Today’s post is a follow-up to last week’s publication about “Mentoring Through the Hard Things.” In that post, I acknowledged that life can sometimes be hard and in this world we will have trouble. Likewise, Christ has overcome the world, so we can have peace in the midst of our stormy lives. Let’s take this understanding a step further by exploring how we can persevere in our faith by taking a stand against the schemes of Satan, the evil one at work in the world.
I realize that some folks are unsure or are downright frightened to talk about spiritual warfare. So they ignore it. Just because we ignore something or don’t talk about it does not mean that it goes away or it is not a present reality in our lives. In fact the opposite is true. When we ignore or don’t prepare for spiritual battle, it only sets us up for failure in the area(s) where we are under spiritual attack.
Recently, I’ve found myself publicly speaking and ministering more about taking a stand against the enemy of our souls.
The idea of mentoring, teaching, or training on this topic is a little unsettling because there is so much that we do not understand in this regard. There is also a lot of false teaching in the church regarding this topic. I’m not going to share a verse-by-verse understanding regarding each teaching point because there would be enough material to cover at least one book, a class, or a preaching series. I will share a few biblical principles for our understanding.
- KNOW YOUR GOD
I start here, because I’ve seen and understood from mentoring women that several of them (even those who have been in the church for many years) don’t have a good grasp or understanding of who God is. Since we don’t fully know God or understand the significance of what he has already done to rescue us from the schemes of Satan and free us from the bondage of sin, we don’t trust him. So the minute things get hard, the first thing we do is blame God for all of our trouble. We see this response with Adam’s fall in the garden.
At the very times when it would be wise to draw near to God, we run and hide. We don’t read our Bibles, enter into fellowship with other believers, or embrace any number of spiritual disciplines or fighting tools God has given us to stand against the enemy.
On the contrary, when we have an accurate view of God, we can proclaim the truths of his character and action, and have that be a source of encouragement and support for us to keep standing.
- KNOW THYSELF
One thing we know for sure about the enemy is that he is a liar. There is no truth at all in him. One of the ways he attacks us is by chipping away at our identity—making us believe a falsehood or lie about ourselves that contradicts who we really are. Most of the time, we define our identity by what we do or by our earthly relational attachments. So, someone may say, “I’m a lawyer or business owner. I’m a mom or the wife of William.” The problem with this thinking is we lose sight of who we really are if we only consider what we do, or if we only evaluate who we are in light of our earthly relational attachments. If we are not successful, productive, or accomplishing, or when our relationships are rocky or failing, it is easy to doubt our value or self-worth.
However, none of those works or relationships help us understand the importance of our “being” or equips us to stand. In matters of spiritual warfare, it is critically important that we define ourselves in light of who God is, and what he has done for us (and indeed for the entire world) through Christ. This understanding gives us confidence. The Apostle Paul wrote that understanding Christ is the very reason he could boast even in his weaknesses. Knowing ourselves means that we know all of the good things, all of the works, accomplishments, and our positive relational attachments. It also means that we know our areas of weaknesses, the places where we are prone to wander or the areas we are tempted to sin and dishonor God in our lives. When we know our weaknesses, we can watch and pray, set up safe guards of accountability, walk away from unhealthy relationships, and prepare to resist the schemes of the evil one.
Do you know your identity in Christ? I like to start with saying to myself: My father is Creator and King of the entire universe. He is good, and anything he orchestrates or allows in my life is for the good purpose of transforming me into the image of his son, Jesus Christ. The favor of the Lord is upon my life. I know that I am but dust but God saw fit to choose me and adopt me into his family. I am never alone in this world, for Christ is forever present with me, he has already defeated the evil one, and he intercedes on my behalf (even when I don’t know or understand what to pray). I stand on the solid rock of Christ! I am an heir of God, joint heir with Christ, so I have hope for my future (both on this earth and throughout all eternity). I can go on for a long time, but you get my drift.
- KNOW THY ENEMY
During my time of serving in the military, one of the key elements of learning and warfighting was knowing or understanding our enemy. We understood that the extent of our military success was largely dependent upon how well we understood the enemy’s strategies, tactics, and schemes. It is important, for example, not to underestimate the enemy. Our spiritual enemy, Satan, is fierce. He has a lot of experience in reaping havoc in the lives of people and sometimes even destroying their lives.
Secondly, we must understand our enemy in light of who God is and who we are. It is important to know for example that Satan is a created being. In his evil, he cannot match the power of God’s good purpose and work in the world. He is not God’s opposite in that way. Because he is a created being, he has limitations. He is not omnipresent or nearly as powerful as God. He cannot read your mind or know your heart. A lot of times, he simply tempts us with the things we have spoken into the world with our mouths or in response to our previous or current actions.
As believers who are no longer slaves to the law of sin and death, we have the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us to renew our minds, and help us to stand and be successful against anything the enemy throws our way. Even if it appears that the enemy has won and we don’t understand the warfare, we can stand firm and remain faithful to God. The book of Job reveals this truth.
Next up, we will continue this teaching by addressing some strategies and tactics for standing against the enemy.
How well do you know God, yourself, and your enemy?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2015