"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Daemonolgia Sacra

I have often wondered this past year if we in the Southern Baptist Convention have forgotten who our real enemy is. With the tendency to divide into "us" versus "them," and the way we focus our energy on pointing out the sin in others, I wonder whether our real enemy has been ignored as he attacks us.

Richard Gilpin, M.D. (1625 - 1700) was a non-conformist physician and theologian who wrote a classic work entitled "Daemonolgia Sacra or A Treatise of Satan's Temptations." In introducing his treatise Dr. Gilpin writes (emphasis mine),

"Among those things that religion offers to our study, God and our own hearts are the chief. God is the first and last and whole of our happiness; the beginning, progress, and completement of it is from him and in him --- for in that centre do all the lines meet; but our heart is the stage upon which this felicity, as to the application of it, is transacted: upon this little spot of earth doth God and Satan draw up their several armies; here doth each of them shew their power and wisdom; this is treated by both; each of them challenge an interest in it; it is attacked on the one side adn defended on the other. So that here are skirmishes, battles, and strategems managed. That man, then, that will not concern himself in his inquiries, how the matter goes in his own heart, what ground is got or lost, what forts are taken or defended, what mines are sprung, what ambusheses laid, or how the battle proceeds, must needs lie under a just imputation of the greatest folly; neither can he be excused in his neglect by the most pressing solicitations of other things that seem to require his attendance upon the highest imaginable pretences of necessity: 'For what is he profited , that gains the whole world, but loses his soul?'"(Mark 8:36).

In light of Dr. Gilpin's insight, I would like to ask a question for your thoughts and written reflections:

What tactic does Satan use most successfully in causing you to lose your focus, and as a result, your inner sense of contentment that comes from Christ?

I am not looking particularly for scholarly answers, but personal, even painful testimonies of the devices used by our common enemy.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


ewinwe said...

yeah, satan is tricky ...
one of his latest, most insidious ploys is to get us to start questioning why we are where we are, and what we are doing here. the line of questions sorta run like this:

"how can you do what you do, live over here, accept the salary that your company gives you, knowing that it comes from people who give blindly out of their faith in the work you do ... and you don't even belong here! you are not needed, you aren't real missionaries!"

i suppose that if i let myself listen to and believe that voice, i'd cave in to the doubts, begin to think that i really did not belong and could not possibly make a difference. even entertaining that thought that i do not belong here puts me at risk ... so i, we (our whole family, in fact), have to be on guard ... and that gets exhausting, and when you are tired is when you are vulnerable (and the cycle of attack begins again.

here's my counter-attack for the ugly guy with horns ... yeah, the CP may pay for where i live and for what i do, but the prayer's of the saints back home gives me the strength to step out the front door and go do it ...

kevin said...

I've seen the enemy use singleness in my life and in others' lives to try to distract us from contentment in Christ.

Sometimes it is easy to feel sorry for yourself or get impatient while waiting for that "special someone."

This is especially true for single missionaries (speaking from experience). I've talked to others who've had a rougth time dealing with this.


TruthOfActs said...

Ut oh, you have asked us to comment on this post if we had commented more than twice on alcohol. I wish I hadn’t got on your case last night as that makes me one over the limit.
I had rather preach than face truth in my personnel life.

Ah ha, I’ve thought of a way out of this situation—you go first!
Rex Ray

Bob Cleveland said...

He compliments me. Tells me how good I am. How much God needs me.

Gets my eyes off Luke 17:10.

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade,...As we know, satans job is to steal kill and destroy Jn 10:10. One tactic he uses with me is to always tell me that I am not worthy to be associated with Jesus Christ. In this , he is correct, I am not.. However, by faith in Jesus Christ and the Cross I am worthy. I am covered in the Blood of Jesus ...... In order to have contentment in Christ, I must remember this, its not about me and my feelings, its about Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. Its about the Word of God and the promises in it that I hold by faith......

Pastor Tony said...

Satan attacks me through attacks on my family. People who say my kids need to be close to perfection. They even admit that they could never keep their own kids according to the standard they hold mine to.

This kind of attack makes me want to curl up in my home and do nothing for the kingdom. I just want to stay home and be dad to my kids and nothing else. Yet, our Lord in His power gently gets me back in the saddle.

Tom Bryant said...

Thanks for quoting these writers and lovers of Jesus from the past.

