A number of years ago, I heard Christian biologist Dr. David Menton give a presentation in which he described the satanic three-step. It’s a crafty way in which our enemy waltzes his way into our heads and hearts. Once there, he dances with us into disobedience and things we later regret.
The satanic three-step is a masterfully deceptive means through which we can find ourselves blindsided by evil and sucker punched by the one we thought was just trying to help. The devil is really good at it; he’s been practicing for a long time.
Take, for example, exhibit A:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:1-6)
The rest is history. The devil, disguised as a snake, made his one-two-three step into the heads and hearts of the first human beings and walloped them with such a surprising sneak attack they hardly knew what hit them. But because they succumbed to his trickery, now all the bad things are in this world. Now people die. Now people hurt each other, take advantage of each other, gossip about each other, and lie to one another. The Bible calls this sin.
Because this dance with humans worked so well back then, the devil just keeps using it on us today. Beware of the satanic three-step!
Here’s how it works:
- Step one: Question God’s Word. That’s what the devil did during his chat with Eve: “Did God really say?” He invited himself in by simply asking a question. He usually doesn’t come to us guns ablazing either. He just asks, “Is there really only one path to heaven?” “Would God really be upset if you’re only looking at her?” “What will it hurt to drink just one more?” It sounds so innocent. But make no mistake, his motives are murderously malicious.
- Step two: Deny God’s Word. After Eve’s response, Satan wasn’t ready to give up. Things were set up just as he had planned. “You will not surely die,” he said. What? That’s exactly what God said would happen if they disobeyed and ate from the tree. But the enemy has a way of making lies sound oh so true. They didn’t want to die. So he said they wouldn’t. He also tells us, “You won’t get caught,” “God won’t mind,” or “No one will get hurt.” They’re lies, but he knows it’s what we want to hear.
- Step three: Change God’s Word. After drawing Eve in close enough to strike the deadly blow, he said, “Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” He had her, along with Adam. They couldn’t resist. He was sneaky, working up to the point where he shared his deadly lie. He does the same to us: “There’s so much money to be made, and God wants you to be successful, even if you have to cross ethical lines.” “God wants you to be happy, so just go for it.” “God will understand that if you don’t fly off the handle now, they’ll never see how much it bothers you.” Somehow, the devil gets us to believe the very opposite of what God says and thinks. And he dances with us till he sucker punches us into outright disregard for God’s good design and purpose.
It’s such a sneaky progression, and it works way too often.
That’s not the end of the story though. The good news is that Jesus came to defeat the devil in our place. So now, “when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). We’ve got power to do battle with the devil. We’ve got divine strength we can tap into when he comes with his smooth-talking temptations. With God’s help, we can resist and defeat Satan.
Don’t give up the fight!
P.S. If you want to find out more, check out this book, Give Satan the Credit He Is Due, from Time of Grace.