Conversations With Satan
(C. Peter Wagner, Confronting the Powers, Regal Books, 1996, p. 70) [bold emphasis added]
“When Satan points out your weaknesses, agree with him . . . .”
(Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, Zondervan, 2002, p. 277)
[About today's post: Recently a Herescope reader pointed out this statement by Rick Warren above and requested that we run a post on this topic. We enlisted the assistance of the very able Anton Bosch. Below are his comments.]
Most Christians seem to struggle with, and are confused by how we should interact with the Devil. Some just ignore him as though he does not exist, some fear him, others mock him, while others enter into debate and conversation with him. For instance Rick Warren says: “When Satan points out your weaknesses, agree with him…” (Of course, he does not provide any biblical support for this statement since there is none.) So what should we do or not do when the accuser attacks, tempts or points the finger at us?
It is important to recognize that he will use truth. He knows that we won’t fall for a blatant lie and so he will speak truth to us, but the truth will be laced with lies and will be twisted to mean something different. Just like a mousetrap contains real cheese or peanut butter, every snare of the Devil will begin with truth. And just like the mouse signs his own death warrant the moment it acknowledges that the trap contains real cheese, so we play with fire the moment we step aside to even listen to what Satan has to say, let alone enter into a discussion with him.
John 8:44 says the devil “does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” Note that “there is no truth in him.” No means nothing, nil, zero, zip, nada, niks. He is so much in error that even truth becomes a lie in his mind and mouth. Even when it seems he is speaking the truth, it is not the truth because it is used in such a way to turn right into wrong and wrong into right.
Maybe you have come across a person who is a very clever liar and who can lie to your face, and even though you know he is lying, you are inclined to agree with him? The Devil is the father of lies making the smoothest liar you have ever seen an amateur by comparison. If a salesman has ever been able to deceive you, then what chance do you have against the one who has more schemes than all the salesmen in the world put together? Not too long ago I came short in dealings with some used-car salesmen. I was just not a match for their tricks and schemes. I will never take a chance on a used car salesman again because I have learnt that I can’t win. Just making eye contact with these guys is dangerous, let alone exchanging greetings. Yet, we want to engage in conversation and agree with the master deceiver?
Right on the first few pages of the Bible, Satan approached Eve with a statement. It was the truth and he solicited her agreement with that truth. Surely there seems nothing wrong with that; and is this not exactly what Mr Warren is advising millions of his followers to do? But that’s the problem. We are dealing with a foe who is “more cunning than any beast of the field” (Genesis 3:1). The moment he gets your agreement on one point, he has you on his side. Once he has your agreement he will begin the whole process of twisting that truth to change black to white and “thou shall not” to “thou shall.”
What should Eve have done? First, she should not have even stepped aside to hear what the Devil had to say. Second, she should not have engaged in a conversation with the evil one who has only one agenda – which is “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). (OK, maybe she did not know that, but we do). That is where it should have stopped and if it had, Jesus would not have needed to die.
Satan also tried to engage Jesus in a “friendly” discussion and did exactly the same as he did with Eve. He began with the truth – you are the Son of God and if so, then…(Luke 4:3). He even quoted a few Scriptures for good measure. But, Jesus saw through his abuse of the truth and simply replied with the correct use of Scripture.
It is important to note that Jesus did not agree with Satan for one moment. Jesus did not say: “Yes, I am the Son of God, but…” Nor did he say, “Yes, the Scriptures do say that ‘He shall give His angels charge over you…’, but….” No, Jesus did not concede anything to Satan and neither should we.
Even though the Devil did not try to engage Job in conversation, we can learn much from Job. These days many folk are being taught to engage the Devil in a debate when he attacks them. But Job never once addressed the Devil. Job probably guessed who was behind the attacks, but he also recognized who is the Higher Authority, and so his entire conversation was with God and not with the Devil. Job recognized that it was God who is in control and who would protect him, and so he appeals to the One who has the real authority.
In a sense Pilate represented the forces of evil as he condemned Jesus to the Cross. Once again Jesus does not engage Pilate in any discussion and refuses to enter into a debate with Pilate: “But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly” (Matthew 27:14).
Paul was afflicted by a demon (What else is a “messenger from Satan”?) (2Corinthians 12:7). Again we see no conversation with Satan but rather: “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me” (2Corinthians 12:8). Like Job and Jesus, Paul’s conversation is with God and not the Devil.
James says: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The Greek word for “resist” (Anthistemi) means to set one's self against, to withstand, resist, oppose. By no stretch of the imagination can this be interpreted to mean “agree with.” But Warren has done exactly what the serpent did with Eve. Satan began with “no” and twisted that to mean “yes,” just as Warren somehow reads “to stand against” to mean “to agree with.”
Even Michael the Archangel, who is so much mightier than we “in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you” (Jude 9). Here we find two words: “contending” and “disputing.” Neither can be construed as “agreeing.”
Every example of every interface between the Lord’s people and the Devil and his demons shows a resisting and standing against Satan. There is not a single example or instruction to agree with him. There can only be one who wants us to agree with the Devil and that is the deceiver himself.
So, from where did Mr Warren get this idea? You decide.
"And when [the Good Shepherd] putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." (John 10:4-5)