Satan uses busy-ness for me. No matter how much I try to get done, I also see how much there is left to do. So I get too busy to spend time personally with the Lord and with that estrangement comes lack of contentment with Him.

It's not that I can't see the forest for the trees, it's more I can't see the creator of the forest for the trees.

Wade Burleson said...

My grandfather finished a sermon one evening and a deacon came up to him and said, "Boy, you really stepped on my toes tonight!"

My grandfather replied, "I'm sorry. I was aiming for your heart."

Satan attacks me by tempting me to
comparing my ministry, our church's numbers, and other man-made statistics to see how we are doing "spiritually." I must always be on guard against drawing my sense of success from the standards of man, and it's not easy. I know the enemy is winning when I get concerned with what others might think about our numbers, including my fellow pastors.

Wade Burleson said...

I am moving my wife's 90 year old grandmother into a nursing home. No questions for me the next two days. They will go unanswered.

irreverend fox said...

it's amazing how the enemy hits me on both extremes. Either he rips into my confidence or he rips into my humility. He temps me to dispair or he tempts me to boast. It's either low self esteem or high self esteem.

The enemy doesn't care if my self esteem is high or low so long as I'm thinking about myself.

All God wants from me is NO self esteem.

Nick said...

Wow, piggybacking of "Irreverend Fox" - I think if I became a person of no self esteem all my issues with satan's distracted would vanish.

As I'm looking at being a missionary to the unreached the temptations are different than earlier in my walk. Instead of lustful issues of the flesh it is now lustful issues of the heart. What I mean is instead of issues with the opposite sex, or wanting to be big and in shape, it is more dealing with thoughts like "wow, so and so really has good support, how come I'm not blessed like that." Or "This church is way more missional than mine" or whatever.

Thoughts like this are totally planted by the devil and our own flesh (notice a distinction there). My thoughts are harder to distinguish, but the devil's are usually more antagonistic.

Jesus free us from thinking we have a "right" to anything in this world.


Roger Simpson said...

I guess for me it is learning "whatever state I am in therewith to be content". I am a (now retired) software engineer -- I like to think that I can engage the situation logically and using the vast degrees of freedom that the "free enterprize system" provides I can make informed (and correct) choices and reap the reward. This mindset is insufficient for all aspects of life since (as I am finding out) there are some things that I don't like and furthermore I can't control and furthermore God is evidently not going to change.

I don't like it that I have a daughter age 38 who has a mental handicap and functions as a ten year old child. I don't like it that my wife has MS.

BTW, I was surprized to learn that in the late 1600s land mines were evidently used in warfare.

volfan007 said...

i would ask the question...who are the ones stirring up the strife and divisions? it seems to me that blogs of this sort, and the founders, and the things brought up at the sbc by certain people were what started a lot of the strife and division that's going on right now in our sbc.

just some humble, simple thoughts from an appalachian-american in tn,


GaryB said...

I graduated from SWBTS in 1981 and was a US-2 missionary from 76-78 and during that era there was a major thrust by the SBC, Bold Mission Thrust, to plant an SBC church in every county in America. At the same time,the "battle" between "moderates" and "conservatives" began. Got the convention off the goal as I lookback.
Personally, serving on church staff as a support role you sometimes get so busy serving the congregation and pastor and his staff that you can lose focus on who you are serving.

Scotte Hodel said...

Most damaging attitudes within me: (whether demonically inspired or not I can't say)
(1) To believe that prayer is irrelevant and powerless.
(2) Complacency: belief that my own action is not required or that it is irrelevant.
(3) That I am worthless to God. [Totally irrational, but it's lurking in the back of my mind.]

The realities:
- Apart from Christ we can do nothing.
- In our weakness his strength is perfect.
- He declares us worthy in Christ.

miriam plowman said...

Dear Volfan007,

Actually a lot of strife and division has been going on since the beginning of time. As far as our own little season of time on this earth.. these things continue. My opinion? Blogs and founders and things brought up by people like Wade are more characterized as "light" on the subject and bringing things out in the open that were already there.

"and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:

"Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you." - Ephes. 5:10-14

Wake up!! is the call of blogs and founders and people being open to ask questions.

...I'm still thinking about my answer to the question this blog asks... Wake up! ... see here I was distracted in focus by volfan007's entry which didn't answer the question... back to work and reflection.

Wade Burleson said...


Your comment does not seem to me to be an answer to the question posed on this post. I request you use your own blog for your agenda and not divert us from self reflection by pointing your finger at others.

IN HIS NAME said...


