4 Steps to victory; defeating the deceptions of Satan

I deal with a lot of spiritual warfare. Day in and day out I fight. Lies and accusations come hurling toward me like arrows over a castle wall. The enemy knows just where to aim to penetrate my defenses.

I often think of the 80’s song, Love is a Battlefield, by Pat Benatar. However, it is my mind that is a battlefield. At the end of most days, I feel bloodied and beaten.

I have often wondered, where is the victory that we are promised?

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.   1 Corinthians 15:57

I know my God is victorious, and I can be too. So, why do I so often feel defeated?

Putting on the armor

Most Christians are aware of the armor of God described in Ephesians. However, do we know how to use it or put it on? Do we know how to activate the armor? For most of my life I certainly didn’t.

I recently started Priscilla Shirer’s Bible study, The Armor of God. And through it, I am starting to see the light of victory at the end of the tunnel!

One of the women in the Bible study with me is Sally, an extremely gifted Christian counselor. She relies heavily on God’s counsel with her clients. And, she is truly gifted.

One day when she was praying, lies from the enemy started to hit her consciousness. Right away, she started praying a four step prayer to fight these lies.

God showed her how to fight off lies from the enemy and gain victory over them. She gave me permission to share the four steps here.

Step 1: Identify the lie

I remember as a kid, seeing a TV commercial that showed a superhero with his fists confidently on his sides and a cape flowing behind him in the breeze. He would say, “Knowing is half the battle!”

Isn’t that so true?! Knowing is half the battle. I would even say, knowing is more than half the battle. And a lot of people go through their whole lives and never get the ‘knowing.’

One type of knowing is self awareness. There is nothing more annoying than people who aren’t self aware. It is a pet peave of mine. I know that certain things trigger me. I know when I tend to overreact. I know that I can be pessimistic and complain too much. I know the weaknesses in my character.

I am self aware. We all have weaknesses and being aware of them means that we are ‘in the know’.

Another type of knowing is discernment. Discernment is knowing where certain thoughts come from. Are they from God? Or, from Satan? Or, neither?

How do we discern God’s truth from Satan’s lies?

You can learn to discern!

If you have trouble discerning the lies of the enemy, ask God to help you see. The more we pray, the closer we walk with God and the more we study His Words, the more we will have His heart. And if we have His heart, the Holy Spirit will help us learn discernment.

Step one is identifying the lie Satan is using on you.

Step 2: Renounce it in Jesus name

There is one name above all names.  

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,   Philippians 2:9-10

There is no greater name than Jesus. And there is power in His name. So, speak it. Shout it if you have to.

“I renounce this thought in the name of Jesus Christ!”

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”   Luke 10:17

Step 3: Proclaim your identity in Christ

You and I are heirs to the King!

Satan would rather us not realize that we are royalty. He would prefer we not know our position and inheritance. He would like us to forget that we belong to God.

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God   Romans 8:13

Proclaim your identity in Christ. Own it. live it. Nobody can take it away from you. Claim what is rightfully yours.

Step 4: Give thanks

The final step is thanking God for the battle you face and for the victory He will bring you.

“Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Luke 10:19

Thankfulness should be the posture of a follower of Christ. We have so much to be thankful for. We are alive and free because of the cleansing blood of Christ.

Giving thanks to God can do so many things. It can foster worship, it can put down pride, and it can restore peace.

Trust fuels thanksgiving, and thanksgiving activates peace.  -Priscilla Shirer, The Armor of God

We long for peace after the battle. Peace that God has won the day; peace that we have survived the battle; peace that God is on His throne, and therefore, we have nothing to fear.

Peace is the victory.


Thank you God for allowing us to have victory over the deceptions of the enemy!

It’s time to start experiencing victory in Jesus name!

Don’t Put Your Gloves On Until You Know Who You Are Fighting

I recently saw a friend of mine at church who has been dealing with issues with her mom for years. Her mother had Alzheimer’s and was verbally abusive. Since she was the only one of her siblings in town, the majority of care taking fell on her shoulders. Things had recently escalated and her mother was hospitalized. As her brothers and sisters came from out of town, the fighting began. From the moment they arrived there was nothing but bickering and arguments.

Who is the enemy here? Her mom? Her brothers and sisters?

