The Dangerous Strategies of Satan to Watch Out For

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Get Out of Your Head" by Jennie Allen. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are some strategies of Satan you need to watch out for? How do these strategies present themselves in your life?

The main strategies of Satan include self-lies, toxic thoughts, and various mental battles. Essentially, Satan is invested in your defeat, and his primary target is your mind. Knowing about the strategies of Satan will help you to spot them in your own life.

Keep reading for the main strategies of Satan.

Strategies of Satan

In this article, we’ll identify the strategies of Satan, and his basic, interlinked attack strategies, exposing their nature and impact. The main strategies of Satan are:

  1. Self-lies
  2. Toxic Thoughts 
  3. Mental Battles

We’ll cover each of the main strategies of Satan in detail below:

1) Self-Lies

The first strategy of Satan convinces you to believe lies about yourself, which are rooted in a lie about God.

Your self-lies resolve into three general categories:

  • “I’m helpless.”
  • “I’m worthless.”
  • “I’m unlovable.”

The fundamental lie about God that lurks behind your self-lies is the unconscious belief that God’s love isn’t for you. The source of these lies is both spiritual and practical. As stated in Chapter 1, the ultimate source of all such lies is demonic. On the practical level, painful life experiences generate self-lies, which then become part of you when engraved in your brain through toxic thoughts.

The lie behind all your fears is the idea that you can’t face God as you really are. Satan’s hand in establishing such an idea, and also his motivation for doing it, is clear. The enemy hates your time with God because it heals you and makes you dangerous to him.

2) Toxic Thoughts and Their Toxic Effects

The second strategy of Satan is toxic thoughts. Toxic thoughts, arising from self-lies, have devastating effects on your life. 

For one thing, toxic thoughts shape your mind, emotions, and responses, creating their own alternate reality, a false mental state in which and from which distorted reasoning seems true. They blind you to the real truth by trapping you in negative cycles that you build whole chunks of your life around.

For example:

  • A Christian may read of God’s love in the Bible and believe it’s true theoretically but not really for them, so misery and dysfunction shape their identity in isolation from God’s love.
  • Someone with a spouse distracted by work may feel worthless and invisible, so they end up generating constant arguments, making their spouse an enemy, and losing joy and peace.

Allen has also experienced toxic thoughts that have had long-lasting effects on her life. For instance, she describes the diminishment, shame, and insecurity that she felt when a fellow student in her high school biology class called her dumb. She also describes the residual, lurking thought that her husband didn’t love her after their first fight as newlyweds.

3) Mental Battles

The third strategy of Satan includes various mental battles: 

The Battle Against Distraction

Your enemy in this first battle is distraction, which keeps you from seeking God’s help to quiet the chaos in your mind. You can distract yourself with any number of things, from social media and busyness to playing music constantly and “doing things” for God without taking time to actually meet with him.

The enemy’s basic lie in this battle is that you’ll feel better if you remain distracted. The lie is fueled by your fear of facing yourself and being “found out” by God. This fear breaks down into three sub-fears: 

  • Fear of working (since quiet time with God brings up responsibilities for you to fulfill) 
  • Fear of having to change (since quiet times brings up awareness of your sins and bad habits) 
  • Fear of being alone (since you may be afraid that quiet time will reveal that God isn’t really there) 

Underlying all these fears is another lie: the idea that you can’t face God as you really are.

The Battle Against Shame

Your enemy in this second battle is shame, which leads you to behave self-protectively by generating an illusion of self-enclosed autonomy. The enemy’s basic lie in this battle is that you can “do it on your own,” that you can live your own life and solve your own problems. This lie is generated and fueled by your shame, your fear that other people would reject you and abandon you if they really knew your thoughts, actions, and true identity. Shame produces a dysfunctional behavioral pattern by leading you to act self-protectively, to push other people away, to refuse help, and thus to isolate yourself and feel worthless.

The Battle Against Fear

Your enemy in this third battle is fear, which leads you to believe that God isn’t actually in control of the world and your life. Fear’s lie is that you can’t trust God to take care of your future. This lie is fueled by the question “What if?” What if this person hurts me? What if my children die? The stress brought on by this fear is both psychologically and physically debilitating.

The Battle Against Cynicism

Your enemy of cynicism makes you pessimistic about people and life in general. The enemy’s basic lie in this battle is twofold: that you can’t trust people and that life won’t work out. Below this lies a deeper lie: that you can’t trust God. The enemy attacks with this lie by flooding your mind with thoughts about everything that’s wrong with our broken, fallen world. Cynicism perverts your view of God and wears down your ability to see him correctly. Its source is emotional pain from your wounds and disappointments. 

The Battle Against Self-Importance

Your enemy of self-importance or self-inflation tells you that you’re awesome, and that it’s important to dwell on this. The enemy’s basic lie in this battle is that self-esteem is your life-compass, your primary tool for navigating and achieving a good life. We’re easy prey for this lie, because in our fallen state we’re naturally self-absorbed, and our surrounding culture of narcissism caters to it.

The Battle Against Victimhood

Your enemy of victimhood traps you in an unhappy state of mind centered in self-pity over your painful experiences. The enemy’s basic lie in this battle is that you’re a victim of your circumstances. It tells you that you’re doomed to a life of misery because of the negative things that have happened to you or because of what’s been withheld from you. 

The Battle Against Complacency

Your enemy of complacency traps you in a state of listless passivity in which you find comfort in mediocrity and the status quo while you indulge your own whims and lose your passion for God. The enemy’s basic lie in this battle is that you’re free to live for yourself, to do whatever you want to do. It leads you to focus on your needs, desires, and reputation, resulting in a dangerous addiction to your own comfort.

The Dangerous Strategies of Satan to Watch Out For

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Here's what you'll find in our full Get Out of Your Head summary :

  • Satan’s master plan for poisoning your mind with toxic thoughts
  • How to replace ungodly lies with scriptural truths
  • How to “put on the mind of Christ” and fulfill God’s plan for you

Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Literature. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fairy tales, Beatrix Potter stories, and The Wind in the Willows. As of today, her all-time favorite book is Wuthering Heights, with Jane Eyre as a close second. Elizabeth has branched out to non-fiction since graduating and particularly enjoys books relating to mindfulness, self-improvement, history, and philosophy.

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