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The Wiles of our Adversary

by Julia M. Bruce, MSPC, Mental Health Coach,
CEO, Wellspring Christian Ministries

A real danger and a real adversary you cannot see

In yesterday’s post we introduced the idea that being in bring pressure and trouble. Unfortunately, pressure and trouble are not all we have to worry about when we serve God in ministry. There is an even darker danger – an adversary we can’t see, but we can feel. This adversary attacks in many different ways and frequently you don’t even realize you’re in danger until you are right smack, knee-deep in the middle of it. It sucks you under faster than a ten-ton sack of bricks in quicksand. Sometimes, you may even feel like you are wearing a giant-sized target on your back and there are flaming arrows coming so constant you feel like you might crumble.

We have an adversary

This adversary is not imaginary. He is real. Like the danger he constant hurls at us, you don’t ever see the enemy, but you feel his presence. You can almost sense he and his minions are standing off in the shadows, planning and plotting just how to trip you up or destroy you. But if they are unsuccessful in destroying you, they will settle for destroying your ministry. They snicker at your failures as one minion pulls another arrow out his quiver and loads it in his bow. Another minion lights the arrow on fire, and you can smell the smoke and sense the swoosh as his flaming arrow hurls through the air and once again finds that target you wear. It feels as if the arrows are relentless, and his aim is perfect.

He is an enemy that lurks around in the unseen, spiritual realm and he hides out in the shadows, spying, waiting for the opportune moment to pounce. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” This enemy has a name. One we all know well. The devil. Satan. And his minions? We call them demons.

If we are going to stand firm against this adversary, then we need to know who he is and how he works. Just as an army will study who they are going up against in a war, so we must study and know all we can about our adversary. Only then will we be able to recognize when he deploys an attack against and be able to have victory over him.

What are the wiles of the devil?

Our adversary has been using the same tactics in his warfare since the beginning of time. The Bible calls his tactics “wiles” or “schemes.” If we are going to withstand all the wiles of the devil that Paul talks about in Ephesians 6:11[1], then we need to know everything we can about him. But first, let’s make sure we understand what the “wiles of the devil” are.[2] Wiles are tricks or manipulations designed to deceive someone.  In Revelation 12:9, Satan is the one who deceives the whole world. So, Satan’s wiles are his clever schemes that he uses to ensnare us into the trap of sin through temptation, threat, or intimidation. We are going to look at four of his “wiles” and most of the temptations he hurls our way can be wrapped up in one of these four “wiles.”

 The adversary uses “doubting wiles”

“Wiles” were definitely at work in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). He hurled some wiles at Eve by challenging God’s Word and she succumbed to the temptation and sinned. Satan raised doubts in Eve’s mind about the instructions God had given and her question what God said. I call this the “doubting wiles” of Satan.

In Genesis 3:1, we find Satan approaching Eve and the temptation begins: “Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” You can recognize the “Doubting wiles” with that opening phrase, “Did God really say…?” That scheme worked so well in the Garden of Eden, that Satan still uses it today. So, dear Christian solider, beware when you hear, “Did God really say….?”

What does this look like for us in ministry? Perhaps you’ve found yourself asking, “Did God really call me to this ministry?” Or maybe it sounds like, “Did God really want me to take a step of faith?” If you have found yourself asking these kinds of questions, you can be assured that Satan is using his oldest scheme on you and challenging God’s Word. Write a Scripture below that confirms what God has said to you.

 The adversary uses “Identity crisis wiles”

Another one of the “wiles of the devil” is the “identity crisis wile.” When he uses this wile, he challenges our identity in Christ. In the temptation of Jesus (Luke 4:1-13), Satan begins the temptations saying, “If you are the son of God…” Satan will do the same to us, making us question our salvation. He might say something like, “If you were really God’s child and he called you to this ministry, then it wouldn’t be this hard.” Or perhaps it sounds like this, “If you were really God’s child, you would win more souls to Christ.” Or maybe it sounds like this, “If you were really God’s child, you’d have more faith.”

