Have you ever been hammered by Satan and/or temptations? If so, how did you handle them?
As I write this series of articles, distilled from years of research and previous works I have done, I am being hammered. It is not pretty. It seems every time I venture into this subject, I pay a cost. The assaults from all angles can seem overwhelming and daunting and not worth the effort. But our eyes have to be-they must be on Christ, as our anchor both in storms and in times of joy! How we handle the assaults is what helps assure our faith and makes us a window to our Lord for others. What He has for us can be used in many ways, including for our growth.
Satan is real and he is powerful. Satan is our enemy, but we have access to an immensely far, far greater power. You must stand strong against him and not cringe with terror, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4). We are to acknowledge the devil's reality and the presence of his demons, knowing the strategies he uses to manipulate us so we will not fall prey to them, and always in prayer for our fellow Christians so they do not fall for the deceit either. And, when we are taken in by him through our own fault or by the happenstances of others, we can persevere in faith and carry on our Christian life for His glory!
The Great War!
In the Book of Revelation, John sees that a great war is over, but the battle is then taken to the streets of human life-between struggling humanity that seeks its own, and Satan who sees his role as helping people declare independence from God. So, Satan usurps his role as persecutor to makes war with humanity, focusing on the faithful. Satan is on a rampage and seeks to hurt and even destroy those who are of faith in Christ, whose trust is in Him. In the meantime, God is caring for and sheltering His faithful, giving armor, abilities, and opportunity for defense by using His means and power-His "means" being His blood that we have as artillery and as protection (Rev. 12:13-17)
Keep in mind that Satan's role is to take and steal, and God's role is to build up and grow us. Satan doesn't want us to have what he freely gave up and cannot have back such as intimacy with God, ever abundant love, triumphant life, goodness, and purpose, with relationships that glorify Christ. Satan wants all the glory for himself.
How did Jesus respond to Satan and Spiritual Warfare?
In Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13, immediately following His baptism by John (John 1:29) and just before the start of His public ministry, Jesus was hammered and challenged by face-to-face Spiritual Warfare (Matt. 3:13-17; 4:12-17). Jesus was led out into the desert to be tempted by Satan with the destiny of His creation and humanity at stake. During this time, He fasted and remained true and loyal to who He was and to His mission to come. Satan pulled out all of his efforts and abilities in a futile attempt to convince Jesus to serve him. In so doing, Jesus would receive greater honor and glory faster by having more control. Does this sound familiar in your life too? The problem was that Jesus already was fully God, already owning total sovereignty, glory, and control. Satan based his attack on what he thought would be Jesus' greatest weakness, His humanity. However, Satan failed, as Christ, using His humanity and not His divinity as identification and model for us, defeated Satan's attack through Scripture, the Spirit, prayer, and obedience. We are in Christ so we are clothed in im, so this tatic will not work on us, unless we allow it. So
Him and have His love and power at our disposal. Satan's tactics can't work on us either unless we allow them to.
Look what Jesus did to combat Satan and his lies, temptations, and antics: He prayed and fasted. This went on for forty days! When we are in Christ and when He is working in us, Satan will try to attack us with all he has. He will use everything he can to convince us we have made a mistake and we need to trust in ourselves or any substitute other than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Look how Satan engaged in Spiritual Warfare with Jesus.
Satan thought he "had" Jesus, and attacked Him at the classic place of weakness in humanity. He used his lies and tactics against the Lord Creator of the Universe. Yes, Satan's chief job is to try to rob us of what God gives, but we have the power to stop him!
- The first temptation was Satan's appeal to the lust of the flesh. Going without food for forty days must have made Jesus very hungry! Satan challenged Jesus' identity to try and break His obedience and satisfy His fleshly hunger. However, Jesus responded with Scripture, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, "Man shall not live by bread alone..." We need to be dependent upon the Lord and His Word to help us fulfill physical needs.
- The second temptation was Satan's appeal to pride (5-7). Again, he challenged Jesus' identity, and set Jesus on the pinnacle of the temple, telling Him to"throw Yourself down!" Jesus again responded with the Word, quoting Psalm 91:11-12 and Deuteronomy 6:16. Satan also uses Scripture, but he abuses it by taking it out of its context and twisting it to serve his purpose. When we misuse Scripture, we are modeling ourselves after Satan! Furthermore, we should never even consider testing God!
