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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Neal Pirolo :: Prepare for Battle

Neal Pirolo :: Chapter 4 - Tactics of Satan

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"…lest satan should get an advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." 2 Corinthians 2:11

Paul, the Apostle, now on his third missionary journey, writes to the Christians in Corinth, "I'm going to stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for God has opened a great and effective door of ministry to me…and there are many adversaries." 1 Corinthians 16:9.

By this time in Paul's ministry, he had come to recognize that with every door of opportunity there would be adversaries. Later, to the elders of Ephesus, he would say, "I don't know what may happen to me there (in Jerusalem), except that the Holy Spirit has warned me that imprisonment and persecution await me in every city that I visit." Acts 20:22-23.

Since there is a war, there is an enemy! Since there is an enemy, we need to know about him. For as we walk through the "doors flung wide open" (Rev. 3:8) for us, we don't want to let "the enemy have the advantage over us; we do not want to be ignorant of his devices." 2 Corinthians 2:11 We need to understand his character. We need to know his methods "so that we may stand against the wiles of the devil; so that we can successfully resist the devil's methods of attack." Ephesians 6:11.

His Tactics of Defense

In Ephesians 6:12, Paul continues: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood…" Included in this phrase alone are two of the devil's most effective tactics-two defensive distractions by which he protects himself from battle. Paul is merely making the statement as an assumption that, of course, we know 1) that there is a war and 2) that our warfare isn't against any physical enemy. But the enemy has so cleverly glossed over these two issues that many Christians are not even aware of the battle that rages. Or, if they do see beyond that smoke screen, they expend their energy in "flesh and blood" battles.

There is No War

"For we wrestle not…" And Satan has stopped a large segment of the church right at that point. "There's no war," he slyly chides. "Peace, brother!" "Détente!" "Live and let live!" "That's beautiful! That's your reality." And with those lies, he camouflages the most basic reality of all: We are at war!

Many-too many-Christians (regardless of what they may say they believe about war) live their lives as if there is no war. Granted, war is not the most pleasant of subjects. It is a lot more fun to appreciate the "warm cuddly" analogies of the Word: We're the Children of the King, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, etc. As these Christians settle into the deep leather comfort of their country club church atmosphere, they say, "There now, let's just sit back and praise the Lord."

Or, as J. I. Packer observed of this modern church, "The ultimate step, of course, would be to clear the church auditorium of seats and install hot tubs…what people want is total tickling relaxation, the sense of being at once soothed, supported and effortlessly invigorated." Hot Tub Religion, (Tyndale House, Wheaton, 1993), p. 61.

It would only happen by mistake, but suppose a true warrior were given an opportunity to speak in such a church. As he raises the heart-stirring battle cry-"We are Soldiers of the Cross!" the people become nervous. The service would probably end with the song leader coming to the pulpit and saying, "Well, now, Brother Jones really does have quite a ministry. And in closing, let us turn our thoughts toward God and sing our favorite hymn, 'I'm a Child of the King.'"

And, in so doing, the song leader actually proves to be an adversary of God, one who has fallen prey to the philosophy of satan: "Come on, you do your thing and I'll do mine. Okay, so you want to be a Soldier of the Cross? Great! I just want to be a Child of the King!"

Whether these words accurately express the tone being used in your situation or not, the philosophy of the world screaming at us from every quarter today is, "Détente! Let's live and let live!" And satan has successfully silenced the majority of the church by this tactic.

"Flesh and Blood" Battles

Paul, by the Holy Spirit, wrote that there is a battle. It is wrestling; it is fighting; it is hand-to-hand combating with the enemy. But it is not against any physical foe; it is not a "flesh and blood" battle.

Yet, herein lies the enemy's second most successful line of defense. If he cannot convince us that there is no war, he will divert our attention toward physical battles. Christians are caught up in hundreds of "flesh and blood" conflicts. Energy spent in each dissipates the force of battle that could be waged against satan. Let's look at four categories of "Christians against…" There may be more.

Christians Against Christians

Christians are battling against Christians. Why else would there be 20,800 (or more) different denominations? And many will "spill blood" more quickly defending their doctrinal distinctives than in defending the Name of Jesus Christ.

In Proverbs 6:19, as Solomon is listing seven actions that God regards as abominations, he includes "those who sow discord among the brethren." And yet, tragically, Christians are daily caught up in this battle. Whether the scandal involves nationally-known personalities or if it is a bad report about a brother or sister in your home fellowship group, there is no place for name-calling or finger-pointing among believers.

As Melody Green wrote following a scandal involving some TV evangelists, "I believe God is testing us to see how we respond to those who have fallen…How do we reach out to those who are hurting because of their own sin or wrong choices? We need God's pursuing love if we are really going to help people struggling with personal failure. Recently, my spirit has been grieved as I've seen Christians pointing the finger at other Christians. My spirit has also been grieved as I have seen myself starting to point a finger at those who are pointing theirs." The LAST DAYS Magazine, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1987.

How did Jesus handle a finger-pointing session in His day? The Pharisees had caught a woman in the very act of adultery and brought her to Him. (Hmm! Why didn't they bring the man, also? He was as guilty as she, and deserving of the same punishment. See Leviticus 20:10.) But when Jesus told them that the one without sin should throw the first stone, everyone walked away. When he finally spoke to the woman, He spoke with forgiveness and acceptance saying, "Where are your accusers? Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more." John 8:3-11 To hate evil-to be sure; but to destroy the wounded-never!

Yet the "flesh and blood" battles of Christians against Christians continue. Another scenario: We have high expectations of Christians-and rightly so. Our spirits have been made alive in God through Christ. Our feasting on the Word has sensitized our consciences to the clear-cut right and wrong of our actions. The full brightness of His Light has eliminated the shadows of gray that used to hide our sinful deeds. We are living by the Law of Christ. And we expect other Christians to do so as well.

Unfortunately, though, we have selectively ignored the host of Scriptures on forgiveness, thus exhibiting a lower tolerance level when a Christian does sin. When a fellow Christian sins, recognizes his sin and with a repentant spirit asks for forgiveness, our attitude too often is, "I'm not sure. After all, you're a Christian. You should have known better!"

Sometimes, if we are willing to forgive, we may get hung up on Peter's horn of dilemma: "Lord, how often should we forgive our brother? Seven times?"

"No, Peter, but an infinite number." For in their culture seventy times seven did not mean 490. Seven times seventy equalled 490. But when the larger number was spoken first it meant a number without end. See Matthew 18:21-22 and Luke 17:3-4.

