Have you ever wondered why Christians sometimes fall into deception and make shocking decisions? I am convinced that it’s directly related to the twelve subtle, progressive steps the devil leads us through to destroy us. 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. I call these the 12 Ds of the devil. And it all starts with experiencing disappointment.
Disappointments come from unmet expectations. These could be expectations of what we believe God should do for us, 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 twelve. If we do not forgive, we will soon experience discontentment.
The grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. We stop seeing the positive in our lives and the lives of others. We 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 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 begin to experience doubt.
Spiritually, this step is the danger zone. We become cynical and question things that were once 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 disbelief.
Disbelief, or unbelief, is the final form of doubt. We have trouble believing those who represent God and believing the scriptures, leading to disillusionment.
Disillusionment makes us want to quit, whether it be our marriage, 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 led to deception.
When we enter into the step of deception, we believe lies about ourselves and others. Those who are deceived often do not realize they are being deceived. Deception nearly always starts with an unmet expectation somewhere in our lives. From here, this seed of deception sprouts, roots, and grows until it becomes a large plant and sets us up for disobedience.
When we disobey God’s word, we live with bitterness (Hebrews 12:15). Disobeying the scriptures is a sin. Disobedience and bitterness lead us to the next step and opens the door for the devil to destroy us.
Discord creates division and relationship issues. Fortunately, there is good news. As long as there is life, there is hope. We can go back to stage one and forgive, receive grace and healing, and get a fresh start. If we do not, we are headed for dysfunction.
We become dysfunctional in our personal lives, our marriage, and our relationships. Confusion and miscommunication abound. We can find ourselves going through the motions and looking for a way out. We can be functional in one area of life and utterly dysfunctional in another. But if left unchecked, this will usher us into the next step.
When we enter into the step of despair, we lose all hope and can enter into a deep depression. The call and destiny of God on our lives are completely detoured. Those who do not receive God’s grace to deal with unmet expectations and disappointments will enter the final step of the devil’s plan.
This is the place where our God-given vision and our destiny are completely destroyed. This is the devil’s ultimate plan—to destroy us physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
In most cases, those whose lives, dreams, and ministries were destroyed by the devil have walked through these 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 12 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)
For more insight on this subject, I encourage you to listen to episode 12 of the Larry Kreider Leadership Podcast with Merle Shenk discussing this topic.