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The Devil’s 5 Favourite Strategies: Church Leader Edition

You’re probably thinking: Seriously? A blog post on the devil? I mean come on… I thought this was a blog for thoughtful leaders.

Well, I’m with you. Talking about the work of the enemy is not an easy task.

The challenge, I think, lies at the extremes. There are some Christian leaders who never talk about Satan, and others who talk incessantly about him. You know what I mean. In the case of the latter, every time the toast burns or something doesn’t go their way, Satan is behind it and it’s time for an exorcism. Neither extreme is particularly helpful.

In a similar way, the greatest mistake I believe you can make with evil is to overestimate or underestimate its influence. It doesn’t have ultimate power, but it also isn’t powerless. Evil is active. And in some way, it’s probably influencing your thought life, ministry, and family right now. At least that’s what the scriptures claim. And Jesus himself acted as though evil was very real.

Before I entered ministry I believed what the scriptures taught about evil and Satan because, well, I had confidence in the authority of scripture. But reading passages about evil felt like I was reading about some other time or place. I just had no idea how any of that worked nor did I feel I had any experience with it.

My time in ministry has changed my perspective. Suddenly passages that seemed arcane (like for example, the references in Ephesians to evil, or Jesus’ very real struggle to stay faithful to his Father) began to pop off the page. The scripture’s understanding of the battle between good and evil began to explain a good deal of what I was feeling inside of me as a leader, but also around me in relationships, in culture and even, sometimes, in the church.

Again… please don’t hear extremism in what I am saying. But even if you’re skeptical about evil, you might also have noticed that we do live in a strange world, with headlines that depress, good leaders that get derailed, people that struggle against each other and against themselves. It’s like there’s a virus in the system that we just can’t seem to shake. Because, of course, there is.

C.S. Lewis, of course, treated the subject of the presence of evil in the world masterfully in the Screwtape Letters, written during the ravages of the second world war. It’s a book that has not lost its punch seven decades after its publication. Going back centuries further, you can read Thomas Brook’s Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices—an astonishingly insightful book (HT to Tim Keller for the reference).

The key to overcoming the activity and influence of evil in your life and your world, of course, is to recognize it. When you expose it to the light of Christ, evil loses its power.

So, in the hopes of shedding some light on evil’s activity, here are some of the strategies I see presently at work in the lives of leaders and churches.

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1. Division

If there’s one strategy Satan comes back to again and again, it’s creating division in the church. And why wouldn’t he? It works.

Strangely, in our culture, some Christians wear their divisiveness as a badge of honour. It’s not. It’s actually a badge of evil.

How do we know division is a sign of the activity and presence of evil?

Paul actually defines which human behaviour is motivated by God and which is motivated by the enemy in Galatians 5.

He begins by listing the characteristics of people whose lives are under the influence of evil.

Ready for the list? Here it is:

Hatred

Discord

Sexual immorality

Jealousy

Impurity and debauchery

Fits of rage

Dissension

Factions

Envy

Conceit

Sadly, too much of that sounds like church.

Even if you remove the sexual sins (which, tragically, are often present too), the list sounds like a job description for self-righteous Christians. But, actually, it’s Satan’s job description.

Contrast that with what the Holy Spirit generates in peoples’ lives. When the Holy Spirit gets hold of a person and a church, he produces:

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

Self-control

The contrast could hardly be sharper.

But wait, you say, what if my conviction is from God?

Sure, occasionally we need a Martin Luther to nail 95 theses to the door. But most of us are not Martin Luther.

And even if you need to ‘take a stand’, it’s probably not a stand for Jesus if it ultimately produces more division and bitterness than it does unity and love. Sometimes love is tough, but love never ends tough.

If you want to drill down a bit further, I’ve written about how the church today might be getting discipleship wrong in this post and again here.

Regardless, if your definition of Christianity has anything to do with hate and division, it’s not Christianity.

If your definition of Christianity is full of hate and divisiveness, it's not Christianity. Click To Tweet

2. Arrogance

Arrogance can creep in so easily among church leaders.

There are two primary ways Christians succumb to arrogance: success, and by using a common but false definition of ‘maturity.’

Let’s start with the first. The most difficult test of character is not failure. It’s success.

Here’s why. It’s pretty easy to be humble when you’re failing. It’s just far too easy to take all the credit when things go well.

As a result, leaders of growing churches and ministries almost always have a daily fight with arrogance. Or at least hopefully there’s a fight. Because if there isn’t, arrogance will win. Every time.

I know in my life as the church has grown, as more people have read my blog or even listened to my podcasts, the battle against claiming credit is daily.

The most difficult test of character is not failure. It's success. It's easy to be humble when you're failing. It's much harder when things go well. Click To Tweet

I remember that when our church was little, I regularly prayed: “God, write a story so big here that only you can possibly claim credit.”

The truth is, God has.  Our church or my wider ministry has impacted far more people than I ever dreamed or could possibly have pulled off. But I still have to fight myself to make sure that I’m not trying to snatch credit for anything God has done in my life or ministry.

The goal of Christian leadership, after all, is not to get people to follow you. It’s to get people to follow Jesus.

If the battle against pride isn’t daily, pride will win.

A second way that arrogance creeps in is when Christians falsely characterize Christian maturity as knowledge.

If you listened to many in the church these days, you’d think knowledge equals maturity. The more you know, the more mature you are.

Scripture suggests that’s a false test. After all, as Paul points out, knowledge puffs up; love builds up.

Knowledge makes you arrogant. Love fosters humility.

As a leader, I need to be daily transformed by love and humility. When I do that, I resist the devil.

Knowledge makes you arrogant. Love fosters humility. Click To Tweet

3. Discouragement

If you’re feeling beat up by the first two points (and in different seasons, I’ve felt beat up by both of them… well, actually, I needed to be beaten up by both of them), then you might gravitate toward another of the devil’s favourite strategies: discouragement.