- The third temptation had Satan appealing to the lust of power by taking Jesus to a high mountain to show Him the kingdoms of the world. Then, Satan offered to give them to Him if Jesus would worship him (8-10). Jesus again responded with Scripture, quoting Deuteronomy 6:13; "you shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve."
Jesus refused the easy path and the shortcut to power over the nations (Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21). The temptations ended, as our Lord was victorious without caving in to sin! You can call this "temptation, round one," because more confrontations were to come, culminating with Satan's defeat at the cross (Luke 4:13; Matt. 16:21-23). The great news is we can do the same; we can defeat Satan, because he is actually already defeated. All we need do is present to him Jesus the Victor! We share the same adversary and the same temptations Jesus did-Satan and the woes of life such as immorality, materialism, and pride (1 Pet. 5:8-9; 1 John 2:15-16).
Jesus took our place, as our representative and example, in overcoming Satan! What He did on the cross pulled together the synergistic combination of the Holy Spirit working in us and the Word….so, you need not worry about the devil as much as you need to worry about and act on your character! This is a great comfort, because He overcame with the same power and ability we have; thus, we too can overcome tribulations and temptations, even from Satan himself (Heb. 2:18; 4:14-16; 12:2-3)! We can take heart that Jesus understands us and what we go through; therefore, we can never say, but, but, you do not understand… We overcome when we yield to His truth, example, strength, and faith! Do not despair; we have the same ability to overcome as Jesus had!
- We have the same tools to overcome Satan and temptations in general. Remember, Satan has already been defeated! We have the authority and ability to repel Satan by the blood of the Cross. However, we must never take him lightly, for spiritual warfare and our conflict with him are very real (Eph. 6:12)!
- Satan does not tempt us just to get us into trouble or to do wrong; he does it to distract us from God. Satan seeks to have us lose what God has to offer. By giving in to him, we are of no use to God, because we have bought the lie. Our outlook has gone from truth to fiction, from betterment for others and ourselves to causing harm!
- Jesus used the Word of God and prayer as both offensive and defensive weapons, and so can we (Matt. 26:41; Eph. 6:17).
- Jesus was focused on God's plan, as we must be with our faith, trust, and then obedience to Him (Eph. 6:16; Heb. 10:35-39).
- The Bible, our faith, and prayer pack a three-fold attack and defense, which Satan does not have a chance of winning!
- When we abuse the Bible, we are behaving like Satan! When we use it well, we are modeling Christ (2 Pet. 3:16).
- We need to keep in mind our hope and our place in eternity (Rev. 2:10, 26-27; 3:21).
For us today, our lesson to learn is that we can trust and rely on our Lord. Material things will not satisfy us for long; we will have a craving for more, never being satisfied. True spiritual nourishment comes from God's Word as we grow through worship, service, and prayer. The way to spiritual maturity and the glory of our reward is not in finding shortcuts, butin temperance through learning, experience, and overcoming adversities. It is a long and challenging process, but we can do it (Acts 14:22; Rom. 2:7).
The passage in Matthew 8:28-34 is a strange story from a godly perspective. The people, who should have marveled at Jesus' ability to heal two people whom they had given up on, saw a divine miracle preformed before them. A person was benefited by being saved from the torment of demons. Yet, He was commanded to leave. Even so, so many of us do the same thing every day. We may know of the Lord, even know Him personally and have experienced His grace and maybe even have served Him for a time, yet, we too, ask Him to go away. We sometimes do not allow Him in all parts and periods of our lives. Maybe we let Him in just on Sunday morning, but not on Monday, and definitely not on Friday nights. So, do you ask Jesus to leave, or allow Him to endearingly embrace you? Do you spend all your energies on Spiritual Warfare yet suppress Christ's involvement in your life?
The contrast is God's Kingdom and authority and His abundance that is at our disposal. Even though Satan is out of office, his influence still prevails in the world and is snaking its way to you and your church. Satan seeks to accuse, while Christ seeks to save; Satan wants you defeated, Christ wants you triumphant. Why would anyone want Satan's ways? Remember, Satan has already been defeated; he has lost, and he cannot have you or your church unless you give up by seeking him and not HIM.