What is the “identity crisis wile” that Satan has whispered into your ear? Whatever that statement is, write a Scripture below that debunks the wile of challenging your identity in Christ.

The adversary uses “Twisting wiles”

Satan will also twist Scripture when he is working his wiles on us. Typically, when using the “twisting wiles” Satan will leave out key parts of Scripture so that the meaning of the verse fits his agenda. We might call a person caught up in the “twisting wiles” a prosperity teacher or false prophet. These people go through the Bible looking for verses that support what they are teaching and ignore the context of the Scripture.

In the temptation of Jesus (Luke 4:10-11), Satan quotes Psalm 91:11-12, saying, “he will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you, and they will support you with their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” However, he conveniently left off the next verse that says, “You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.” These are not an actual lion and cobra. They are metaphors and Satan is described as both a lion and serpent in Genesis 3:15, Revelation 20:2, and 1 Peter 5:8.

Is there a “twisting wile” that you have fallen prey to? If so, what is the full Scripture that includes the entirety of God’s Word? Write it below.

The adversary uses “Alternative wiles”

There is also the “alternative wiles.” In this wile, Satan will offer an alternative to total surrender and obedience to God. In other words, he will compromise with you. In Luke 4:5-7, we read, “the devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Satan was offering Jesus an alternative plan than the cross. He was offering Jesus a shortcut.

Satan is still in the business of offering shortcuts and compromises. It shows up in the declining morals and values we see in our world. He might say to someone, “Well, yes, it is God’s plan for a man and woman to get married before sex, but if you say no then he might dump you and then how will you witness to him?” Or it might sound like, “It isn’t really murder because the child is just a fetus. It’s the mother’s right to choose.” Maybe it looks more like, “You don’t really need to go to church to worship God. You can worship Him from your fishing boat. Just sing a praise song and be sure to thank him for every fish you catch. That’s worship enough.”

Any compromise that goes against what the Bible says or offers something than total surrender and obedience to God’s will is a “wile of the devil.”

Is there a compromise that Satan has been whispering to you? If so, write a Scripture verse that exposes this wile of Satan and speaks uncompromised truth to your heart.

Combat the wiles of the adversary with the truth of God’s Word

These are not intended to be a complete list of Satan’s wiles, but they are some of the most common. You may think of another way that Satan has used one of his wiles on you. If so, we combat his wiles with the truth of God’s Word. So, if there is another wile he has used on you, find a Scripture that speaks to it, memorize it, and quote it whenever you catch him slinging that wile your way. The truth of God’s Word is our weapon when we are in a battle against our adversary. It is the only offense weapon God gave us in our spiritual armor and when combined with prayer, we activate the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us so that we can live victoriously because in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

Check back tomorrow and we will look to see what the Scriptures tell us about our adversary.


[1] Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11, KJV)

[2] Remember Wiley E. Coyote from the Roadrunner cartoon? Keeping his antics in mind might better help you understand the wiles of the devil.

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What Satan Does Not Want You To know

This trifold document includes Scripture verses that Satan does not want you to know about. As you hide these verses in your heart, you’ll be able to defeat the lies of Satan when he tries his wiles and schemes on you.

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The Path to Sin

Satan is constantly trying to trip us up and he doesn’t even play fair because he uses our own desires as bait to get us to sin. James tells us the five steps that lead us down the path to sin in James 1:14-15, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” This download helps you identify your desires so that you can better recognize when Satan is baiting you and you can avoid falling into sin. When used along with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to identify the desires that Satan baits you with, you can then ask the Holy Spirit to help you not become a victim to the bait of your desires. Download the worksheet today.

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God, Love and Marshmallow Wars is a book that includes 365 daily activities and takes you on a guided journey through Biblical principles about Godly marriage that you can then apply to your marriage, as well as helping you talk through concepts that can help you develop a solid relationship. Inside you will find simple, quick activities that include:

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Psalm 119:73. Give Me Understanding

AUg 22 Psalm 119 73

Which verse in the Bible – or maybe it’s an entire book – do you find difficult to understand? What parts of the Bible do you feel you have to wade through every word trying figure out exactly what’s being said?