Other times, fear of lawsuits keeps us from exercising church discipline on those who "hold aught against their brother." See Matthew 18. And the battle rages on…but not against the enemy! Energy to fight the enemy is dissipated on Christians fighting against Christians.

Christians Against non-Christans

There are zealous Christians who would suppose getting non-Christans out of places of authority and decision-making is the solution to what ails us. But Scripture says the solution rests with Christians: "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Christians in politics-no problem! But it is not necessary to make a difference. If Christians had responded to a former president's request for each church to take on the responsibility of one welfare family, he would have been able to shut down that whole government program! And Christians could have dealt with the real enemy of the souls of those on the welfare treadmill. (There are now some localities and states doing this with a good measure of success.)

As if arguing over Bible trivia could lead our co-worker to Christ, other zealous Christians scan the Scriptures for just the right words to "nail him to the wall" or debate with him whether five or five thousand angels can dance on the head of a pin! Our words should be "seasoned with salt" (Colossians 4:6) to make them thirsty for the Living Water. Our attitude should reflect Christ's love rather than an adversarial antagonism.

Christians Against World Religions

A first-term missionary friend of mine was going to a country where Roman Catholicism is the state religion. His purpose was to establish a church. He showed me his prize shoe box of anti-Catholic tapes! Patting it, he said this was his sermon material for the first several years! After hearing the following stories, he agreed not to take the tapes.

There was an evangelist by the name of Paul. He had a zeal for the Gospel-a simple message. In fact, though he was a very learned man, he often said, "I am determined to know nothing before you except Christ and Him crucified." 1 Corinthians 2:2.

Contrary to his normal strategy of continually moving on to unharvested fields, one time he settled down in a major commercial and idolatrous center. He began teaching in the hall of a local Christian. People came from the surrounding cities to hear Paul preach and teach. More and more people were trusting in Christ and laying aside their idols.

Things got better and better for the Christians and worse and worse for the silversmiths who were making the idols. One day a very upset silversmith named Demetrius created a riot. Almost the whole city rushed into the arena. Most didn't even know why they were there. Finally, after two hours of constant praise to their idolized deity, the city manager got them quieted down. He said, "We are in trouble, for this is an unlawful assembly." Then, testifying to his own belief in Diana, he added, "These men have neither robbed our temples nor blasphemed our goddess." Acts 19:10-37 A revival so great that it adversely affected the economy was accomplished without stealing the temple's money nor talking against Diana.

On another occasion, Paul was waiting in Athens for Silas and Timothy to join him. While he waited, his spirit was stirred, for he saw a city totally given over to idolatry. Not being able to hold himself back any longer, he went into the synagogue and into the marketplace doing street evangelism. Certain philosophers heard him and invited him to speak with them some more in the highest court in Athens, the Areopagus.

Lining both sides of the road leading up Mars Hill were hundreds of altars to their gods. When Paul was given permission to speak, not only did he not rail against these many gods, but he used one-the altar to The Unknown God-as a cultural bridge: "This God whom you ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you." Acts 17:16-23.

Other religions are not the enemy, and their adherents are all potential Christians! We must deal kindly and gently with those whose eyes are blinded. Our goal is to "open their eyes." Acts 26:18.

Christians Against Social Injustice

I have read the statistics: 4,000 babies aborted every day; 30,000 children dying of malnutrition and water-related diseases every day. I have visited the museums meant to keep alive the memories of the atrocities of man against man. Calling Christian efforts against social injustice "flesh and blood" battles is by no means saying these atrocities are right or should be ignored. But I do believe that most Christian action in these issues is reaction. Whereas, had Christian action been proactive-taken before the fact of such unthinkable atrocities-much more good would have been accomplished.

For example, if the Christian community had taken up the battle cry for "moral purity" in the '60's instead of being overwhelmed by the flower power and free love, we may not have experienced Roe vs. Wade. Further, if the time, money and energy (and now prison terms for murder!) that is being spent by Christians at the doors of abortion clinics were spent in providing alternative counseling and care, I venture to say the desired results-saving babies-would increase. And the testimony of a Christian lifestyle would be more clearly seen by the world.

Or, how about now dealing with the abortion issue-proactively-at that more basic level-moral purity?

Christians Against…

It is my strong belief that Christians in their fight for right don't have to be against any group or course of action. We believe the Truth. We have the real thing; we know the only true God. And when we are promoting the best, we don't have to put anything else down. It is only if there is a flaw in our own "product" that we have to point out the bigger flaw in theirs. Yet, in the world, our distorted thinking believes that if I make you look bad, it somehow makes me look good (or, at least, better).

When we are dwelling in the Light, we don't have to try to drive the darkness out. When we go out into the world where it's really dark, the Light of His countenance will shine brightly. And the darker it gets, the more brightly will appear the Light of Life. But watch out! It's the mosquitos and bugs that are attracted to the light on a dark night! But then again, Jesus came to save the ungodly, not the "righteous." See Matthew 9:13.

Paul continues by pointing out our very real foes: "But we do fight (wage war, battle, combat) against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world and against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12.

And would you believe that there are those who have gotten into "flesh and blood" battles trying to identify what these categories of spiritual enemies represent! I am not saying that a little digging into the theological import of these entities is wrong. But really! To fight with another Christian over it is dissipating the strength of both Christians to fight the real enemy.

The Character of Satan

The world was shocked to hear a general admit (thirty years too late) that his country's defeat in Vietnam was a result of not understanding the nature of the enemy. Knowledge of the enemy's character gives us insight into his world view, his frame of reference-where he's coming from. Character determines methods. And the methods of the enemy are what we face day by day.

Without wanting to give undue attention to the enemy (for some have fallen prey to that and have become enamored with evil), we must now look at his character.

He is a liar

"He does not stand for the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood he speaks what is natural to him; for he is a liar and the father of all lies." John 8:44 The very nature of this characteristic makes it the most difficult of his tricks to withstand. Though unnatural to him, he can speak the truth. But even as he speaks, we have to wonder, "Is this the truth or is it a lie?" Yet, unfortunately, we listen! And as he speaks the truth, we begin to nod our heads in agreement; Yes! Yes! Yes! Then he slips in a lie. But our heads are nodding in such agreement, when the lie comes, before we know it, we have said "Yes" to that, as well. "Give no foothold to the devil." Ephesians 4:27 Remember, the best way to recognize a lie is to be totally familiar with the Truth!

