I’ve got a question for you and it’s really good:
My pastor once asked me, who are the three main characters in the Bible? Think about it for a bit.
God, Jesus, and Man. Yeah, but God and Jesus are one. So try again.
God, man, and Noah. Or David? Or Mary? Or Paul? He did write most of New Testament.
The answer is God, Man, and the Devil. If you weren’t able to come up with that answer, don’t worry. Why? Because that is the Devil’s scheme: to make you forget that he’s there. To make you forget that he’s the one behind the scenes manipulating and scheming against you. He wants to hide in the background. He shrinks himself and makes himself barely known because he doesn’t want you to praise him directly, but to praise his distractions: money, comfort, food, people, and idols. He will dangle in front of you anything that distracts you from God.
He’s so good at being evil that he tricked all of humanity to fall into sin, forcing our separation from God. I’ve said this before, but the Bible is God’s love story of how he rescued us through his Son, Jesus Christ. Happily ever after right? Yes, the enemy’s days are numbered, but he’ll do everything he can to make sure you, me, our families, our friends, husbands, and boyfriend’s days are also numbered. The day we’re saved, is the start of our eternity. Satan has nothing to lose, and he’s set on the genocide of humankind.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes. 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.”
I despise Satan. It just grinds my gears how he goes around and schemes against me. But that’s not even the half of it. I also have an issue how he schemes against my husband, my mom, my dad, my sister, my brother, my neighbor, my nephew, my niece, my high school friends, my college roommates, my coworkers, and every single person in God’s creation. Every single person made in God’s image. Every single new born baby brought in this world. There are 7.7 billion people in the world right now, and Satan is fighting against all of us. He is even desperate enough to scheme against Jesus (but you know that just left the devil flat on his face).
I’m not telling you this to freak you out, but if we don’t address the issue and instead hide in fear or choose to live in ignorance, then we’re allowing the devil free access into our lives to manipulate and speak lies to us. Let me start with saying that you have power. You have the power to rebuke and to resist, and the devil will flee and submit to you. I challenge you to rise up and move unafraid, because you have the power to declare Satan to go away. You are powerful, because you have Christ who has already won! We won! We are victorious! But, even though the head of the snake may have been cut off, it is still filled with venom and is deadly. The enemy is still fighting a losing battle.
“He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’”
Paul stresses how important it is to put on the full armor of God because no matter what stage you’re at in life, how you feel, or if you’ve had your midday nap, Satan is prowling and wants to attack you so bad. He hates you. Now, that doesn’t mean we have to be afraid. Jesus tells us over and over in the Bible: do not fear, do not worry, or do not doubt. This isn’t a battle you’re fighting alone. Have faith in the authority and power and love of Jesus. You have Jesus. I mean, who is a better person to have on your team then Him?
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Along with understanding God’s amazing character, I feel it’s important to understand the enemy’s battle tactics. Satan has mainly one tactic that he uses in different ways: he lies. Although this tactic that may seem simple and obvious, that doesn’t make it any less lethal. These very effective tactics certainly aren’t new and are constantly bombarding the entire human race. “Half truths” are the snake’s venom, and everything whispered from the enemies mouth, is a lie.
When we’re outside looking into other people’s lives, it’s easy to spot the lies of Satan they’re believing. But when it’s in our own lives, it brings confusion and fear, and for some reason we’re blind to them. This tactic of “half-truths” is Satan’s prime way of scheming against us. Satan whispers things that sound Biblical, and maybe actual bible verses, but twists and uses it to confuse us and bring up doubt in our hearts against God. The enemy tells us just enough to distract us from the real truth in God’s Word.
What’s the opposite of true comfort from God (This isn’t another trick question.)? It’s false, temporary comfort. Anything and everything that’s distracting you from placing full trust and comfort in God. We want instant comfort. We’ll take it in any form, just as long as it’s quick and heals fast. God works in a beautiful timing that is so foreign to us and is often slower than we’d prefer. Sometimes, in our misunderstanding of God’s timing, we can perceive that God isn’t working at all and that’s when the enemy comes running in to place other comforts we can rely on instead of God. Food, TV, a busy schedule, and even our friends can distract us from going back to Jesus.