The reality is that there are some things that our human minds simply cannot grasp – such as the true grandeur of heaven – until we pass from this life and into eternity and we are able to see things as God sees them. But the Bible is God’s letter to us and his instructions for how to live. He wants us to understand it.

The good news is that because God is the one that created us, he understands the limitations of our understanding. So when we get frustrated with trying to understand something in the Bible, we can first remember that God is our creator and that He already understands that we are struggling. The same God that fashioned and created us with His own hands, paying attention to every minute little detail even to the point of every human being having different fingerprints, is the same God who understands our weaknesses and frailties. (click to tweet)

But God did not leave us alone to figure things out. At the moment we became a Christian, the Holy Spirit moved in and took up residence within us. Part of the job of the Holy Spirit is to help us understand the Bible. In Psalm 119:73, the psalmist is asking God to give him understanding so he could learn God’s commandments. In essence, he is saying, “God you are the one you made me, now help me understand.” Any time we open God’s Word, we should begin with a prayer before reading the first word – a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to help us understand. 1 John 2:27 says, “The anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, His anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as He has taught you, remain in Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:10 tell us, “Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” So when you are having a difficult time understanding the Bible, stop where you are and ask the Holy Spirit to help you.

Aug 22 cttAnother element to understanding God’s Word is that we must have a heart that is willing to do whatever God is saying to us. We don’t just read it so we can check the box on our daily Bible reading plan. We should be reading with the expectation that God will reveal something new to us – whether that is something about His character, the way He expects us to live as His children, or He uses His Word to convict us of sin. Whatever He reveals, the purpose is to make us more and more like Christ and to grow us as Christians as He prepares us to do His will. James 1:22 tells us, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only.” John 7:17 says, “If anyone wants to do His will, he will understand whether the teaching is from God or if I am speaking on My own.” So be sure you are willing to do whatever God might reveal to you as you are asking the Holy Spirit to help you understand.

We also have to be willing to give up our own ideas. In Isaiah 53:6, we find that “we have all turned to our own way.” We can’t take a single verse out of the Bible and make is say what we want it to say to fit what we want to do. Proverbs 16:25 teaches, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Satan is called the “deceiver” in the Bible. From the very beginning of the Bible we find Satan deceiving Eve and he continues to deceive all the way through to Revelation. 2 Corinthians 11:14 says, “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” And in Revelation 12:9, the Bible tells us what will happen to Satan: “The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” Satan knows that because you have been saved, that you do not belong to him. But if he can trip you up so that you don’t understand the Bible, then you may not live the victorious life God intends for you or perhaps it will keep you from winning someone else to Christ. He wants to deceive us so that we do not have a good understanding of the Bible. Rather than bringing our own ideas to the table when we open God’s Word, we should have a desire to understand God’s Word His way and depend on Him to reveal it to us.

If we expect to truly understand God’s Word, we can’t just sit down and read it – we haveAug 22 ctt2 to study it. You might say, I go to church on Sunday and listen to the preacher and I’m part of a small group too. But how do you know if what they are teaching is Biblical truth if you are not studying it for yourself? 2 Timothy 2:15 teaches, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of the truth.” If you want to truly understand the Bible, you have to study it in depth so that you can understand it accurately. Don’t just depend on your pastor to do the study work. Study it for yourself.

As we are studying God’s Word, we need to compare spiritual things with spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:13). In other words we use the Bible to interpret the Bible. Let’s say you wanted to put a complex puzzle together or a modeled car. With all the pieces lying around you, how do you know what the finished product is supposed to look like? You look at the picture on the box. Studying God’s Word is much like that. When we come to a part we don’t understand we need to take the main topic of what we are studying and search the entire Bible for everything it has to say about that topic. There are many online helps for this. One of the easiest ways to see verses all on a single topic is to go to The search bar will say, “What does the Bible say about” and you type in the topic. The website will pull up all the verses that pertain to that topic. You can then begin to study each verse in it’s own scriptural context. We can then get a full picture about what God has to say on the topic you are studying.