He is a deceiver

Jesus warned in Matthew 24:24 that there would come in satan's name those who would show signs and wonders to deceive even the elect if it were possible. See also 2 Thessalonians 2:9. There are many stories in the Bible pointing to the deceptive nature of Satan. But there is one that boggles my mind above all others. It has not happened yet. Only because it is written in the Word can I possibly believe that it will occur. And it gives me a healthy respect for the ferocity of our enemy:

There is One whose name is King of Kings and Lord of Lords who, with the sharp Sword of His mouth, will smite the nations and for 1,000 years will rule them with a rod of iron. During this time, satan will be bound in chains and sealed in the bottomless pit so that he cannot deceive the nations.

For us who have not seen justice among the nations in our lifetime-or in the history of the world-it is an awesome consideration that there will be perfect justice for 1,000 years! Christ will rule the earth! And then (and here I shudder at the deceptive nature of satan), "satan will be let loose from his prison and shall go out to deceive the nations; to gather them together to battle against the beloved city. And their number was as the sands of the sea!" Revelation 19:11-21; 20:1-9 Even after a millennium of justice under Christ's rule, a sea of people will again be deceived by the evil one.

Lest in our delineating the awful power of our enemy we become enamored with him, let us here be reminded of Job's wisdom and understanding of the deceiver. "The deceived and the deceiver are God's." Job 12:16.

And again, Isaiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gives us insight to the fall of Lucifer, son of the morning. We read: "They that see you will look narrowly, and consider you, saying 'Is this the one that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?'" Isaiah 14:16.

The day will come, evidently, when some will actually see satan. What he will look like I am not sure. But those who see him will squint their eyes in unbelief, "Is this the one that deceived the nations?" The picture I get is characterized in the movie, "The Wizard of Oz." When the curtain is pulled back and the one who had exercised such power and control is revealed for who he is-a wizened old man-we are amazed at his ability to deceive! Likewise, we will be amazed at the puniness of the master deceiver!

And yet, while we fight against him-while we are doing battle against powers and principalities under the control of this wicked one-let us not be deceived into believing that his deception is not to be reckoned with. It is no small thing to engage the enemy in battle!

He is subtle

"…as satan beguiled Eve through subtlety." 2 Corinthians 11:3 The enemy is subtle. He has to be subtle. Can you imagine him coming up to us and saying, "Hi! I'm satan. If you follow me, I can promise you an eternity in hell!" The dullest of us could see right through that. He has to make us think that the here and now is all there is to live for.

Or, if we believe in a future life, his craftiness says that we will be as gods. But you see, there is even the necessity for subtlety there. For, few of us would admit (out loud) that we want to be god. "Yes, I would like to be my own boss. Yes, I would like the freedom to make my own decisions. Yes, I…" and what have we said? "I want to be in charge; I want to be god!"

"Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field… And he said, 'You shall not die, for God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be as gods!'" Genesis 3:1,4 It was his first temptation. And it has been a successful ploy through the ages of time.

He is slanderous

Slander is part truth and part lie. Job was slandered when satan asked God, "Does Job fear God for no reason? You have put a hedge around him and all that he has…" Job 1:9-10 The truth was that, yes, God had put a hedge around Job and all that he had. The lie was that Job's fear of God was contingent on everything going his way. We know this is a lie, for Job said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." Job 13:15.

I believe we can slander God. When things are going well, we praise Him. "God is so good to me!" we sing. Yet, when things are not going well, we grumble, "I don't know where God is!" (Of course, we would never sing, "God is so bad to me!") When things are out of sorts, we have mixed truth with lie-that is slander. God does not change! To counter the slanderer's temptation in this regard, you will find me deliberately saying, "God is good!" more often when things are going not so good in my life than when things are going well.

He is an Accuser

Evidently, satan is still able to present himself before God. Revelation 12:10 seems to indicate that it is not until some future time that he is finally cast out of heaven. And in that passage, we are told that he accuses us before God day and night.

What he does in the heavens is not too great a concern to me. Or even whether his accusations are true or false. For I have the assurance of a Perfect High Priest, my advocate before the Father, saying, "I covered that at Calvary." What does affect me is when the enemy's agents on earth hurl accusations at me. I wonder if there is a parallel between his accusations in heaven and those on earth. I wonder!

He is Fierce

"When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your life…" James 1:2 He is fierce! We will never be approached by satan with a gentle tap on the shoulder and hear him say, "Well, you've been living a pretty easy life. Do you mind if I throw a temptation your way-just one; just a little one?" No! He doesn't do it that way. All kinds of trials and temptations assail us. We find ourselves inundated with the slanderous accusations of the enemy. Experiencing media overload, our minds are bombarded with a thousand voices, demanding our attention. For he is fierce.

Now, if you are looking up all Scriptures to read them in their context, you will note that the verse just quoted is clearly a "half?scripture." I deliberately did that to show the fierceness of the enemy.

But to live in the abundance of the Whole Counsel of God, we must read on. We do not face the forces of the enemy on our own. When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your life, "…don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends. Realize that they come to test your faith and produce in you the quality of endurance." A Christian can take those trials and temptations and turn them around for good.

Nonetheless, the nature of his character is that he is a fierce enemy.

He is Powerful

"We wrestle…against powers and principalities…" Ephesians 6:12 The forces of evil at work in our world are powerful. Hardly a day goes by but that we don't see another bastion of righteousness toppled from our Christian cultural heritage. If it isn't depreciating the sanctity of life, it is barring a plaque of the Ten Commandments from a courtroom. Even during periods of time when various segments of society are shouting "Reform!" the foundations of sound principle and judgment are crumbling under the power of the enemy. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 tells us that the lawless man will come through the working of satan, "…and with great power…!"

I BELIEVE IN SATAN! And I hope you do! I hope you believe that he is exactly what the Bible says he is. HE IS THE ENEMY!

If you thought that was a somewhat emotional outburst in the middle of this study, it was! I get very emotional about this issue. The spiritual forces of evil are saying, "This is no war-no enemy." Society is saying, "Man is inherently good. It was your poor environment (or your parents, or your teachers, or the overdose of sugar) that made you do it! You aren't responsible!" And a large segment of the Christian church-if not in word, at least by their lifestyle, is saying, "Détente! Let's live at peace together. You do your thing; we'll do ours."

Yes, I get emotional. For this proud, powerful, fierce, subtle, slanderous accusing liar would even deceive the elect if it were possible! See Mark 13:22.

He is Proud

The five "I wills" of Isaiah 14:13-14 are the words of one lifted up in pride. What audacity for one to declare, "I will be like the Most High!" Did not his first temptation, "You will be as gods" (Genesis 3:5), dangle that very prize before Eve? Yet, how many earthlings would follow Shirley MacLane-lifted up in pride-to shout at the setting sun, "I am god!"

