Ten Works of Satan

a1I’ve heard rumors that some at ubf ministry think I am doing the work of Satan or that I’m even Satan himself. Forests also reported hearing such things in a recent comment. And as MJ pointed out, quite a few people at ubf think that Ben and I are a bad influence. So then, let’s examine Satan’s work. What does the bible have to say about the schemes, works and methods of Satan? Whether you believe there is an actual being called Satan out there (I do) or not is not the point of this article. In any case, we should be able to see that the following ten things pointed out in the bible as being works of Satan are not good ways of interacting with our fellow human beings.

How does Satan work?

1. To incite pride

In 1 Chronicles 21:1 we read the story of David counting his fighting men. The text says that Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. Taking a census or counting our blessings is not necessarily a bad thing. But when such things incite us to pride and dependence on our own security, the bible says counting our strengths is a bad thing. So if you are obsessed with counting numbers that show your strength, you might be doing the work of Satan.

2. To blind people’s eyes

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says the “the god of this age” has blinded people’s eyes. Satan hides things and is deceptive. Satan does not want people to see clearly. So if you are unwilling to discuss matters openly, try to manipulate who knows what information and would rather remain behind closed doors, you might be doing the work of Satan.

3. To tempt

In Matthew 4 we read the story of Satan tempting Jesus. Satan tempts Jesus to give into his fleshly desire for food in order to prove his identity. Satan tempts Jesus to test God’s protection. And the third time Satan tempts Jesus to gain the world just by bowing down to him to prove his loyalty. So if you are asking people to prove their identity as Christians, asking them to take unreasonable actions while trusting in God’s protection or promising grandiose blessings in exchange for loyalty, you might be doing Satan’s work.

4. To persecute

Peter warned that the devil sought to devour Christians through persecutions, as we read in 1 Peter 5:8-9. Satan is seen as a prowling lion, roaring angrily. To persecute is to harass constantly, to subject someone to hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of their race or political or religious beliefs. So if you are continually shaming those who claim to listen to the Holy Spirit for spiritual direction, appeasing those who want to celebrate the Christian sacraments or de-friending those who claim to obey the authority of Jesus and call out authoritarianism, you might be doing Satan’s work.

5. To afflict

In Job we read the story of Satan afflicting an innocent man. Job 2:7 says “So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.” We cannot say all afflictions from Satan, but painful afflictions generally are one of the methods Satan loves to employ. So if you are taking joy in causing pain, suffering or trouble for other people, you might be doing Satan’s work.

6. To accuse

The bible calls Satan the “accuser”. Zechariah 3:1 says “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.” Satan delights in accusing, heaping guilt upon guilt on the souls of humans. So if you enjoy putting guilt-trips on people around you, you might be doing the work of Satan.

7. To bind

Jesus mentioned the work of binding in relation to Satan. In Luke 13:16 Jesus was recorded as saying, “Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” Bondage and enslavement and entanglement are not things of God. Jesus’ mission was liberation. So if you are propagating slogans that bind people’s lives with your methodologies, constantly expecting people to stay in your church, or intertwining people’s lives through arranged marriages, you might be doing Satan’s work.

8. To betray

The great climax of the story of Judas was when Satan entered him and he betrayed Jesus. John 13:27 says, “As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” Betrayal is something we all end up doing at some point. It’s human nature. But it is also a scheme of Satan. If we find ourselves repeatedly betraying the trust of family members or friends, we might be doing the work of Satan.

9. To lie

Satan is called the Father of Lies in the bible. In Acts 5:3 we read Peter’s assessment of Ananias: “Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?” If you are giving people false promises, leaving out facts from stories, insisting on one perspective that trumps everyone else’s perspective or sweeping hundreds of authentic stories of people’s lives under the rug, you might be doing Satan’s work.

10. To display power

2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 describes another method of Satan: “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” So if you love displaying your own power, your own glorious history and you continually seek signs and wonders from the weather and the universe around you, you might be doing Satan’s work.


What else does the bible say about Satan? How can we discern and avoid Satan’s work? What is God’s work? And how does all this fit in with our work?


  1. Excellent post, Brian. As a sort of Bible geek who loves to see the Bible quoted, I love to read such posts. It’s unfortunate that some will never read this simply because you wrote it. Or if they do read it they are already negatively prejudiced and overly critical, so that they won’t be able to learn or receive anything from it.