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:8–9
What’s more deadly than making you doubt God’s word? Making you believe there’s nothing there to doubt. The devil numbs your ability to see the reality of the spiritual battle that’s all around you. Alcohol and drugs are used to numb the pain and also the joy that can be present with Jesus. But Satan, as annoying as he is, is crafty (Genesis 3:1) and he’s not using the same tactics he did in the Old Testament; he’s adapted to modern times. Today, his schemes can take the form of Netflix binging, online pornography, or video games. What better way to numb your mind than by getting you lost in another reality when the world around you is crumbling? He’s convinced us that instead of facing this reality, forgetting it is the easiest alternative, even to the point of eternal death.
This is where most of us lose this battle; in our ambitions. We’re told our whole lives to strive as hard as we can. And we should, but we’re striving for the wrong thing: our own selfish gain. We have ambitions to be promoted, to be the best, to be number one, to have fame, and to be praised. But the Bible says those things shouldn’t be our main focus. Your selfish heart will be the death of you. Our ambitions often become a gray area where we eventually substitute God’s will for our own will. This is where we test the waters and humor the question, “Did God really say (fill in what applies to you)?” (Genesis 3:1). This is an evil desire in us to be our own god and make our own rules independent from the protection of the true God.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”
Eve was given a perfect, PERFECT, world with no shame and sin, but she still moved in selfish desire to be her own god. Satan was right there making her doubt God. In a way, Satan was like Eve’s “hype man” for her eventual death as he presented her with false facts to make her believe that God was withholding something from them even though they had everything already.
“You will not certainly not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened,” and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.
Those verses absolutely break my heart. That’s when the big “what if” questions come up. We get a glimpse of this perfect world full of life, love, and community with God in the first 2 chapters of the Bible. A vision of the life we were meant to have, crushed by selfish ambition taunted and pushed by a liar. When we take our eyes off of God, it’s the opportune time for Satan to feed us lies.
Pray it and declare it. One thing I don’t want you to do is underestimate the power of prayer. I don’t want you to look at this part of my letter and say, “Pray? Check. I do pray so I’m good.” and then skim through this section. I’ve done that. I’ve read through the meat of a good book, but when I get to the end and try to reflect on how it can be applied to my life, I’m not able to because I sped through it (another lie Satan keeps telling me, “hurry, hurry!” ). But listen, sister, there’s always room in the world for more prayer. Eve walked with God in the garden, and she still sinned. Jesus was with God and is God, but he still prayed fervently especially when he hung on the cross.
If you’re believing that a quick prayer every Sunday at church, or 10 minutes before you go to sleep is enough, you’re believing a lie from Satan. It’s God’s will for us to pray constantly. “But I am too busy because my week is packed. I barely have time to relax. I haven’t slept a full 8 hours in years. I can’t even eat a full meal. I don’t even have time to talk to my family.” I can tell you that if you have time to worry and make excuses, you have time to pray! But worrying and praying can’t be done one after the other. You need to pray instead of worrying.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”
1 Thessalonians 5:16
You need to take a good hard look at your life and ask yourself where you are in your relationship with Jesus. God can’t work on a prideful heart. Humility is just the ingredient God needs to create something amazing. The things that you feel are hindering you are the very things God is waiting for you to present to him so he can perform miracles for you.
So now we have a choice. Effective choices require more than just a mental decision to change; they also require the actual physical movement to put that choice into motion. Faith and works go hand-in-hand when walking with Jesus. Sister, pray to Jesus with the trust that he will comfort you beyond your doubt; and then choose to remove all the distractions so God can have room to work.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith.”
(Emphasis by me)
Throw off the selfish ambition, throw off the distractions, and tell the devil to shut up! Tell him to keep away from you! Satan is a coward. We have the authority through Jesus to tell him to go away. The amazing thing is that the enemy will leave, and God is waiting for you to dismiss the enemy so he can stand right by your side to comfort and attend you. Jesus loves you so much. He wants to expose his glorious truth by freeing you from the lies of Satan.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
Girl, this is not a passive letter. Improving your prayer life is not something you can simply will into action. There needs to be a personal, internal motivation in you because you’re in this spiritual battle, whether you like it or not. With every decision or move you make, there’s a spiritual battle pushing you towards the winning side or the losing side. No matter how many self- help books or blogs you read telling you what you should do, nothing will happen until you do it all with the aid of Jesus Christ. Transform all the energy you spent on distractions, on numbing yourself, and on blinding yourself into an intense focus on the God of comfort. When your eyes are on Jesus, Satan has no choice but flee.