Yet, He is a Cowardly Imitator

Because he does not have the courage to show himself for who he really is, he puts on his neon-lighted costume, trying to be the Light of Life. He was Lucifer, the luminous one-the light-bearer. But no longer does he hold that position. He only "masquerades as an angel of light." 2 Corinthians 11:14.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us that he "roars like a lion." No, he is not the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. In his roaring he goes about seeking whom he may devour. In cowardly disguise, he tries to make us think he is Jesus, the Christ.

And, today, as the world awaits their coming messiah, 2000 or more self-proclaimed christs-all shams and imitators-stand in the wings, planning their debut.

He is Wicked

In 1 John 3:12 we are admonished to "not be like Cain who was of that wicked one…" In the King James Version of the Bible, satan is referred to as the wicked one 454 times. Ingrained in the character of a wicked one is the determination to think and do evil. "They (wicked persons) cannot sleep unless they have caused trouble…or caused someone to fall." See Proverbs 4:14-17.

We have been warned! The devil, satan, the old serpent, the prince of this world, the ruler of darkness, the dragon (and there are about thirty other names and titles given to him) is wicked!

He is the Adversary

"Give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully…" 1 Timothy 5:14 Satan is a created being. He is against God; he is not the equal opposite of God. It is easy in our rapid delineation of contrasts between God and satan to go too far: God is good; satan is evil. God is love; satan is hateful. God is truthful; satan is a liar. Then, recognizing satan as a spirit-being, as we move into some of the characteristics reserved for Creator God alone, we may fall prey to think satan also has those powers. Rather, God is omnipotent (all-powerful); satan is not. God is omniscient (all-knowing); satan is not. God is omnipresent (everywhere present at the same time); satan is not. God is eternal (without beginning or end); satan is not.

The foregoing character sketch, I trust has been lengthy enough to give us a sane estimate of the deadly enemy we face. Yet I hope it has not been so long as to discourage us. We have given more time to the enemy in this brief section than I care to think about him in a lifetime. Yet, trying to ignore the nature of our enemy is playing the deadly game of ostrich. With our head in the sand, our posterior is fully exposed for destruction!

THE METHODS OF SATAN

Having inquired a bit into the character and nature of this foe, we'll now look into the Word for instruction about the methods of attack he uses. We will find it is not a limitless list, for satan is not that creative. Yet, we will find that because of his deceitful subtlety, generation after generation has fallen prey to his same tricks.

As we study the following methods of satan, it would be well for us to overlay them with an understanding of this basic strategy of secular war: "A wounded soldier will be more morale-sapping for his comrades than a dead one, and a burden to his own side's medical and logistical services." Ammunition for the Land Battle, Lt.Col. P. R. Courtney-Green.

From this cruel truth, understood by the diabolical mind of satan, were born the following maiming tactics of the enemy.

Misdirection of Priorities

Once the enemy finds that we are committed to the battle, he will try to diminish our effectiveness by distorting the focus of our priorities. Fighting the wrong enemy-getting caught up in "flesh and blood" battles-is one way our priorities get messed up. Emotions run hotter and hotter as we get involved in these battles, thus consuming more and more of our time and energy. And the more energy we expend in that arena, the less energy we have to fight the real enemy, satan!

Varsity Press published a little book titled, Tyranny of the Urgent. It clearly describes this dastardly tactic of the enemy. So consumed do we become with "putting out the brush fires," that we have no time to establish a fire-prevention program. Those of us in the grip of linear logic fall prey to this more readily than those given to conceptual logic. I find myself too often just doing what's in front of my nose instead of looking at the bigger picture and drawing on God's wisdom for His priorities.

Corollary to this is the dilemma of getting so busy doing good things that we are robbed of the more excellent part. Poor Martha! She was very busy doing good. And she was not rebuked for that. The aroma of her home-cooked meal must have been tantalizing to the taste buds of even our Master. Yet, when her doing good distorted her perception of Mary's action, she received His rebuke: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about providing so many things. Only a few things are really needed, perhaps only one. Mary has chosen the best part and you must not tear it away from her." Luke 10:41-42.

How can we keep our priorities in line with those "good deeds that He beforehand determined for us to walk in?" Ephesians 2:10 The illustration in Luke 12:47 is in the negative, but I believe the three points can just as accurately advise us in the positive. (We looked at it briefly in Chapter 3, but let's review it here.)

1) Know the Lord's will. Yes, this takes some time-some slowing down. First, take time to read His Word. It is said that direction for 90-95% of our decisions of life are written in the Bible. A second activity to help us know the Lord's will is praying according to the model in Colossians 1:9: "That (we) may be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." And third, we need some quiet time in His presence to hear the voice of His Spirit behind us saying, "This is the way. Walk ye in it, when we would turn to the left or the right." Isaiah 30:21.

2) Prepare to do God's will. We must take the necessary steps to prepare ourselves to do a good job. Whether we are seeking His priorities for a long-term commitment to ministry, or just establishing the priority of getting a good night's rest to be alert for a driver's license test, the time of preparation is vital.

I work with a lot of churches and cross-cultural teams who have heard the Lord's will. But in their zeal to "be about the Father's business," they go off without the basic preparation for living and ministering in a second culture. Too many of them return (or, more tragically, stay on the field) as casualties of war.

On the other hand, unfortunately, others are always "learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 3:7 Therefore, they lament that they are never quite ready to go. Zeal without knowledge is dangerous; knowledge without zeal is merely cerebral!-a cranial pursuit! Zeal with knowledge, however, yields a servant ready to do his Master's will.

3) Do it! Yes! As scary as it may seem, the time must come when we must just-do it! I had graduated from a college which was to have prepared me to be a school teacher. "You are ready," they said. The first day was great. The superintendent told us how wonderful the district was. The second day was great. The principal told us how wonderful our school was. But on the third day, when it got down to writing my lesson plans for that first week, after several attempts, I had to go next door to my teaching partner (who had taught more years than I had been alive) and say, "Mrs. Curry, I don't know how to do this!" Kindly, she summarized my four years of college and her twenty-five years of experience in twenty minutes, and as I walked out her door, she said, "Just do it!"

Burnout

Daniel prophesied that in the last days a king (who derives his power from satan) "…shall wear out the saints of the Most High." Daniel 7:25 Wearing out (or in modern vernacular, burnout) is the gradual breaking down of a person's stamina-his resistance-until one day, in total exhaustion, he reaches crash and burn!

