Not everyone believes that the devil is real. It’s easy to think that he’s nothing more than a character in scary books and movies. But Deacon Keith Strohm’s new book, The 10 Biggest Lies of the Enemy—and How to Combat Them, offers this plain truth: the devil is real. In fact, he’s personified in every subtle lie and accusation that wedges itself between us and other people and between us and God. If that sounds scary, here’s the good news: we all can counteract Satan and his lies with a little guidance.
The 10 Biggest Lies is exactly that—a book that unmasks the devil’s lies so that we can reclaim our baptismal heritage of being children of God. Many of us struggle to know and to feel like beloved sons and daughters of a loving Father. Instead, we think: I am insignificant. I’m damaged. God either can’t or won’t help me. Do these lies sound familiar?
We’ve probably all believed at least one of the ten lies—or “false foundational beliefs”—that Deacon Strohm describes. That’s why it’s such a relief to see them explained and to hear that we don’t have to remain trapped. We can break free to know Jesus, the Truth, more deeply.
First, Identify the Lies. Perhaps the first benefit that comes from reading this book is that it helps us recognize how we have “agreed” with one or more of the devil’s lies. For each lie, Deacon Strohm maps out how it can work its way deep into our thinking. For example, with the lie “I am alone,” Deacon Strohm explains how the devil can use it to undermine the truth that we are all made for loving relationships:
The Accuser (Satan) will bring up a laundry list of our past failed relationships, or the absence of current relationships, especially a marital one. He will try to get us to conclude that because we have not been able to start or sustain these relationships, we are somehow less than human or unable to bear the image of God as some people do. . . . But a lie can never withstand the power of truth.
To combat this particular lie, Strohm explains that Jesus became man precisely to show us that we’re not alone. But he doesn’t stop with the facts. He provides a whole plan for the reader to work through the lie, including recalling their past and starting on a healing journey. One suggestion he gives is for the reader to write a “Litany of Forgiveness,” listing specific instances where they have felt alone or abandoned by someone, and creating a response like, “With your grace, Lord, I forgive him.”
The Challenge of Chore Day. As a mother of eight children, I know firsthand how the devil’s lies can influence our family life. Every Saturday morning used to be set aside for family chores. But chore day started deteriorating when I became dissatisfied with everyone’s efforts, including my husband’s. That’s when the lies started creeping in.
Every time the kids or my husband slept later than I thought they should, I began to think they were being “lazy.” And if my husband didn’t oversee the work personally, he was being “unsupportive.” I told myself that I was the only person capable of holding the house together. Each week my complaining started in earlier and earlier. Pretty soon Saturday was a time of dread for the whole family. I had become convinced of one of Deacon Strohm’s ten biggest lies: the false belief that “I can only count on myself.”
But God had a sense of humor. He arranged for me to get a part-time job that could only be completed on Saturday mornings, so that I wouldn’t be home during chore time. This pulled the rug out from under Satan’s lie, and I realized quickly that my family members did care about our home. It was just that their schedule did not line up with mine. Learning Strohm’s approach is now helping me sort through some of the distinctions between my valid concerns and more unfounded lies.
Another Resource: The Saints. At the end of each chapter about a common lie, The 10 Biggest Lies includes the story of a saint who can be a special intercessor for helping us overcome it. For example, the book suggests invoking the prayers of St. Teresa of Calcutta when we feel alone.
This idea of allowing the saints to accompany us on our journey resonates with me. My friendship with St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the “Little Flower,” was a big help for me following a painful back injury. Ongoing battles with self-pity, discouragement, and despair exhausted me as much as the physical pain. This led me to believe the lie that God was powerless to help me, and it often reduced me to tears. I had a breakthrough when I recalled how St. Thérèse had handled her sick days. In bed with tuberculosis, she made a declaration: “I will be the best sick person I can be!” With St. Therese’s help, slowly, but perceptibly, I found the resolve I needed and regained my health.
As the saints combated the lies of the enemy, they often experienced greater freedom and joy. I learned from the book, for example, that St. Philip Neri kept a joke book next to his Bible. By living his priesthood joyfully, he dispelled the lie that following God means giving up happiness. With examples like these, combating Satan’s lies has more appeal!
A Group Effort. As Deacon Strohm stresses, “To recognize your Enemy all the while knowing who you are and whose you are is wisdom.” By reading this book, each of us can learn how to extend a lifeline of truth to a brother or sister in need. Together and with God’s help, we can unmask the devil’s lies and follow more closely where God is leading.
Andrea Kane lives in South Bend, Indiana.
The 10 Biggest Lies of the Enemy—and How to Combat Them by Keith Strohm, is available from The Word Among Us at bookstore.wau.org and Amazon.com