THE DEVIL?!? Preaching?
Pop culture has made the devil out to be a red guy with horns and a pointy tail. Always with a sneaky smile on his face. Other parts of culture have taught that the devil wants/does bad things to you - and those bad things usually mean hurting your body or your pocketbook or your family.
But do these ideas come from Scripture? What does God reveal about the Evil One?
The answer may surprise you - because he is not necessarily out to make life terrible for you, especially not in North America where our affluence has become our blindfold to God's Word.
In fact, the Bible describes Satan with these words - "accuser", "deceiver", "father of lies", "liar", "adversary", "enemy", "masquerading as an angel of light." You have likely noticed that putting these descriptions together you do not have a cheesy, red suited guy with a sneaky smile. Instead, you have an intelligent preacher of falsehood who appears righteous and beautiful. He preaches. He speaks lies. That is how he works. He doesn't want to make your physical life miserable, unless he can use it to shake your confidence in Christ, unless he can also get you to trust his fake words.
So when is the devil preaching? How do you know it is the devil who is speaking his lies in your ear?
Well, this can be tricky, because he is so crafty. He speaks through advertisements, politicians, news broadcasts, you name it - anytime words are being spoken in this world, they are either of God or they are of the devil. (Even the idea that there is some sort of neutral ground, that is not influenced by God or the devil - is his deception). He will even use God's Word to deceive you, by misinterpreting it, or emphasizing the wrong part of it over against another part. Here is a list of characteristics in his preaching that you can be on the lookout for.
1) His words oppose God's Word. Knowing God's Word is your certain defense against him.
2) His words focus you on glory. Christ came for a cross - not glory - the devil hates this.
3) His words put the focus on you. What you do - or what you don't do - the devil wants you focused on yourself - not Christ and what He does.
4) His words make promises for your life now. Christ looked past the shame of this life to the joy that follows, and He calls Christians to do the same. Any words that speak otherwise are of the devil.
5) His words create self-righteousness or despair. Either you are a good person, or you have no hope - there is no middle ground - there is no Christ to save you. This is what the devil preaches.
Certainly this list is not exhaustive, but it is a good start for you to be aware of. St. Peter said, "Be soberminded. Be watchful. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around you like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith."
In other words, your faith in God's Word protects you. You resist the Evil One by holding to God's Word. The devil wants to scare you into letting go of God's Word - perhaps he threatens you with being unpopular, or persecuted for your faith, or less successful than your peers - all of this is designed to make you release God's promises. But you have the promise of Christ. Christ defends you. His Word is your fortress. Run into His safety and fill your mind with His Word. Read it, meditate on and speak it back to God - against this the devil has no move.