Satan has an army, and it is well organized (Eph. 6:12). He and his demons are highly intelligent, know our weaknesses and fears, and, as Pastor Harvey Turner said in his recent sermon on spiritual warfare, have a "short-term and long-term plan" to attack Christians.
Wouldn't it be stellar to intercept these plans? In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis gives us the next best thing. He presents a fictional correspondence between a demon (Screwtape) and his demonic nephew-ling (Wormwood), where Screwtape gives strategies to terrorize and confuse Wormwood's "patient," the Christian that he is assigned to torment. The ultimate goal? Screwtape tells Wormwood, "The only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy [God]."
So here is Screwtape's playbook against us:
1) Keep us focused on the concerns of this world alone.
2) Capitalize on spiritual dryness. Convince us that emotional highs should be permanent, then, when they go away, convince us that spiritual dryness will be permanent.
3) Encourage hyper-spiritualization. Make us pray for ethereal things only, or, to become so introspective that we spend hours examining ourselves without getting any clue as to who we actually are.
4) Discourage praying altogether, or, make prayer seem like it has to be spontaneous and lofty to be effective. If that doesn't work, teach us to estimate the value of prayer by the feeling it produces.
5) Undermine faith and prevent the formation of virtues by using present turmoil (like wars and disease) to make it seem like God is absent.
6) Keep us in a state of uncertainty because "There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy [God]."
7) Keep our charity and generosity focused towards people across the globe and our negative emotions fixed on those nearest to us, so that "The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary."
8. Keep us from realizing that we are under spiritual attack.
9) Promote disunity within our relationships and churches.
10) Convince us that Christianity is inherently tied to a political party. They don't care which.
11) Take advantage of the spiritually dry times by promoting sensual temptations, especially lust.
12) Encourage us to take good pleasures (like food, drink, and sex) and use them in ways God has forbidden (like gluttony, drunkenness, and sexual immorality).
13) Encourage us to pretend to be something we're not, because "All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be."
14) Encourage us to joke about sin and become flippant about it.
15) Encourage a fake prayer life that leads to fake repentance.
16) Make us feel guilty for enjoying things in this life for what they are (like food, drink, and recreation) and make us feel like we must only enjoy the "important" things (like Bible reading and volunteering).
17) Discourage humility at all costs. Better yet, make us proud about how humble we are.
18) Turn our attention completely towards ourselves.
19) Encourage jealousy over the talents of others. Make us feel bad that others are more gifted than we are.
20) Keep us from remembering that we were created and that our talents were given to us by the Creator.
21) "Tortured fear and stupid confidence are both desirable states of mind."
22) Keep us focused on the future, rather than living in the present, because "We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow's end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now..."
23) Keep us from committing to one church. Church-hopping is a decent alternative to not being involved with a church at all.
24) Gluttony is never talked about. Therefore, make us gluttons, especially gluttons for delicacies (e.g. beer snobs).
25) Encourage us to skim this list because it's too long and we have more important things to busy ourselves with. (This is war. Pay attention, soldier).
26) Convince us that emotional love is the basis of the marriage commitment. When this goes, so do the vows.
27) Convince us that marriage is for the fulfillment of our selfish desires.
28) Encourage us to find a spouse who does not love Jesus, because "The aim is to guide each sex away from those members of the other with whom spiritually helpful, happy, and fertile marriages are most likely."
29) Convince us that chastity is unhealthy and singleness is a curse.
30) Give us an unrealistic perception of physical beauty through media and pornography.
31) Convince us that we own our time, talents, and bodies.
32) Convince us that there is no pleasure in God.
33) Attack us intellectually by raising doubts about the historical reality of the resurrection, the authenticity of the Bible, etc.
34) Encourage social vanity, like being an "elite" Christian or part of the best church.
35) Encourage us to add a cause to our Christianity (like "going green") that makes the two virtually synonymous.
36) Convince us that we should demand "novelty" and "authenticity" above all else.
37) Give us the right spiritual medicine for the wrong spiritual problem (like a Sabbath for a sluggard).
38) Exploit the ambiguity of the word "love" to make us think that we're loving when we're not.
39) Encourage us to lie about what we really want and then pretend that we're being "unselfish."
40) "False spirituality is always to be encouraged."
41) Make prosperity in this life our ultimate goal, because "Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is 'finding his place in it', while really it is finding its place in him."
42) Use fear to justify hatred. Discourage courage.
43) Convince us to rely on our strength for patience, then watch it run out just before the trial ends. This is amusing to demons.
44) Make Christianity seem like it is divorced from action.
These methods of attack are often very subtle because, as Screwtape says, "The safest road to Hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts..." If you are honest with yourself, you are being attacked by several of these strategies right now and you had no clue. Pray against these schemes.
But we must not forget that despite this temporal warfare, if we are in Christ we will never be separated from God. As Screwtape admits, "Remember always, that He [God] likes the little vermin [us], and sets an absurd value on the distinctiveness of every one of them."
Demons hate that God loves us. Thankfully, that doesn't stop Him from doing so.