May GOD continue to BLESS You. You were choosen by GOD to be where you are. It is sad that you or I have to be approved by MAN to do GOD'S Work when HE Calls us.


Satan has been alive and doing well within SBC Churches way before Computers were invented. All one has to do is look in the Pews at the people with there KJ BIBLE that they don't understand.

You profess to be a Pastor and I wonder how you come across to your congregation.

A Brother for TRUTH

IN HIS NAME said...

Sorry for the distraction by volfan007. When we take our eyes off JESUS we lose our Focus. Just like volfan007 causes people to do on most of the Blogs I visit.

We all need to PRAY for people that are adverse to what GOD really tell us in the WORD.

I think we can all see whom the enemy (SATAN) is using by not knowing or understandimg what GOD'S WORD SAYS.
These distractions by others cause the LOST or SEEKERS on the Blogs to become confused and not learning anything.

I PRAY that this is not the intent. We will know if these same people continue the attack or try to confuse people.

A Brother for the TRUTH

miriam plowman said...

I guess if I were to lay aside trials or direct assaults.. I struggle with frustration, (irritation with other people, their ineptness, their insensitivity), misunderstanding, (being hurt because a friend has misunderstood), mistreatment, (especially when it’s somebody we expect would treat us better than that), and disappointments in myself, (why didn’t I do better, is God really pleased with me), . Then I would have to say a great area of weakness for me is in submission.

Do I believe submission establishes genuine personhood because I come into alignment with the Lord and His way? And do I believe He will never let any circumstance reduce His personal purpose for me?

I have gone through a situation where I felt mistreated by the people in partnership with and over me. People that I greatly respect, whose work is highly valued and who share the same spirit and heart. It wasn’t that I felt it was a calculated conspiracy against me, but there were some very disappointing things that took place. I felt neglected, overlooked. I had something to give, but I wasn’t allowed to give it, and it was a very frustrating thing to me.

It’s a key issue in my life where I have to decide whether I would be irritated and indignant, and somehow do everything I could to force them to accept what I had to give. Was I going to believe that if they didn’t, then what I was about wouldn’t have a chance to be? God called me there after all shouldn’t I be allowed…. It wasn’t that I wanted to be important; I wanted to serve. I wanted to give, and I was being disallowed that.

I still sense I need to receive this word: “You need to arrive at a conclusion as to whether this word (paraphrased from Psalm 91) is true: ‘Because I have made the Lord my refuge, I will not fear what man will do unto me.’” It didn’t make me feel better at times, but it is a starting place to ponder and think about. I knew I have to come to that decision…. Was (IS) my life being ruled by the people around me and over me, or was my life ultimately in the hands of God? And truly can I rest my case with God?

A part of that which is hard is the knowledge that on top of just believing God and submitting and resting in Him is the notion that now the Lord required me to sweeten my spirit toward the people who weren’t responding to the vision & giftedness I had. Kind of irritating when you really feel you have a case against someone and God dismantles it!

There is a rubbing, a constant friction like an pencil's eraser marks on paper over and over until you tear through the paper. I do know we are to cast down arguments… whatever the steadfast enterprise of the devil which begins at the mental level… and put in it’s place the case of God’s purpose in you. There still comes the argument against the value that God places on my ministry. Arguing against the substance of the commitment I made and against the likelihood of the vision or dream or hope that was placed in my heart ever being fulfilled.

I’m not to an answer of how to live more fully into this. I can’t say I’ve done it yet. I just recognize it. It is so much easier to say... oh yeah yeah I know this answer than to live it out. And also I have come to see it as a tender spot that the enemy when he wants to get to me comes and rubs hard on or sends his arrows towards.

volfan007 said...

in his name,

God bless you, bro. i really mean it. also, i have pastored five churches and was on staff at another one. the people loved me and hated me to leave. some cried and asked me to not leave. but, it was the will of God for me to do so. also, i have been asked to come back and preach at several of my former churches. they seem to really love me and appreciate me.

brother, i am just a big ole teddy bear who preaches the bible. i aint trying to slam anyone....i just try to slam things that are not true...things that arent biblical...things that are to the extreme and cause hurt and problems.


ps. you were talking about things that caused problems in the church and in our lives...were you not? i just answered that with my humble, simple, country boy perspective. i see a lot of strife and division being caused by this blog and by the founders blog. and, i saw a lot of division and trouble being caused by some of the people in these blogs at the sbc. just saying what i saw...that's all.

don poole said...

