How does Satan attack us?

Question “How does Satan attack us? He attacks in different ways so that we do not even recognize Satan's attacks, how then can we protect ourselves?”

Bible Answers

The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10a). Satan’s desire is to destroy as much of mankind as possible before Christ returns.  Since Satan and his demons are spirits, they cannot do many of the things they want to accomplish in this physical world.  As such, they operate through humans, humans that they can control through deception.  Deception is the primary way Satan controls both the unsaved and the saved.  He is always trying to create problems and unbelief that keep the unsaved from believing and pull the saved away from God.

Satan attacks with thoughts that contain both truth and deception.  Because of the truth component, we believe it. Then Satan returns with a similar thought that contains less truth and more deception. This continues until we completely believe the deception. Satan builds deception upon deception in our mind until he has a wall, and then the walls are combined until he has a fortress in our mind, a fortress built of lies and deception.  

It is vitally important that all people take note of Satan’s temptations (the state of being tempted or enticed to evil) and deceptions, because without this knowledge they are easy targets. The strategies which are applied by the kingdom of darkness are all aimed at harming God’s kingdom by influencing people to fall away from the truth (Heb. 3:12). The more knowledge people have regarding Satan’s dark kingdom, its principles and plans of action, the better they will be able to defend themselves against Satan’s attacks.

Satan's primary strategy is to disguise his activities so it appears that someone else is to blame. He wants us to get our attention on the "symptoms" instead of the "real cause."  When he places a thought in our mind, he wants us to believe that it is our thought.  He wants us to believe that he and his kingdom (the world) want nothing but the best for us, or he may tell us that our situation is hopeless.

When Peter attempted to stop Jesus from returning to Jerusalem, knowing that He would be crucified, Jesus did not rebuke Peter, but rebuked Satan. Get behind me Satan (Matt. 16:23). Peter wasn't demon possessed, and probably did not intend to be an offense.  However, the Devil inspired Peter's thoughts, and Peter reacted to the thought that the devil gave him.  However, Jesus went after the real problem. We need to follow Jesus’ example.

Satan may attack us physically, he may attack us emotionally, or he may advance our lustful desires.  Often the idea is so subtle we do not recognize that it is from the devil.  Most of Satan’s attacks are not recognizable unless we are intentionally reviewing our thoughts and ideas in the mirror of God’s Word.  For example, picture a room with green walls.  Satan puts one very small red dot on the wall, then later, another, then another, and so on. No one notices the red dots until one day you enter the room and ask, “Who painted the walls red.”

Paul said, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (the area above the earth), (Ephesians 6:12). Our battle is not with "flesh and blood" but with spiritual adversaries   It is very important that we understand who our real enemy is.  It is Satan, not flesh and blood, not our brethren, not our family, not our children, not husbands and wives, not employers, not co-workers, nor our government!  The Devil is the enemy! Make no mistake; we are in a spiritual war. The problem is that many Christians either do not believe Satan is after them or believe they are helpless to defend themselves. The way to victory is through the authority that Christ gave us and military understanding of what the enemy’s tactics are.

Let’s picture this battle. On one side is commander Satan who gives orders to his generals who pass the orders down to the working demons and evil spirits.  On the other side, is the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives orders to His general, the Holy Spirit, who pass the orders to His solders, the saints (those of God’s family).  We must always be on guard since Satan may lose a battle, but he will regroup his troops and try again.  But we can always defeat Satan in faith of the power of Christ.  Do not forget that you are in a war with a real enemy.

This is why Jesus sent His disciples out on training missions.  We need to understand our position in Christ, but Satan wants to keep us from understanding.  Jesus let the disciples go forward in His authority, as a demonstration of the authority we have in Jesus.

Why Satan is attacking us

He will attack us because he wants to destroy us, he wants to destroy our relationship with God, and he will attempt to persuade us through different deceptions that God is not real, God cannot be trusted, or that we would be better off following the ways of the world.  He may attack us if he feels we are a threat to him, but we can repel him in the power of Jesus.  

Who is our friend             

If you think the world is your friend, you have been misled. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God (James 4:4). The world's values are not eternal, but temporal. To embrace the world’s values is to align yourself with Satan’s values.

