures, we find many examples of how people were persecuted for their faith. The Church has also known persecuted from its inception. There was so much persecution in the early church that it is said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christianity. Every real Christian knows something about persecution. Whenever and however we are made to suffer for our faith or for refusing to do something contrary to the will of God, then and there is persecution. Many African widows for example are familiar with persecution for refusing to carry out fetish traditional burial rites of their husbands. Students in Tertiary institutions in Nigeria are sometimes made to suffer all manners of deprivation for refusing to "block" (give bribes) to their lecturers, etc.
4. Obsession and Intimidation
When one's mind is overly laden with thoughts, fears and concerns about the occult and preternatural things, then we talk about obsession. There is no gainsaying that there are people who are oppressed by the devil's agents, but the population of those perturbed and obsessed by the phenomenon seems greater than the reality actually necessitates. People suffering from obsession see the hand of a witch in every mishap that befalls them, and such people are not too hard to find in our society today.
One other very traditional tactic of the devil is intimidation. He always wants to create fear in us. Fear is at the root of most demonic involvements. Many people who are possessed would give their lives to Christ but for the fear of what might happen to them. Many others remain in demonic alliances because they are afraid to die or pay the price. Some are intimidated into believing that they would die if they reveal the secrets of the occult or even dare consider recanting membership. Fear inhibits faith and provides a fertile ground for demonic machinations.
In our time, terrorism in all its forms and diversities is the devil's endeavor. Whether or not such acts come in the name of God or any religion, it is the devil that is at work. Some persons just want to cause scare as a means of propagating their own ideologies and thus carrying out their demonic missions.
Kidnapping and abduction of people for ransom is another unfortunate method of intimidation that the devil uses to fight against humanity. The general procedure is to evoke fear in people and make them do unlawful things.
Fear can be the actual "demon" from which a person needs to be delivered. Fear has a crippling effect on the human spirit. Jesus was very much aware of this, hence he would often tell his disciples not to be afraid, but to trust in him instead. Some people are just too afraid.
Do you believe you can overcome your addictions?
Addiction is the psychological language for vice or habitual sinfulness. A vice is a bad habit. A habit is a repeated action. There are many kinds of addiction. Some people are addicted to drugs, some to sex and all sorts of immoral sexual behaviors (including masturbation and pornography), others to television, to bad company, to food, to alcohol and so on. Addiction refers to any behavior that we have become so used to, that we have difficulty trying to stop. As human beings, we run our lives on a chain of habits and mannerisms. This ordinarily not bad because we do really need to reflexively ease the burden on our conscious minds by making a habit of things we do not need much reflection to undertake.
The devil understands this pattern of our lives very well. What he does then, is to continue to tempt us along the line of a particular evil until it becomes a habit/addiction. When this happens, we have little or no resistance to him in that area any more. In a sense, it becomes a routine, "one of those things". Sometimes he pushes us into rationalization. This means that he helps us with good reasons for what we are doing and why we are not culpable. One area where this can be seen in the world today is the loss of the sense of sin. Rather than take responsibility for their impropriety, some chain smokers are happy to hear that they are suffering from poor breastfeeding when they were infants. It is true that our infantile experiences can have a lot influence on our adult lives, but are we robots? Whatever it is that inclines us to evil can be defeated by the power of Jesus Christ who has come that we may have fullness of life.
Habits die hard they say, but a continuous and conscientious effort to imbibe and grow in Christian virtues, (not without the assistance of the Holy Spirit) is the sure path out of our addiction.
The word of God says that a man's enemies shall be members of his own household. Internal commotion is one jolly tactic of the devil. This is because the devil enjoys this tactic. He simply sets up a fight among sheep of the same flock, stays aside and watches while they help him destroy one another. Just think of the several commotions today in homes, the several commotions today between pastors of souls and members of their congregation, between members of different lay apostolic groups in the Church, etc. One question we must all ask ourselves in all these is: whenever and wherever there is a fight, on whose side am I fighting? This is pertinent because one cannot be idle in the heat of battle. You are either fighting on the side of Christ and His Church or you are fighting Christ and His body, the Church. You are either on the side of truth or falsehood.
Oppression happens when the person's life is manifestly affected by diabolic attacks. A person who is actually "pressed" by witches in his sleep falls into this category. To the extent that God permits, anyone who gives a green light to forces of darkness by a sinful or careless way of life can be oppressed. Demonic oppression has nothing to do with whether the sufferer desires it or not. It is all within the plan of the devil to strike the heels of the children of Eve and destroy them (Genesis 3:15, John 10:10).
Diabolical oppression can manifest in both physical and spiritual forms. It can be seen in childlessness, inexplicable illness, horrible visions, sleeplessness, etc. Holy souls cannot be oppressed by demons since oppression implies some kind of subjugation. Such souls are however, not spared from all the darts of the evil ones. They can therefore, be afflicted but never oppressed or possessed.
The one in whom an evil spirit inheres in order to destroy him or through him to oppress other people is possessed. Possession is usually manifested in some extra - ordinary ability. A possessed person may have unusual physical strength, knowledge of a foreign language, or of hidden matters, etc. One can also notice a rather small girl talking with a deep masculine voice. Possession is an extreme case of demonic involvement and should not be ascribed to anyone until there is sufficient reason to think so. Falling down during deliverance prayers or even wriggling on the ground is not always a sign of possession. Some people fall down when they receive a gift of the Holy Spirit, some fall down when they receive healing and there may be other reasons why people fall down. However, someone who is actually possessed by an evil spirit will most certainly fall down during deliverance prayers because the word of God says that at the mention of the name of Jesus, every knee must bow. It appears that no one can be fully possessed by an evil spirit without one's consent.
Heron quotes as the words of a very experienced and gifted exorcist the following:
"full possession only seems to take place when a person hands over his or her will completely to the power and authority of the devil."
L. Margoni opines that innocent people can be possessed without directly willing it; examples are children before the age of reason. Caroll Cruz is also of this opinion and she lists ways in which this can happen as living in sin and all manners of involvement with the occult and the demonic no matter how innocuously. One is tilted towards surmising here that consent is always involved in possession either of the possessed or of a proxy (in the case of children). Apart from directly consenting to being possessed, living in sin and tampering with amulets, charms, reciting incantations, marking incisions for protection, and other elements associated with the diabolic are indirect ways of consenting to possession. Possession which is attained by the consent of a proxy or through indirect consent may not be full possession.
This second and last part of the topic has looked into other tactics of the devil in achieving the destruction of man.
Some of these tactics as explained in the write up are from experiences which some Africans have encountered.
Most of these words are also from the experiences of 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.