I'd say family is one of my main distractions. I love them, worry about them, want to protect them; one of our more godly components is an insuppressible ability to hold out hope for them, regardless of how difficult things become. Family serves to buffet, break down pride and developed our capacity to love beyond reason.

Bro. Robin said...

Bro. Wade

Right now my main distraction is keeping up with blogs! LOL

Outside of that, I sometimes feel that I need to do everything and I get bogged down in the details of things that do not fit in what I am supposed to do as a pastor. Satan has a way to distract me from prayer and adequate Bible study.

God bless and I will pray as you move your wife's 90 year grandmother to the nursing home.

Bro. Robin

tim Walker said...

I have found Satan seeks to use fear against me. And over the years it has been different fears.
My early attempts at witnessing had to go through the fear of failing, and the fear of appearing to be odd or different because I shared my faith.
Fear has been a tool used against me that I have tried to learn to recognise and overcome by the power of God's word, (2 Tim. 1:7)

Bryan Riley said...

When I read some of the comments on here about how they aren't the ones causing strife I see a whole lot of glorifying oneself versus glorifying God. But, I'm just a simple old country boy and don't know much and only pointing out what I see. Oh, wait, i've heard something like that before... hmmm. Anyway, life is too short and our mission too important to get hung up on things that don't really matter and to bicker among family. When will we start acting like we have a common goal: to tell the good news of Jesus to the world and to live in such a way that people will know that Jesus really was sent by God for their salvation?

Satan likes to get me trapped into fighting with words, as I've probably fallen prey to hear again. He also likes to get me to worship me and not God. And I can do it with spiritual things or with worldly things, but it is all the same. Anything put first before the Kingdom of God is loss.

Alycelee said...

Whatever we focus on expands.
Sometimes the enemy trys to get me to focus on worldly things. God's word says. . "take no thought".

However, sometimes, when we are living and moving in the kingdom, we can be as easily distracted with "spiritual" issues. A good example could be issues we have discussed here. Talking about them is fine. Losing our focus is not.
I have, unfortunatly lost my focus and become comsumed with issues.
I long to be consumed with the Lord Jesus Christ. He can sort out issues, guide me into all truth.

This, was a great question. I love this blog.

to-obey-is-better said...

For me?

It's come through tensions on our IMB team; relationship problems. We're all believers, we're all on the same team, why can't we get along?

Also questioning my salvation and if I really believe what I'm teaching. Talk about a hard one! I NEVER had this happen in the States, but it's like you get overseas in a spritually dark place and all these questions come to mind.

Another distraction comes in the form of dreams. I've been forgiven for all my past sins, and I've put them behind me. I don't think about them and I certainly never dreamed about them before going overseas.
BUT, how do you control dreams? I wake up totally distracted by what I've dreamed the night before. Lots of prayer needed here!


Wade Burleson said...

To Obey Is Better,

Thanks for your honesty. I'm not sure you control dreams, but I do wonder sometimes about asking the Lord for good dreams.

Bob Cleveland said...


I think there's a lot more to demons, voodoo, etc, than most realize. Not that everything we see is satan at work, with his playmates; Paul called a lot of this stuff "Works Of The Flesh". But it's nice to have some other entity to blame our WOTF on.

Our real pursuit of things Spiritual began in 1970 when Peg and I went on a witnessing crusade to Haiti. There, as young Christians, we saw with our very own four eyes, voodoo manifestations and demon possession. It's not like the movie, and it's not like most folks probably think.

One night lying in bed in the wee hours, I heard voodoo drums in the distance. There was something very engaging .. very seductive .. to them. It was somewhat the same thing as a year later when satan whispered that, if I'd follow him, I wouldn't have to worry about a particular problem (I was under conviction about not tithing). THAT one scared the puddin' out of me, as it had that same seductive quality about it.

Ken Hemphill's course on Spiritual Gifts names two principal attacks of satan on a believer when God calls them to something. One is "You're not capable (trained, smart enough, etc)" and the other is "You're not worthy". I don't think God says things like that, so when we hear it, we know it's a lie. Satan ALWAYS lies.

TruthOfActs said...

I asked you to go first and you did. I was sort of hoping you wouldn’t. Throughout my life God has helped me with the DON’T’S, but the devil has kept me from the DO’S.
Well, maybe God had some help by using my twin brother who would TELL our school teacher, preacher, chaplain father; and that worked both ways. We were marked as GOOD boys. We were never apart until we were 21 when he went to the University of Alaska without telling our parents and 4 hours after telling me.

