How to Spot the Deceiver’s Death Traps

The enemy is merciless when it comes to our shattered hearts.

He spots those broken pieces, and while God’s plan for us is healing and redemption of what’s been broken, the enemy moves into action, too. Kill, steal, destroy (John 10:10, 8:44). Our disappointments make us vulnerable as we search for something to ease the pain of what hurts.

I really wish the Deceiver didn’t operate this way. When we’re navigating big hurt, it would be nice to curl up in a comforting blanket of spiritual safety where nothing else can stab us or threaten us, so we could be lulled into healing. But the Deceiver doesn’t play fair.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

Yeah, he wants to chew us up and spit us out. He’s ruthless, and he’ll take advantage of opportunities to lie to us, to make us ineffective, deceived women who are questioning God and chasing our pain-relieving desires. (Except those desires don’t really relieve the pain in the long run. Sin always destroys; it never heals.)

That’s the Deceiver’s game plan, and we need to be aware—not so we can fear the enemy, but so we can be prepared with God’s lie-fighting strategies. God’s Truth is just no match for the enemy’s smoke and mirrors game.

When Disappointments Give Way to Deception

Are you facing disappointment right now? Has something in your world crumbled?
Has your heart been broken?
Did a friend betray you, did a parent abandon you, did a sibling lie to you?
Did something you love get snatched away from you?
Did someone wound you so deeply that you’re lost in an ocean of pain?

God sees you. God is the healer.

And I’m not just saying that. My story is still unfolding, but I can tell you that I’m walking through gutting disappointment and pain, and I’ve experienced Jesus in the deepest ways. He is healing me. His love is our steadfast hope (Ps. 33).

I’ve also, in some very real ways, experienced how the enemy stomps on our shattered hearts with intense deception.

If he can get us tangled in a strangling mess in addition to already painful circumstances, he’ll trap us to destroy us.

In chapter nine of Lysa TerKeurst’s book It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, Lysa describes how the enemy works to lay a path of temptation, deception, and accusation that leads straight into a death pit of sin. And this is not some kind of theoretical idea. I’ve seen this progression play out in my life and in the lives of people I love.

The enemy uses disappointment to cause so much trouble in an unsettled heart. A heart hungry for something to ease the ache of disappointment is especially susceptible to the most dangerous forms of desire. Especially when that heart isn’t being proactive about taking in truth and staying in community with healthy, humble people living out that truth.

Remember, dangerous desires birthed inside our unsettled disappointments are nothing but a setup for a takedown. A quick rise to a hard fall (It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, p. 150, emphasis mine).

Here’s what happens:

When we hurt, we quickly search for something to make it stop. We hate pain.

At this point, we can turn to the comfort and hope Jesus promises, or we can reach for a substitute—and our flesh is so good at justifying the substitutes. 

Then the enemy goes to work at tempting us and lying to us. We’re deceived. Suddenly we see all these shiny things that would feel really good, and they’ll numb the pain, so why not, right?

*insert whatever shiny thing that your heart is craving right now*

Attention, validation, security, attraction, control can be really shiny sometimes.

The more often we turn to the shiny thing, the more we’re deceived, and the less we see God’s life-giving love and healing.

The further we follow the shiny thing—that feel-good numbing agent that makes us forget what pain even is—the deeper we walk into the death trap.

Death Traps Aren’t a Game

Sounds intense, doesn’t it? Do we need to take a little harmless numbing that seriously?

I get it. You’re hurt, you’re tired, exhausted, done with battling, and you just want something to feel good. Chill with your sin talk for a while . . . 

I’ve eaten up that deception like pints of ice cream. The enemy sees the shipwreck I’m navigating, and he would love to destroy God’s redemption in my life. He sees my story and doesn’t want me to live in God’s freedom or abundance. Numb Samantha out—that’s the plan.

But Scripture isn’t here to play. This passage in James isn’t messing around:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:13–15, emphasis mine)

I have to take this seriously. We have to take this seriously.

Your deepest disappointment is a breeding ground for the enemy to wreck you; but your disappointment is also an opportunity to discover God’s relentless redemption power. 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:10–11)

Sin = a death trap.

Jesus = abundant life.

Jesus is better. Jesus is better than any numbing agent we’re so terrified to surrender. I love how Lisa Whittle described this on Instagram recently: “Jesus is worth the loss of everything you know deep down isn’t sustainable but hate to let go.”

It’s a battle, friend. It’s a battle to untangle the enemy’s lies and to let go of that thing that helps ease the pain. But Jesus is here for this battle.

Lysa TerKeurst encourages us with God’s good plan later in chapter nine of It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way:

God isn’t shaking His finger at us; He’s planning something better for us. What we are all truly desiring is more of God; His best is the only source of true satisfaction. He is the only answer to our every desire. He holds all the answers to all our disappointments and will direct our desires in His way, in His will, and in His timing. He’s got a good plan for good things. He doesn’t give His gifts wrapped in packages of confusion and anxiety and guilt and shame. James 1:16–17 assures us of this: “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Truth Saves Us from the Death Traps

Temptations aren’t presented to us with detailed warning labels describing the junk that will happen if we choose to act on a lie. Most often, we don’t even recognize the lie in the first place.

Enter God’s Word. It’s the Truth that exposes the lies.

And enter a community that walks with God and knows His Truth, too.

As I’ve journeyed through deep pain recently, I’ve been wrapped up in a Jesus-loving community who knows me well. I’ve had the courage to speak the truth about my own *shiny objects* that have captured my attention. As I’ve honestly and openly shared what I’m struggling with, my friends have reminded me of truth over and over and over again—because untangling the lies doesn’t happen in one moment; it’s choice after choice to follow the path of truth.

A few weeks ago, one of those friends looked at me, and with genuine compassion and love in her voice said, “Samantha, you know this, but you need to hear it from me: this is a death trap. The enemy wants to take you out, and he’s working so hard to confuse you and lead you straight into a death trap. I believe God is redeeming your story, and He can use you in powerful ways. But this right here is death, and it’s time to start taking every thought captive.”

She was right. She saw me: she saw my pain, she had compassion for the battle I’m fighting, she saw me desperately untangling the deception, but she also courageously spoke the truth: the enemy doesn’t play. He’s got destruction in mind for me and for you.

So, here’s what we do:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)

We get honest before God. We tell Him what’s captured our attention and about the ways we’ve run hard after the shiny objects that lead us to death. In His lovingkindness, He will forgive and restore us. That’s the wild grace of our compassionate Savior.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! (Ps. 51:1–2)

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. (Ps. 103:10–13)

Disappointment is real, and so is your hurt. But God sees it, and He sees you, and He wants to rescue you from the death trap of sin. He’s opened the prison door wide for you. Run to freedom. The shiny objects aren’t worth it.

Jesus, in our pain, we need You. Our human hearts long for something to soothe what hurts, and we pray that Your hope would heal the wounds. Expose the areas where the enemy has deceived us, and give us the courage to surrender those secret places to You. Rescue us from the death pits that would destroy us. Show us that You are so much better. Awaken us to real freedom and healing. Protect our vulnerable hearts in our disappointments. Ground our hearts in Your Word, the Truth. 

About Author

Samantha loves lazy lake days, strong coffee, and writing about the ways Jesus transforms our everyday messes into beautiful stories. She digs the four seasons in northern Indiana, is probably wearing a Notre Dame crew neck, and serves as the social media manager on the Revive Our Hearts staff.

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