Obviously, burnout is a tactic satan has not reserved exclusively for use by the lawless one, for statistics abound to verify mankind has fallen prey to it through the years. Two out of every three American hospital beds are occupied by psychiatric patients. More than 250,000 are admitted each day into psychiatric facilities for treatment. Depression, a corollary ailment to burnout, is noted by the United Nations World Health Organization as the world's single greatest health problem.This process of wearing down the saints involves many tactics. The effect of each may appear insignificant. But the sum of them takes its toll.

1) Sleeplessness: Many Christians cannot go to sleep without taking a pill. This is not of God. The Psalmist assures us that "He (God) gives His beloved sleep." Psalm 127:2 And if, like David, we find ourselves awake in the night watches, (like David) let's talk with the Shepherd rather than counting sheep! Or popping pills! We must learn to "cast all our cares upon Him for we are His personal concern." 1 Peter 5:7.

2) Constant Accusation: Exhaustion, burnout, total mental or emotional breakdown are also brought about through the enemy's constant accusations. The accuser of the brethren relentlessly tries to charge sin to our account. Some Christians live in a continual flood of accusations about the failures of their past life-the wrong choices, the broken relationships, the laments of "…could have, should have, it might have been, if only…" Others are so burdened with (false) guilt that they become a part of every altar call, trying to pray away the condemnation of satan.

Rather, we must wield the Sword of the Spirit in a death blow to satan's accusations, "It. is written, 'There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ…'" Romans 8:1 Or, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 We insult the grace of God by not living in His Promises of redemption.

3) Denial of Food: Who doesn't enjoy a good meal? The savory smell of spices. The tantalizing taste of tripe-or turnips! Too often our discomfort is from too much food rather than from too little. Yet, denial of food-a real starvation diet-will produce a loss of strength, a lack of energy, even mental disorientation. It was in this faint condition that Esau, regarding it lightly already, sold his birthright. See Genesis 25:29-34. It was in this state of literal starving to death that Jesus was approached by satan in the wilderness and was tempted to turn the stone into bread. See Luke 4:1-13.

Fasting, commanded by our Lord, is denial of food. But when it is a fast that God has chosen, it has both physical and spiritual benefits. See Isaiah 58:1-7. This is not the same as satan's denial of food. The enemy's method creates a religion allowing rats and cows to be gods. Because they eat the grain of India, thousands of people suffer malnutrition and starvation. The enemy's method creates a slender-conscious society that has girls' health deteriorating from anorexia. The enemy's method creates a god of materialism, so milk and wheat are dumped into the ocean (to keep the price "stable") rather than letting it be used to feed the hungry. The enemy's method creates a fast food, junk food craze that denies the body of its proper nutrition. The enemy does this!

The Bible is replete with feasts and festivals with plenty to eat and drink. See John 2 and Matthew 14:15-21. It seems like one of our first activities in heaven will be a marriage supper. See Revelation 19:9. We are to take no anxious thought for what we should eat. See Matthew 6:31. But we are to eat with thankfulness of heart. See 1 Timothy 4:3. Food is meant for the body. See Mark 7:19.

Paul had been tossed about the Mediterranean Sea for some fourteen days by a tempestuous wind called Euroclydon. Everything that could be thrown overboard had been jettisoned to help lighten the ship. They didn't know where they were, but by the soundings, they knew they were coming close to land. They threw out four anchors, and wished for the day. In this setting, Paul said, "'Let's eat!'…and when he had thus spoken, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it, he began to eat." Acts 27:14-35.

4) Confusion: When all truth becomes relative, there is confusion. If Dr. Goldstein's Hopeful Monster Mechanism was not confusing enough, evolutionists next foisted on us the Chaos and Complexity Theory. Confusion! Worldwide deficit spending. Confusion! Doctor-assisted suicides. Confusion! Turning the baby around to come out feet-first, thus leaving the head in the birth canal while the doctor slits the baby's neck to harvest the brain cells. Confusion! It is not the Hippocratic Oath; it is a hypocritical oath! Truly, "behind a façade of wisdom they became fools." Romans 1:22.

Confusion is brought about by planting doubt. In the Garden, satan asked Eve: "Hath God said…" In the Wilderness, satan taunted Jesus: "If you are the Son of God…" Demons were often the first to confess that Jesus was the Christ, yet how many of them have planted doubts about hell, sin, holiness, baptism, the virgin birth, heaven-even about life itself? From more than one confused mind I have heard, "Life is but an illusion."

The apostle Paul marveled that the Galatian Christians were so soon removed to "another gospel." Galatians 1:6 He chided the Christians at Corinth for the confusion of denominationalism. See 1 Corinthians 1:12-13. And, yes, Paul even rebuked Peter for the confusion he caused by first eating with the Gentile Christians in Antioch; then, when others came from Jerusalem, separating himself-so much confusion that even Barnabas was "carried away" by his actions. See Galatians 2:11-14.

Yes, satan wants the saints of God to be confused. Confusion yields chaos. And chaos ends in burnout!

The opposite of confusion is order. So Luke assures his friend Theophilus that he, "having investigated the course of all things from the very beginning, determined to write an orderly account for you that you might know with certainty the truth concerning the things in which you have been instructed." Luke 1:1-4.

John gives us confidence that "these things are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ." John 20:31 Jesus is sure that "whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God (with the simplicity and trust) as a little child, shall not enter." Mark 10:15 Paul boldly declares that "that which has been hid for ages and generations is now as clear as daylight to those who love God… The message is 'Christ in you, the hope of glory!" Colossians 1:26, 27 Do we now see all things clearly? No! But we have the confidence of His Word that the day will come when "we will know, even as we are known." 1 Corinthians 13:12.

Although from every facet of life (from the world's perspective) there seems to emanate confusion, God's Word declares order.

5) Continuous physical pain: The most inevitable fact of life is death. The body cells begin dying even before birth. Add to the natural decay of our body the lack of exercise, poor diet, abusive substances, accidents and numerous other causes and you have the sick state of modern man. Though death is as sure as life, I plan to fight it to my dying day!

Isaiah 53:4 (Amplified) says: "Surely He has borne our griefs-sicknesses, weaknesses and distress-and carried our sorrow and pain." Peter said, "By His stripes you were healed." 1 Peter 2:24, quoting Isaiah 53:5 And God said, "If you will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, and will do that which is right in His sight, and will listen to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon you, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that heals you." Exodus 15:26.

Am I saying that no Christian will ever be sick? No! But there are practices of safety and nutrition that we can employ to lessen the possibility of our falling prey to this tactic of the enemy.