  2. 11. Pestering Angels (Michael, specifically)

    9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” – Jude 1:9

    7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. – Rev 12:7-9

    12. Taking too much pride in your international trading acumen

    Through your widespread trade
    you were filled with violence,
    and you sinned.
    So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
    and I expelled you, guardian cherub,
    from among the fiery stones. – Eze 28:16

    13. Butchering the word of God whilst exhibiting craftiness

    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’?” – Gen 3:1

    14. Ruling the world, in spirit form, and leading others into disobedience

    30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. – Jn 12:30-31

    As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. – Eph 2:1-2

    • Obviously, the reference should be Jude 9 and sorry, I couldn’t help myself with this post…

    • Corrected it to Jude 1:9. Love #13 on Gen 3:1.

    • And I fixed the bold format… sorry just had to!

    • Nice. #11 is convicting to me. I should try to avoid pestering more. #13 is just classic. I knew someone would understand my sub-text.

    • Thanks, guys. I was mostly serious about #13, the others not so much. I would add that Satan craftily twisted God’s word for his own nefarious ends. I have to be careful that my own motive is pure when endeavoring to look at Scripture anew.

  3. Quite an intimidating title, but thought provoking. I think it means we should think twice before condemning someone. It is not a light matter and it is something we all have to be careful about. Satan can use our best intentions against us. I would recommend reading it as if it has nothing to do with you at all. But if some point pricks your conscience, it would be good to think about it more.

    • Intriguing approach, friend. I may try that sometime. My attitude when writing this was to consider all of them as applying to me, and to see if the Spirit released me from them. What I found was that human nature and Satan’s schemes are very similar. I also realized that it would be somewhat easy for ubf leaders to feel like I’m doing most of those things to them. Aren’t I lying all the time, falsely accusing their leaders of things they didn’t do? Aren’t I betraying the friendships I had with them?

      I am sure that is how they feel, and those are legitimate feelings. By my conscience is clean because I am not making false statements. As difficult as it may seem to believe, I do have evidence that should send some top leaders, including SB, to jail. According to American law at least, some ubf leaders should be in jail right now, either for what they did (physical/sexual abuse) or for what they failed to do (pastors are required to report abuse). And I have not been lying: I have been repeating the stories and words shared with me. We have over 200 testimonies of all kinds of abuse.

      And as far as betrayal goes, the friendships that were real survived my resignation from ubf. What I sadly discovered was that most of the friendships I thought I had were only acquaintances based on loyalty to the ubf heritage and honor to SL. When those things were gone from my life, so were my “friends”.

      So I am in no way convicted by the Spirit that I am doing Satan’s work (although this exercise has helped me to be more cautious not to let my human nature appear to be Satan’s work). The mission statement of Jesus in Luke 4 tells us God’s work is primarily liberation. What I have done has helped spark liberation for many people around the world. Can Satan drive out Satan?

      What did convict me rather deeply as I read these works of Satan is this– from 1 Corinthians 13:4– love is kind.

    • Mark Mederich

      what satan intended to harm us, has harmed us, but God is making us strong to overcome, & once we overcome we can’t be stopped: God shames inferior devilish methods by displaying in our lives His marvelous superior ways;

      as we meditate on exceedingly good heavenly things, basically bad earthly things fail to preoccupy or inhibit us..

  4. Thanks for your openness. I was not directing my comment to you persay, but to anyone who might feel offended while reading, thinking that you are attacking them personally. Whether you are or not is not the point. What I hope people realize is no one is exempt from Satan’s attacks and that each of us with eyes, ears, and a heart, may examine ourselves before God. Joy and peace are sure markers that we are right with God.

  5. forestsfailyou

    The word Hasatan in Hebrew means “The deceiver”

    • nothing funny about Hasatan, folks but rather a matter of definite articles:

      The original Hebrew term, satan, is a noun from a verb meaning primarily to, “obstruct, oppose,” as it is found in Numbers 22:22, 1 Samuel 29:4, Psalms 109:6. Ha-Satan is traditionally translated as “the accuser,” or “the adversary.” The definite article “ha-”, English “the”, is used to show that this is a title bestowed on a being, versus the name of a being. Thus this being would be referred to as “the Satan.”- http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Satan.html

  6. 15. Masquerading as an angel of light (I suppose that we can file that under “deception”)

    14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. – 2 Cor 11:14-15

    • That’s the verse that prompted the picture I chose for this article. People tend to imagine an ugly beast that we would immediately turn away from. But the reality is that Satan looks quite good, attractive and can even appear godly.