I had the pride of a Pharisee in refraining of sin that SHOWED. Several relatives visited our aunt a thousand miles away while going to Alaska. I was the only one to go to church. I came back and everyone was working at something. She asked me to help mow the yard. “But it’s SUNDAY.”
I felt so bad seeing her pushing the mower that I fixed her dripping sink faucet. What a hypocrite.

PRIDE is my biggest problem, with disappointment in others for not doing what I THINK they should do coming in a close second.

My pride took a nose-dive the night I told a professor off for keeping his class (and my wife) thirty minutes late over and over which caused me to miss my nap before going to work. We were alone in a very big room. He said he would let them out on time from now on. I looked back while opening the door and said, “I SURE WOULD APPRICIATE IT” and slammed the door as hard as I could. The STUPID school had turned the lights out in the hall. I started to tell the professor about it but I had slammed the door. I was so angry I could have chewed nails. I inched along for FIVE minutes feeling for the stairs before I found four walls of a huge closet.
Rex Ray

IN HIS NAME said...

Why didn't the SBC Leaders pass a Resolution to Honor the Forth Commandment which is BIBICAL, rather the Alcohol Issue that they knew would stir things up. This would have been a Positive thing to do. No we have to do the negative to keep the people happy in their pews. Is this the way to keep the masses under control? That's the way an animal hunter thinks. I have a new Post on this Commandment

A Brother in CHRIST

volfan007 said...

boy, i can sure feel the love and acceptance in this blog ....lol...not!


craig from Georgia said...

He tries to cast doubt on the authority of Scripture by subtlty ,and sometimes not so subtly, insinutating that the Bible is anything less that God's inspired, preserved, perfect Word. I praise God that there is not a single book, chapter, verse, or word in teh Bible that is in error! The moment you starting doubting the Bible, Satan has a foothold in your life (see Genesis 3).

Tim Sweatman said...

At this particular time Satan is using two primary attacks against me.

On one hand he whispers to me, "What makes you think you could ever be a pastor of another church? Look at what happened to the church you just left. You couldn't even lead a tiny church to grow, so what makes you think that any other church would ever want someone with your track record? All you would do is ruin another church." So he tries to feed feelings of inadequacy and doubting of my call. With every rejection letter I get from a church, the voice gets a little louder. After more than a year of searching for another church, it becomes harder to resist these feelings and doubts, but the encouragement of others really helps me. It also helps when I look back at God's call to me, specifically how I tried to wiggle my way out of it; I know that I didn't enter this ministry on my own initiative.

At the same time Satan feeds my pride by telling me how I was too good of a preacher for the church where I was serving and that they didn't appreciate me like I deserved. This one is really dangerous because I did get a lot of comments like, "Brother Tim really knows the Bible, but he's too much of a teacher. We want a preacher" (I still haven't figured that one out!), while at the same time I had members tell me that I was too good of a preacher for a church that small. So in this area I have to always guard against pride, even though I'm not exactly what you would call a dynamic speaker, nor am I nearly as knowledgeable of the Bible as others think I am.

TruthOfActs said...

I’m not surprised no one has said what the devil uses most to hurt our witness, our grieving the Holy Spirit, and our broken fellowship with God. It’s as old as the hills.

Jesus tells us, “It is the THOUGHT-LIFE that pollutes. For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts of LUST, theft, murder, adultery, wanting what belongs to others, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, pride, and all other folly. All these vile things come from within; they are what pollute you and make you unfit for God.” (Mark 7:20-23)

Why did Job say he kept his eyes from looking at young girls when he had ten grown children? Did that produce the wrong “Thought Life?”
Why was it the OLDEST men who slipped away first when Jesus said he without sin may throw the first stone?

First on the list of sins named by Jesus was LUST. Why is it we will mention PRIDE as our sin which is last on the list, but not the first?

Is there a fine line between admiring beauty and lusting? We all want to look our best at church. That is good, but can too much be bad? Sometimes what is worn at church won’t pass the school dress code.

As a boy I was afraid my mother would catch me looking at the wrong pages of Sears and Roebuck Catalog. Think of the temptation that can be found with some magazines or a computer.
Jesus is right, number one is still number one even if we don’t talk about it.
See, I waited a long time before writing this—hope nobody reads it.
Rex Ray