6) Emotional fear and tension: We live in a world gone mad. What more can be or needs to be said? Almost every headline points to the bizarre. Murder has become a child's pastime. Terrorists release poison gas in subway tunnels, use commercial jets as lethal rockets or blow themselves up as suicide bombers. Christ prophesied, "In the last days men's hearts would be failing them for fear." Luke 21:26 Yet, again, it is Scripture-God's Word, the Sword of the Spirit…that leads us out of the world's dilemma: "Let not your heart be troubled…" John 14:1 "God did not give us the spirit of fear…" 2 Timothy 1:7 "Don't worry over anything whatsoever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God, which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as you rest in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6.

In short, to combat this insidious burnout tactic of the enemy, we must be a Bible-reading, Bible-hearing, Bible-believing, and Bible-living Christian. Then all hell cannot wear us out. However, "Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he falls!" 1 Corinthians 10:12.

Isolation of Thought

"Shhh! You're the only one doing that. Don't tell anyone. No one will understand. You must keep this a secret-from everybody!" satan whispers in our ear. "You can't share that with another Christian. He'll have you kicked out of the church. Keep it quiet." Thus, in our inward struggle, he brings us to that isolation of thought. It is a method of the enemy whereby we can get enmeshed in those secret sins, those "besetting sins which so easily trip us up" that Paul talks about in Hebrews 12:1. Secret sins send thoughts racing helter-skelter through our brain, bombarding our good intentions with evil interruptions. But we dare not tell a soul. No one could have as wicked thoughts as I! Or could they?

Our only way out of this trap is to expose the sinful thoughts to the Light of His Word. "Men love darkness rather than light for their deeds are evil," Jesus said. "For everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed to the light. But the one who does the truth comes to the light." John 3:19-21.

Oftentimes the weight of these secret thoughts to sin are so heavy that it is impossible for us alone to carry them to Calvary, there reckoning ourselves dead to sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:11 Even as Jesus needed Simon of Cyrene to help Him carry His cross to Golgatha, we, at times, need to call on the accountability counsel of two or three intimate friends. In the security of that trust relationship (developed through prayer and sharing), we can "confess our faults one to another and pray for one another so that we may be healed." James 5:16.

Majority Rules

Because of the character of satan, he doesn't have to be logical or reasonable. So, for his purposes, he can now yell, "Hey, you guys. Everybody's doin' it! Join the fun! Come on-try it! You'll like it!" If "isolation of thought" does not trip us up, he will try "majority rules." And we (too often) fall for it.

Yes, I am glad we are free from the "guilt" of "cultural, church-determined sins" of past generations. (And that is not to say that there are not some such "cultural sins" still around.) But I wonder if all the "liberty" we are now "enjoying" in the church is truly Christian liberty? Or is it the whitewashed sin of satan who is saying, "Join the party. See, even your pastor is doing it!"

It is a difficult concept for us to understand, but God is not running a democracy. We did not vote Him in for a four-year term, and if He does well, we will give Him another four. It is a theocracy! A benevolent dictatorship! A Kingdom! And in a kingdom there is one king. And all others-no matter to what place of honor that king might call us-are subjects. "Don't you realize that to whom you yield yourself to obey, his servant you are…" Romans 6:16 It doesn't matter if six billion people may be doing it, if my Master says, "No!" that must settle it. "For now, having been made free from the bondage of sin, we have become servants of God…" Romans 6:22 All things might be lawful, but all things are not expedient! See 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23.

Prosperity, Physical Well-Being, Security

Whoa! Have the winds of doctrine blown this tactic of the enemy around. And yet, it "kinda' hit the fan" when a vocal espouser of the doctrine: "Prosperity-Your divine right!" went bankrupt! But is it such a new method? No! It is at least as old as Job. His response to the news of his prosperity and family's being destroyed in a day is classic: "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21.

Next we see his physical well-being taken away. His wife says, "Curse God, and die!" Job replies, "You speak as a foolish woman. Shall we receive good at the hand of God and not evil?" See Job 2:9-10.

Along come his "comforters"-the men who held him in high esteem. But any security he may have hoped for in their companionship is gone as they begin railing at him. Though more was to come, at one point he stopped them to say, "Hold your peace!…Though He slay me yet will I trust in him." Job 13:15.

Hear the three Hebrew children's last words before being thrown into the fiery furnace, "Our God is able to deliver us…but if He doesn't…" Daniel 3:17-18 Or Esther's, just before going in to the king: "If I perish, I perish!" Esther 4:16 And then good old Peter, urging the Lord to avoid Calvary, "…took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'Nothing like this must happen to You!' But Jesus turned His back to Peter and rebuked him, 'Get behind me, satan! You stand right in My path, Peter, when you look at things from man's point of view instead of from God's.'" Matthew 16:22-23.

May we take our rightful position, "seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:6 From that vantage point, we can more easily see things from God's perspective. Seated with Him, it is easier to look down upon our circumstances instead of saying, "Well, under the circumstances…"

Pride, Sex, Money

Here is another trilogy of satan's methods in his attempt to destroy the servants of God. The warning about this tactic was first written in Deuteronomy 17:16-17 in reference to choosing a king: "He shall neither multiply horses to himself (pride that accompanies the ownership of horses continues today), neither shall he multiply wives to himself, neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold." It is of interest to note (and should be a warning to us) that the wisest man who ever lived fell for all three of these! Solomon had 40,000 horses (1 Kings 4:26); he had 700 wives, princesses and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3); he had 666 (an interesting number!) talents of gold coming to him each year, and silver was as pebbles in the streets of Jerusalem. See 1 Kings 10:14, 27.

Again, the enemy's tactics are not new, nor that clever. Yet we fall prey to them generation after generation. It is interesting to note that this trilogy of methods is still tripping up the leadership of our world, whether Christian or secular, whether male or female.

Scriptural admonitions (our "It is written's…") to avoid these temptations abound. Let these three suffice for this study. (Can you guess that these are mine? Of course, you have to allow the Holy Spirit to be your ammunition chooser.)

1) "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, and He will lift you up and make your life significant." James 4:10.

2) "The will of God for your life is holiness, and that entails first of all abstaining from sexual immorality. Every one of you should learn to control his body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect, and never regarding it as an instrument of self-gratification… It is not for nothing that the Spirit God gives is called the Holy Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, 8.

3) "Don't lay in store for yourselves treasures on earth, where they may be destroyed by bugs and weather and where thieves can steal them: But keep on storing up for yourself treasures in Heaven where there is no moth or rust to consume them and where thieves cannot break in and steal them: For wherever your treasure is, you may be certain that your heart will be there too!" Matthew 6:19-21.

