By Wm. P. Farley and previously published at and 2018

IF SOMEONE POLLED YOUR CHURCH WITH THIS QUESTION, “which preacher do you listen to most frequently,” how would you respond?  Some would point to their pastor. Others might suggest a preacher on the radio or a favorite podcast. But if we are honest, these answers are often not true. Believe it or not, the individual who has the greatest access to many of our hearts, the one who preaches to us most frequently and aggressively, is not who we think.  

It is the Devil!

Hugh Latimer (1487-1555), a reformer burnt at the stake by Bloody Mary, wrote, “The Devil…is the most diligent preacher of all others; he is never out of his diocese; he is never from his cure; you shall never find him unoccupied; he is ever in his parish; he keeps residence at all times; you shall never find him out of the way; call for him when you will, he is ever at home. He is the most diligent preacher in the realm.”[2]

Latimer was on to an important truth. Satan is a preacher, and he preaches a sophisticated, seductive, and manipulative message. He has one goal, to either convince you that the lie is true, or to convince you that the Truth is a lie. As Jesus noted, the Devil “does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and father of lies” (John 8:44).

This is complicated by the fact that, because we are usually unaware of when he is preaching, we listen passively. He speaks through the sports page, your favorite sit-com, blogs, emails, conservative talk radio, popular music, the latest movie, magazines, celebrities, and yes even at times our Christian friends. Jesus called him the “Prince of this world” (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11), the word “prince” speaks to the magnitude of his influence on public thought.

Fruits of Satanic Preaching

How do we know when we have been listening? The fruits are ominous and varied—discouragement when life doesn’t go as planned, feelings of crushing guilt, comparing self to others and then feeling inadequate, feelings of hopelessness or fear as culture changes, restlessness to acquire things, sexual temptation, ungratefulness, or despairing that this life is all there is.  The Devil knows how to “bring it,” and we are often his unknowing congregation.

“The Devil…is the most diligent preacher of all others; he is never out of his diocese…you shall never find him unoccupied… you shall never find him out of the way…he is ever at home. He is the most diligent preacher in the realm.”

Hugh Latimer

But God has given us a mighty spiritual weapon—the gospel. Hidden in its recesses are truths that liberate us from Satan’s lies. When applied they change lives. One of the pastor’s jobs on Sunday morning is to confront the Devil’s sermons with the Truth. We hear it many ways, but e hear it primarily as grace, a reinforcement of biblical ethics, and hope. Effective Christians aggressively preach the truths they learn Sunday morning to themselves throughout the week. Effective Believers know when Satan is speaking, and rather than listening passively, they go on the offensive.

Another way to say this is that effective Christians cultivate the discipline of preaching to themselves.  Listening to demons is passive. Preaching to self is active. For example, when we don’t feel loved by God, we preach gospel-truth to ourselves. God’s love is objective. It transcends our feelings. Before the foundation of the world, God chose us and set his love upon us (Ephesians 1:3-5), not because we have performed, but despite the fact that we haven’t. He sent his Son to live a perfect life in our place. His infinite love motivated him to bear the wrath we deserve at Calvary.

Those who preach these truths, and others, to self often enjoy fresh feelings of love, joy, and peace.

How To Preach To Self

Preaching the gospel to self is something very specific. “Gospel,” includes everything that God has done, or will do, to save us. It stretches from eternity past to eternity future. It includes the doctrines of election, Christ’s incarnation, his active obedience, his penal substitutionary death, his bodily resurrection, his ascension to God’s right hand, and his future return for final judgment and to create new heavens and a new earth. It is our job to preach and apply these truths to our self.

Do you have a clear grasp on the gospel? Do you believe it with all your heart? Are you amazed that, despite your unworthiness, God chose you before the foundation of the world that you might be holy and blameless in his sight? Do you feel the horror of what you deserve? Do you see Christ humbling himself in your place so that you, the proud one, can receive the exaltation that his humility deserves? Do you feel Christ, the only sinless man who has ever lived, hanging on the cross voluntarily absorbing the wrath that you deserve, so that you, the sinner, can receive the reward that he deserves? Do you meditate on these truths? Do you preach them to yourself daily?

So, which preacher do you listen to? Christians who understand the nature of spiritual warfare, the Devil’s active attempts to preach to them, and the life-giving truths of the gospel are blessed. They know how to filter who is preaching. They know what Satan’s voice sounds like, and they are not passive. When they hear his voice, they aggressively preach the gospel to themselves and to that message they cling diligently. The fruit is love, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit.

Who doesn’t want that? If you would like to learn more about how to do this, check out my book, Hidden In the Gospel.

[2] Hugh Latimer Quoted by Stott, John, Between Two Worlds, pg. 27, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1982)