Sometimes, we just need a sounding board to so we can process the thoughts that are revealed as we study. So we can make and appointment with our pastors or another Godly saint more spiritually mature than us and talk with them about what we are studying. God can use these people to help us connect all the dots so that we can understand what He is saying to us. Again, we should not just rely on their understanding. We have to do our own study work.

There are many Bible study tools available to help us. Concordances, Bible dictionaries, commentaries and reliable online study resources such as, Logos or But these are tools to guide us. They cannot replace the hard work of studying the Bible for ourselves and they cannot be our sole source of truth. Only God can be our source for truth. Nor can Bible study tools be a substitute for the Holy Spirit’s role in guiding us to understanding.

We need to follow the teaching in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths. Understanding God’s Word requires us to trust God with all that we are, to set aside our own biased and faulty thinking as we acknowledge God and His truth. Then he will direct our paths and bring the understanding He wants to reveal to us. (Click to tweet)

Lastly, remember that God’s Word is “living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Because it is living, each time we come to study it, we can learn something new from it. So never think you’ve reached the point of fully understanding God’s Word. As we move through life and face different problems or seasons of life, God will reveal to us just what we need for that moment – then in the next moment, He will show us something new.

So, if you find yourself praying like the psalmist, “Give me understanding” remember:

  1. Because God is our creator, He understands the limitations of our human minds.
  2. God didn’t leave us on our own to figure it out – He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us into truth.
  3. We must have the heart to do His will as He reveals His truth to us.
  4. We must be willing to give up our ideas and trade them for understanding it God’s way
  5. We must be willing to study it – in depth – not just read it and we need to study it for ourselves rather than depend on what someone else is saying.
  6. When trying to understand God’s Word we must compare spiritual things with spiritual by seeing what the entire Bible has to say on a topic rather than a single verse.
  7. We can discuss what we are studying with spiritually mature Christians who can help us process our thoughts – but we should not depend on them to give us the answer
  8. We can utilize Bible study tools to help guide our study, but they should never replace the hard work of study or work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and they should not be our sole source of truth – only God can be our source of truth.
  9. We need to trust God to bring us to the understanding He wants for us rather than leaning on our own understanding.
  10. Remember that God’s Word is living and active. We can never stop studying His Word for each time we study it, he will reveal something new.


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Cover_m God, Love and Marshmallow Wars: This book contains 365 daily challenges for couples to strengthen their relationships to each other and with God. Couples will complete activities such as Scripture memory, conversation starters, relationship builders, learning about Biblical marriage, romance builders, personal reflections, and date ideas. Click here to purchase your copy. (This link will open a new widow and take you to Westbow Press’ bookstore.) It is also available at Christian Book Distributors, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobel


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Julia is CEO of Wellspring Christian Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people and couples develop a passionate relationship with God. A public speaker, conference trainer, event planner, and blog writer, Julia is a two-time graduate from Grand Canyon University with a bachelor in Psychology and a masters in Professional Counseling. Saved as a child and raised in church and in a Christian home and private Christian School as a Pastor’s kid, Julia has taught Sunday school, led music, played the piano, served as Children’s Director, and engaged her gifts in many other areas of church life. Previously employed with the Florida Baptist Convention, Julia organized events and led conferences for church ministry assistants.

Julia enjoys sharing her journey as a growing Christian with others looking for a deeper connection with God. Through Bible study and her own life experiences, God has given Julia a passion to help couples understand God’s design for marriage while they learn to place God first in their marriage, cultivate meaningful relationships, build intimacy, and address the tougher issues that come in every marriage so that they can experience a marriage that honors and glorifies God. Julia also loves mentoring, teaching, and working with women to help them learn to live as Godly women.

With her history and experience growing up in both small and large churches, Julia enjoys bringing top level quality events to churches of all sizes. Her father largely pastored small churches and therefore she understands that these vital parts of the believing community need to be good stewards of the resources God provides them with. This knowledge inspires her passion for being available with a fresh perspective for those who want to provide their congregations with meaningful spiritual growth opportunities.

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