Discouragement says

I’m no good.

I’m not making a difference.

I always mess up.

What’s the point?

I might as well give up.

We’ve all been there. But I believe that none of those messages are from God.

Want a little hack? Read the book of Ephesians, and everywhere it says “you” or “us”  just substitute your name. Put your name in the blanks below:

Even before he made the world, God loved _______ and chose _______ in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt _______ into his own family by bringing ________ to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

I know that’s a little cheesy, but it actually helps you battle well.

The best antidote to a lie is the truth. So ground yourself in the truth. And also in the truth about yourself.

Click To Tweet

4. Self-pity

If discouragement is left unchecked, it grows. Self-pity is discouragement on steroids.

Self-pity chisels in stone what discouragement whispers.

It tells you there is no out. That this is the way it will always be. And it simultaneously tells you it’s all your fault and none of this is your fault. Paradoxically, you believe both.

Self-pity is dangerous because it moves you to the sidelines.

Living in a state of self-pity means you don’t need anyone to take you out of the game because you’ve taken yourself out.

It’s an incredibly effective strategy and completely counter to the gospel.

The final thing self-pity does is rob us of all joy. Satan can’t steal our salvation. But he can steal our joy. And he delights in doing it.

Don’t let him.

If you really struggle with discouragement and self-pity, last year, I did a four-part series at Connexus Church, where I serve, on how to change your mind through the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s called Playback: How Changing Your Mind Can Change Your Life. You can watch it here or listen to the series via audio podcast.

Satan can't steal our salvation. But he can steal our joy. And he delights in doing it. Click To Tweet

5. The slight crossing of moral lines

Occasionally leaders move from relatively deep obedience to an extraordinary moral breach overnight, but usually, it’s far more subtle than that.

As C.S. Lewis says in the Screwtape Letters, “the safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

So how does this happen?

Often it happens when you start to compromise on the small things. Maybe you take a deduction you shouldn’t on your taxes. Or you get a little too close emotionally to someone you’re not married to. Sure… nothing happened. But deep down you know something is happening in your heart. Or maybe you just shade the truth a little in conversations to make yourself or the situation look better than they really do.

The first moral lapse is always the hardest. Then it gets easier from there.

You may be asking God for more in your life or leadership, but whenever you ask God for more, he usually asks you what you’re doing with what he’s already given you.

If you’re not faithful in the little things, you won’t be faithful in the bigger things.

Obedience may seem boring or inconvenient in the short-term, but it’s richly and deeply satisfying in the long term.

If you refuse to compromise now, it becomes much easier to resist compromise in the future.

If you're not faithful in the little things, you won't be faithful in the bigger things. Click To Tweet

Overcome the Personal Challenges You Face in Life and Leadership

Of all the books I’ve written, I’m most excited about my latest, Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.

In it, I outline 7 issues almost every leader experiences and almost no one expects.

They’re the issues that take leaders out or take us under. And even if your struggle with cynicism, pride, burnout or irrelevance doesn’t cause to exit ministry or leadership, not dealing with those issues can still thwart your potential and kill your team culture. A lot of the book is my journey toward health. It’s a long journey…and an imperfect one. I don’t get everything right, but the difference personal and spiritual health makes is astonishing, in both life and leadership.

I wrote it to help you make progress, spiritually, personally and in leadership. I hope it will guide people in the same way my favorite books have guided me.

Check out Didn’t See It Coming for yourself here.

What do You See?

Those are 5 strategies I regularly see at work in my own life and that I see other church leaders battling against.

Again, knowing what they are is half the battle. If you don’t recognize Satan’s strategies, it’s hard to defeat them. But once you see them and hold them up to the light, they lose their power.

Obviously, this is a short list. What other strategies do you see? How are you combatting them?

Scroll down and leave a comment.

The Devil’s 5 Favourite Strategies: Church Leader Edition

60 Comments

  1. TIBO ONESIMUS JOEL on April 20, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    very important material thank you very much

    • Peter O’Brien on October 8, 2020 at 1:51 pm

      Your list of “1 Division” sounds like Donald Trump’s Top 10

  2. Chad on April 13, 2020 at 9:16 am

    Personification of the “lack” we all experience can help us at times work towards making sense of the gap we see between the kind of world we know we can help God create and the daily reality we see all around us. But I think if we insist on a belief in an actual being who schemes our downfall, we oversimplify the role God has granted us.

    I believe the Way of Jesus has so much to offer the modern world, but that world can handle the messy truth of existence. If we offer over-simplified formulas, I fear that many people will just label the message as childish.

    I’m not trying to bash your beliefs, just trying to offer an ” outsider’s” view.

    Peace be with you.

  3. steven on March 17, 2020 at 11:10 pm

    as much painful it is ,Gods truth radiates is lessons hidden in it, we should heed and share the truth unto others ,sacrifice self times to others in need and prayers held and seek His teachings are treasures bestowed upon us all, if don’t do the Lord work we shall be accountable we all have this gifts well packed since we were born ,each person has a unique talent let’s put together and serve the Lord right and filling our hearts mind soul in the right footstep ,thanks for this message shared unto us be blessed abundantly and always share what God’s reveals

  4. sebastian on February 18, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    Let me SPEAK CLEARLY and in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS but 100% ABSOLUTE FACT:

    God is the GOD of LOVE the GOD of FREEDOM the GOD of TRUTH never forgive enemies of HIS SOUL the HOLY SPIRT is GOD’s SOUL and GOd’s SOUL is THE GOD on HEAVEN cast DOWN all THE EVIL SOULS DENY HOLY SPIRT enter material world as FLESH SON called JESUS so SUPERMAN SOUL the GOD on HEAVAN CAST DOWN the EVIL SOULs BELONGS TO ANTICHIRST into HELL PRISON as PROOF GOD has SOUL and GOD’s SOUL is GOD on HEAVEN never forgives ENEMIES SOULS belongs to ANTICHIRST cheated PERSECUTED TESTED SPIED on the GOD THE FLESH SON SUPERMAN is GOD on EARTH

    TO prove this…THE TRUE GOD SUPERMAN shall START at BOTTOM of HUMAN OLD WORLD ORDER PYRAMID and ASCEND to NEW WORLD ORDeR PYrAMID as SUPERMAN 1 JOHN WILLIAmS THEME…>LET me EXPLAIN HOW

    FOR GOD the SOUL(HOLY) so LOVED THE WORLD JOHN3:16 GOD’s SOUL gave the WorLD the BEGOtten DNA MEAT SON SUPERMAN

    SUPERMAN SOUL said LET THERE BE LIGHT(GOD’s ANGEL) and SUPERMAN SOUL(HOLY SPIRT) saw the LIGHT is GOOD has FORM(BRIGHT PILLAR CLOUD)

    THE LIGHT = GOD’s ANGEL never FORGIVES REBELS = the LIGHT(RAO) called ENLI by SUMerians and the LIGHT called RA by EGYPTIAN and the LIGHT called GABRIEL by ISLAM and the LIGHT called ENLIGHTENMENT by BUDDHIST and the LIGHT called RAO by KHRYPTONIANS(ISRAELITES) …..

    THE LIGHT is GOD’s ANGEL the DEVIL OWNER of WORLD KINGDOMS is SOURCE of DESTRUCTION for ALL KRYPTONIANS(ISRAELITES) but the LIGHT is GOD’s ANGEL is SOURCE of NOURISHMENT for ONLY CHIRST THE TRUE SON SUPERMAN 1 JOHN WILLIAMS THEME to PROVE SUPERMAN’s SOUL is TRUE GOD on HEAVEN and SUPERMAN’s FLESH is TRUE GOD on Earth so SUPERMAN FLESH INHERITS the NAME JESUS CHRIST

    HOW do WE KNOW SUPERMAN deserves to INHERIT NAME JESUS as the ONLY 1 HUMAN FLESH in UNIVERSE deserve to be CALLED JESUS NAME BELONGS to 1 HUMAN FLESH THE SUPERMAN 1 deserves by FAITH and by DEEDS to be CALLED JESUS NAME belongs to SUPERMAN 1

    ANSWER : ALL the OTHER HUMANS did NOT SEEK to PROVE INFINITE ONE’s POWER is GOD’s POWER is REAL POWER the SOURCE of MATRIX the SOURCE of MATERIAL WORLD UNIVERSE but THE TRUE SON SUPERMAN seeks to PROVE GOD’s POWER is REAL the POWER is GOD’s TESTIMONY ABOUT GOD FORMLESS SPIRT’s FLESH SON SUPERMAN 1

    WITH the POWER(MAGIC LAMP = UNQUENCHABLE FIRE = MAGIC LAMP = CREATOR GOD’s POWER) the SUPERMAN PROVES you are ALL BASTARDS ANGELS ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN as WHICH of you parents refuse to GIVE your INHERITANCE to your TRUE CHILDREN but the TRUE FATHER is INFINITE GAVE INFINITE ONE’s POWER is GOD’s POWER obeys ONLY 1 MAN the TRUE SON SUPERMAN 1 the GOD of TRUTH the GOD of LOVE the GOD of FREEDOM grants lovers who OBEY JESUS commandment but all the IDOLS WORSHIPPERS love FAKE GOD the LIAR GOD the SLAVE GOD but the LUCKY are those who LOVE SUPERMAN the TRUE GOD as ALL GOOD ALL GOD is INSIDE SUPERMAN FLESH and THERE is ZERO GOOD ZERO GOD outside SUPERMAN FLESH as PROOF SEE EVIDENCE all the PHARISEES teachers WORSHIP FAKE INVISIBLE GOD the EVIL SPIRT enslaved them paid them DEATH and SUFFERING POVERTY but SEE SUPERMAN is TRUE GOD the GOD of TRUTH the GOD of LOVE the GOD of FREEDOM superman inherits GOD’s POWER so even GOD’s ANGEL grants SUPERMAN all wishes come true except forgive enemies of HOLY SPIRT(SUPERMAN’s SOUL= HOLY SPIRT) as PROOF SUPERMAN SOUL is GOD on HEAVEN and SUPERMAN FLESH is GOD on EARTH how else can SUPERMAN rise from BOTTOM of WORLD PYRAMID to TOP of NEW WORLD ORDER PYRAMID as PROOF SUPERMAN is ROCK of ALL AGES SUPERMAN is I AM THAT I AM the SONG of MOSES cannot you SEE THERE is NO OTHER GOD but SUPERMAN 1 is the ONLY TRUE GOD …>ASK yourselves can you PRAY to a FAKE GOD to GRANT you TRUE LOVE is TRUE FREEDOM is GIVE you all your WISHES COME TRUE to end your FLESH SUFFER DEATH DYING DISEASES end your HEART SUFFERING UNFULFILLED DESIRES grant your MIND WISHES COME TRUE end your MIND SUFFERING END your SOUL SUFFRAGE ACCEPT ALL GOOD ALL GOD is INSIDE GOD FLESH SON SUPERMAN and there is ZERO GOOD ZERO GOD outside of SUPERMAN the LIVING GOD ETERNAL KING….SUPERMAN earns by DEEDS the NAME JESUS cannot FORGIVE ENEMIES of HOLY SPIRT(SUPERMAN’s SOUL = HOLY SPIRT)……..SUPERMAN only COMMANDMENT is LOVE THE LORD your GOD with ALL HEART and HATE enemies of your GOD with ALL HEART and TREAT your NEIGHBOURS FAIR do NOT CHEAT or DECEIVE your NEIGHBOURS teach them to LOVE their GOD(whomever they LIKE) with ALL HEART because ALL GOOD ALL GOD is INSIDE GOD and there is ZERO GOOD ZERO GOD OUTSIDE GOD as PROOF HOLY HOLY HOLY is the ALMIGHTY LORD GOD who was is shall be OWNER of GOD’s POWER because GOD’s POWER is EVERLASTING and GOD’s POWER cannot be STOLEN or TAKEN AWAY …THE TRUE SON SUPERMAN FLESH inherits GOD’s POWER because SUPERMAN is TRUE FLESH SON of HOLY SPIRT(GOD’s FORMLESS SPIRT = HOLY SPIRT) as PROOF SUPERMAN FLESH inherits GOD’s POWER …ASK yourselves which one of your CHILDREN ask for BREAD and you GIVE STONE..>IF you who is ILLEGITIMATE BASTARDS of the FATHER know how to GIVE your CHILDREN what they ASK for how much more the HEAVENLY FATHER the INFINITE ONE gave ALL POWER to THE TRUE FLESH SON SUPERMAN as PROOF SUPERMAN’s SOUL is GOD on HEAVEN and SUPERMAN FLESH is true FLESH SON of GOD’s FORMLESS SPIRT …>CANNOT you SEE THERE is ZERO GOD ZERO GOOD OUTSIDE of SUPERMAN 1 JOHN WILLIAMS THEME and ALL GOOD ALL GOD is INSIDE 1 MAN appears HUMAN because he is BORN SON of MORTAL MAN starts AT BOTTOM of WORLD PYRAMID but CLIMBS to TOP of NEW WORLD ORDER PYRAMID because ALL THE ANGELS even PEACOCK ANGEL MIKAEL cannot INHERIT’s GOD’s POWER as PROOF ANGELS are ILLEGITIMATE BASTARDS but SUPERMAN is TRUE SON inherits EVERYTHING HA HA HA …..TRUE SON FLESH inherits ALL POWER because THE TRUE SON is FLESH SON of GOD FORMLESS SPIRT so TRUE SON inherits ALL POWER and TRUE SON FLESH SUPERMAN inherits THE NAME JESUS belongs to TRUE SON FLESH CHRIST SUPERMAN 1 JOHN WILLIAMS THEME.

