We live in distressing times. The apostle Paul prophesied that in these last days, people would be "lovers of themselves, lovers of money...unholy...haters of God...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." He goes on to reveal that many will be characterized by "holding to an outward form of godliness but denying its power" (2 Tim. 3:1–5, NLT).
These signs of the times are hard to miss. We live in a culture filled with more junk and perversion than ever before. Reports run rampant of ministry leaders falling to some sort of vice, much less friends and family. Possibly more than any time in recent history, we're confronted with humankind's depravity. If we're not careful, it'll make us cynical, or worse yet, this culture can desensitize us to sin's snares, making us susceptible to its grips.
One has to wonder what's behind this culture war. In my book, Silence Satan: Shutting Down the Enemy's Attacks, Threats, Lies, and Accusations, I chronicle my intense experience with spiritual warfare and how the Lord led me out and into a place of victory. After this, God revealed to me the reason we struggle so much today.
Why the Devil Is After Us
You and I live at an unparalleled time in history. Technological advances allow us the opportunity to take our voices to the ends of the Earth. In seconds, a 140-character tweet crafted in America can inject a shot of truth and encouragement to someone in India. A YouTube video can go viral in a day. Certainly, reaching the world no longer takes much money or great ability.
The effects of all of this connectedness upon today's generation are fascinating. It's made our world smaller and our voices bigger. It's reshaped our thinking, behaviors and especially the expectations we have for our lives. In fact, it's changed our fears. Rather than fearing things such as finances or public speaking, research indicates that the greatest fear of people living today is living lives that don't make a difference.
We live at a monumental moment in history. Not only do we have the abilities through technology and media to reach the world, but many also have the hunger. I believe we're on the verge of a perfect storm that could accomplish the Great Commission and usher in Christ's magnificent return. And the devil is scared stiff.
Scripture reveals that it's a fairly common strategy of the devil to launch culture wars in times of upcoming spiritual victory. At the birth of Moses, Satan incited Pharaoh to have every newborn male thrown into the Nile River (see Ex. 1:22). He did the same at the birth of Jesus, influencing King Herod to have all children 2 years or younger in the area of Bethlehem killed (see Matt. 2:16).
Today, Satan perceives God is up to something on a grand scale, which puts us especially within the cross-hairs of the devil's scope. As in the days of Moses and Jesus, the devil has upped the ante and again launched a vigorous assault upon the culture.
Satan's Three-Step Setup
You're in a battle for your destiny. And like any battle, the better you understand your rival, the better are your chances for victory.
The Lord showed me in detail three secrets of Satan's culture-warfare strategy. He revealed that long before you and I were born, Satan devised a series of progressive events intended to destroy our generation before we even had a chance. "It's a setup," God said. And He instructed me, in the same way Paul instructed believers, to expose this design "so that we may not be outwitted by Satan" (2 Cor. 2:11).
Stage 1: Overwhelm the culture with sin
As we've seen, Paul prophesied that the last days would be difficult. He concluded his words with a sobering warning: They will be "overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires" (2 Tim. 3:6).
Overwhelmed by sin. To be overwhelmed means to be so bombarded by something until it defeats you. And this is precisely how Satan uses sin today to try to destroy us. From the moment we were born, Satan set us up for failure. He did it by inundating our world with so much filth and perversion that it's virtually inescapable.
Think about just how pervasive it us. Nearly every magazine in the grocery store checkout line blares some indecent headline. Songs piped into public venues often glorify death, anger or sex. A multibillion-dollar pornography industry targets each of us on our computers and mobile phones every day. We could go on and on. With this much energy put into bombarding our lives with junk, Satan has made it almost inevitable that we fall...over and over again.
Stage 2: Sway with desires
The overwhelming culture of sin that Satan set up against us is designed to keep our minds in this place at all times. This is crucial to his strategy because he knows that where the mind goes, the man follows. Before long we're consumed with the pleasures of the flesh until we can't get away from what we know is wrong.
This is what Paul meant by a people "swayed by all kinds of desires." Satan intends that we become so addicted to sin that we're led like animals on a leash from one regretful experience to the next.
Stage 3: Taunt with accusations
By definition a setup is "a scheme or a trick intended to incriminate someone." And that's the end result of Satan's setup. He overwhelms us with sin, leads us from one regretful experience to the next, and then heaps on guilt and shame. "Look what you've done! And you think you're a Christian!" he accuses.
Satan's accusations are intended to silence your voice. He'll tell you that you've messed up too much and are therefore too far beyond God's love or His use. It's all an extremely potent plan because Satan knows that the greatest hindrance to being used by God is to believe that God can't use you. What could be more destructive to people whose greatest fears are living lives that don't make a difference?
We must realize that Satan's plan isn't the only one that pursues us. As we read in the stories of Moses and Jesus, though the devil gave it his best shot, he couldn't silence these voices of deliverance. God's plan prevailed!
You don't have to fall to Satan's setup. Now that you know his strategies, heed Paul's instructions to "stay alert [knowing] your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" (1 Pet. 5:8).
Kyle Winkler is founder of Kyle Winkler Ministries, a media and teaching ministry broadcasting on the Christian Television Network and various online outlets. Before launching his own ministry, Kyle served at Christ Fellowship, one of the nation's 15 largest churches, and as vice president of an international apologetics ministry. He holds a master's of divinity degree in biblical studies from Regent University. Arm yourself with daily encouragement from Kyle on Facebook and Twitter. Pick up his latest book, Silence Satan: Shutting Down the Enemy's Attacks, Threats, Lies, and Accusations, in stores now.