You find yourself after twenty years in a loveless marriage. What happened? Where did it go wrong? You borrow your husband’s laptop real quick one afternoon because you’re upstairs and your laptop is downstairs. As you click around to get to your email, a name pops up that you don’t recognize. ‘Who is this?” you wonder. You click the email thread. As you start to skim the inappropriate text you become nauseous. Alarms go off in your head, ‘STOP READING,’ they say, ‘ABORT, ABORT!’ Your body begins to go numb. You can no longer deny what you have suspected for months. ‘Well,’ you say to yourself, ‘it finally happened.’

Who is the enemy here? Your husband? The other woman?

I call middle school ‘middle earth.’ Middle-earth. J.R.R. Tolkien’s invented world centered on an epic story of the struggle between Good and Evil. Middle earth is the dark land that inhabits scary, grotesque creatures, where the main character and his companion journey together in the series, Lord Of The Rings. It is an eerie and sinister world. Danger looms around every corner, and you never quite know who is a friend or foe. Sounds like middle school, right?!

My daughter came home from middle school one day crying. Some kids were making fun of her about her shoes . . . SHOES . . . really?!! There are certain kids at her school that make middle school somewhat miserable. They are loud, obnoxious, rude, arrogant, and basically . . . . bullies.

Who is the enemy here? That kid at school? That kid’s parents?

The enemy is not our parents or our kids, even though they may make us mad. It is not the school bully. It’s not our husbands or wives. It’s not our coworker or our boss. It’s not the guy in the black SUV that cut you off on the way to work this morning.

Who is our enemy, then?

Human nature causes us to ignore the supernatural and to trust only what we see. When we are angry, we see the people who have hurt us. Too often, we fail to see the one behind the scenes pulling the strings.

There is only one true enemy. Satan is the enemy.

When preparing for battle, we must determine who the real enemy is.

A boxer wouldn’t start punching the referee when the starting bell rings. Just like a football player wouldn’t run off the field and tackle a spectator! That would be ridiculous! They know who they are up against. They know who the enemy is, and who it is not.

The enemy is ALWAYS Satan. If we acknowledge that and direct our anger and opposition toward him, then the rest of us might realize we are actually on the same team.

“The Scriptures command us to be gentle and kind to unbelievers, not because we are not at war, but because we’re not at war with them. . . . . The path to peace isn’t through bellicosity or surrender, but through fighting the right war. We rage against the Reptile, not against the prey.”
-Russell Moore, Onward; Engaging The Culture Without Losing The Gospel

In other words . . . . don’t put on the gloves until you know who you’re fighting!

Those that wrong us or cause us pain are not necessarily the enemy. When you separate the enemy from the person that you are in conflict with, you can begin to have compassion for them. You begin to see that there is more at play than meets the eye.

People that hurt us often have strongholds, and Satan is probably using them.

 “and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”  2 Timothy 2:26

Those of us who are old enough to remember the horrible events of 9/11 can never forget it. We were attacked and would never be the same. From that day on the threat to our country was no longer communism or nuclear weapons, or war, it was terrorism. And, no one was safe.

2847718626_ca8cf8d445Satan is like a terrorist. He hides in the shadows and caves, and disguises himself. He is sneaky and hard to find, avoiding the light. He uses women and children and those who are the most vulnerable to hide behind.

As a result of the attack on the United States, the government created the Department of Homeland Security. I obviously don’t work for Homeland Security, but I would guess that their number one objective is to know who the enemy is.

Before any battle can be fought, a foe must be identified. Then, and only then, can a war be fought without attacking the wrong people.

The same is true when it comes to our enemy. Once we recognize that our enemy is Satan, we can stop fighting each other.

“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 6:12

It is Satan that is trying to destroy marriages, take our children, and rip families apart. It is Satan that is trying to take down ministries and churches. It is Satan that makes a mess of our relationships. And, it is Satan that is ultimately trying to destroy our faith.

Know who your enemy is.

 

Life in the ring; wrestling with God

Whys and hows seem to fill my life. So many more questions pervade me than answers. I have been wrestling with God for years about a specific issue. My heart aches and I find myself exhausted.

As I was taking communion one Sunday and thanking God for who He is, I felt the warmth of His sweet comfort and mercy. He is so good.

I have often thought as many of us have, ‘why me?’ or ‘ why does this have to be so painful?’

Then, it hit me, something that I have known all along. No matter how painful, no matter how extreme the heartache . . . . HE IS WORTH IT!

The heartache that I experience is nothing compared to the great worth of knowing the Almighty God and my savior, Jesus Christ.

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.  Philippians 3:8

My Sunday school class is going through Job. I love this story. 

