“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV)
I need to share a hard truth with you, there is an enemy out to destroy your life. Satan isn’t just a scary bedtime story we tell children in the church. Satan, known as the father of lies and a murderer, has been the enemy of mankind since the fall in the Garden of Eden. Satan is an enemy who is more powerful than we are (on our own), who is smarter than we are, more vicious than we could imagine, heartless, ruthless, and destructive.
Although commentators don’t agree on if Jesus is talking about Satan in John 10:10 (some think Jesus is referring to false teachers), this is still a defining truth about our enemy. The character of Satan is opposed to God’s in every way. But, and this is crucial, Satan is a defeated foe. At the cross, Jesus defeated all the forces of hell and disarmed the rulers and authorities (see Colossians 2:15).
There are two very wrong ways to deal with Satan. First, there are those who ignore the truth of his presence and opposition, they pretend that Satan doesn’t exist. The doubt of the existence of our enemy is not founded in the Scripture. Second, there are those who give Satan too much credit or ascribe to him godlike qualities that he does not possess. When we think about our enemy, we should simply seek to understand what the Scripture says about him and how to effectively battle against him.
If we know the mission of our enemy, we can begin to spot his tactics. Jesus tells us that Satan comes to: “steal, and kill, and destroy.” I’d like to acknowledge something; Jesus actually says that the enemy comes only to do these things. This indicates to me that every action of our enemy is centered upon this mission. Read those three words again… they are a powerful picture of the havoc that Satan is reaping in the lives of countless people and even churches.
In day 19 of our devotion, we looked at the power of Scripture. I’d like to remind you today that when Jesus battled Satan in the wilderness, He used Scripture. If Jesus used the Scripture to battle the enemy, we should be modeling our battle plan on His. To battle Satan effectively, we need to know, understand, and apply the Scripture.
Imagine with me a soldier on an ancient battlefield. Can you see him? There he stands dressed in the best armor, wielding an incredibly sharp sword. The soldier knows who his enemy is and is prepared to fight to the death. There is only one thing lacking… the soldier has no idea how to properly wield his weapon. For all the beautiful tools we have at our disposal, if we don’t learn how to put them to work we will be helpless.
The writer of Hebrews says this about the Word of God: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 ESV) The Word of God is alive and has the power to give life. It is active and when it is active in our life it gives us life, joy, strength, correction, and it trains us so that we will be thoroughly equipped for every good work (see 1 Timothy 3:16-17). It is this, the Word of God, that helps us defeat the enemy of our souls.
There are at least a few steps I think we need to take in order to learn to wield the Sword of the Spirit effectively in our lives. First, prayer. The importance of prayer before and during the study of the Scripture is crucial. It is the Holy Spirit who illuminates the Scripture so we can understand and apply it to our lives (see John 14:26). Once we’ve prayed, we actually have to read the Scripture. The Psalmist reminds us that the Word of God should be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). Once we’ve prayed and read the Scripture, we should meditate and ask ourselves: what did I read, what does it mean, how does this apply to my life? Lastly, after we’ve read (and heard) the Word of God, we need to put it into practice (James 1:22).
I’m going to get myself in trouble, but I need to share a reminder with you. Before I share the reminder, I wonder how many of you have seen the movie War Room. In the movie, the power of prayer is on display for all to see. I love the movie and how it challenges and encourages us to be intentional about prayer. There is one scene in the movie I’ve always taken issue with though… Miss Clara, an old prayer warrior in the movie, passionately and forcefully speaks against Satan during one of her animated prayers. My problem? She was using her own words, not the Word of God.
If I could council Miss Clara and remind you of one important truth: Satan isn’t scared of you. On your own, in your own power, you are helpless to defeat him. But empowered by the Holy Spirit and using the Word of God, you can resist and defeat the enemy. Here is the reminder: don’t entertain Satan, rail against him, or try to defend yourself in your own power or by a passionate rant against him (see Jude 1:9). Instead, speak the truth of God’s Word over your life and in the midst of trials and tribulation.
I’ll end today’s devotion with a thought, even Satan knows the Scripture. Jesus faced three specific, documented temptations in the wilderness from Satan himself. During the second temptation, Satan quoted from Scripture, twisting its meaning, to try and tempt Jesus into sinning. Satan failed and was defeated. Why? Jesus not only knew the Scripture, but He also knew and stated the correct application.
Father, thank You for the life that I have in Jesus. Lord, I am thankful that You came to earth to destroy the works of Satan. Jesus, thank You for the abundant life I have in You. Thank You for the victory and the freedom that I experience in You. Today I pray you would help me learn to effectively wield the Sword of the Spirit in my life. Holy Spirit, help me to have a healthy understanding of my enemy. Please help me spot Him quickly and turn to You humbly and quickly for victory over him. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.