While many will acknowledge the spiritual realm in our lives (“I’m a very spiritual person” or “I believe all things happen for a reason”), many start to back-pedal when it comes to accepting the spiritual and literal reality of the Devil. Satan, mentioned dozens of times in the Scriptures, conjures up cartoonish images of a horned figure dressed in a red suit with a pointed tail. Many in this sophisticated modern era note the silliness of it all, disregard it and move on.
The cartoon is a false image, a popular deceit. Yet while the red, horned figure is imagery, the referenced existence of the Deceiver and his forces of evil in the Bible cannot be easily discarded: “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)
We are living in the midst of an invisible battle. We are being deceived by an enemy who is cunning and ruthless. If we take this spiritual opposition lightly we are vulnerable to effective attack. Like Christ and all man since the Fall, we are under vicious assault, at times blatant, at times subtle, whether we accept it or not.
Here are 3 key demonic strategies:
1) Ignorance. That the devil doesn’t exist is a lie that can neutralize us before we even do battle. Again, many believe the common notion that the devil is not real, that this doesn’t make any sense in our enlightened culture. An inconvenient truth is that Jesus believed in the devil and called him out several times (Matthew 4:10, Luke 10:18, John 8:43-44). Was Jesus sane? So we “trust in Jesus” yet we don’t quite believe him? How do we reconcile this? I’d rather trust the God of creation (Hebrews 1) than imperfect, fallen man. The trick of the devil is to get us to think he doesn’t exist and therefore keep our guard down. Big mistake.
2) Distraction. Preoccupation with worldly affairs will render us spiritually fruitless. We all know it takes little to attract our attention away from spiritual matters, truths and God’s presence. While the enemy is not all-knowing or omniscient, I believe spiritual forces can input insidious whispers and thoughts in our mind. “Those who are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14) The implication is that we can be led by something else. We need to “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him…” (1 Peter 5:8-9) and “be transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2) to combat the constant bombardment of a relentless assault. These distractions of our own or others’ making can lead us anywhere but where God would have us be.
3) Condemnation. Self-degrading guilt and condemnation is a masterful ploy of our spiritual enemy. We convince ourselves (or each other) that we are not worthy; that we are losers, sinners, degenerate souls that God could not possibly forgive (again) or ever given our past or current deeds. This is a lie of the worst kind as it refutes grace and the Cross. As the prodigal son, the woman at the well, and the one caught in adultery all found out: there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) Resist the temptation to make an agreement in our own mind that we are lost, unloved, and irredeemable.
Fight the Battle
It’s not about “the devil made me do it.” It’s about spiritual warfare. It’s a battle and fight in which we accept and proactively prepare to engage. Here are 3 keys to winning the battle:
1) Accept the battle terms. We are in a war. Accept it and step up for conflict in a winnable war.
2) Pray for protection. Prayer is a spiritual and supernatural mystery we may find hard to fathom, but it covers us and ushers in His power upon our situation. He is greater than this dark worldly power.
3) Know the Father’s love. You are greatly loved. There is no condemnation. You are cherished, and redeemed. The good Father and Shepherd have already accepted you back into the fold.
In the spiritual realm, success makes us open targets to the enemy who seeks to destroy, distract, oppose and oppress all that is good, blessed and of divine influence. Jesus prayed for deliverance: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Plead for spiritual, physical and emotional safekeeping as we’re prone and susceptible to deception and blind spots.
Are you a victim of the Enemy? How have you succumbed? Are you fighting back?
“Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:11-12