Thursday, January 6, 2011

When It Comes to Satan, the Best Offense is a Good Defense

Today we finally come to the end of this series on Satan.  I do not like to talk, think, ponder, or even give this much space to such a one as our enemy, but it was necessary.  God would not have told us so much about him in His Word if He did not want us to learn about him.  All the Scriptures are for our benefit, and so are the ones regarding Satan.  Today I want to talk about our reaction to his attacks on us and our faith.  I will begin with what not to do.
Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"  Jude 1:9 NKJV
We should not directly confront Satan. For many men, I know this goes especially against your pride, but quite honestly you are out of your league.  Satan was even so bold as to directly come at our Lord as we saw yesterday.  We see here that even the archangel Michael did not directly confront Satan but put the Lord between the two of them.  May we have that same reaction.  When Satan comes at us, there is no shame in hiding behind our Lord.  In fact, it is what we are supposed to do.  On a side note, I was at a church one time where during their worship service they sang a taunting song to Satan.  I was shocked!  First of all, why in God's name would you sing a song about Satan (even a song against Satan) during a time to worship the Lord?  Secondly, why would you pick a fight? The Bible never says to pick a fight with Satan.  Do you remember Peter's denial of Jesus or what happened to Job and all he had?  I have also heard Christian rap performers sing songs about being demon killers.  I do not know what anyone would be thinking to pick a fight.  I have learned the hard way that one must be careful what they ask for.  Picking a fight with Satan is stepping out in pride and God may very well give Satan permission to test that strength you think you have.  Again, I reference Job and Peter.  Do not overestimate your ability to stand on your own against Satan.  Do not pick a fight as the attacks will come anyway.  What we should doing is clinging to Jesus for protection when those attacks come.  We should not stand out and invite one, but put the Lord between us when those attacks do happen.  And you know, those attacks will happen.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJV
Note it does not say for us to be haughty, proud, and provocative.  The Word tells us to be sober and vigilant.  The Word tells us to keep our minds clear and to be at the ready for the attacks when they come.  The devil is likened to a roaring lion looking to devour us and seeking God's permission to try. When those attacks come, we are called to resist him.  Note it does not say to fight him, but to resist him.  It is a defensive posture, not an offensive one.  We stand to oppose him, but not of our own strength.  That is where faith comes in.  We cling to our faith in Jesus no matter what course this attack may take.  It can be persecution, material loss, personal loss, sickness, and more but no matter what is happening, we need to stand but stand in faith.  Clinging to our faith in Jesus puts Jesus between us and Satan.  Clinging to our faith in Jesus keeps us reliant on Hm.  Remember, Satan wants to break your reliance to Jesus so clinging to your faith in Him is the best way to combat that attack.  Satan wants to break your relationship with Him so clinging to Him all the more is the way to defeat him. The best offense against Satan is a good defense.
above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  Ephesians 6:16 NKJV
We are told to stand in faith and that faith is likened to a shield.  A shield is a tool for defense not offense.  If we cling to Jesus, those darts that Satan fires at us and our lives will be quenched.  Also note that a shield is something you hide behind.  We do not stand in front of our shields and expect it to protect us, but we crouch down behind it when the enemy shoots his arrows.  We must do the same with Jesus.  Faith is only as good as what you put your faith in so by putting our faith in Jesus, we are making Jesus our shield.  If you have a tissue paper shield, it does not matter what kind of faith you have in tissue paper, those darts will go right through.  If you have a solid titanium shield and claim to have faith in it but yet leave it behind it will also do nothing to protect you.  Your faith in that shield must be expressed in the action of taking it with you and hiding behind it and only then will it protect you.  The same is for Jesus.  He is our titanium shield against anything Satan can throw at us.  Claiming to have faith in Him is not enough, we actually have to express that faith in action.  We must carry that faith with us wherever we go and get behind it when the attacks come.  We must put our trust in that shield to protect us.  A warrior is all the more vulnerable when he lowers his shield even if for an offensive attack.  Our purpose is not to kill or defeat Satan, but to resist him.  And what happens when we stay behind our shields and resist Satan?
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  James 4:7 NKJV
As we take our cover behind our Lord, clinging to him for our lives in times of attack, Satan will flee from us.  If we step out from behind that shield and stand before him on our own strength, he will devour us.  Actually, when we step out from behind our shield, Satan has won already.  Devouring us is just claiming his spoil from the battle.  His goal is to separate us from our Lord and when we step out from behind that shield, we have separated ourselves and in that we gave our enemy the victory.  Stay behind Jesus and Satan will flee from you.  He will not remain in a losing battle and even he knows that when Jesus is between you and him, he will never get to you.  Just as he departed from Jesus in the desert, he will depart from us. 

So how do we stand in faith behind our shield?  For that answer we need to remember yesterday's lesson and the nature of his attacks.  First, he will try to get us to focus on materialism rather than spiritualism and in that we must remain focused on the Lord and our relationship to Him.  Nothing can be more important or precious in our lives than Jesus.  Once we begin to put other things before the Lord, we are peaking from behind our shield and leaving ourselves open for his darts.  Think about the picture of a soldier hiding behind his shield.  When hidden behind your shield, you do not even see your enemy, you only see the shield in front of you.  Once you take your eyes off the shield and peak over or around it, you are leaving yourself open for attack.  Stay behind the shield, stay focused on the Lord that covers you.  If you only see Jesus, you will not be distracted to let your guard down.

Secondly, he will try to attack our faith through the Word of God.  If Satan was so bold to engage Jesus in the intricacies of God's Word, do you not think he would do the same to us?  And I have news for you, Satan has more knowledge of God's Word than we will ever have in this life.  Our only hope is to ground ourselves in His Word and rely on the Holy Spirit to bring it to mind when the attacks come.   I can not emphasize this enough, we all must be grounded in God's Word or we are sitting ducks.  In this case, he is trying to get us to lay down our shield.  "Has God really said..." are some of his favorite words.  We must remain vigilant, we must remain grounded, we must study His Word.  The Holy Spirit will teach us how to understand what we read and bring to mind those lessons when needed, but the Holy Spirit is not going to upload a copy of the Bible into your brain if you never take the time to study it.  Be grounded in His Word or Satan will convince you to lay down your shield.  Once your shield is down, he will devour you. 

Finally, he will try to replace your shield.  For Jesus he tried to come between Him and the Father by asking him to worship him in exchange for the world.  Basically, this is bribery.  He will offer you something that looks delicious or is pleasing to the eyes, he will offer you something desirable, sometimes incredibly desirable, and the price is your shield.  Would you exchange your shield of protection for a toy of pleasure?  Way too many times, we do.  Every time we sin, that is what we are doing.  We are exchanging our shield for a toy and while we are unprotected and distracted we almost do not even notice when Satan comes in for the kill.  Spiritually speaking, sin is deadly.  While we are saved by the blood of Jesus, those darts may not kill us but they will hurt us and they can hurt us badly. 

So how do we respond to the attacks of Satan?  First of all, we must ready ourselves for them.  Being ready for those attacks means being grounded in God's word, walking in His will, and always carrying our shield of faith.  When those attacks come, we must crouch behind that shield and cling to Jesus hard and tight and Satan will flee.  If we stay behind that shield, Satan can never get to us.  If we stay behind that shield, we will never lose in battle.  If we stay behind that shield, that shield will cover and protect us through all attacks.  Our shield is the Lord Jesus Christ and that shield will never fail, never leave us, and never betray is.  Our only danger is if we leave that shield behind, try to peak around it, lay it down, or give it up.  Jesus has already won the war, the battle is only ours to lose if we turn away from Him. 
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2 NKJV

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