A couple weeks ago someone asked how I was and I replied, “Weary of spiritual warfare.” The other person professes to be a Christian, but had no idea what I was talking about.
The next week, another person asked the same thing, and I gave the same answer. This person said, “Then you must be a threat. They enemy does not attack those that he already has in his clutches.”
In C. S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters,” a demon and Satan write back and forth with their strategy to effectively make Christians useless to God. I remember one in particular. It was a woman who was bound up in her fussiness. She needed to have her meals just so. Being particular about her ‘stuff’ was evidence of always thinking about herself and her own needs. This made her useless to God.
That chapter in the book made me realize that it doesn’t take much, or at least it might not seem like much, but Satan can use my most insignificant weaknesses to entrap me, never mind what he can do with the bigger issues.
Spiritual warfare is something like Paul’s description in Romans 7 of his battle with sin. He found himself doing what he didn’t want to do and not able to do what he did want to do.
I strongly identify with his experience and now can more deeply understand how he ended that passage of Scripture: “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7:22–25)
The enemy is sometimes subtle, sometimes not, but in either case he goes after my areas of pride, the places in my life where I feel hard done by, that I should have more or better than what I have. In other words, I’m thinking that I know what is best for me — better than God knows what is best for me. Peter has something to say about this spiritual danger . . .
“ . . . Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:5–10)
I might not have all my needs met, never mind my wants, but God bids me to trust Him, not take matters into my own hands. He knows what is important — and what do I know? Not much. By being anxious about myself, I’m giving Satan a toehold, but the Bible says, “Give no opportunity to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:27)
The way to win these wars is by giving in, yielding, not to the enemy but to God. All my battles are rooted in some way to an issue of life where I am not trusting God or God’s supply or that He knows what He is doing with my life. In each battle, the victory came (and Satan left) when I yielded to God.
James says it well: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:7–8)
Sadly, there have been times when I was ignorantly resisting God and thus open to the attacks of the enemy. At times, I didn’t even realize I’d been trapped until God made me aware of the pickle I was in. Like my friend, I was oblivious to the sneaky tactics of this one that Jesus called the liar and destroyer.
While God promises to keep His people eternally safe, and not allow anything to separate us from His love, He also tells us to be humble yet alert. Roaring lions make a noise only when they are claiming their territory and their prey is already in position for the kill.