Christians can stand against Satan by being in Christ.
Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Peter 5:8, 9; James 4:7
God gives us all of the armor we need to defend ourselves (2 Cor. 10:4). So, we are to trust Him and use Him and His gifts and tools! We are to have them on and be holding them and using them, especially militant prayer! It is our responsibility to have the armor of God on in order to be ready for attack. If we are watchful and prepared, then we are ready for the attack of the devil, his demons, and those fiery darts. We may not all know how to attack with the Sword of the Spirit; that is why we have the rest of the armor. If we are not ready to properly use the Sword Of the Spirit, then we need to do as 2 Timothy 2:15 calls us to: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." When we have all of the gear of the armor then we are to, "With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Eph 6:18)
Here is how we can respond to Satan's Lies!
1. We are to submit to God's will (2 Cor. 11:3; 14-15). Satan's ways look good and are appealing, but God's way is the best way; Satan's way is death. It is better to be poor and honest than rich and dishonest! Q: How can we do this?
2. We are to obey God's will (2 Tim. 3:16). This is our surefire response to temptation, as our Lord proved to be so! Q: How can we do this?
3. We are to focus on the cross (John 14:6). We are to ignore human standards and remember that Jesus died for us; no sin is too big for Him to deal with and forgive. No matter what we have gone through, He is there for us, loving us. Satan wants us to diminish the cross by adding penance to it; Christ just wants us to repent! Q: How can we do this?
4. We need to commit to God's purpose (1 Tim. 4:1-3; Luke 8:11-12; John 11:25-26)…not to our will and dreams and aspirations, but totally surrender to Christ all our plans and desires no matter where it takes us. Q: How can we do this?
God wants you to overcome Satan; you do not have to believe in Satan's deceptions and lies. Not only can we resist Satan, but we can actually overcome him! Revelation 12:11 says "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death." Jesus has already overcome Satan by His triumph at Calvary, and that victory has been imparted unto us! If you have confessed your sins under the shed blood of Jesus Christ, you have been cleansed and are no longer under the control of Satan. This is called the Testimony of Jesus. It refers to the testimony that Jesus bore by His work and involvement. Christ's blood and sacrifice prevails when we accept it and use it as our main artillery. Our unwavering faith in Christ, by whom and what He has done, is too much for Satan to handle; he cannot stand against the goodness of Christ. Thus, when we are in Christ, we prevail; Satan has already lost and has been defeated (Rev. 1:2, 9; 19:10).
No weapon shall defeat us when we have the armor of God (Isa. 54:17).
Our response to Satan's lies (Eph 2:8-9; 1 John 4:1; James 4:7) is this:
Verse 11 "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." This means to stand up to the craftiness and the darkness of the devil.
Verse 12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." This means demonic activities, and direct evil manipulation (such as witchcraft), as well as demons and non-humans who come against us. It also means evil people who are anti-God, such as "Marilyn Manson".
God wants us to be ready to fight a "spiritual" fight.
So, what is the armor of God? "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Paul gives a description of Roman Battle Gear as an image of the weapons Christ gives us to use.
- Belt of Truth: "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist," God's Word gives us our main gun-confidence that holds up the rest of our weapons. It protects our vital areas, as a roll cage protects a race car driver. Truth holds our lives together, and it defends against arrogance and ignorance. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14: 6).
- Breastplate of Righteousness: "with the breastplate of righteousness in place," This protects our hearts from immoral behavior and other areas that may cause death if we are wounded. Doing right will protect our hearts from evil. We can be protected by the righteous character of Christ imputed on us (Rom 4:6-11). Allow Christ to give you the power-His power to resist temptation, and then follow His character. How many times have you prayed before facing temptation? Most Christians = none!!!
- Feet Fitted with Peace: "and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." Feet that are prepared with the Gospel of Peace are protected by taking a stand, which is faith in our beliefs, by His grace. This is our stability and steadfastness in battle.
- Shield of Faith: "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." Our faith in God will help protect us from the evil and the intimidation we face. The Roman shield was big and covered the soldier's body; it also interlocked with the shields of other soldiers for group protection, making the early Roman soldier invincible.
