- The opportunity to cheat someone (like in business, a spouse, or taxes etc.)
- The opportunity to steal something
- The opportunity to lie
The majority of believers won’t usually fall for these because these they’re easy to spot and so they’re ready for battle, so to speak.
So how does Satan slip one past these believers who are on watch? Let’s go to the beginning and see how he did it.
The Serpent’s “Power”
Notice that in the temptation account in Genesis that the serpent did NOT show signs of visible power. He did NOT physically force Eve to eat the fruit. He didn’t manufacture false signs and wonders nor did he make an elephant disappear before her eyes. If he was a real serpent, he did not bite her with a deadly bite as you would expect a serpent to.
Instead, he used words. He used his influence. He argues his case against God using mere words, hoping that you’ll act on them. He merely asks a question designed to cause doubt. He offers an alternative view of what God said.
In reality, Satan has no power over man. He can speak to you (through other people) which will cause you to act against God, i.e. sin. And God’s commands, when broken, demand justice and the serpent is banking on this! Yahweh must honor His spoken word when He promises punishment for sins. So this is the serpent’s back-handed way of exerting power. God’s power, not his!
Satan’s “Power” Demonstrated With Balak
Remember the story of Balak and Balaam (Numbers chapters 22-24)? Balak wanted Balaam to curse Israel but he couldn’t because he could only speak the words God gave him. How did Balak get around this? By putting forth a temptation into Israel’s midst, causing them to sin. He knew that God must act. Balak used God’s own righteous authority in order to afflict Israel. He couldn’t curse them directly so he caused them to sin, which in turn, brought God’s judgment upon them.
And so it is the same with Satan. He can’t MAKE you do anything. But he will put temptation in your midst so that you might sin, thereby bringing God’s judgment against you. This is the tactic he used in the garden and it’s the same tactic he’s using today. He uses his words to tempt, presents you with something that you want and gets you to sin, which causes God to act against you.
Here’s the bottom line: Satan has no power in and of himself because he, like the rest of us, is under God’s authority. He can entice you with deceptive words or entice you with an object; be it forbidden fruit, person, or situation. All we have to do to fall into this trap is to choose self over God.