This is a man who lost everything; everything down to the last donkey.  You know the saying, ‘You don’t have anything if you don’t have your health!’ Even that was taken from him. He was left a shell of a man crumbled in a heap on the ground.

And he begins to wrestle with God and with his ‘friends’.

Round 1 = Job and Godwrestling-40804_960_720
Round 2 = Eliphaz and Job
Round 3 = Bildad and Job
Round 4 = Zophar and Job

 

Rinse and repeat. It’s like clothes in a dryer spinning around and around, but never seeming to get anywhere.

The injustice of it makes us all a little uncomfortable. Job was a good man who obeyed God. So why did God allow such awful things to happen to him?

Many have tried to explain or make sense of this story. I am not sure that anyone has been successful. I doubt it.

Why would a loving God allow so much tragedy in the life of an upright and righteous man that He dearly loved? Why would He allow His beloved child to be broken?

“Why is light given to those in misery,
    and life to the bitter of soul,
 to those who long for death that does not come,
    who search for it more than for hidden treasure,
 who are filled with gladness
    and rejoice when they reach the grave?”   Job 3:22-24

I am not sure that anyone has lamented more thoroughly than Job did.  Some may say that he was complaining. God couldn’t have been pleased with him acting this way . . . could He? We are supposed to praise God even in adversity, right?

It isn’t that simple.

Some may say that God is using Job in this story to show us what not to do in the face of a great trial.

I don’t think so.

Speaking as someone who has had many trials, I am convinced that there is nothing wrong with lamenting. I’ll even go a step further and say that as human beings it is necessary and unavoidable. And, God doesn’t count it against us.

We are human beings; finite and inadequate. The chasm between us and our Creator God is immense. He is transcendent. We are not. Therefore, there are many things in this life that transcend our understanding.

What if God designed human beings in such a way that we must wrestle with Him through pain and suffering? What if it is the only way?

What if to ‘suffer well’ is to wrestle with God? What if it is necessary to bring us to our knees?

God is not like a critic throughout the Old Testament explaining right from wrong. He is often just narrating. Many stories were told in a very matter-of-fact manner. He tells a story and leaves it to us to wrestle with it.

Why doesn’t God tell us what Job should or shouldn’t have thought or done, or what Eliphaz, Bildad, or Zophar should or shouldn’t have said when counseling him?

Why doesn’t He tell us the err of each person’s ways?

Why didn’t God always explain the shoulds & shouldn’ts in Scripture? And, why does He leave the ‘why’s for us to contemplate?

In Genesis 29, the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, God merely narrates. He never says what is right or wrong.

I wish God would have just said . . . . .

Jacob shouldn’t have picked someone to marry based on outward beauty.
Leah and her father shouldn’t have deceived Jacob into thinking she was Rachel.
Rachel should not have given her slave Bilhah to sleep with Jacob.
Leah should not have given her slave Zilpah to sleep with Jacob.
Jacob should not have slept with so many women!

Or, the story in Genesis 25 when Esau sells his birthright to Jacob. God could’ve said . . . .

Esau should not have sold his birthright just because he was hungry.
Jacob should not have deceived his father, Isaac, into thinking he was Esau

Or the story of Joseph and his brothers . . . .

Jacob should not have favored Joseph
Joseph should not have told his brothers about his dreams
Joseph’s brothers should not have sold him into slavery
Potipher’s wife should not have tried to seduce Joseph

In these particular stories, the rights and wrongs are obvious. However, in many other stories such as Job, they are not.

Why should we expect to understand everything in scripture? God is God, a unique and much greater being than us. Thinking that He would relate to us like one human to another doesn’t make sense. God is extremely NOT human! More importantly, we are extremely NOT God!!

I am convinced that wrestling with God is what we must do during times of suffering. It may be the only way to walk through pain that is obedient to God. Being tossed this way and that is moving us through the process of pain and growth. It is leading us to something better.

Wrestling with Him allows God to give us something more. Something extra that he promises us for persevering.

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.   James 1:12

I know that without the trials in my life, I would not be as in love with my God as I am today. And, I know that there is nothing greater in this life than being totally and helplessly in love with the One who created us, and His precious Son Jesus who saved us. 

The love that we can share with God far surpasses any romantic love, or love of family and friends that we often settle for here on earth.

So, I am grateful for the wrestling. I may be beat up and bloodied at the end of the match, but as I heal, I am always stronger, wiser, and a more powerful human being then before.