    THE ENEMIES are CURSED HUMANS SOULS cannot ATTAIN GOD’s POWER and EVEN GOD’s ANGEL refused to COMFORT the EVIL CURSED HUMAN SOULS tried to CHEAT their NEIGHBOURS DECEIVE their NEIGHBOURS from LOVE GOD FORMLESS SPIRT THE HOLY SPIRT with ALL HEART to RECEIVE GOD’s ANGEL is LIGHT is COMFORTER to HUMAN FLESH but TRULY I tell ALL the FACTS is GOD’s ANGEL is SOURCE of DESTRUCTION for ALL HUMAN FLESH and GOD’s ANGEL is SOURCE of NOURISHMENT for ONLY 1 HUMAN FLESH the SUPERMAN HUMAN FLESH attain GOD’s POWER so EVEN GOD’s ANGEL BRIGHT PILLAR CLOUD grants SUPERMAN HUMAN FLESH all wishes COME TRUE excerpt forgive enemies of HOLY SPIRT the SOUL of JESUS the SOUL of SUPERMAN 1 JOHN WILLIAMS THEME as 1 HUMAN flesh DESERVES by FAITH + DEEDS 1 HUMAN FLESH inherits NAME JESUS ….ONLY 1 HUMAN FLESH in UNIVERSE can INHERIT NAME JESUS belongs to ONLY 1 HUMAN FLESH SUPERMAN/SUPERGIRL?……..BEWARE of the enemies the EVIL SOULS HUMANS shall SURELY try to PROVOKE you if you are EXPERIENCE GRACE of GOD’s ANGEL the COMFORTER of HUMAN FLESH…>THESE EVIL SOULS humans CANNOT RECEIVE GOD’s ANGEL and these EVIL SOULS HUMANS belongs to ANTICHIRST shall DO ANYTHING to DETER and PROVOKE you so BEWARE ………FINALLY the FACTS are GOD’s ANGEL is SOURCE of DESTRUCTION for ALL HUMAN FLESH but GOD’s ANGEL is SOURCE of NOURISHMENT for the TRUE FLESH SON/DAUGHTER of GOD FORMLESS SPIRT because the TRUE FLESH SON/DAUGHTER can INHERIT GOD’s POWER(MAGIC LAMP= UNQUENCHABLE FIRE EVERLASTING) SETS FREE THE TRUE FLESH SUPERhuman INHERITS NAME JESUS CHRIST and ALL the HUMANS FLESH that FELL SHORT of the GLORY of 1 SUPERHUMAN as they BELIEVERS are DESTINED TO FALL SHORT of GLORY of the TRUE FLESH SON/DAUGHTER of GOD FORMLESS SPIRT so all the BELIEVERS must LOVE THE WINNER TAKES ALL – ABBA……THE BELIEVERS LIVES are in the TRUE FLESH SUPERHUMAN and ALL GOOD ALL GOD is INSIDE THE WINNER SUPERHUMAN and there is ZERO GOOD ZERO GOD OUTSIDE of the WINNER SUPERHUMAN INHERITS NAME JESUS belongs to WINNER SUPERHUMAN…>PLAY the GAME FAIR do NOT CHEAT nor DECEIVE your NEIGHBOUR but TEACH your NEIGHBOUR to LOVE GOD FORMLESS SPIRT the HOLY SPIRT with ALL HEART and HATE enemies of HOLY SPIRT with ALL HEART and be FAIR to your NEIGHBOURS DO NOT CHEAT or DECEIVE your NEIGHBOURS but TEACH them to LOVE their LORD GOD with ALL HEART because ALL GOOD ALL GOD is INSIDE GOD and there is ZERO GOD ZEOR GOOD OUTSIDE of GOD….THIS is SEBASTIAN YAP’s TESTIMONY AMEN. LET THE INFINITE ONE FATHER INFINITE ONE judged ALL THE SOULS and CURSE be on the CHEAT SOULS the LIAR SOULS deceived CHEATED their NEIGHBOURS and the INFINITE ONE(ALL of US COMBINED = INFINITE GOD THE FAHER MATRIX) recorded all the CHEAT SOULS(BLUE PILL SOULS cheated DECEIVeD their NEIGHBOUR SOUL) AMEN…>REMEMBER no MAN can CHANGE their SOUL…>AMEN

