Updated: Aug 28, 2019
Success in battle requires knowing the enemy. Being able to understand their strategy, calculate their power, and anticipate their moves, can give an advantage that secures the victory. Incorrect analysis of any part of the enemy’s plan can cost us the battle and bring about our downfall. In our walk with the Lord, when we fall, it’s paramount that we understand the cause of the fall in order to make the right amendments and get back on track with God. The enemy, Satan, is a master of deceit (Genesis 3:13). He is the father of lies (John 8:44) and a tempter (Matthew 4:3). He prowls around the earth (Job 1:7) looking for someone, anyone, to devour (1 Peter 5:8). How can we secure a Godly walk when deceit, lies, and temptations surround us?
The answer lies a lot closer to home than we might like to admit.
In examining my own walk, I see that the last dozen sins I committed, I actually did without the help of Satan, or anybody else. I committed them because I made the decision to sin. I evaluated my options, and I pulled the trigger; not Satan, not any of his influences, just me, by myself; my fallen flesh, in a fallen world. I don’t even know where Satan was at the time. I felt no coaxing from him, just myself. I chose to not deny myself, but instead take the wide path. It was easier, it looked prettier, and I even convinced myself that there were treasures to be had; I needed no help from the Tempter. Satan could have been in bed, fast asleep.
When the Holy Spirit is ill at ease within us, it is perhaps our very own sin that is the culprit (Psalm 51:10-12), not Satan, not the fallen world, not the woman next door, not the dog! Us . . . Me . . . You . . . Too often Christians blame Satan for self-inflicted sin and this puts us in a very a precarious position. Here's why . . .
When we sin and then blame the enemy, we are scapegoating our sin onto someone else. This self-protecting bias allows us to relegate the need for justice onto some other source and the sorrowful outcome is that we remain in sin, unforgiven.
We misattribute an aching soul as the enemy at play, ~ rather than accepting the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
We misattribute pain and turmoil as a spiritual attack, ~ rather than the justified consequence of our actions.
We pray for protection, ~ instead of repenting of our sin.
We wallow in self-pity (and the pity offered by others), ~ rather than humbly requesting forgiveness.
It is impossible for us to seek genuine forgiveness for our sins when
we refuse to fully acknowledge our role as perpetrators,
and instead, we choose the pitiful place of considering ourselves victims.
We are our own greatest enemy.
Our God yearns for us to be close to him, but through our own aversion to recognizing our sin, we keep ourselves away: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37).
God is long-suffering and repeatedly calls out to us, in our sin, to turn back to him - through repentance: ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt – you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’ declares the Lord. ‘Return, faithless people,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I am your husband’ (Jeremiah 3:12-14).
We need to understand who the enemy is. It's futile to pray against Satan and dress ourselves for spiritual battle out in the field with the full armor of God (Eph 6), when the real battle is raging at home - and the only weapon needed is a humble heart, brought before the Lord, seeking repentance.
1. Think of the last time you were under spiritual attack. Is it possible that you were experiencing conviction and/or the consequences of sin rather than spiritual attack at that time? What different approaches did you try to fight the situation? How effective were these? With the benefit of hindsight, would that situation have resolved sooner or easier if repentance were a part of the process?
2. To make sure your heart is pure before God, cry out Search me oh God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the path everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). Make a list of the thoughts, worries, and situations that come to mind as you pray. Ask God to show you the appropriate way of dealing with these things.
3. Do you experience more spiritual warfare than most people? How does your relationship with God deepen through these experiences? Is repentance part of the deepening relationship during these trying times? When in the journey does repentance occur? Why does repentance and resolve not happen sooner?
‘Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘ and I will bring you back from captivity.’ (Jeremiah 29: 12-14)
Reminder: Don't forget to sign up for the next seminar "Christian Counsel - Choose Wisely" at 8:30am, Saturday, June 8th, in Wallingford, PA. Click the EVENTS tab to register.