Sunday, April 05, 2009
Facing Your Enemy
Our enemy, Satan is real. The Bible says in I Peter 5:8, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."
I like how The Message states this verse - "Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up."
That's right - Satan's goal is to destroy and will wait for an opportune time when you least expect it. He waits until our guards are down and then moves in for the kill sometimes in such a suttle way that we don't even realize it until he has us ensnared. He begins by taking small things from us sometimes going unnoticed, until finally we realize he has taken the bigger more precious things from us.
Satan will destroy anyone who allows him to, but I believe that He especially has it in for those who pose the biggest threat. Those who are surrendered to God. Those with vision. Those whom God plans to use to impact the lives of others. The more people who will experience freedom if you are set free, the more of a threat you are to Satan. He knows that if he can destroy you, then he can destroy the impact that your freedom in Christ will have on others being set free.
So - what happens if you do get caught off guard, you mess up and fall flat on your face? Has Satan won the victory? Have his plans to destroy you worked? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! God can pick you up, redeem your life and restore you once again. Satan will only have victory if you let him. The fact is that Satan can only get away with what God allows him to. Nothing happens that God does not have ultimate control over. Sometimes God allows our enemy to reak havoc in our lives to get our attention and to draw us to Himself. Could it be that the very plan that God has for you involves allowing you to suffer and mess up for awhile? Think of some of the most effective people in ministry today. Most are people who have been through some serious trials in their lives. Most have experienced ruthless attacks from the enemy and have fallen at some point only to be picked back up by our Savior and their feet placed upon the SOLID rock, Jesus.
So - how do we prepare ourselves in being ready for Satan's attacks? Ephesians 6:13 says to "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."
I remember the first time I was taught about the armor of God from Ephesians 6. I was a small child at the time and was attending a summer Bible School. I remember the teacher passing out pieces of armor for us to color and place on our paper dolls. I did not realize at that young age just how valuable that lesson was and how important that knowledge would become to me at a later age.
Belt of Truth - This is the foundation on which the sword is attached. Jesus is truth. In order to stand up to Satan's lies and deception, we must be attached to the truth that is found in Jesus alone.
Breastplate of Righteousness - The purpose of this piece of armor in battle is to protect the soldiers vital organs. They would not dare to enter into battle without it. If we rely on our own good works or efforts, they will do us no good in battle with the enemy. However, with the righteousness given to us through Christ, we know that on our good or bad days we stand before God the same - righteous and forgiven in His sight. There is no need for shame. Shame is a tactic the enemy will use to keep us stuck and keep us from experiencing the freedom that comes through Jesus Christ.
Shoes of the Gospel of Peace - Without proper protection for their feet, a soldier in battle would not be able to stand long. The Gospel of Jesus' life, death and resurrection was to bring us peace with God. We are able to stand boldly and confidently in the peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ.
Shield of Faith - When an enemy would attack a soldier with flaming arrows, the shield would be the piece of armor that would protect him from being hit. Jesus is our only shield. We cannot rely on our own strength to protect us. We must allow Christ to shield us from Satan's attacks.
Helmet of Salvation - This piece of armor protects our minds. God provided salvation to us through sending His son to die on a cross so that our sins could be forgiven. Anyone who accepts this free gift that God offers will be saved. There is nothing you can do to lose your salvation. Nothing you can do to separate yourself from God's love. When Satan speaks his lies into your mind and tells you that you have messed up way too much for God to possibly love you, remember that there is nothing you can do to lose God's love. There is no mess you can get yourself into that is beyond His grace.
The Sword of the Spirit - The most powerful weapon of all, the Word of God. All the other pieces of armor are for defense, but this deadly weapon is meant to use as an offense. God's Word is POWERFUL! Satan can't handle it. Not only does it give us the power to defeat Satan and send him running, but it has the power to absolutely change your life!
The first Psalm I ever memorized as a child was Psalm 23. Verse 5 says that God will "prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemy." I am looking forward to that time. I believe that God is not only going to sit me down at a feast of blessings that He has been preparing me for, but He will surround me at that table with all of the things and all of the people that Satan stole from me. God will do this all while forcing my enemy to sit and watch as he shudders at his embarrassment that he ever messed with me!
"The thief comes only to steal, to kill and destroy. I (Jesus) have come so that you may have life, and have it more ABUNDANTLY!!!"