Temptation, Condemnation, Stronghold

Yet a third devilish trilogy is the sequence of temptation, condemnation and stronghold. James assures us that "when we are tempted, we are not tempted by God, for He can neither be tempted nor does He tempt anyone." James 1:13 But when man is tempted an unholy trinity is at work in the degenerative spiral that follows. The world, the flesh (our sinful nature) and the devil in diabolical harmony provide the means for this slippery slide. Here is how James describes it:

"But every man is tempted…" (by the devil)
"when he is enticed…" (by the worldly pleasures)
"and drawn away of his own lust…" (his sinful nature, minding the things of the flesh)
"when that lust is conceived…" (the sinful nature begins indulging in the worldly pleasures)
"it brings forth sin…" (sin is the child born of this unholy union)
"and sin…" (the monster we have produced)
"when it is finished…" (as it plays itself out to the limit of its potential for evil)
""brings forth death!" James 1:14-15.

And that's just the first third of the trilogy! Once we have fallen to the enemy on that battlefront of temptation, is he content to leave us there? No! He continues to fight us-with condemnation. Even as our screams are echoing down that slippery slide, he follows us in hot pursuit with his taunts of condemnation: "You? A Christian? A really good Christian doesn't act like that! Don't you dare pray. You are regarding iniquity in your heart. God will never hear you. You've done that once too often. You have committed the unpardonable sin…!" And you can probably add other revilings he has used against you.

But he goes on. As a boxer is trained to keep punching at the injury he has already inflicted, so satan keeps pounding on the weaknesses he has discovered in our flesh. And the wound goes deeper with each jab. Time and again he incessantly leads us into temptation and condemns us when we fall.

He continues. As a spider slowly encases its prey in silken thread, satan weaves a case against us. We come to believe his lies. And we are caught in the snare of bondage to sin-a stronghold. "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the clutches of my own sinful nature?" Romans 7:24.

Even as I write this, I shudder at the dismal prospects of people trying to find a solution without the Word. But here is where the Sword of the Spirit enters to cut a swath through the tangled mass of satan's web: "No temptation has come your way that is not experienced by all men. But God can be trusted not to allow you to suffer any temptation beyond your powers of endurance. He will see to it that every temptation has a way out, so that it will never be impossible for you to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:13.

And "We don't have a High Priest who is out of touch with the feelings of our infirmities-for He Himself has shared fully in all our experiences of temptation, except that He never sinned. For this very reason, therefore, we can approach the throne of grace boldly and with full assurance that we may receive mercy, and find grace in our time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16 And again the Sword slashes: "The servant of the Lord must correct in meekness, in the hope that they will repent and come to know the Truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape out of the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him, henceforth to do God's will." 2 Timothy 2:25-26.

Curiosity, Experimentation, Addiction

Yet another trilogy that has ensnared untold numbers of unsuspecting people. "I would never actually do it. There's no harm in watching others do it," they deceive themselves. "I'm just curious-maybe I'll learn something," they defend their action. But sooner or later, the desire to 'try it, you might like it' overpowers any compunction of restraint. "See, now that wasn't so hard," the enemy encourages. Then again. And again and again. As the poor frog in the slowly heating pot of water does not realize he is about to lose his life, so the one who has just experimented becomes addicted.

The initial thought of addiction might be to that of alcohol or drugs. But anything can become an addiction. A friend of mine was addicted to shopping. Pornography, gluttony, movies-anything that has come to control your behavior is an addiction. Paul said, "All things are lawful unto me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." 1 Corinthians 6:12.

Questioning God's Word, half?scriptures, Selectively Ignoring Scripture

Though, no doubt, there are other tactics the enemy has used and is using, I will conclude this subject with one last trilogy of methods. The enemy knows the Word. Yet he has been questioning it and sowing doubt in the minds of people since he asked Eve, "Did God really say…?" A classic of this generation (and probably of others) is the question: "Do you really believe that a God of love will send all those people to hell?"

The answer, of course, is "No!" God is not going to send anyone to hell. Hell was made for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41 Each individual who ends up there will have done so by his own free will and choice. "God is not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9 "And He (Jesus Christ) is the personal atonement for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:2.

We don't have to leave the church to illustrate half?scriptures. I was raised on them! "Nuggets of truth" lifted out of context from the Holy Pages of God's Word that sounded too good to be true or sounded so bad that they struck fear into our young minds. And we weren't encouraged to read the Bible on our own. "Bring your Bible to church. What? Don't you trust the preacher?" was jokingly directed at me when I began to carry my Bible and really study the Word.

It wasn't until I was an adult (even after four years of Bible college) that I began to realize that the other half of the thought of Philippians 2:12 was Philippians 2:13! Yes! "We are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling…" Why tremble? Because it is awesome to consider that "…it is God who is working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Refer again to the section on half?scriptures in Chapter 2.)

Another culprit of "half?scriptures" is the "Promise Card Box." They are Precious Truths of God's Word taken out of context. Most of the promises of the Word are tied to some action on our part. But without seeing the promise in context, it is too easy to forget our part and only "claim the promises of God!"

We want "…and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down and shaken together, and running over, shall men give to you." Wow! That is a mouthful of promise. Oops! In "claiming" that promise, we left out one word, the first word of that verse: "Give…"! And the last part of the verse which says, "For with the same measure you use to give will it be given back to you." Luke 6:38

It was the religious leaders of Israel who selectively ignored all of the prophetic Scriptures of a suffering Messiah. The Scriptures were all there. Jesus went through them with the two disciples on the Emmaus Road. See Luke 24:13-35.

It was the religious leaders of England who selectively ignored the Scriptures which spoke of their part in the fulfillment of the Great Commission when they shouted down a youthful William Carey with the words, "If God wants to save the heathen, He will do it without your help or ours!"

And it is the Laodicean church of today-"rich and increased with goods and having need of nothing" (Revelation 3:17)-that selectively ignores the cries of the poor and needy. Yet, the Word still shouts: "Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy." Proverbs 31:9 And again, "But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes off his heart of compassion from him, how can the love of God dwell in him?" 1 John 3:17 See also Proverbs 24:11-12.

The solution to this trilogy of error is in a lifestyle equal to Paul's passionate statement to the elders of Ephesus, "I never held back from declaring to you the Whole Counsel of God." Acts 20:27 It is the "Whole Counsel of God" that will keep us from error. As you study the Word, consider the following:

1) When a passage of Scripture doesn't seem to line up with our lifestyle, it is our lifestyle that should be put in question, not the Scripture;

2) Always read, study and understand a Scripture in its context, allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture; and

3) Develop a study of the Word that gets us from Genesis to Revelation and all that is in between.

