The Six Powers of Satan and How to Overcome Them: Part 1
Have you ever considered the various powers that Satan wields to advance his kingdom on Earth? These are the weapons he uses to incite fear of God and others in our hearts and minds—and then he tempts us to practice these very same powers against others in our struggle to alleviate those fears, to make ourselves feel safe, to provide for and to protect ourselves at the expense of others.
What are these six powers of Satan?
- Lies—he is the father of lies
- The kingdoms of the world with their imposed law with coercive enforcement—he is the prince of this world
- Worldly economics—mammon, the false god of money, buying, selling, and owning
- Accusations—he is the “satan,” the accuser
- Temptation and division—he is the devil, the ancient serpent who tempts and divides
- Death and destruction—he is the destroyer whose powers result in death
In this series, we will examine each of these six powers and how we fall victim to them—but more than that, we’ll also discover how, through Jesus, we can overcome them.
The Power of Lies
Most are aware of Satan’s most famous power: lies.
Jesus told us that Satan is the father of lies, and this is the first power—the power of deception and falsehood—that he wielded against God’s intelligent creation.
It is the power Satan used on sinless angels in heaven and our first parents in Eden. He told lies about God, and when those lies were believed, the bonds of love and trust that Adam and Eve had for God were broken.
Lies believed break the circle of love and trust, and the result is fear and selfishness instilled in the heart. For instance, imagine that you believe someone’s lie that your spouse is having an affair. If you believe the lie, what happens in your heart even though your spouse is innocent?
Likewise, because Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lies about God, love and trust were broken and the two became filled with fear and selfishness. Believing that God was withholding something good from them, they sought to advance themselves by taking the fruit—and then they ran and hid from God because they were afraid of what He was going to do to them.
Fear and selfishness, the me-first survival drives, are a result of believing lies about God and of our first parents choosing to sin, thereby breaking their love and trust relationship with Him.
Ever since, every human being has been born “in sin conceived in iniquity” (Psalm 51:5). We are born filled with fear, which drives us to watch out for self, consumed by the survival-of-the-fittest instinct.
This fear-driven, me-first survival instinct is the playground of the enemy, and his various powers are used to increase fear and inflame selfishness, which gives him greater control over people—ultimately destroying love and the fruits of the Spirit out of the hearts of people who embrace the fear and practice his methods of selfishness.
People typically lie to protect self because they are afraid of what will happen if the truth comes out, but Satan’s falsehoods are not merely deceits designed to avoid personal embarrassment. No—his lies are the grand systems of falsehood that infect minds and become philosophies, worldviews, and belief systems. Satan is the master of manipulation, the dean of deceit, the prince of propaganda.
And what is propaganda?
- information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
- the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.
Propaganda is manipulated information presented or publicized with an agenda to influence people or groups in specific ways. In other words, propaganda is designed to get people to join sides and causes, to take action or refuse to take action.
Propaganda is not honest and truthful information. No! Propaganda is shaped information; it is spin; it is crafted to purposely highlight some facts while ignoring other facts in order to lead people to the conclusions that those who make the propaganda intend. Furthermore, propaganda agents will not present the whole truth but will purposely obstruct or exclude or silence voices that would present evidence that undermines their propaganda.
During the reign of Hezekiah, Judah was invaded by the Assyrians. Isaiah recorded the efforts to demoralize Judah and get them to surrender—one of these efforts was propaganda:
On what are you basing this confidence of yours? You say you have strategy and military strength—but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me? Look now, you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces a man’s hand and wounds him if he leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him. And if you say to me, “We are depending on the LORD our God”—isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before this altar”? (Isaiah 36:4–7 NIV84).
Do you see the propaganda?
The Assyrians shaped information to lead Israel to draw the conclusion that their situation was hopeless:
- Egypt is weak; you can’t rely on them to protect you from our army.
- Because Hezekiah has removed the altars in the high places, he has been unfaithful to God and has offended Him; you cannot rely on God to protect you.
- So don’t resist; surrender.
Propaganda—taking facts and then spinning, interpreting, and crafting those facts to mean something they don’t inherently mean. Hezekiah did take down the altars in the high places, but it is not true that this was being unfaithful to God, because the high places were being used to worship false gods (notice how the Assyrians conveniently left that fact out—propaganda), nor was it true that God was offended or that God would not protect them, as evidenced by God’s deliverance.
