For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12 ESV)
Throughout our devotion, we’ve looked at the fact that we as followers of Jesus have a very real enemy named Satan who comes to kill, steal, and destroy (see Day 38). It has been said that one of the greatest victories Satan has ever achieved is to convince the world that he doesn’t exist. If Satan is a fairytale in our minds, it is only natural for us to lose sight of who our true enemy is.
Throughout my time walking with Jesus, I’ve witnessed many moments where people forgot who the true enemy was. From husbands and wives turning against one another, to parents and children battling as if they were each other’s enemies. I’ve even witnessed followers of Jesus attacking and tearing one another down. Is it really any surprise that we see the effects of forgetting who our true enemy is throughout our lives? Broken marriages. Broken families. Broken churches.
Because our greatest enemy has done his best to convince us he doesn’t exist, and because so many have bought that lie, we try everything and every way to resolve spiritual problems by non-spiritual means. We try new routines, new medicines, new self-help books, new techniques, as we helplessly try to solve spiritual problems with physical and emotional solutions. I need to stop and acknowledge a very important point, I believe God can and does answer prayers through doctors, medicine, therapy, and the transforming of our mind (Romans 12:2). But the problem is when we try to solve spiritual problems without God.
Visualize with me for a moment. Imagine that we are getting ready to walk onto a battlefield. Imagine now that we have no idea what the battle holds, who the enemy is, what our objective is, what the enemy’s objective is, and we have no plan of attack. You don’t have to be a brilliant tactician to understand, we are getting ready to be defeated. This seems almost ludicrous to imagine trying to fight (and win) a battle this way. Yet so many of us are desperately fighting this way each day… it’s time to acknowledge this and begin a new way.
The Apostle Peter reminds us: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 ESV) When we stop having childish thoughts concerning the devil and prepare ourselves properly for spiritual battle, we have begun taking the first step at building a Christ centered, Biblical battle plan. Notice what Peter says, “Be sober-minded”. Sober-minded means that we have clear, unobstructed, Biblical focus as we are “watchful.” This means we don’t dismiss our enemy as a fairytale, but we certainly don’t glorify him with godlike characteristics. He is an enemy that we can resist and defeat with the power of Christ in and through us (see 1 John 4:4 and James 4:7).
Earlier I said that we shouldn’t try to solve spiritual problems with non-spiritual answers. How then should we fight against the “spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places?” I can think of several battle tactics that are key. First, keep your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). This means that prayer isn’t a duty or an obligation, it is a part of our battle plan. We pray without ceasing throughout our day (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This doesn’t mean we literally pray for 86,400 seconds a day (24 hours) but that prayer is a lifestyle, first response, and something we intentionally do throughout our day.
Next, we engage with the Scriptures and humbly remain teachable (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). We not only make time to read and study the Scripture, but we apply God’s Word to our lives (see James 1:22). One of the most frustrating things I witness as a teacher and preacher is those who hear but don’t apply the Word of God. When you can see how the Scripture is speaking to everyone but you, I’d suggest you stop and consider if you are resisting God’s correction. If you are, you are only deceiving yourself.
Then, examine your own life consistently and ask yourself: are the fruit of the Holy Spirit present in my life? (See Galatians 5:22-23) Are they not only present but are they growing? If they aren’t growing, why? Often Satan is most effective against us when we are not seeking, submitting to, and staying in step with the Holy Spirit. More of Christ, less of us. Trust me when I say the problem is not that we are too much like Jesus.
Lastly, let the Word of God transform your mind. Paul writes it this way: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 ESV) Don’t do it your way. Don’t do it your spouses’ way. Don’t try your favorite preacher’s way. Seek and live Christ’s way and then live this way consistently, intentionally, and purposefully.
One final reminder, you cannot overcome Satan or the forces of darkness on your own. No matter how hard you fight, what measures you put in place, what promises you make, or what physical or emotional changes you make, as long as you are fighting a spiritual war you are going to need to learn to wield spiritual weapons. Your battle tactics might be pretty sloppy (or non-existent) right now. Don’t let your fear of failure stop you from trying and trusting. If you fail in this moment, confess your sin, and start over again. At the end of each day, ask God to reveal the truth to you: God did I fight today’s battles in my own strength or Yours? (Spoiler alert: God is and will always be undefeated)
As our 40 days of prayer and fasting come to an end, I pray God has opened your eyes in an exceptional way. I pray that your life has been forever altered by the Word of God. I pray that God will make His presence and will for your life abundantly clear. I pray that the light of Christ would shine brightly in and through you. I pray that the God of immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine would bless you, strengthen you, and give you the victory.
Father, forgive me for when I forget who my true enemy is. Lord, I pray that You would give me eyes to see and ears to hear. Please teach me how to spot the enemy moving in my life and give me strength, wisdom, and courage to fight against him in Your power. I am thankful that You have already won every victory. Lord, please remind me that I am fighting from victory, not fighting for it. Holy Spirit, please teach me to wage the spiritual weapons You’ve given me. Help me be victorious like never before, in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.