The Wearing-Out Tactics of Satanby Watchman Nee on April 17, 2018
The Wearing-Out Tactics of Satan
By Watchman Nee
Satan has a work, which is attacking the children of God. His attack may not come suddenly; oftentimes, it comes gradually and slowly. Daniel 7.25 mentions how Satan shall wear out the saints of the Most High. Satan has in fact a plan against the saints of the Most High, which is to wear them out. Hence let us clearly recognize that the work of Satan in the lives of God’s children is frequently not very noticeable, since his work is slowly to wear them down.
What is the meaning of the phrase, “wear out”? It has in it the idea of reducing a little this minute, then reducing a little further the next minute. Reduce a little today and reduce a little more tomorrow. Thus the wearing out is almost imperceptible; nevertheless, it is a reducing. The wearing down is scarcely an activity of which one is conscious, yet the end result is that there is nothing left. Hence this principle of Satan’s working in the lives of God’s children is to wear them out until they are worn down completely. He will wear you out a little today and then a little more the next day. He will make you suffer a small amount now and a little more later. You may think this to be something insignificant, nevertheless Satan knows that the consequence of such wearing away is to wear the saint out completely.
For this reason, the Bible indicates that “the love of the many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24.12), which means a gradually growing cold. It also mentions how a certain maid, having a spirit of divination, cried out after Paul and his colleagues for many days (see Acts 16.17-18). Moreover, the Scriptures record that when Felix hoped that Paul would give him money, he sent for Paul the oftener and communed with him (Acts 24.26). And the Old Testament also describes how Delilah pressed Samson daily with her word and so urged him continually that his soul was vexed unto death (Judges 16.16). Such is how Satan gradually, and for many days, will frequently wear out the children of God. “The evil day” spoken of in Ephesians 6.13 refers to the wearing-out tactics of Satan. We m ust ask God to open our eyes that we may discern how Satan would wear us out and how we should combat his wearing-out tactic.
Wearing Out the Physical Body
Especially with respect to the human body, we may easily see how the enemy wears out the children of God. Two examples come to mind: the smiting of Job’s body (Job 2.7,8) and the thorn in Paul’s flesh (2 Cor. 12.7). These are classic cases of Satan’s wearing out men’s bodies. Quite a few Christians experience sickness and the weakening of their body after they are saved, whereas formerly they were rather healthy. Should the Lord open our eyes we will perceive that there is one who is scheming against the children of God all the time, and that one is Satan. Along this same line, we ought to point out how many of the Lord’s servants, before they went forth to preach the gospel, were in good health, but that after they went out to work for the Lord their health failed in a short period of three to five years. This is the enemy wearing out the saints of the Most H igh. He makes the child of God eat a little less today and sleep a little less tomorrow. He causes him to feel a little tired today and a little more tired tomorrow. By thus adding a little at a time, a believer’s health can finally become entirely shaken. Such is the work of Satan.
Wearing Out Man’s Heart
Not only does he work on the body, Satan also works in the human heart. Upon first believing in the Lord you may feel very happy, joyful and peaceful. But if you are not watchful—being ignorant of what the enemy can do—you will find yourself one day mysteriously uncomfortable. You feel somewhat restless today, somewhat unhappy tomorrow, and somewhat depressed the day after. Little by little, your peace is completely lost, your joy totally gone. This is the way the devil wears you down to a state of fatigue and despair.
Wearing Out the Spiritual Life
Satan also wears out your spiritual life. He will take away your prayer life little by little, and cause you to trust God less and less and yourself more and more, a little at a time. He will make you feel somewhat cleverer than before. Step by step you are misled to rely more on your own gift, and step by step your heart is enticed away from the Lord. Now were Satan to strike the children of God with great force at one time, they would know how to resist the enemy since they would immediately recognize his work. What is so wickedly subtle about Satan, though, is that he does not strike with one grand stroke; instead, he will employ the tactic of wearing out the saints over an extended period of time, thus causing God’s children to lose out and to backslide a little at a time. He uses this method of gradualism to wear down the people of God.
Wearing Out Our Time
Satan will also wear out our time. Felix often sent for Paul and communed with him. After two years of conversation with the powerful and gifted apostle, he was still unsaved. This is the enemy’s device to wear people out. Today, Paul is invited to talk without any result; tomorrow he is again invited to talk, with still no result; and the day afterwards he is once more invited to talk, and again, without any result. Paul was inveigled to engage in “resultless” work for two whole years. How the enemy wears out man’s time and energy!
If the children of God do not discern Satan’s wiles they can easily fall into his trap. How we must redeem our time and make every hour count. We must resist Satan from wearing out our time and must withstand him from causing us to do works that will have no results.