Some of those walking with Christ start to believe they are invincible to Satan’s darts. Overconfidence leads to complacency and complacency can open a door to Satan’s attacks. The devil sends his fiery darts at us to affect our thoughts, our desires, and our emotions in minute ways that grow until we get tricked or deceived into believing his lies.  For example, depression and discontent are normally of the devil.

The battle is in our mind.  Satan will do all in his power to pull you away from walking in Christ and His victory. This battle is real and is the reason why so many Christians today live in defeat and lack the joy and peace God intended for them.

The right perspective is to understand that you are indeed under spiritual attack…but you can be victorious!

The first principle is: Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

Can Satan Create

Satan and his demons have no power to create.  They are limited to deceiving us and destroying what God has created.  For example, cancer is the destruction of a normal cell.

His Boundaries

Despite all the blustering and threats from Satan and his fallen angels, they are limited in what they can do. Several scriptures clearly show that Satan must get permission to go beyond his limitations. Satan could only attack Job once the Lord allowed it. Satan cannot go beyond God’s hedge of protection, which surrounds God’s elect. Satan can never do more to us, then God allows. Satan is subject to God’s authority.  Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land (Job 1:10). However, Christians often unwittingly open the gate of God’s hedge to the enemy.

Satan had to ask permission to sift Peter as wheat. And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren" (Luke 22:31-32).

Whatever our circumstances, Satan has his limits. Satan can only tempt, to a degree, but that degree can still be very unpleasant and lead to destruction if we do not remain on guard. Christians should pray for a hedge of protection around them and their families. We must use our authority in Christ and say “no” to the devil’s temptations and attacks in our life. However, when we fail to use our authority in Jesus to cast the devil away, we are giving him permission to stay.

The Battleground

Satan’s battleground is our mind and his objective is to gain control over us.  For unbelievers, Satan wants to blind their minds to keep them from accepting Christ. …whose minds the god [Satan] of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them (2 Corinthians 4:4).  For the believer, the battleground is still the mind, to destroy our belief, faith, and relationship with God. The Greek word for mind is noema, which translates to mental thought or perception, “that which thinks”.  Here is where Satan fights for control so that he can blind the person to the Gospel. Unfortunately, in way to many cases, we are not looking and do not see the attack until it is to late.

God’s word implores us to guard our mind, against the ways of this world.  …and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

We have a choice, we can cast Satan away or permit Satan to affect our minds.  The real danger is being ignorant of what Satan is doing. …my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).  We need to be ever vigilant, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to question the source of every thought.  Is our thought judgmental or uplifting?  Are we getting negative thoughts questioning our relationship with others or of ourselves?  If it is negative or evil, then we need to immediately rebuke it and think about …whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report (Phil 4:8).

Satan’s objective is to keep the mind “blind” to the Gospel. Satan has a vast assortment of weapons at his disposal. Remember that Satan has 6,000 years of experience with billions of people. You will not win any battle with Satan on your own, but you can be victorious through Christ. To accomplish his task, Satan looks to our flesh, our fallen nature, to build his kingdom on our lusts and weaknesses. Fallen nature is the nature of the flesh ruling. Satan rules in this realm, he keeps those under his influence as captives.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Ephesians 2:1).

Our relationship with Jesus Christ liberates us from Satan’s power. We are now a part of the Lord’s army, advancing the kingdom of God on enemy territory.  This does not stop Satan from trying and as such, we must remain on guard. He works through lust to capture us. The word for lust in Greek is epithumia, and means desire, craving, longing, and the desire for what is forbidden. Satan pursues our fallen nature through the mind, feeding our lusts with perceptions. Satan attacks three areas of our mind. They are lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life.  For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world (2 John 2:16).

Now that we know Christ, we can be freed from Satan’s power. Satan’s goal now is to deceive the believer, to take away from him/her the victory and potential we have in Christ.  He wants to keep us in bondage and defeat, though we have power and authority.

Satan’s Arrows

What are some of Satan’s fiery arrows that he uses against us?  Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).

