Pastor Tommy Nelson once preached a sermon entitled: "If I Were the Devil." In a deep, dramatic voice, he said: "If I were the devil, I tell you what I'd do. I would try to deceive you and get you into error. I would get you off base. And if you stayed true, I would try to disqualify you. I would get you immoral, I would get you where no one would believe what came out of your mouth. I would make you a tabloid, where nobody would believe you. I would remove your confidence until you were afraid to speak because your life was such a shamble. I would get you into sin. I would prowl around like a roaring lion to devour you morally. And if I couldn't do that, I would try to make you successful. And I would distract you if I couldn't disqualify you. I would get you busy. I would get you so distracted to the gospel that no longer would your prayers be about holiness and souls. They would only be about the bottom line in your business. I would get you materialistic, and no longer concerned about the spiritual nature of life. If I couldn't do that, I would divide you. If I couldn't divide you, I've almost lost you. You know what I'd do then? I'd discourage you. And then if I couldn't discourage you, I'd try death. I would try my best to kill you. That's what I would do to take you out."
It seems as though the Devil will do whatever it takes to deceive, distract, or discourage you. He is not picky, and not above using our strengths against us. You probably have a good idea of what your weaknesses are, and work diligently to shore up those low places and to guard against failing in those areas. We aren't usually as vigilant about guarding our strengths, because we don't feel as vulnerable there. If we perceive ourselves to be good at communication, or empathy, or giving support, we assume we are doing that well, until bam! We start taking those skills for granted, stop paying attention to the needs of the person or the situation at hand, and end up with a conflict in a fractured relationship we never saw coming. Whenever we start coasting, we usually just end up at the bottom of the hill in a heap.
The most important roles in my life over the years have been as a wife, mother, counselor and friend. During a particularly dark period, I was failing miserably in all four of these areas. I disappointed the most significant people in my life and lost all of my confidence. I felt invisible and insignificant. The Devil whispered to me daily that my life was no longer worth living as I had no value to anyone. I believed his lies and fell into despair. I looked inside myself and found nobody at home. Just an echoing emptiness, a hollow cavern where my sense of self was supposed to be. If I had nothing to offer anyone, what was the point of living? My value had only ever corresponded to what I could offer to others. But God met me there with a novel idea: what if my worth was in who I was rather than what I did? What if doing flowed out of being, rather than the other way around? What if just being my broken self was enough?
Robert McGee writes in The Search for Significance: "our sin will never change the truth of who we are in Christ.” Beloved. Whole. Complete. Worthy. Forgiven. Free. That is how God sees us. Don't let the Devil fool you into believing otherwise.