Does it ever feel like you have a permanent target on you? Like no matter what you do, the enemy continues to fire his darts at you? There’s a reason it feels that way — because it’s TRUE! When you become a believer, you are automatically “drafted” into the army of God and you become a target of His enemy. Whether you are aware or ignorant of that fact doesn’t make it any less true.
The battle is real. The enemy is real. Satan’s desire to make you ineffective in your word for the Lord is real. But before you grow disheartened by these truths, consider also the following critical truths:
- The war has already been won.
- Jesus defeated Satan at the cross.
- We stand in victory — praise God!
Doesn’t that encourage you? It’s interesting, though, that we are still called to stand. In fact, in Ephesians 6:10-20, the apostle Paul instructs believers to stand four different times! The word translated as “struggle” in verse 12 to describe this battle depicts the image of a wrestling match. Think about that — Paul didn’t describe a boxing match or a dual with swords or guns. He described the battle as hand-to-hand combat where two opponents are trying to gain control over one another, forcing the opponent into submission. If you are successfully standing your ground vertically (which happens when your vertical relationship with God is strong), then you are less likely to be defeated. If you are already on the ground wrestling horizontally, then you’re just one move away from being pinned. Do you see how critical it is to stand?
That is the purpose of this series of articles on spiritual warfare — to help you armor up and stand firm! But before we do this deep dive into the Scriptures, I’d like to share some practical takeaways for your reflection and application (I’ve included references if you would like to look further into these points).
1. Don’t fear Satan and his demons, but don’t mock them either. Even the angels are careful in what they say against Satan. They condemned him only by declaring the Lord’s
rebuke of him (see Jude 8-9; 2 Peter 2:10).
2. Resist the devil and stand firm in the faith by remembering the battle WILL end and you are not alone in the fight! Other believers worldwide are experiencing the same suffering you are. You are not alone, and the suffering isn’t endless. The God of all grace will Himself “restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (see 1 Peter 5:9-10). Along these same lines, Ephesians 6 says “you stand” and all the armor is described for you as an individual…but notice that the struggle, the wrestling that occurs with the enemy, is “OURS” — we may suit up as individuals, but we fight collectively together. You are notalone in this battle!
3. Choose your side and engage! The battle lines were drawn when Satan rebelled against God. You have to choose sides — there is no neutral “Switzerland” in this war. So will you be a friend of the world or of God? The victorious Christian life requires: submission to God, resistance of the devil, drawing near to God, washing your hands and purifying your hearts, grieving and wailing and mourning over the sin of this life and the consequences ofthe success of the evil one — both on earth and in eternity (James 4:4-10).
4. Be on guard, sober, and alert. Remember that Satan and his followers masquerade as anangel of light and as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).
5. Be cognizant that Satan performs real miracles too, so we should not necessarily assume that a miracle is from God. This is why believers must “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1). Some unbelievers will have even performed miracles and use that to try to get into heaven, but they never placed their faith in Jesus and so He sends them away and called them “you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23).
6. Repent of your sins and keep a clean slate before the Lord. Don’t give Satan a foothold through your sin. For example, don’t sin in your anger and give Satan a foothold.Instead, address it and be intentional to work through it (Psalm 32:1-5; 66:18; Proverbs28:13; Ephesians 4:26-27).
7. Stop looking for the “easy” way through life and start seeking God’s path that makes you a better soldier for Christ. Sometimes the challenges we face are intended to strengthen us, grow our faith, and prepare us for God’s plan for the future. Embrace that perspective and persevere for the JOY set before you, following the example of Jesus Himself (see Hebrews 12:1-3; James 1:2-4).
8. Evaluate the PRIMARY battle and engage accordingly. Think for a few moments about some of the biggest problems or obstacles in your life right now. Next, think about the people associated with those problems and your feelings toward them…is it your spouse who just won’t listen? Is it a child going down a road of rebellion against all authority,including God? Is it a co-worker or supervisor who is undermining you or trying to set you up for failure? Now take a step back and recognize that your battle isn’t with those people, even though it may feel like it. People are pawns — don’t waste your life or strength fighting against them! Your battle is with the true enemy: Satan and his followers. They are causing strife, stirring up trouble, tempting, deceiving, and doing everything they can to keep you engaged in the earthly battle so you’ll be ineffective in the eternal battle. But YOU get to choose which battle will be your focus, and that choice affects how you go about your day…your activities, your perspective, your emotions, your choice of words, etc. EVERYTHING is affected by that single choice at the start of each day. So what will you choose? (Ephesians 6:12)
I encourage you to print this list and review it regularly. Which of these application points is the most challenging to you? Turn it over to God and ask Him to grow you in this area. He wants you to stand firm in His power and has equipped you with everything you need. How will you respond?
© 2023 Jennifer Hicks