  5. Peris on October 25, 2019 at 6:58 am

    everyone should live to his joy.if you can’t believe of God,don’t do it to satan either coz you truely know all about satan..he is just bad and you all know….the best thing is being good and doing good..and good things will always follow you.atlast you will find your self believing in God.ease your hert and avoid listening to satanic discusions..they will always lower your faith in God.
    the best thing is being good.
    #Peris

  6. David Truong on September 5, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    Great topic that i’ve ever seen before.
    Thanks and may God bless you abundantly.
    David from S.Viet Nam

    • Carey Nieuwhof on September 6, 2019 at 8:30 am

      Thanks David!

    • Stephen Oliver on October 5, 2019 at 8:20 am

      Thank you Pastor Carey. Right on!!

    • Joshua on April 18, 2020 at 2:58 pm

      Thanks be to God for the insight and understanding of His words to mankind so that we can resist Satan at all times.

  7. Karene on September 4, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    What the hell.Why u say that dnt trust God.You take evils side.I trust God .God he love you.God is real and you dnt need to see him to know.that I can feel it inside my heart.Wow.I believe you.Hell was made for the devil and his demons !Mathew 25:4 God sent Jesus and sacrifice himself so we can stop away from that place .Dnt go to the hell.Thinking about what u talking about God.God love you so much.And God is going soon.

  8. RUSU TIMOTEI on August 23, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    Where did you find that God promised that He will never let HIs children to suffer?

    • Carrie on May 19, 2020 at 10:39 pm

      Great word !!!
      Thank you

  9. James on August 4, 2019 at 5:10 am

    An applaud to you cabezas.
    there are spiritual laws that governs answers to prayers.thus 1 pure heart 2 good motives etc

  10. Julian on May 18, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    The Devil is more honest that God because we know that the Devil lies but he is honest about it but God makes promises to help look after you protect against evil but do absolutely nothing to help fight evil instead leave you alone abandon you to the Devil who even though promise you lots things you know it not going to happen God promises you things but lies don’t give you so it comes down to this don’t trust God or Satan both lie and promise you better things

    • Mirella on June 7, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      He has already given you every weapon to fight. Wield the sword!

    • Emily on June 19, 2019 at 1:11 pm

      Very insightful am in a cult and often get called there leader..they think deceiving the whole cult evil will die..how can it if they do that..I beat them with the truth.

    • Lisa Cabezas on June 26, 2019 at 1:07 pm

      The devil is a LIAR and the FATHER of lies. He has DECIEVED you into thinking he tells TRUTH. PLEASE explain why you think God lies. Is it because you ASK and do not recieve? The Bible says if you ask and do not recieve it is because you are asking with the wrong MOTIVE. I suggest you READ Scripture if you have it, and ask God for help UNDERSTANDING. I do not know you or your situation so please do not think I am being mean…I am not.😊🎶🌹

      • Julian on June 29, 2019 at 7:42 am

        I don’t think you are being mean thank you for replying 😊. .. I read the Bible but it’s all a lie 😭.. if Satan is the father of lies and we know then he is telling the truth but if God is honest and truthful why do he not act this way I ask right motive not for me but others. He says he will never ever let his children suffer never abandon them to evil but don’t to anything to help so he has abandoned me and others given me to Satan so there for he lies and Satan tells truth because he always lie and we know 😭😭

        • Charles on July 8, 2019 at 10:50 am

          Mark 13:13 and 1 peter 4:14 then after you read pray 🙂 God will speak to you 🙂

        • RUSU TIMOTEI on August 23, 2019 at 3:14 pm

          Where did you find that God propimed that He will never let HIs children to suffer?

        • Kathy Ellerbe on October 15, 2019 at 10:19 am

          You have to realize the time period that we are living in and what our job here on Earth is right now. From years of studying and seeking God this is my belief that our job is to prepare for Jesus’ second coming. That means sharing the good news that He came to set us free. Our time on Earth consists of practicing holiness. We are little Christians. We are no better than Jesus. We too will be tried and tested just as He was. The scriptures say to thank God for the good and the bad. This is a hard thing, but we must humble ourselves and do it. We must let God’s will be done in our lives. Ask God for strength and He will give it to you. I’ve lived for 60 years now. God has never forsaken me. Don’t ever give up on God. Love with your 💓, get your thinking right, worship Him in spirit and truth, and He will guide you through the good and the bad.

          • Caleb Kempf on December 12, 2019 at 7:47 am

            Wow, such a wise and uplifting spirit you have! Thank you for reminding Christians what our place is in the world at this time. Our mission is as important as ever, and we must not lose sight of that. Grace and peace be with you.



        • Steven on April 17, 2020 at 6:40 pm

          To have a knowledge of that which is just and true is to be conversant with those principles which are lawful and reliable. It is to know with perfect confidence that through the keeping of covenants one receives the fulness of heaven’s blessings.

