We as humans get weary. We get tempted. We are thoroughly corruptible. As C.S. Lewis described the world, we as Christians are in “enemy territory.” The world is full of Satan’s influence. The world can often reward people for deception. The world can sometimes glorify drunkenness, infidelity and violence. I am not a pastor, but here are some thoughts on how we as Christians can remain strong in God and defy the influence of the enemy.
In Ephesians 6, Paul begins his description of the “Armor of God.” Not physical armor, but spiritual armor. Armor that will help us to “…stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but… …against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:11-12, selected, NIV).
The belt of truth.
The breastplate of righteousness.
The gospel of peace.
The shield of faith.
The helmet of salvation.
This is armor. It protects us from wounds. It is metaphorical armor, as I am reasonably certain that these are not actual physical artifacts that were handed down to the Apostles. But by surrounding ourselves with truth; By being honest in our words and dealings and surrounding ourselves with truth in our lives, we protect ourselves spiritually from corruption. Righteousness, peace, faith are all qualities that bolster us from spiritual attack. Salvation is what identifies us as followers of Christ, those who are in the world but not of the world.
But each of these articles are only defensive. A Roman legion going into combat with only those implements would lose every time. The final piece of armor is not armor at all, but a weapon. The only offensive tool which we are given to battle against spiritual forces of evil.
“…the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.”
All words have power. God spoke, “Let there be light,” and He pierced the darkness. We cannot speak with the voice of God, but we can speak the with the Word of God. This is the weapon that we can wield as a sword against the devil’s schemes. Yes our shield, and our breastplate, and our helmet protect against his overt assaults and his covert whispers. But sometimes it makes sense to strike back; To go on offense. Our sword is the word of God. And the word of God is given to us in the form of the Bible.
When Jesus is tempted in the wilderness by the devil he did not ignore him, he resisted him. He resisted him not by turning the other cheek and being humble. He resisted him with words.
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down (from the highest point of the temple).” Jesus answered him, “…’Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'” (Mat 4:3-10, selected, NIV).
Jesus teaches us how we can rebuke Satan, not just with words but with the written Word of God. Jesus is using scripture to stab back at Satan. He went Old Testament on him!
“…to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut 8:3, NIV)
“Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.” (Deut 6:13)
“Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.” (Deut 6:16)
As an author, when I read a book, I highlight passages and write down quotes that I feel are important, or that I could probably use later. I encourage you, as you study and meditate on the Bible, to do the same thing. Take specific notes. Write down passages and scripture that you can use against a particular weakness or temptation. When you feel like you are under attack spiritually, attack Satan back with scripture.
Do not wallow and say this must be the will of God. God’s will is in his Word.
When you are tempted to lie for your own benefit, say “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” (Pro 11:3, NIV)
When you are tempted to cheat in some way, say “Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making.” (Pro 16:11, NIV)
When you are driven to anger, say “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” (Pro 16:32, NIV)
When you are afraid, say “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut 31:6, NIV)
When you are tempted by pornography, say “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mat 5:28 NIV)
As you do your daily devotionals, you will continue to reinforce your armor. But also, be aware that we are soldiers in enemy territory. So continue to add to your arsenal. Hone the sword of your spirit. When you are under attack, your armor and your shield may extinguish the flaming arrows of the enemy, but in God’s name strike back at Satan.