Now that we’ve spoken about Jesus not being a hippie, I think it’s important to know that we are called to be soldiers. We are in the middle of an epic battle. God has already won the war, but our enemy means to steal, kill and destroy. He will continue fighting battles, trying to take as many souls as he can.
I have found, as have many others, that the closer you draw to God, the more the enemy attacks you. The more you pray, the more of your time that is given to service, the more time spent in scripture, etc. I can still remember when I was baptized in April of 2020 that I believed that things would be easier now that I would have Jesus in my corner, but that was far from the truth. Having dedicated myself to Jesus, the enemy saw me as a threat and used my recent PTSD issues against me. I was consistently having problems sleeping due to the constant nightmares I would have. I was freaking out going anywhere that I had to wear a mask. I just wanted to curl up in a hole and be left to die.
Thankfully my wife insisted that I start going to counseling with a Christian based counselor. This was also the time that I had reached out to the worship pastor at church about joining the band. Those 2 things really helped get me past the enemy’s attacks during this round of the fight.
Satan is usually extremely subtle. He won’t normally come straight at you as he did with Jesus during his fast in the desert. It’s all of the tiny little things that he gets us to do so easily that ruin us. Have you ever noticed that when you’ve taken a step forward in your faith, no matter how big or small, it seems like there are some things that keep getting in the way. For me, it’s often something as simple as staying up a bit late watching a movie or streaming some shows with my wife. Then in the morning, when I should be doing my devotions before I get ready for work, I can’t seem to wake up enough to be able to focus on reading Scripture and praying. So instead of using my phone to spend time with God, I spend it on social media. Looking at pictures of cute animals may make you feel good for a few minutes, but if it’s taking away your time with God, you will pay for it somehow.
Now the second day, I’m still tired from the previous day (I’m getting old and don’t recover as fast as I used to lol) and I can either do the same thing again or just go through the motions, not really putting anything into my God time. So that makes 2 days in a row that I haven’t started my day with God. At work, someone will be rude or nasty and I’ll respond in a way that really doesn’t show the love of Jesus at all and might even make George Carlin blush. Then I feel ashamed for how I’ve acted and feel as though I can’t go to God and things just get worse from there.
That’s how the enemy fights this battle against us. Anything that he can do to keep us away from God gets him that much closer to us falling away from God and right into his clutches.
The same kind of subtlety goes into our temptations to sin as well. He will whisper in your ear “It’s ok. It’s just this once. No one will know. You can always ask God to forgive you.” If you give into the temptation he will whisper “God knows what you did. You’re filthy! You can’t go to Him now while you stink of sin.” And instead of turning to God, we often try to hide in the shadows. After we have already been beaten, he keeps us from running to the safety of God’s love.
Paul tells us about the Armor of God in Ephesians 6 and instructs us to put it on so that we can “stand against the schemes of the devil” (Vs. 11).
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. (Eph. 6:12-13)
Clearly, Paul is warning us that we are at war with the enemy and his evil. Paul advises us not to just put on some of the armor but to put on the full Armor of God. He knows that only being partially prepared for the battle means we may lose. The only way for us to win is to be prepared and the only way to be prepared is with a full set of armor to take on the devil himself.
Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit-which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. (Eph. 6:14-18)
If you will notice, there is only one piece of the armor meant for offense, the sword of the Spirit. The sword of the Spirit is God’s word. If you’re not reading God’s word, then you have no way to fight the devil off. Jesus, during His fast in the desert, parry’s back at Satan each time he tried to tempt Him with God’s word and each time, Satan’s temptations are defeated as Jesus thrusts the sword of the Spirit. He knows that there is no chance to tempt Jesus with God’s word filling his heart.
But there is a lot of armor to defend us from the enemy as well. The truth of God’s love and Jesus’ victory through sacrifice around our waist, keeping our pants up so we don’t trip and fall. Our righteousness, which allows us to be close with God, covering our heart and keeping it safe from the darkness. The base of our stance (our feet) covered in the awesome fact that Jesus has saved us from the death that the enemy offers helps us to stand strong and as we walk and share this good news with everyone, we help to build our allies in the battles ahead. The shield of faith allows us to block all of the enemy’s attacks. Jesus said that with faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains. Our head is protected by the fact that we are saved. Jesus has us covered.
It’s also important to note that Paul tells us to pray at all times and with the Spirit. He means that we should be speaking to God all day. Not just in the morning or before a meal. And we need to really mean it. Don’t just recite some memory prayers from when you were a kid, but genuinely pour your heart out to God. Every request for yourself, every praise for God and everything that you are asking for others. Give it your all, every time. It doesn’t matter if you feel like you sound dumb when you pray. If you mean it, that’s what truly matters. You don’t have to be eloquent, you don’t even have to always know what to pray. The Spirit will step in and ask God for the things that you don’t know how to ask for, or that you don’t even know you need to ask for. But only if you let the Spirit fill your heart.
Recently, my wife joined the prayer team at church and I started this blog. I can tell you the spiritual warfare we’ve faced is real. There have been big issues, stressors and pressure at work that have tried to pull me from my faith. My wife has been experiencing emotional issues and stressors in her life. Our family life has struggled and our married life has as well. That doesn’t mean that we have been defeated, it means that we are in the heat of battle right now and are fighting for our spiritual lives!! We’ve been able to push back the enemy and move towards our next step in our faith, but the struggle is real and it’s on going. Fortunately, we were able to see it for what it was and to fight back with God on our side.
There are many casualties in war. That’s exactly what Satan wants. He knows that in the end he can’t win the war. But he wants to take as many of us down before it’s over as he can. He knows that it hurts God to lose our souls to him and he will fight for each and every one that he can snatch up. It’s not anything big. He’s not trying to get each of us to murder someone or commit some other heinous atrocities, he is simply and gently trying to pull us away from our journey towards God. He tosses a a boulder on the path so we have to get off of it and find our way back. He entices us to stay off of the path. He nudges us towards a short cut that only leads us further from where we are meant to be. Many times, it’s almost imperceptible how he steals us away from God.
But when we realize that we truly are soldiers at war, we can put on the Armor of God and fight back with all of the power of God. That is how each one of us will be able to win our own war against the enemy and get to hug Jesus and spend eternity in His presence.