Our spiritual struggle isn't just with internal spiritual microbes. We fight against a vicious and ancient external enemy. At the end of his enlightening letter to the Ephesian Christians, Paul told them bluntly, “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 devil's 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” (Ephesians 6:10-12).
Satan’s schemes to throw us off track are deception, temptation, and accusation.
Paul reminded us that Satan “disguises himself as an angel of light.” Our enemy casts doubt on the faithfulness of God, the power of the cross, the depth of God’s love, and the Lord’s purpose for our lives. When we’re not paying attention, he whispers in our ears the same question he asked Eve, “Has God really said that? Does he really care? You can’t trust him with your deepest desires, can you?” And when he whispers to us, he uses our own voice, so it sounds completely reasonable.
Another spiritual pathogen Satan wants to use to infect our hearts is temptation. The thought or momentary desire for sex or power or pleasure is entirely normal for a living, breathing human being, just as it’s normal for microbes to exist for a short time in the body before being identified and killed by white blood cells. But like the white cells, we have to identify the temptation quickly, surround it with truth, and eradicate it from our hearts. If we let it multiply, it will consume us and destroy us. James told us, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:13-15). That’s pretty close to a description of a virus that takes hold in the body, overwhelms the defenses, and kills the patient.
Another ploy of the evil one is to accuse us of being unworthy, unfit, and unlovable. Again, the voice sounds like our own, so we don’t even realize it’s an attack from the enemy. We call ourselves horrible names, and though we try to put on a smile when we’re with others, we secretly fear what they think of us. We don’t win the battle against accusations by trying to prove ourselves, but with humility and honesty.
Our response to every accusation is to go back to the cross, to remember that the blood of Jesus pays for all our sins, qualifies us to be God’s beloved children, and gives us a new, powerful sense of purpose.
What do you need to fight deception, temptation, and accusation more effectively?