For years I lived in a place of fear in regards to the enemy. I’d dabbled with some of the occult as a teen without a Christian upbringing or someone to explain to me that God is bigger and more powerful and always will be.
As I stepped into faith I began to learn and understand this truth, to understand that God is in complete control, even of satan and the extent of his evil plans (i.e. what he’s allowed to do. The book of Job is a good example), but I still worked and prayed from a place of fear in dealing with the enemy.
One of the biggest lessons I took away from Kris Valloton’s book, Spirit Wars, and his sermon by the same title (you can buy the video at iBethel.com) is that the enemy is only a threat if we let him. We give him way too much credit and influence in our lives. So here’s the understanding that God has given me.
Growing old is a part of life, right? We can either pretend we will never grow old and live like there’s no tomorrow, or we do things proactively to age well. Like exercise, eating healthy foods, going to the doctor to keep tabs on how our body is functioning, taking vitamins, etc. Without these measures we can wind up feeling sluggish, sick and out of shape. Especially the older we get. You get the picture.
Much like aging, spiritual warfare is a fact of our spiritual life. It’s inevitable—a part of our faith just like aging is part of our bodily progression. We can either walk through our faith, pretending the enemy won’t try to threaten our spiritual wellness (much like pretending that Big Mac habit isn’t going to mess with your cholesterol level) or we can be prepared, alert and proactive so that we walk in victory, no matter what stage we are at. Victories come in all shapes and sizes, my friends. Don’t forget that.
We don’t need to fear aging though we might not like it. Nor do we need to fear spiritual warfare. In fact, when we come at if from a place of fear, we are ineffective. Jesus didn’t not give us a spirit of fear, dear ones. He gave us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. Second Timothy 1:7 tells us that very clearly in Paul’s instructions for Timothy to live faithfully and boldly in his gifts and calling.
And now I’m reminding you of this truth. We are the ones with power AND authority. The enemy holds no important place in your life and is more like an annoying fly on your wall. Smack him away and give him no purchase, place, or hold in your life!
There’s one other thought I want to pass on to you, something I took away from Bethel that freed me to try things and not be so concerned about doing things “right” every time. We aren’t teaching you to look for a demon in every corner nor are we saying every situation or trial involves an evil spirit. Sometimes it’s clear but other times it’s not. The thing is, it never hurts to pray. If you think an evil spirit might be involved, pray against it. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, then ask God for wisdom and guidance on to approach the issue differently. Nothing wrong with covering your bases.
Now, let’s take a walk into the wilderness—as observers, not participants. Go to Matthew 4:1-2 with me and let’s look at the testing of Jesus. If you look at the sequence of events, you will discover some key details here.
- Jesus knew the tempter would come. He was not surprised by His enemy. Jesus expected this time of testing and knew it was part of His preparation for what was to come. We needed a Savior who understood us completely, even to our temptations.
- Jesus fasted before he was tempted. Again, Jesus is aware of what He would face so He prepared himself for the confrontation. I love what Kris Vallotton says about fasting—that he fasts to bring God near, not to fight the enemy. He even refers to Psalm 23 where it says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” We fast for God, we feast before our enemy. That is the victory that comes from the battle!
- Jesus expected His enemy to come in His time of weakness. Here again, Jesus prepared for this because He knew the enemy would attack at His weakest time—when He was hungry, tired and weak. Sound familiar? My friends, the enemy is a coward and will attack you in your weak spots. It’s important to know your weaknesses, identify them and prepare ahead of time (read and memorize Scripture, pray, ask for prayers, etc.) so that you can recognize when you’re just having a bad day or if the enemy has decided you are his target practice. Then you can recognize the enemy’s hand and win the battles when they come. Or even better, avoid them! Remember 1 Cor. 10:13.
In the next part of this series, I will show you three areas that the enemy tempted Jesus and how these are critical “hot spots” for us to understand how the enemy tempts us. There’s more to these stories than just the testimony of Jesus’ temptation and perseverance. They reveal the deepest areas that the enemy targets in us to take away our authority and victory in Jesus by making us think we are ineffective and powerless.
My friends, many of you are in this place already. I was for a long time too, but God has brought me from that place, and now I get to share that with you. We are on this journey together to gain ground, regain ground and step into the full inheritance we have in Jesus. With that, I leave you with this powerful piece of truth:
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. — Philippians 2:9-11 (emphasis mine)
Even our enemy knows his limitations and Who he is answerable to—to Jesus. Even he has to bow down to Jesus and fear the name of our Lord and Savior. And you are a coheir with Christ (Rom. 8:17). Now think about that for a while.
I can’t wait until next time to share more of these truths right from God’s precious Word! You will be empowered and equipped!
Love you so very much, my precious friends! I am praying for you—for your victory!