Ways that Satan Attacks Believers

  1. Satan puts blasphemous thoughts into your mind, and then whispers that you cannot be a child of God if you have such thoughts.
  2. Satan gets you to question the truth of the promises of God and the mercy of God.
  3. Satan seeks to persuade you that you have no part in salvation, because you have in some way sinned.
  4. Satan tries to persuade you that no child of God could be like you: so weak in faith, so corrupt, so hard and prayer less, so foolish and vain.
  5. Satan comes as your accuser, leading you to despair, or as an angel of light, leading you to presumption and pride.
  6. Satan may fill you with thoughts that you are not liked, are dumb, are unattractive, are unable, that you will never amount to anything, that you are not worthy of having friends.
  7. Satan presents the enticements of the world in an attempt to move you back into the sins of the worldly.
  8. Satan may tempt you with a situation that is wrong but tries to persuade you that it is OK.
  9. Satan presses you to indulge in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
  10. Satan seeks to persuade you that you are worthy and deserve having whatever you want even if it belongs to someone else.
  11. Satan studies you and observes your weaknesses so that he can engineer situations to take advantage of your weaknesses.
  12. Many Christians are being tortured because Satan has convinced them that someone has wronged them and should never be forgiven.  These tortures may be physical, mental, or spiritual.
  13. Satan may defile you in your mental lives – in your thoughts and imaginations.
  14. Satan may “Compel” a person to smoke, drink, over eat, talk excessively, partake in sex and pornography, gossip, and criticize.  When a person fails to resist the compelling temptation, they open the door to addiction.  Nearly anything that is both compulsive and enslaving is an addiction.  For some, this can include TV and the Internet.
  15. Satan may physically attack us.  It may be a major illness or it may be feeling tired when you want to read your Bible or pray.
  16. Satan sends spirit of deception to deceive Christians away from sound Biblical faith.  This is one of the greatest dangers for modern Christians.

Another Satanic attack is to make us feel alone, isolated, and unwanted, to get our eyes off God and on ourselves. We need to run to our Christian family for their support and prayers. Do not be embarrassed as we have all been in the same position and we all have needed support.

Most Christians act as if they are immune to the wiles of the devil, but they are not. Fewer Christians would dismiss Satan if they knew his secret. His secret is that he uses our own desires and lusts as bait to lure us into his trap.

The basis of Satan’s lie is to convince us that we should conform to nothing and do whatever we want.

Evil spirits mentioned in the Bible

Luke 13:11,      “spirit of sickness"

I Kings 22:22,   "spirit of deception"

II Tim 1:7,        “spirit of fear"

I Tim 4:1,         “deceiving spirits"

I John 4:6,        “spirit of error"

Rom. 11:8,        “spirit of stupor"

Rom. 8:15,        “spirit of bondage to fear"

Acts 16:16,        “spirit of divination"

Luke 11:14,       "demon of muteness"

Mark 9:17,         "mute and deaf spirit"  

Mat. 12:22,        “spirit of blindness

Zec. 13:2,          "spirit of impurity"

Hos. 4:12,          "spirit of prostitution"

Are All Problems of the Devil

In the garden, there was no sin; man’s nature was in harmony with that of God.  Satan entered the garden and tempted Adam and Eve with his deception.  Adam and Eve had a choice, but their pride to know as God knew led to the downfall of mankind. Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).

While it can be correctly argued that man has a sinful nature, we can also argue that man’s sinful nature originated with Satan. Satan is ever looking for opportunities of weaknesses, that he may tempt and entice us to turn our actions and attention to the world and sin. If we believe that man has a natural propensity to sin, we find that at the root of the act is the devil encouraging the temptation unto sin.  He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning (1 John 3:8).

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).

Does God Temp Us

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1:13-15).  In 1 John 2:13, John commends those who …have overcome the evil one.

Satan is blamed for everything evil and while in a certain sense it is true, it fails to take into consideration other issues such as our own personal responsibility for our actions. People are willing to blame the devil in order to remove their guilt, justify their actions, and ignore their responsibility and the things God wants to teach them through their suffering.  Certainly, as the deceiver and liar, Satan instigates temptation, but we have a choice to accept or reject the temptation.

Today, regardless of the various external sources of temptation (Satan and the world), it is our  sinful nature or the lusts of self-centered desires of our own hearts to bow-down to the temptation.  …but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (Jam. 1:14-15).

