Sizing up the Enemy VIII
Satan has the freedom to cheat. The fact that Satan is not constrained by ethics can be a significant advantage. Total pragmatism—winning at any cost and by any means—is had to combat. We, on the other hand, have to wage war according to God’s rules. In human combat, always telling the truth would be unthinkable, deceiving your enemy is a crucial wartime operation. Satan does this all the time, but we don’t have the freedom to lie. While we wouldn’t have much chance of deceiving him anyway, we could deceive his human servants if we were permitted. He uses manipulation and intimidation to good effect, but these are out of bounds for us as well.
We are not to play into the culture’s popular desires but instead generally confront people with a message they find offensive. Satan is free to tell them exactly what they want to hear. He promises them the very thing they desire even though he has no intention of delivering.
God won’t overrule human free will in most cases; he waits for a choice from feeble humans at multiple. But Satan won’t hesitate to enslave people and overtake them to various extents, even without their knowledge. In a word, God often forbids us to do the pragmatically useful thing and instead calls us to forfeit results for the sake of faithfulness to him.