- Helmet of Salvation: "Take the helmet of salvation". It protects our lives from the devil, because it is one thing that we can NEVER lose. This is our confidence (Phil. 1:6) and His faithfulness that He gave us salvation that Satan cannot take away. It protects our minds from indifference and false beliefs, and misguided advice from friends and the media.
- Sword of the Spirit: "and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." It helps us attack those that tempt us and it will cut to the hearts of those who hear the Word of God. Jesus defeated Satan during His time of temptation by quoting the Word; so should we (Matt 4:1-11)!
- Prayer: "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." This is the most neglected, yet most important weapon we have! This is militant prayer, not just on our behalf, but for one another (Eph 1:15-23).
These weapons are more defensive weapons than offensive! Satan is quick and powerful. He is a lion seeking whom he may devour. You may not even know you are being attacked because "fiery darts" can be shot at you from quite a distance. You need to always have your spiritual guard up.
More Good News on Spiritual Warfare
1 Peter 5:5-9
The victory of Christ is also given to us! This can be applied to sin, disease, pride, spiritualism, or as it evidently means, spiritual warfare-a template on how Satan and evil seek to operate, a plan of the enemy. But, the bottom line is this: Christ is the Victor! His win has continual outcomes of triumph for the Christian, and judgment and consequences for Satan and those who follow him. This passage may be a depiction of the fall of Satan, the application of how he works, the battle of the Cross, or how he sought to steal the show and defeat Christ to prevent the salvation of the elect. Perhaps, it is all of the above; but, the context clearly shows the prime meaning to be the battle of the Cross. Satan was just using the same old "game plan" as he had before, and Christ again proved victorious by His redemptive blood and resurrection. The point God has for us is this: the devil has his ways and plan and God has His; the devil has his facts and God has His Truth, The question is what will reign in you (Isaiah 14:12-14; John 12:31-33; Col. 2:15)?
Be self-controlled means to allow God to be in control of our will and heart and seek the Spirit to enable us. Then, we will know what not to do and be able to guard the areas in which we are weak. This will allow us to have discipline and restraint as we are obedient to God and others. It also means not allowing distractions to derail or remove us from His will and plan; that way, we will not be held back from what Christ has called us to do (Prov. 16:32; 25:28; Rom 13:12-14; 1 Cor. 6:12; 9:25-27; 1Thess. 5: 22; Titus 2:12; Heb. 12:2).
Resist him/ the devil means to beware of the Devil and resist him, to be sober and vigilant (as in alert) of Satan's tactics and influences, to flee the Devil's kingdom, his values, and his wisdom, and then embrace God's kingdom, values, and wisdom. This has more to do with moral values than spiritual warfare. The devil does not have equal authority or power as the popular "Ying/Yang" philosophy states; rather, he only has the power we give to Him. God has absolute power. The devil is not invincible; he is easily thwarted. We put on God's armor so we can fight his temptations and flee from him; we evade the lusts of our hearts and the world by running from them, not toward them (Eph. 6:11-18; James. 3:15, 17; 4:4, 7-10)!
As this verse continues to say, your brothers, it means we are all the body of Christ, in community with one another, and in unity by Christ and His work. Therefore, we are never alone, away from God, or away from one another (unless you isolate yourself). Yes you can win this war, because He who is on your side is far grater than whatever the enemy can throw at us!
When Satan comes against us, God leads His people out of persecution on His wings, and then, continues to show images that deal with authentic spiritual warfare just as He did with the Exodus. Spiritual warfare is the ultimate conflict of good versus evil, of light versus dark, rooted in history, and with future ramifications. As Satan failed to stop the work of Christ and then was punished and thrown from Heaven, so he changed his "game plan" from hunting Christ to hunting His people. Now, Satan hunts for people of faith or those with the potential to be of faith. He not only wants us wounded so we are ineffective, he wants us annihilated! We have a great enemy capable of unspeakable harm, but we also have a Great Savior who leads and protects us, and who is much greater and more powerful, beyond our imagination, over us and our enemy! Keep in mind that God gives us far more than what Satan seeks to steal!
Next is Part III "God Peruses to Protect Us"
© 1999, 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org/