We should not assume that everything evil that happens to us is the result of direct satanic attack. Though he is indirectly involved, some of what happens is simply the result of life in a fallen world. Nor should we assume that all our suffering is the product of our own sin or indifference to the Lord. There are many reasons for suffering.  Job would be an example as well as Paul’s thorn.

Thus, while a sinful concept may originate from our own sinful nature and desires or from a satanic attack, temptation is always from Satan. The question of the source of sin and temptation is not nearly as important as being on guard to recognize the temptation and being ready to correctly reject the temptation and seek the glory of the Lord.  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).  But  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

We note in the epistles that the emphasis is not on the demonic, but on our responsibility to rebuke false thoughts and ideas and to direct our attention to the Lord.

Satan Attacks us through open doors

God is a gentleman, and only enters our life when invited. Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me (Revelation 3:20).

The devil does not wait for an invitation, he will enter any door he finds open.  Unless you close those doors, the devil has a legal right to operate in your life and to steal, kill and destroy any blessings that are in your life.

Here is a partial list of things that open the door to Satan’s attacks:

  1. A family background in the occult or false religions will open the door of your life to Satan.  
  2. Negative prenatal influences, such as visiting a witch doctor before or while pregnant or thoughts of having an abortion.
  3. Pressures in early childhood such as sexual abuse.
  4. Emotional shock or sustained emotional pressure, such as witnessing a murder.
  5. Sinful acts (Acts 5:3 and John 5:14) and unforgiveness (Matthew 18).
  6. Just as the Holy Spirit can be imparted through the laying on of hands (Acts 19:6), demonic spirits can be transferred through laying on of hands (transference of spirits). You can not allow just anybody to lay hands on you.  Not all spirits are of the Lord; some can be of the devil.
  7. Generational sin resulting from an ancestor’s sin opening a door and the open door being passed onto future generations. These sins can be passed onto the third and fourth generation (Exodus 20:5). We do not know what idolatry our ancestors committed and passed onto us.  We need to confess our ancestor’s sins, break any covenants they may have made, and ask for forgiveness on their behalf, to break the curse.
  8. Demonic contact such as playing with an Ouija board.
  9. Cultural dance, rituals and pagan festivals.  Some of these events are actually idol worship. What doors are opened by allowing children to dress up in Halloween costumes? African artwork often represents deities and can contain demonic spirits.
  10. Charms. Good luck charms or charms worn for protection are demonic. Only God can protect.  Any other source of protection is false and can invites demons and curses into your life.
  11. Haunted Places. The name alone should make you very wary.
  12. Some music, movies, and books are demonic and used to introduce children to witchcraft and magic.

Be self-controlled and alert (1 Peter 5:8).

Why does God allow Satan to attack us

It is true that God allows Satan a certain amount of freedom (Job 1:12), but it should be understood that it is Satan's choice to attack God's children (1 Peter 5:8).  It was not God's desire for humanity to suffer attacks from Satan.  But when Adam disobeyed God, humanity was subject to the consequences of sin, one of which is being susceptible to attacks from Satan.  It is part of our fallen nature.

God originally gave all power and authority to manage earth to man, Adam.  When Christ died on the cross He took back all the power and authority that Satan had stolen from Adam and returned it to man.  It is again our responsibility, not Gods, to use God’s provided authority and power against Satan.

God is with us

Christians can take heart, for We know that all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28). Attacks from Satan, along with all other problems should cause believers to love God more, resist Satan more, practice patience, resist temptation, and grow stronger in faith. Attacks of the devil and battles with the devil promote us to put on God’s armor, and in His strength, to be victorious over the devil.  We should be maturing in our trust in God.  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power (Ephesians 6:10).

…for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him (2 Peter 2:19).

What a joy to know, regardless of our situation, that God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

Praise God for His abundant protection from most of Satan attacks, and thank God that He makes the occasional attack "work together for our good.” …give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thes. 5:18).


Satan attacks our mind and our body and God provides us authority and power to come against the enemy, but if we do nothing with the authority God has given us, we are in effect inviting Satan to come in.

Next Section - What is believer’s authority over Satan?

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