There are ten subtle progressive steps the devil tries to lead us through to eventually destroy us. I call these the Ten “D’s” of the Devil. And it all starts with experiencing disappointment.

Have you ever wondered why Christians sometimes fall into deception and make shocking decisions? I am convinced that it’s directly related to these ten deceptive steps. It does not happen overnight, but through small steps not unlike the proverbial frog in the kettle of water that doesn’t know he is being boiled. Here are these ten subtle steps.

1. Disappointment

Disappointments come from unmet expectations. These could be expectations of what we believe God should do for us. Or, expectations we have of our spouse, our church, our children, Christian leaders or even of ourselves. Hebrews 12:15 warns, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” For that reason, we should immediately forgive, release and apply the grace of God to our lives, so that we will not experience steps two through ten. If we do not forgive, we will soon experience step two.

2. Discontentment

The grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. We stop seeing the positive in our lives and in the lives of others and become negative. If we apply the word of God to our lives, forgive others and receive God’s grace, we get a fresh start. If not, we will experience step three.

3. Discouragement

When we enter into the step of discouragement, we wake up dreading the day ahead. Our motivation for life drains away. Unless we get a hold of the root of our problem, which in most cases takes us back to step one, we will soon enter into step four.

4. Doubt

This step is the danger zone spiritually. We become cynical and question things that were completely settled in our hearts in the past. Although we are sometimes shocked by our doubts, we feel helpless to stop them. Doubt opens the door to the next step.

5. Disbelief

Disbelief, or unbelief, is the final form of doubt. We have trouble believing those who represent God and believing the scriptures, which takes us to the next step.

6. Disillusionment

Disillusionment causes us to want to drop out of a marriage or a ministry or a commitment that we knew the Lord had called us to in the past. We lose our God-given vision. We feel as if we are in a dark hole. Unless we take steps to find freedom, we will be set up for step number seven.

7. Deception

When we enter into the step of deception, we believe lies about ourselves and about others. Those who are deceived often do not realize they are deceived. Deception nearly always starts with an unmet expectation somewhere in our lives. This small seed of deception sprouts, roots and grows until it becomes a large plant and sets us up for the next step.

8. Disobedience

When we live in disobedience to God’s word, we eventually enter into a stage of living with bitterness (Hebrews 12:15). Disobedience to the scriptures is sin. Disobedience and bitterness opens the door for the devil to eventually destroy us and leads us to the next step.

9. Despair

When we enter into the step of despair, we lose all hope and can enter into deep depression. The call and destiny of God on our lives is completely detoured. Those who do not receive God’s grace to deal with the unmet expectations and disappointments will enter the final step of the devil’s plan.

10. Destruction

This is the place where our God-given vision and our destiny are completely destroyed. This is the devil’s ultimate plan—destruction by physical, emotional and spiritual death.

In most cases, those whose lives and dreams and ministries have been destroyed by the devil have walked through these ten steps that were strategically laid out for them by the enemy. The sad truth is, they could have gotten off the path of the enemy’s plan at any time and received grace and freedom to go on and fulfill their destiny.

Recognizing, renouncing, and resisting the “Ten Ds of the Devil” is critical in the life of every believer. The devil comes to kill, steal and destroy, but Jesus came to give us life, abundantly! (John 10:10)

(If you are interested in learning more about how to practically deal with the disappointment of unmet expectations, I have written an entire chapter on this subject in my book, 21 Tests of Effective Leadership.)