      So just because someone has the appearance of godliness doesn’t mean they are good for us or will be helpful to us.

      To masquerade is to present a false show or pretense; to pretend to be someone one is not. I want no part of pretending to be someone else or wearing a mask so I look like everyone in my group. I am me. You are you. And neither of us is God.

    • Note: When I say “you” I am just referring generally to anyone reading this, not to you specifically David.

    • +1, Brian. One consequence of being duped by the master deceiver is that we in turn begin to become self-deluded. Perhaps that is a version of hell in and of itself; being helplessly lost in self-deception, not being able to discover or know one’s true self, as God intended each individual (and community) to be.

      The power of Christ on the cross is that through this event, we are humbled by Jesus’ utter vulnerability and humility. We are stripped of our fig leaves and pretenses and offered healing through union with someone who is the very embodiment of truth.

    • “Perhaps that is a version of hell in and of itself; being helplessly lost in self-deception, not being able to discover or know one’s true self, as God intended each individual (and community) to be.”

      Yes indeed. That is one of many excellent points James Danaher makes in his “Eyes/Ears” book. Danaher doesn’t deny the future Heaven/Hell existence, but he points out that much of the wording in Scripture indicates a present hell and that the “Today is the day” salvation is being saved from the the false images of God we have in the present.

      This understanding helped bring back the beauty and magnificent wonder of the gospel to me.

    • And I suppose this is one of my answers to the question you asked at the end of the article, “what is God’s work?” Further, God’s work is described by Jesus in this way,

      “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” – Jn 6:29

      For his end, God is working powerfully to give me sufficient evidence to place my trust him. This is often a messy and protracted process, but he’s always working to get us to a place of child-like trust in him (Jn 5:17).

  7. Perhaps I’ve been duped, for much of my Christian life, into thinking that we should be primarily preoccupied with the avoidance of sin and ultimately hell. If this has been your take as well, then consider this:

    “…do we take time to talk about the manifold and astonishing blessings of salvation? Do we give time and effort to explaining the new birth; our new name and identity; adoption into God’s family; the experience of God’s love and beholding Christ’s glory; the slow but radical change in our character; a growing freedom from our past and peace in our present; power and meaning in the face of suffering; membership in a new, universal, multi-racial counter-cultural community; a mission to do justice and mercy on the earth; guidance from and personal fellowship with God himself; relationships of love that go on forever; the promise of our own future perfection and glorious beauty; complete confidence in the face of death; and the new heavens and new earth, a perfectly restored material world?”http://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/keller_pascal_and_preaching_the_gospel

  8. “…we should be primarily preoccupied with the avoidance of sin and ultimately hell…”

    I think in the last 500 years, fear has crept into the church and ruled many souls. So much killing and shunning for believing the wrong doctrines. So people became fearful of believing the wrong thing.

    I see the church needs several correctives. One major corrective is to cast out fear. The Greek for “perfect love drives out fear” indicates “exo-fear”, i.e. putting fear on the outside similar to an exo-skeleton being outside of the body.

    I think Scripture speaks of a balance of orthopraxy, orthodoxy and orthopathy, as in James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

    • Yes, and with that, a kind of unhealthy fear of or disinterest in the material or secular realm:

      …one of the other results of the Reformation was a kind of disenchantment of Christian worship, not so much in Luther and Calvin, or at least not to the extent that later Reformers like Zwingli or the Puritans. This disenchantment involved a rejection of sacramentality—the conviction that the Spirit meets us in matter, that material stuff is a channel of grace. As a result, Christianity becomes a kind of intellectualized set of ideas rather than a liturgical way of life.

      Taylor calls this a process of excarnation, and in many ways I think it is a lamentable byproduct of the Reformation—and not one that necessarily has to follow from other convictions of the Reformers. Indeed, I would say some of us (like Todd Billings, John Witvliet, Hans Boersma, me, and others) are trying to recover a ”Reformed catholicity” that tries to undo this part of the story.link