Welcome back to Coach's Corner. Thank you for joining us. I hope you have been following regularly, but if this is your first time, I highly recommend that you scroll on down to the beginning and catch up. These entries are on a progressive track, designed to help you in your walk with Jesus Christ.
This is the fourth part of a series about spiritual warfare. It is a subject that every believer in Christ needs to understand in order to experience the abundant Christian Life. So far, we have determined who our opponents are in this battle; the world system, our own flesh (worldly desires) and Satanic influence. These are powerful forces that can lead us into sin, especially when we don't understand how to recognize and deal with them. In today's lesson, I hope to help you do just that.
Learning to recognize where spiritual attack is coming from is very important in defeating it. There are different responses needed when you are being tempted by the world or your flesh, than there is when you are being directly attacked Satan. It is also important to know that not every negative thing that happens in your life is spiritual warfare. Some people seem to think that everything that happens is a direct attack from the enemy. I have some news for you. You and I are not important enough in the big scheme of things to merit that much effort on Satan's part! We mess up enough on our own. He doesn't need to spend that much time on us. We need to be careful that we don't credit him with more authority than he really has. A lot of what we go through is a result of our own actions and/or just living in a world that is under the curse of sin. We need to able to distinguish the difference. That being said, let's look at some examples of how Satan does attack so that we can recognize it.
In the last entry, part of the game plan was to read the Genesis account of mankind's fall into sin. In that account, you see an example of direct attack by Satan. He speaks to Eve through the serpent. Now, how did the serpent actually speak to Eve? Was the voice audible or did he just put the words in her mind? We don't know for sure but it is interesting that the Hebrew word for serpent means to hiss or whisper a spell according to Strong's concordance. We do know that in Eve's mind, Satan accused God of lying. She and Adam then disobeyed God's command. This is the attack he uses the most. He continually tries to get people to question God's honesty and motives. Once you start down that road, sin becomes almost inevitable. When you sense that something is causing you to doubt God's loving plan for you or that He doesn't want what is best for you, you can be pretty certain that you are under spiritual attack.
Sometimes Satan attacks in the physical realm. We already talked about Job, but we can also see that Satan even tried this tactic with Jesus. After Jesus had fasted for forty days, He was hungry. Yes, Jesus hungered just as you and I would. Can you imagine how hungry you would be after fasting this long? I don't know about you but I would probably agree to almost anything in order to get some food! Satan played on Jesus' physical need to try and get Jesus to follow his command. You can read this account in Matthew 4. What we can learn from this is, to be careful when you have a serious physical need. Satan can use this to plant harmful ideas in your mind. An example of this might be the increasing number of people who are choosing "assisted suicide". In great physical stress, Satan plants the idea, whether directly or indirectly through the wisdom of the world, that ending your life is better than facing the pain. Either way, it is spiritual attack.
Another ploy Satan will use to keep us from following God's will is tempting us with power and wealth. He told Jesus that he would give Him the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would bow to him and worship him. If Satan could accomplish this, God's plan of salvation would be totally thwarted. Remember, that is Satan's priority. He wants to be elevated above God. If you are struggling with putting your trust in wealth and power above your relationship with God, that is spiritual attack. You must learn how to fight against it.
One more way Satan attacked Jesus was trying to get Him to put God to the test; He even quoted scripture to Jesus. Yes, even scripture can be used against us in spiritual attacks, when twisted or used out of proper context. That is why we must be diligent in our study. We need to be able to recognize when scripture is being misused. Unfortunately, the name of Jesus has been put to shame at times by people who have used scripture to justify evil. The Spanish Inquisition, the murder of protestant believers, even the holocaust was due in part evil people misusing scripture to justify evil behavior.
If all this seems overwhelming to you, hold on. There is good news! We do have weapons to fight this battle and remember that we are on the winning side. Boy, how excited would I have been, if before each football game, I knew that we would win? Well, we might not win every battle, but thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ, we do win this war. OK, let's look at what the weapons of our warfare are. Check out Ephesians 6 starting in verse 10. It teaches us that we are to put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand against the devil's schemes. The key word here is stand; these weapons enable us to stand against spiritual attack. Let's look at what this armor consists of.
- The belt of truth: The belt was the first thing a Roman soldier would put on. It held the rest of his garments together. In the same way, we must have the truth of scripture, rightly divided, to hold our spiritual armor together.
- The breastplate of righteousness: We are made righteous by our trust in Christ but we are then commanded to practice righteousness in our daily life. This means that we make God's priorities our priorities in Life. Note that a breastplate is a defensive weapon that protects the heart and lungs. Right living helps protect our vital spiritual organs from attacks of the enemy.
- Feet fitted (your boots) with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace: This refers to our standing on the truth of the gospel, which brings us great peace. If our feet are wounded, we cannot stand. Again the better we know the truth, the more easily we recognize a counterfeit of the truth
- The shield of faith: Another defensive piece of armor. Faith is our ability to trust God. A Roman shield was covered with linen and leather which would extinguish a flaming arrow. The picture here is that our trust in God can completely disable Satan's attacks on us.
- The helmet of salvation: The helmet and sword are the last two pieces the soldier would pick up. Since most any blow to the head would cause severe damage or death, the helmet would be critical when in battle. The picture here is that our salvation is the ultimate protection. Even if the body would be mortally wounded, our salvation is secure. Jesus said not to fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul (Matt10:28)
- The sword of the spirit: This is the only offensive weapon mentioned. This refers to the Word of God, taught to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Heb 4:12 the Word is said to be sharper than any two edged sword. It can pierce the most hardened heart. Satanic influence is no match for God's word spoken in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Note that at the end of this passage, we are told to pray in the Spirit and to be alert. Words of wisdom to help us in our fight against spiritual attack whether it comes from the world, the flesh or the devil.
Review all the Scriptures mentioned in this entry. Ask God to help you in your understanding of spiritual warfare.
If you are going through a difficult time, pray for wisdom in recognition what might be causing this.
Practice putting on your spiritual armor. Look at each piece and see whether or not you are being prepared to stand against the wiles of the enemy
Let's get prepared to take on whatever the enemy might throw at us. God bless you,