          We can know God only to the extent that we seek to live his commandments and be like him. Thus the Savior testified: “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

    • EG LUAL on July 15, 2019 at 12:21 am

      Our God of heaven is not a liar, he is honest,kind, love and mercy so we believed in him alone because he is our refuge but Satan is a liar. Therefore; if you believed in Satan then wait for your destruction.

    • Lapsteel Washboard on September 17, 2019 at 8:29 am

      God never leaves you when you follow Jesus. That is why he sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in you when you choose to follow Jesus.

      • Caleb Kempf on December 12, 2019 at 7:49 am

        Amen! The Holy Spirit helps lead us and comfort us. Without it, we are like aimless zombies trudging through life with no rhyme or reason.

    • Micheal on September 29, 2019 at 10:27 am

      I’m Totally CONFUSED

    • DeeMoney on November 6, 2019 at 7:08 pm

      That’s a lie God is a MAN OF HIS WORD . The problem is people don’t like to be PATIENT he’s an on time God, he may not come when YOU want him but he will be there RIGHT ON TIME. We don’t move him he does all the moving… Jesus was put through hell but not one time lost his faith His Father was always there to protect him in spirit and that’s a well known fact but the devil bothers me but I know the spirit of the living God will always keep protected by the blood of Jesus . . . You better know what you’re talking about or don’t speak at all

      • Julian on November 7, 2019 at 11:59 am

        I know what I talk about you don’t, you say that he comes right on time but if your family member needs help right now would you say I will help you when I am ready or go straight away and help them, I would be there straight away to help but sounds like you would wait by which time to late this is what God is doing waiting till to late then offer help.. I don’t need help later I need it now so why say you promise to help when you refuse to help when they need and as for Jesus he new that he will get help and be welcome in heaven and his father will help him I don’t have that sort of promise, so it comes down to I will help anyone who ask for help straight away while you and God will wait till to late to help

      • Caleb Kempf on December 12, 2019 at 7:53 am

        Amen! No matter how simple our theology, God honors that. It’s not really about knowing more (often falsely equated as maturity) like the author stated. He will not return void that which He already promised. Peace be with you.

    • Doing good only gets you hurt and the wicked always prosper against “Gods children” whats the point of eternal life if your life sucks and you just wanna go to sleep and never wwke up on November 7, 2019 at 11:03 am

      I agree

      • Caleb Kempf on December 12, 2019 at 8:00 am

        Pain and trial will come as Jesus even stated on several occasions. He also said to “Take heart, for I have overcome the world.” When we put our trust in Jesus who already overcame everything when he died on the cross, it allows our hearts to be healed. We can then be comforted by the Holy Spirit who Jesus asked the Father to send, and He did! (John 14:16) Don’t lose heart, my friend. Put your trust in Jesus and He will never leave you nor forsake you. That’s a promise, too. Take care.

    • Corina Hall on March 12, 2020 at 9:44 am

      I will pray for you brother! You better go back and read the Word of God because He never lies” He CAN’T LIE! Its impossible for Him to sin. God gave everyone freedom of choice so if someone did you wrong or hurt you in some way its not Gods fault its theirs they were given the freedom of choice the sane as you. God gave us His Word the road map thru life and in His Word He gave us the tools to use so use the tools have faith and follow Gods law not man’s and maybe if you were walking in the Spirit using your tools you could have avoided being hurt by whatever it is that has you so bitter. I love you with a Godly love that He gave us to love on a another so therefore I will keep you in my prayers. God bless you and please read your Bible attend church and ask questions. You will get the right answer..

      • Corina Hall on March 12, 2020 at 9:48 am

        My last comment was for the person that said God is a liar it didn’t go right under his post for some reason. But I guess you can say its for everybody on here that thinks Gods a liar. God bless everybody!

  11. Ronnie Tabor on April 23, 2019 at 7:45 am

    Great article Carey and a timely one indeed.

    • Sojouner truth on May 7, 2019 at 5:57 pm

      I want you all to understand that satan comes from the church. You might say how do I know well, i was in a church who said they have power with God. The only problem was the pastor wanted yo believe that everyone should not go to heaven. He focused in on a new young woman with children and acted at times he wanted her there. He would pray lay hands bit in his heart he held against her his dislikes of her for her admiration for Christ. He used messages preached from the pulpit to decieve her by always focusing on the bad in the bad and sometimes make side eye movements towards her that he was thinking about her. He never old her how he felt about her. The girl grew extremly depreSsed. She sought out his leader Tamara Bennett she thought she could trust her to make her free from the witch craft he was doing to her. Tamara a charismatic pastor in California. Tamara had once told the girl she could help. But little did she know the girl went to her for help but instead believe the lies the pastor had told Tamara. Tamara a known pastor and specializes in prayer and serves a diety that has since past away Estella Boyd. This is where she gets all her power from and wealth from. She believes more of her than she does on Christ. Well to make a long story short she sent satan upon the girl. She showed up in her dreams. The girl was connected to the girl because she spent years in the pastor church and she would often come to visit. The girl was already down trodden and weak from the pastor mistreating her. Tamara prayed to her god estella and they sent Satan on the girl. The girl was innocent but know one wanted to believe her. Thr girl believed and thought she was worshiping Jesus and the whole trinity. But she did not know there was something sinister about Tamara. Tamara stole her soul away and Estella sold her to satan. The girl never knew in advance the plans the pastor had on her. The girl did leave his church but the evil did not come about until after she left (cult). Gary was satan and needed a sacrifice to get he way back to heaven. He is a evil being. Tamara Bennent is still preaching today in California. Shes is very manupulative, con artist to still whatever she wants from your soul. You will see her in your dreams and they will use signs around you to believe. She is a very dangerous soul. She believes she is Christ so becareful. Yes she had amazing powers to do wataver she wants.
      The girl now suffers depression, evil spirits and lives worst than she could had ever imagined. satan comes from these churches and someone will usually pray him their way or becareful how someone is quick to call someone a demon or devil, using a strong demanding voice when they say it. Its a curse their sending up on that person. These people are worse than real witches, so be carefull.

