Ad Pitches and Spiritual Warfare

By Mark A. Taylor

Power. Pleasure. Pride.

Our desire for all three keeps advertisers in business.

“Do it all.” “Enjoy it now.” “Show it off.”

But this isn’t a diatribe against advertising. These examples are only symptoms of the issue we’re facing.

A simple request for photos got me thinking about the problem. “How is it going for you?” I asked a minister after talking with him about pictures for an upcoming article.

“Really well,” he said, after a short pause. “Thanks for asking. We’ve been facing some significant spiritual warfare here,” he added. “The more our church has grown, the more we have felt Satan’s attacks. I’ve been surprised to see which corner they have come from.”

He’s not alone. Indeed, surprise morphs to shock at some of the news we hear about faulty leadership and failed leaders. And we may be most painfully surprised at our own capacity to sin.

Amid all our images of the devil and his work—some biblical and some the stuff of fantasy—perhaps we can most resonate with Peter’s picture of the roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). Too many good people have been devoured by the devil’s wiles. Too much Christian work has been chewed up by his schemes.

But sometimes we forget his most subtle strategy, telling us believable lies. Jesus called him “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Which of us has not believed him when he’s said “you won’t get caught” or “just once won’t hurt” or “it’s necessary in this case” or “you’re special” or “it’s just a little white lie”?

“Do not give the devil a foothold,” says Paul (Ephesians 4:27), but Satan’s surest traction comes in the heart of a believer who decides even one of his lies is harmless.

Like the advertiser, he dangles power, pleasure, and pride before us, but his pitch is always accompanied by a lie: you can control; experience is everything; your reputation comes first.

The solution is as effective as it is unsophisticated. “Submit yourselves . . . to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11).

Don’t believe the battle is over or that you’ve outgrown the conflict. As the preacher I mentioned earlier would tell you, the more you accomplish for God, the more interested Satan will be in your failure.

But we need not fear him. God promises victory to those who remain “self-controlled and alert” (1 Peter 5:8), “strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10).

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