It helps to know what you're up against
One of the key elements in any contest is to understand the tactics of your opponent and to recognize the subtleties of the strategy or moves they may employ. In the spiritual battle of life we need to develop some sophistication in recognizing, naming, and understanding the subtleties of common tactics of the Devil.
A 2011 book by Fr. Louis Cameli, The Devil You Don’t Know is of great assistance in this matter. Having read it recently, I think it would be of value to reflect on four broad categories of the Devil’s tactics that Fr. Cameli analyzes.
While the four categories are Fr. Cameli’s, the reflections here are largely my own, but surely rooted in Fr. Cameli’s excellent work, so recently read by me. I recommend the work highly to you where these categories are aptly and fully described more than my brief reflection here can do.
And thus we examine four common tactics of the devil.
Jesus says The devil was a murderer from the beginning he does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks according to his own nature, he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44).
The devil deceives us with many false and empty promises. Most of these relate to the lie that we will be happier and more fulfilled if we sin, or deny aspects of the truth. Whatever passing pleasures come with sin, they are in fact passing. Great and accumulated suffering eventually comes with almost all sinful activity. Yet, despite this experience, we human beings remain very gullible, we seem to love empty promises and put all sorts of false hopes of them.
The devil also deceives us by suggesting all sorts of complexities, especially in our thinking. And thus he seeks to confuse and conceal the fundamental truth about our action. Our minds are very wily and love to indulge complexity as a way of avoiding the truth and making excuses. So we, conniving with the devil, entertain endless complications by asking “But what if this….and What about that….??!” Along with the devil, we project all sorts of possible difficulties, exceptions, or potential sob stories, to avoid insisting that we or others behave well and live according to the truth.
The devil also seeks to deceive us with “wordsmithing.” And thus the dismemberment and murder of a child through abortion becomes “reproductive freedom” or “Choice.” Sodomy is called “gay” (a word which used to mean “happy”). Our luminous Faith and ancient wisdom is called “darkness” and “ignorance.” Fornication is called “cohabitation.” And the redefinition of marriage as it is been known for some 5000 years, is labeled “marriage freedom.” And thus, through exaggerations and outright false labeling, the devil deceives us, and we too easily connive by calling good, or “no big deal,” what God calls sinful.
The devil also deceives us through the sheer volume of information. Information is not the same is truth, and data can be assembled very craftily to make deceitful points. Further, certain facts and figures can be emphasized, in exclusion to other, balancing truths. And thus even information or data which is true in itself becomes a form of deception. The news media, and other sources of information, sometimes exercise their greatest power in what they do not report. And this too is a way that the devil brings deceptions upon us.
We do well to carefully assess the many ways Satan seeks to deceive us. Do not believe everything you think or hear. While we ought not be cynical, we ought to be sober, and seek to verify what we see and hear and square it with God’s revealed truth.