I wrote the following very early yesterday morning. It is part of the book I am working on, "Seek Ye This Jesus."
It is important to understand how Satan and his minions respond to your attempts to walk with God. When you attract the attention of heaven, you also attract the attention of hell. Hell’s response is often not only more obvious to you than heaven’s, but also can seem to happen faster and to a greater extent. The reason for this is that the devil’s primary operating area is the body, where your perception is well-developed, while God’s primary operating area is the spirit, where your perception is under-developed. If your eyes were open to the spiritual realm, you would see how extensive, immediate, and mighty heaven’s reaction to your slightest walk with God can be.
8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (Luke 15)
There are several ways the devil reacts to your attempts to come to God, and understanding the devil’s tactics give you power over him. First, he counterfeits what you seek. The easiest way to derail a seeker of truth is to provide them with some spiritual manifestation that surpasses their experience. The devil, having obtained great power and knowledge in the presence of God before his fall, can counterfeit almost anything that God can produce. He can give you impressions. He can speak to you. He can appear to you as an angel of light, and can even appear to you claiming to be God. He can work miracles. How, then, can you tell the difference between a spiritual manifestation of God and one of the devil? You must learn to evaluate truth not with your bodily senses, but by the power of the Holy Ghost. “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5) When an experience comes from God, it is always accompanied by the Holy Ghost, which will create a sensation in your spirit that is completely distinct to anything this world has to offer, but is closest to what we call love. Do not understand this to mean that the Holy Ghost manifests as a feeling in the body.
Because this sensation is practically impossible to describe, the best way to learn to recognize it is by experience. Over time, you train yourself to recognize the Holy Ghost by taking note of the sensations you experience in the spirit in moments where you lived God’s word as found in the scriptures and as given to you in spiritual manifestations. Prior to the Lord Jesus’ first visit to me, I was visited by Satan, disguised as the Lord and claiming to be him. When he appeared to me, I was filled with bodily excitement at what I thought was happening. Quickly, I realized something was off. I noticed the lack of the Holy Ghost, which is a sensation have have come to be very familiar with. Then I connected to the Holy Ghost, realized this was Satan, and cast him out. Later, when the real Lord appeared to me, I sensed his presence immediately even before I turned and saw him. It was the same sensation I had always experienced, but in greater abundance than any previous time.
The Holy Ghost can have a sanctifying effect on your body when your soul heeds it, but it operates directly on your spirit, not your body. Always be incredibly wary of feelings and emotions in your body. For example, the subtle distinction between compassion in your spirit and passion in your body can mean the difference between working a mighty miracle of intercession and being tempted to use the Lord’s name in vain by seeking a blessing that is not his will to give. The lust of many men and women who pray for God to justify the desires of their flesh has been mistakenly called inspiration from God. Though God was telling them “no,” they could not hear because the volume of their bodies was so much louder than the voice of the spirit.
Without great discernment, many new and experienced believers have been led astray by spiritual counterfeits. Once Satan has enticed you with a demonic spiritual encounter, he can teach you false doctrine that will keep you busy with what you think will bring you to God, but what is actually keeping you from him. A great example of this is found in the story of Cain and Abel, where Cain is enticed by Satan to make an offering to God in a form other than what God had commanded.
Another way to recognize counterfeit spiritual experiences is that they support staying as you currently are. True spiritual experiences are uplifting, but also paradoxically harrowing. When God reaches out to you, he rarely does so only to encourage you. More often, he does so to chasten you in love and invite you to progress further through ever-deeper repentance, abandoning sacred cows, accepting deeper doctrine, and taking on previously insurmountable challenges. God’s interactions with you will lead you to greater experiences with him and will change you for the better. They will subdue your natural man and lift you up by humbling you. Satan’s interactions with you will gratify your pride and make you feel like you do not need to change.
Counterfeit spiritual experiences are common, and you should be very careful to watch for them, but you should not fear them. Instead, you should regard them as a sign that you are on the right path. Satan does not send counterfeit experiences to those who are not a threat to him. It is better to let those people continue to believe there is no devil, that anything goes with God, or that there is no God. It is only when people repent and attempt to come to the Lord Jesus that Satan needs to send them spiritual experiences. This is reminiscent of how a military plane will deploy “chaff”—a confetti of metal pieces—to distract an incoming missile from its original target. The plane will not just randomly deploy the chaff. It waits until it is in imminent danger.
Similarly, Satan tends to employ other people to attack you when you decide to follow God. Satan has an incredibly large network of people on this earth who are within his power. When we think of the demon possessed, we think of very extreme cases. The vast majority of people who are influenced by demons are not even aware of it, because it is something that happens by degrees. In everything we do, we are enticed by God on the one hand, and the devil on the other. What the means is that practically every moment of every day provides us the opportunity to be an agent of the devil, even temporarily. This can come in ways we do not even perceive. I might say something that is totally innocuous to me, but triggers some unknown temptation in another. Of course, this can happen on a much larger scale and in less innocuous ways.
The fact that most people on this earth either deny God or refuse to come to him means that, for most people, heeding Satan’s voice is their default position. Does that seem an extreme statement? Perhaps you think that, were that to be true, we would live in a world where terrible things are done by normal people on a daily basis. While we are getting closer every day, we are not there yet. Such an expectation, though, is unrealistic under present circumstances. You will not see Satan’s power over seemingly normal but ungodly people until you try to walk with God. Consider a prison situation. The inmates seem to have a peaceful experience, mulling about all day. Sure, they are subject to a few rules, but as long as they keep them, everything stays orderly and calm. It is easy to ignore the power wielded by the warden and his associates until an inmate tries to escape. At that moment, all hell will break loose. The same goes with you when you try to walk with God.
The moment you set foot on that path, you will see just how many and to what degree people in your life are influenced by Satan. You will of course be ridiculed, mocked, cut off, and cast out for your religious beliefs. There is no place for men and women who love the Lord Jesus and are willing to do what he actually said in any modern Christian sect. It may surprise you to see just how much of a hold Satan has on people who spend so much time and money in what they suppose is the service of God. What may surprise you further is to see the reaction you get to those who have no idea of your spiritual life. People at work, school, or other associations will also make active attempts to trigger sin in you. This may come in the form of unfair treatment at work, severe persecution in spite of doing good things, inappropriate sexual advances, or any number of things that you’d never expect. Even your own family members may persecute you (Matthew 10:36). Satan is like the ultimate mafia boss. When you attempt to walk with God, he starts calling in his favors with those around you. And they hardly ever have any idea what is going on. This is spiritual warfare. The appropriate reaction is to fight it spiritually. Get on your knees and intercede for these people. Ensure your behavior in the natural is above reproach. React to persecution with kindness. Avoid even the appearance of evil.