It is as if God imparts His power onto us when we wrestle with Him.

I praise God for my relationship with Him everyday! God and I have a good thing going. My times of wrestling with Him have only made me love Him more.

I wouldn’t give up any part of my journey that has allowed me to be where I am at this very moment for anything.

Are my days of wrestling with God over? Probably not.

No matter what lies ahead of me, whether it be better days or worse, I will follow Him; even if it means painful wrestling in the valley of the shadow of death.

I will follow God because . . . . HE IS WORTH IT!

You Have No Power Over Me

One of the toughest parts of an active and effective Christian life is facing spiritual battles.

Our faith grows as we learn more of God’s Word, increase our prayer life and serve others.  We draw near to Him through bible studies and church fellowship. We seek to imitate Jesus’s life by going out in the world to  . . . seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) . Knowing God more intimately causes us to change from the inside out. Our nature becomes more like His.

“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”   2 Peter 1:4

Just when we are closest to God and seeing fruit in our lives . . . . wham! We get knocked down, we are blindsided. We have become a threat to Satan, and he is going to try to take us down!

Satan has many tools in his toolbox. He rubs salt on old wounds, whispers lies to us, shoots arrows of shame, deceives us, and confuses our thoughts.

The enemy knows how to push my buttons, and he knows how to push yours. He knows where he can get a foothold in our lives. He knows how he can be most effective with each one of us. He is cunning and subtle and ruthless.

Attacks from Satan will are more likely to come when we have a good relationship with God and we are doing the work of advancing His Kingdom on earth. Satan abhors the Kingdom of God. He will try anything he can to destroy it. Thank God he never will!

However, when we are wrapped up in ourselves, Satan won’t give us a second thought. Pride and ministry cannot dwell in the same place. When we are consumed with our own lives, our jobs and our families, we tend not to make time for ministry. If we are uninterested in advancing God’s Kingdom, than we aren’t a threat to Satan.

If God is our number one, than advancing His Kingdom is a central part of our lives.

Separating us from the love and grace of our God and Father is Satan’s mission. He may try to take your kids, your marriage, and your joy to accomplish this.  But make no mistake, he wants to destroy your faith! If he can take that from you, his work is done.

Ultimately, Satan wants to destroy our faith!

Brothers and sisters, it is time to FIGHT!  It is time to take a STAND!

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness”  Ephesians 6:13-14

One of Jennifer Connelly’s first movies, if not her first, was The Labyrinth in 1986.  In this labyrinth_movie_image_jennifer_connellymovie, a 15-year-old girl wishes her baby brother away to the goblin king (David Bowie).

She finds herself in a fantastical world filled with strange creatures and dangerous riddles. To save her brother, she must find her way through the labyrinth to get to the castle before midnight or her baby brother becomes a goblin forever.

“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the goblin city,” she says. “My will is as strong as yours.”

The goblin king has a spell over her throughout the journey. When they are finally face to face, the king offers the girl her dreams and everything she wants. “just let me rule you,” he says. All of the sudden it hits her. She remembers the words to break the spell and says,

“You have no power over me!”

“You have no power over me!”

“YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME!”

 

At those words the spell is broken, the creatures and the strange world dissolves into a vapor and the girl is free of the goblin king. She finds herself back in her house and the baby is saved.

As I was thinking about the spiritual battles in my life, this scene popped in my head.  When Satan lines up his forces against us, we have the authority in Jesus’s name to say, “Satan, you have no power over me!”

And, don’t say it . . . . shout it!!!

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”    James 4:7

Sometimes we are called to be warriors.  Sometimes we have to fight.  There is a time for everything . . . a time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:8).

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,”  Ephesians 6:16-17

In the name of Jesus, you have no power over me!

Spiritual warfare is very real. But praise God that He has given us everything we need to be victorious! He has already won!

We were redeemed when we breathed in the Holy Spirit and became a follower of Christ. And that is all there is to it! No longer does Satan have dominion over us.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,”   Colossians 1:13

He has given us power and authority. What have we to fear?

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” Luke 10:19

Let’s not be blindsided when the fiery arrows start to fly. Let’s rejoice in sharing the sufferings of Christ! Let’s give thanks when we are a threat to the evil one!

When you feel Satan messing with you, just remember that you are on the winning team. Remember that you are a child of the Creator God. And, remember that authority has been given to you in Jesus’s name.

“at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord”   Philippians 2:10-11

So, get in his face, and tell Satan where to go!