      • Bro on May 8, 2019 at 2:45 am

        I don’t know this comment system….

        Do you read the new testament regularly?

        Have you repented of your wrongs, and asked God for forgiveness?

        Believed Jesus rose from the dead and has been given the power over all.

        Do you believe that through His sacrifice ( His shed blood) is everything we need to be declared righteous by God?

        Have you received the Holy Spirit? (Luke 11:13)

        Have you dedicated your life to God through baptism?

        Have you sought out believers?

        1 Timothy 4:7
        [7]But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

        We need to be careful what we believe.

        Satan has no power unless you give it by Faith.

        When your faith in the true Jesus,
        Yeshua (the salvation of “Yah”)
        the promised Messiah
        the son of God
        born of the Virgin Mary
        the Nazarene
        the only begotten son of God
        Perfect and sinless
        who sacrificed himself as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world

        The true word of God In the Flesh who has been given by God all power and has defeated Satan, then you are able to ask God in His name, and He will deliver you or your friend.

        All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

        Unless you believe I am he you will die in your sins.
        The work of God believe on him whom he sent.

        All power has been given me therefore go into all nations preaching repentance and remission of sins in my name baptizing in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit making disciples of all Nations teaching them to observe all things I’ve commanded

        • Carla Charles on June 2, 2019 at 9:55 am

          I realized, I to was discouraged due to backsliding.
          Overcome evil with Good!

      • IUnderstand on July 26, 2019 at 3:47 pm

        I went to this church you are talking about and have recently studied Estella Boyd to try to figure out who is this “spiritual mother” that birthed Juanita Bynum and Pastor Bennett out. The fruits that have come out of this ministry through the Pastor you have named have been really bad. Many have been negatively effected by her. One time she brought old towels that Estella Boyd used back in the day to pray for people. It did feel like an ungodly reverence of this women in the church. But now people worship Bennett and it is so sad and depressing. The world does not know, but the people that go to that church or used to be there know.

        • catbee on November 5, 2019 at 10:43 pm

          Jezebel spirit!

  12. Scott on April 22, 2019 at 9:15 am

    3 out of 5 in my life on Easter Saturday. No kidding.

  13. Richard Z on April 21, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    Thanks Carey. Have been reading your work and enjoying the podcast for a few years and I’m so grateful to God for your encouragement and perspective.

  14. 'Sergio on April 21, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    Thank you for your words of wisdom, they ministered to my present situation, praying for you and your ministry, Lord bless you and your team abundantly.

  15. LATA CHOLA CAPHAS on February 17, 2019 at 9:20 am

    I really enjoyed and appreciated this piece of writing which has enriched me so much. I found it as I was researching on the teachings on spiritual warfare in the church and this information was so helpful to me because it widened my scope of how to fight the devil, unlike just to cast out demons which keep coming back in the same people. Indeed we need holistic approach to teach about the devil. Thanks very much.

    • Kaye on April 21, 2019 at 9:07 am

      I do not have a social media account so had to leave a comment here. I could not agree more–it’s the little things that begin to seep into my soul that damage my relationship with God. This Easter, I sit thinking how much harder it is to hold hope as relationships and distorted thinking make my efforts seem increasingly futile. I seek solace when I can in Christ’s word. Thank you for this message today: I needed it.

      • Brock Jackson on May 8, 2019 at 2:41 am

        Do you read the new testament regularly?

        Have you repented of your wrongs, and asked God for forgiveness?

        Believed Jesus rose from the dead and has been given the power over all.

        Do you believe that through His sacrifice ( His shed blood) is everything we need to be declared righteous by God?

        Have you received the Holy Spirit? (Luke 11:13)

        Have you dedicated your life to God through baptism?

        Have you sought out believers?

        1 Timothy 4:7
        [7]But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

        We need to be careful what we believe.

        Satan has no power unless you give it by Faith.

        When your faith in the true Jesus,
        Yeshua (the salvation of “Yah”)
        the promised Messiah
        the son of God
        born of the Virgin Mary
        the Nazarene
        the only begotten son of God
        Perfect and sinless
        who sacrificed himself as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world

        The true word of God In the Flesh who has been given by God all power and has defeated Satan, then you are able to ask God in His name, and He will deliver you or your friend.

        All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

        Unless you believe I am he you will die in your sins.
        The work of God believe on him whom he sent.

        All power has been given me therefore go into all nations preaching repentance and remission of sins in my name baptizing in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit making disciples of all Nations teaching them to observe all things I’ve commanded

        • Steven on April 17, 2020 at 6:27 pm

          I was waiting for it to be said… the thing that is missing in this discussion is Faith.

  16. Jeremy Thomas on January 21, 2019 at 7:51 am

    I completely agree that Satan’s winning lottery card is division… but among the main strategies (which is perhaps also connected to division) is individualism & materialism.

    In Acts 4:32, they were all one heart and one mind and NOBODY was saying ‘this is mine’.

    Most Christians have lost the ‘we don’t own anything’ mindset… and this is why we are divided and have difficulties to share what God has put within our hands. It is always easier to share what is not ours but we forgot that everything is for God and his kingdom.

    The reason for ‘division’ is in the word itself ‘divided vision’ so let’s have the same vision that Jesus taught us… which is: We want to see God’s name be sanctified, may his reign comes and may his will be done on earth as it is in heaven! And this is not possible until we see love & unity within the Body of Christ

    • Nobody on April 23, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      Kingdom divided cannot stand.