Consider this historical account by Ellen G. White, one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, of how someone misused her writings:
I have been made very sad in reading the pamphlet that has been issued by Brother Stanton and by those associated with him in the work he has been doing. Without my consent, they have made selections from the Testimonies, and have inserted them in the pamphlet they have published, to make it appear that my writings sustain and approve the position they advocate. In doing this they have done that which is not justice or righteousness. Through taking unwarrantable liberties they have presented to the people a theory that is of a character to deceive and destroy. In times past many others have done this same thing, and have made it appear that the Testimonies sustained positions that were untenable and false (Review and Herald, August 22, 1893, par. 1).
What was Stanton doing? Propagandizing—taking quotes and misapplying them to make it appear that Mrs. White supported a position she didn’t actually support.
Do you see how the media today has made an artform out of lies, falsehoods, distortions, manipulation of information—propaganda—all designed to inflame fear and get people to draw conclusions that the propagandizer wants them to draw? (If you haven’t read my blog “Listener Concerned Dr. Jennings Is Being Foolish,” I encourage you to do so.)
But as an example of modern-day propaganda, consider the media blitz in 2020 over hydroxychloroquine and whether it is a safe medication or a dangerous one.
First the facts:
- Hydroxychloroquine has been around and used for more than 65 years; it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the USA in 1955
- It is on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines
- Billions of doses have been given
- It is so safe, it is given to babies, the elderly, and pregnant women—and is routinely done so around the world
- It is an over-the-counter medicine in many countries of the world, such as France
- In many countries, citizens take a dose once a week to prevent malaria
Now the propaganda:
- In 2020, story after story appeared in the media claiming hydroxychloroquine is dangerous and that taking it could kill you.
- Two articles published in two of the world’s most respected medical journals, The Lancet and NEJM, in 2020 triggered this panic, as both claimed that hydroxychloroquine is dangerous. The Lancet study claimed to have evidence from over 90,000 people from multiple countries. These articles were used by the media to blanket the country with endless stories of how dangerous this medicine is—alleging that the president was foolish for suggesting it could be used.
Yet, when conscientious doctors began to investigate the veracity of these articles, it was discovered that the science and data were fabricated, made up, false—it had all been a fraud.
Both the Lancet and NEJM retracted the articles.
However, no media blitz accompanied this new revelation—no reporting to the American people that hydroxychloroquine is actually a very safe medicine. Moreover, there was no media outrage at the fraud that had been committed, no stories espousing the danger to the health of millions of Americans caused by these false articles. In fact, the media appears to have suppressed the retractions; thus, the fear of this medication remains.
That is textbook propaganda: influencing the population to be terrified of a medicine with a long track record of safety. Why? Just look at the outcomes, impacts, consequences—what has happened in the past year as fear messaging has increased. Have we seen in society greater unity—or more division? Are we seeing more freedom—or the erosion of freedoms? Are we seeing more or less governmental power and control?
Whose kingdom is this?
Understand, there are facts and then there are interpretations of those facts. Propaganda machines will take facts, like Hezekiah destroying the altars in the high places, and then spin them or interpret them to say something false, such as Hezekiah is disloyal to God or has offended God.
Satan’s first power is the power of lies, which when believed, breaks the circle of love and trust and incites fear and selfishness.
But the Bible says that Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15 NIV84).
The apostle Paul writes:
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37–39 NIV84).
The most critical point to understand is that all of Satan’s powers exploit or magnify fear. And what is it that casts out all fear? Love! God’s love in our hearts is the key, being loved and loving others. Satan wants to separate us from God’s love and truth, and one way he does this is by getting us to believe lies about God. (As our series continues, you will see how Satan’s lies about God and His laws have infected the church, been accepted by the masses, and corrupted the world—all leading to every kind of abuse and injustice.)
But Jesus said the truth will set you free, free from the lies, and in a restored trust relationship with God, we are freed from our fears. It is as we remain in God’s love that we are more than conquerors. But without love, real love, from God, we will be destroyed by fear.
It is the truth and love of God revealed at the cross by Christ that destroys the lies of Satan and wins us back to trust. In response, we open our hearts to God and He pours His love into our hearts (Romans 5:5). And His perfect love casts out all fear.
But all of this requires that you know the truth about God and trust Him, which requires that you reason and think for yourself, that you weigh the evidences for yourself, that you become one of the spiritually mature “who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14 NIV84).
I invite you to exercise your God-given abilities to think, to reason, to weigh evidences, to embrace the truth about God that Jesus revealed, and to be filled with His love. For Satan’s power of lies is powerless over those who hold to the truth in the love of God!
Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, international speaker, Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association. He is President and Founder of Come and Reason Ministries and has served as President of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.