Paul told the Corinthians that he and his apostolic associates were wise to Satan’s deceptive schemes (2 Cor 2:11). The apostle knew Satan was a formidable enemy who had millennia of experience tempting and deceiving God’s image-bearers; but he also knew he had been given insight into the way his enemy operated.
Following Paul’s example, it is vital—a matter of life and death—to understand Satan’s strategies and, specifically, the ways he will tempt us to sin. Scripture gives us crucial intel of our enemy’s strategies and the content of his arsenal. Consider:
His first strategy will be to get you to doubt God’s Word (Gen 3:1).
Then he will then lure you away from fellowship (Heb 3:12-15) and away from church (Prov 18:1; Heb 10:23-24).
He will exploit your natural proclivities and tempt you to run to extremes (Matt 26:33-35).
He will tempt you to care too much for your reputation (Luke 6:26) or too little (1 Tim 3:7).
He will tempt you to prize your ministry over your family (1 Tim 3:4-5) and your personal life (1 Tim 4:16). Or he will tempt you to value your family over Christ (Luke 14:26).
He will tempt you to rely on your own resources (1 Chron 21:1; John 15:6), to avoid suffering (Matt 16:22-23), or to compromise your convictions to evade persecution (Gal 6:12).
He will tempt you with unbelief (Matt 13:19; cf. Ps 3:1) and despair (Ps 73).
He will tempt you to trust your own righteousness (Luke 18:9-14), even the smallest sliver (Gal Gal 1:8-9; 5:1-4).
He will tempt you with money (Matt 13:22; 26:15; 1 Tim 6:9), fame (Matt 4:6; John 5:44), sexual pleasure (1 Cor 7:5; 10:8; 1 Tim 5:1), or a life of selfish ease (Luke 12:13-21).
He will tempt you to grasp for authority (1 Tim 3:6; 3 John 1:9), to mistake harshness with good leadership (2 Tim 2:24) or selfish ambition with wisdom (James 3:14-16).
He will bring about physical difficulty in order to tempt you to curse God (Job 1:1-22).
He will tempt you to believe false doctrine (2 Cor 11:14) and try to deceive you with lies (2 Tim 2:13-14).
He will accuse you and tempt you to doubt the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement (Rev 12:10).
He will tempt you to grasp at satisfying your God-given desires rather than valuing God supremely and trusting God for the fulfillment of those desires (Matt 4:4).
He will tempt you to get your inheritance now rather than suffering and waiting for God’s timing (Matt 4:9).
He will tempt you to vindicate yourself in front of an unbelieving world (Matt 4:6), or he will tempt you to do righteous deeds for the praise of men (Acts 5:3; cf. Matt 6:1).
If you think you are ever out of harm’s way, you are a fool. Your enemy is on the constant prowl (1 Peter 5:8), and once you think you are immune to one set of temptations, he will nail you with another kind (1 Cor 10:13).
That is why you must be always watchful in prayer (Cor 4:2), asking your Father for safe passage through this temptation-filled world (Mat 6:13; 18:7) and for help to remain firm in the Scriptures (Ps 119:11). If you’ve been caught off guard (Ps 119:176), cry out to God (Ps 116:1-6), repent (Luke 3:8; Acts 26:20), and warn others of how subtle and treacherous the enemy is (Luke 22:31; 2 Peter 2:1-22).