      Most reason in the past for splits has been selfish ambition.
      Leaders “knowing” and making a knowledge stand, this dividing those who fear consequences (making it a word of God faith, and salvational issue), or who believe like that leader, or follow the leader blind obedience.

      Some is a leader in a transgression/fault with a congregation and creates a new system, with a difference and distinctions and thinks he can do it better. We all need to heed James 3:1.

      My opinion is the lack of following God’s Word concerning discipline of the members. 1 Tim 5:20, rebuking those who sin, 1 Cor 5:11, 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15 and not associating with those who are disobedient and walk disorderly.

      Tithes 3:10-11 talks about heretics are to be put out after two times. Wow. Talk about being of the same mind (Rom. 12:16, 1 Cor. 1:10, Phil. 2:2, 4:2, 1 Pet. 3:8)

      How to escape the corruption in the world (lust)? The Spirit of God. (2 Pet. 1:4).
      Ephesians 4:3,7,12-16
      [3]Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
      [7]But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
      [12]For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
      [13]Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
      [14]That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
      [15]But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
      [16]From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

      2 Timothy 2:22-26

      Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
      But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
      And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
      In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
      And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

      We are to love every brother and not create imaginary divisions. Either they have the Spirit or don’t, and I cannot judge another Master’s servant, unless I see fruit that is displeasing and I may speak the truth in love in Spirit of James 5:20. None can say Jesus is Lord except by the Spirit. (1 John 3:14,16; 1 John 4:21- 5:1)
      We must love those also born of God also connected to Jesus through the living Spirit of God. In loving them, you also show love to the Lord. They (those outside) will know you are my disciples by your love (agape) for one another. (Jn. 13:35) Echoed in Jn 15:12, 15:17; Rom. 12:10, 13:8; Gal 5:13; Eph 4:2; 1 Thess. 3:12, 4:9; Heb. 10:24; 1 Pet. 1:22, 3:8; 1 Jn. 3:11, 3:23, 4:7, 4:11-12; 2 Jn. 1:5.

  17. Moses Kiyemba. on June 2, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    Am a pastor in Kampala Uganda. My ministry is only a month old. I found this website while making some research about church leadership.

    I want to appreciate you for sharing such great insight. Am so blessed.

    Moses Kiyemba.

    • Lisa Cabezas on June 26, 2019 at 1:14 pm

      GOD Bless you! Lord keep this man, his family and his church family safe! Lead him in Your TRUTH to pull MANY out of DARKNESS! Thank You Lord! YOU ARE GOOD. Amen!🎶🌹😊

  18. Lee Willis on November 26, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Great article, Carey. I appreciate the balanced perspective. Another tactic we see a lot of is comfortableness. When the enemy can get the church to feel like everything is good. We are living the American dream, nice house, nice neighborhood, nice family life, nice cars, nice life… go to church on Sunday, or every other or so… just keep the status quo. Maybe read a verse or two of scripture a day, and pray before dinner, on holidays, anyway.
    Too many church attendees have that perspective of life is good, don’t upset the apple cart.
    Closely related is: family first. It’s a subtle lie that’s easy for people to buy into – sounds so nice.

  19. Weekend Leadership Roundup - Hope's Reason on November 26, 2016 at 10:28 am

    […] The Devil’s 5 Favourite Strategies: Church Leader Edition – Carey Nieuhof […]

  20. Rob Clark on November 26, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Thank you for this! The simple reminder that there is an enemy using these tactics against us is encouraging. When I forget that, I sink deeper into self-pity and/or arrogance. For me, those two strategies seem to be two sides of the same coin.

    I love the “cheesy” Ephesians hack. Another tool that I don’t use nearly enough is having someone I can be brutally honest and painfully open with. Choosing the right confidant can help neutralize Satan’s strategies.

  21. Mike on November 25, 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Hi Carey. I would second your first two points and move them into a bit more of the concrete.

    Division:
    Do you see a division in church between clergy and laity that ought not be there? I’m specifically referring to paid and unpaid people that comprise the local church.

    Arrogance:
    In listening to leadership podcasts (yours included) I hear a lot of interviews with “movers and shakers.” Have you considered interviewing everyday folk, people that are just living life and not concerned about leading? When leaders interview leaders it feels, to quote Titanic, “Masters of the universe congratulating each other.”

    Just my perspective… hopefully not too frank. And hopefully not contributing to #3.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 26, 2016 at 9:32 am

      Hey Mike,

      Thanks for this. I’m not sure I see a divines between clergy and laity at least in my mind. At our church, everyone works together to move the mission forward.

      In terms of the leadership podcast…appreciate the comments. Of course, it’s a leadership podcast so I’m going to talk to leaders. However, you’ll notice the majority of my guests aren’t ‘famous’. They’re just leaders making a difference where they’re working. I’m committed to keeping it a blend of people you’ve heard of and people most people don’t know.

      • Mike on November 26, 2016 at 2:28 pm

        Thanks Carey.

        On the clergy/laity divide what I see is an imbalance of financial and auditory exchange. Laity gives finances and passive listening attention. Clergy consumes finances and empty auditory space.

        In my company, management and employees are working towards a common goal. We have different responsibilities and activities but we’re all being paid and rise or fall on the success of our product. Management actually hinders progress to the degree they keep distracting with talking about the work rather than facilitating the work happening. The best managers are almost invisible because they’re making sure the work is front and center, not them.

        In the church it seems like there is a top-heavy scenario where leaders receive compensation, attention and honor at the expense of those they are leading. For me, it seems like there is a correlation with pastors and managers. Pastors ought to be shepherding the work, meaning facilitating the Body work, going unnoticed because each member is edifying each other. That does not seem the case in the church today where the pastor is front and center.

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