Wearing Out Samson’s Consecration
Samson had failures, but he should not have lost his consecration nor his testimony of separation. For the loss of consecration means the loss of power, and the loss of testimony signifies the loss of the presence of God. Samson was a Nazarite, one who was consecrated to God. Satan knew that the source of this man’s power lay in his consecration. Hence in order to touch Samson’s lifespring, he must take away his consecration. How did he do it? He used the woman Delilah, who “pressed [Samson] daily with her words, and urged him, that his soul was vexed unto death. And he told her all his heart” (Judges 16.16,17). Thus did Samson reveal the secret of his power. And subsequently, he fell into the snare of Satan: he lost his consecration, power, testimony of separation and the presence of God. Such “pressing daily” is done by the enemy.
If our eyes are opened by God we shall be able to see that when Satan wears people out he employs all kinds of ways. He wears out the body, men’s heart, and one’s spiritual life. He does not attack violently; he wears out slowly. We must therefore guard against the wearing—out tactics of Satan. We must not let him wear us down. We will instead resist him at every step.
Must Detest the Wearing Out Work of Satan
When Paul was preaching in Macedonia he met a certain maid having a spirit of divination. She followed after him and cried out, saying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim unto you the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days until Paul was so sorely troubled that he turned and declared to the spirit, “I charge thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And the evil spirit came out that very moment (see Acts 16.16-18). In the spiritual realm we need to have such detestation as Paul exhibited here. We are not to detest men but must detest the evil spirits. Paul, for sure, loathed the evil spirit but not the maid. He commanded the spirit to come out of her. In the affair, he treated the maid as a third person. Let us have Pau l’s kind of detestation whenever the devil is wearing men down.
If you really know how Satan tries to wear you out, you will ask God to give you this sense of detestation—which is, to loathe Satan and be angry with him! Many know how to lose their temper on men but strangely enough do not know how to hurl their temper on Satan. When they are annoyed by people they will be thrown into a fit of temper, yet they are not aware of how the enemy is wearing them down. Day after day Paul was being worn down by Satan until he was so exasperated that he opened his mouth to resist the evil spirit, and thus the spirit left the maid. Hence do not keep silent all the time. Let there be voice raised in resistance. If God’s children would grow angry and open their mouths to oppose Satan, all would be well. If people will become angry with the devil we will shout Hallelujah, How wonderful! How very pitiful are some, who are so weak that they allow the enemy to wear them down all the time. Children of God should be angry at Satan and should detest him. By being angry and showing abhorrence they cease experiencing the wearing down of the enemy.
How frequently as you are being worn down by Satan you keep silent, patiently enduring and quietly suffering until you feel so disgusted within yourself and become so angry that you declare: “I oppose this, I will not have it!” Just by saying this, just by being infuriated about it, you are delivered and the wearing out process ends. God’s children should therefore rise up to repudiate and reprove the enemy. Some people fail to get relieved because they still have “strength” to endure. A person who keeps on enduring Satanic wear and tear, allowing the devil to waste away his energy, his joy and his spiritual life, has fallen into the wile of the enemy. Let us be clear, of course, that we should not be angry at the people who are used by Satan; on the contrary, we ought to be patient with them, even loving them. But we must oppose and resist the hidden conspiracy of Satan. If we withstand what he does, we will soon be freed.
The power to resist the evil one comes from discerning his pressure. A number of believers, when they are manipulated and assaulted, do withstand and resist him; yet they find no strength in themselves. This is because they fail to see Satan’s pressure. Though they resist, they do not seem to have the strength to raise their voice against the enemy. Whether or not you can resist him depends on how much you detest him. If you are not quite annoyed at him, your words to him will vanish into the air. But if you are really exasperated, you become angry at him. This anger becomes your power. As you open your mouth you cause him to flee.
Such a detestation comes from revelation. Because you perceive how the devil keeps on wearing you down, you resist him. The moment you see this, Satan knows his tactic is discovered and his hope is lost. May God truly have mercy upon us that we may recognize the wearing-out work of Satan. Let us realize that if we patiently endure, the work of Satan will most certainly continue; but if we are outraged, he will immediately leave us alone. Let us understand that all means of resistance are of no avail except we speak out to resist, and then we shall see that Satan is forced to retreat. If one day we recognize what Satan is doing—that he does plan everything—we shall rise up boldly and declare: “I reject it; I oppose it!” And as God gives us such a resistance, it instantly becomes effective.
In conclusion, we ought to read Ephesians 6.13, in which Paul writes that we, “having done all” ought “to stand”; we must stand, and not allow Satan to continue wearing us down. We should ask the Lord to open our eyes to see what wearing-out work Satan is performing on the children of God. May we rise up to resist and to speak against the enemy. May we declare: “I resist, I oppose, I do not accept such wearing down.” If we reject and resist whatever wearing-down tactic Satan may use upon us, we shall witness the salvation of the Lord and the deliverance from Satan’s wearing-out stratagem.
Such a word needs the covering of the blood. May God cover us with the blood.
(From the book Let Us Pray by Watchman Nee)