What more can be said? What more needs to be said? Only this: "And when he had exhausted every kind of temptation, the devil withdrew until his next opportunity!" Luke 4:13.

BEWARE!  BE AWARE!

PRACTICAL INSIGHTS

When Satan Hassles Christians

I trust you are reading through these problems and solutions very slowly. Give yourself enough time to think about whether or not you are vulnerable at each point. Ask yourself, "Is there a weak spot in my defenses here?"

Problem The enemy tries to hassle us when we have expectations that are unrealistically high. When that situation exists, we are in a vulnerable place for attack. Those unrealistic expectations could be of ourselves, or of other people, or of a particular circumstance or situation. This sets us up for disillusionment and disappointment, which can then lead to anger and ultimately bitterness. All because we expected too much, and it just didn't happen. We have opened ourselves up for the enemy's attack.

Solution Learn what is realistic by getting feedback. In Romans 12:3 Paul tells us to "…have a sane estimate of our capabilities." (And, I might add, we need a sane estimate of other people's capabilities, also). We need to be realistic. But that's too easy to just say. Maybe we think we are being realistic. But we find ourselves angry and disappointed-disillusioned and bitter because time after time things just don't happen the way they should.

Find a qualified third person who can and will be objective with you. Discuss your expectations with them, and be open to their perspectives on what is realistic. Get their feedback and listen to what they have to say, and then be open to revising you expectations.

Write your expectations down on a piece of paper. Look at them at different times of the day, week, and month. Maybe your goals are too high. Or, too low! Rewrite them. Modify your expectations and goals to a challenging level which realistically allows you to reach them.

Problem The enemy tries to hassle me through "accidents." I put the word "accidents" in quotes because we know that from God's perspective there is no such thing as an accident. Sometimes we go through things that seem totally unexplainable.

In the two years we were in Brazil every family member experienced serious "accidents" or strange physical problems. Our youngest son drowned in the university pool. When my husband arrived at the emergency room, the attending physician was filling out his death certificate because he was too far gone. He didn't know what else to do! But, by a miracle of God, our son was completely restored within 24 hours. He was healed.

Another time Neal sustained a fractured skull and severe brain concussion. That occurred while he was watching another son undergoing a serious hernia surgery. Our daughter's adenoid surgery resulted in her almost hemorrhaging to death. A basketball standard crashing down resulted in "only" a broken nose, and a bruised foot. Fire ant stings resulted in parts of my husband's body swelling to twice his size. Another son had a serious relapse of hepatitis with "permanent" liver damage. I was suspected of having leprosy. I didn't have it, but the tests took two months to eliminate that possibility. Do you think that waiting caused a "little" stress?! So, through weird things-accidents and strange sicknesses-the enemy can get to you.

Solution Allow yourself to feel; talk things out; and choose to trust God. There are some Christians who believe we are not to have feelings. We are to be stoic. It is not holy or righteous to be stoic-to be out of touch with our feelings and deny them. We all have feelings; it is just that some of us (and maybe all of us some of the time) bury them. We try to ignore them. Whereas others not only feel them, but freely express them-sometimes too freely!

If you are upset, you might as well admit it and talk about it with a wise and trusted friend. It is therapeutic to talk it out instead of holding it in.

Choose with your will to trust God. Realize that He knew that the "accident" was going to happen. He didn't lose control; He is still God. Talk to Him about your feelings. Look for the good that God wants to bring out of this situation, and be confident that He uses all things for His purposes. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…to be conformed to the image of His Son." Romans 8:28-29 James 1 is a good chapter to study to help us understand and accept the trials and temptations that come our way. They can build our faith, develop patience and endurance or teach us some new lesson. The "refining fires" of 1 Peter 1 bring our faith "to the praise and honor and glory on that day when Jesus Christ reveals Himself."

Unfortunately, if we do not choose to trust God, "accidents" can cause anger and deep bitterness. But know that He is still in control. He is still God. We can know that there was a good reason and a positive lesson that could have been learned.

Problem The enemy tries to hassle me through depression. Oppression-which we will look at next-is supernatural in nature. Depression, however, is from natural causes. It may come from a physical condition, or from an emotional state of being, or from circumstances. Unfortunately, considering the world we live in, there are a lot of natural reasons to be depressed. And satan will take advantage of every possible situation to sink us deeper into depression.

Solution Find the reason behind the depression. As soon as you are aware that a "slump" is beginning, you need to ask why? Why am I feeling depressed? Am I too tired? Have I been eating right? Have I been getting enough sleep? Is it a physical condition? Do I need a check-up? Am I drained emotionally or spiritually? Have I been giving out more than I have taken in? Am I too isolated?

A "yes" to any of those questions-especially if it is a recurring problem-is a pretty good clue to the source of the problem. Those situations that you can change-change! If you cannot change the circumstances (newborn baby keeping you up all night, night after night after night), talk with someone about it. It is true that sometimes just admitting something out loud can help to ease its pain. Have a friend pray with you for God's strength and wisdom. The worst thing to do is sit down alone and think about how bad the situation is that is depressing you! You will only sink deeper and deeper and wallow in it, until it seems nearly impossible to get out.

Sometimes you need to break the depression by changing your activity. Many years ago I was on a treatment for a physical condition. There were times when all of a sudden I would feel depressed. There seemed to be no apparent reason. (And it wasn't oppression.) I learned to immediately stop whatever I was doing, and do something else. I would turn on the radio or read a book or call a friend-anything different from what I was doing when the feeling of depression hit. It would avert the descending gloom.

Problem The enemy tries to hassle me through oppression. As I mentioned in the last section, whereas depression has a natural cause, oppression is supernatural. Again, to illustrate, let me tell you about one place we stayed on the mission field. Every time a new person came to our area, within a week they would be saying that they felt depressed. But they couldn't understand why. Well, it wasn't depression. We who had been there awhile knew it was oppression. It was like a heavy blanket that hung over the area all the time. Logic says it was because we were surrounded by spirit worshippers who often made sacrifices at the entrance of the area where we lived and tried to put curses on us. That is a reasonable explanation for oppression!

Solution Learn to recognize the oppressing spirits; take authority over them; resist them! Draw near to God. The key thing here is recognizing who the oppression is coming from. One of the major problems in overcoming this atmosphere was that some did not acknowledge the oppressive atmosphere was demonic. They would kick the broken pottery bowl (with votive candle still burning) into the ditch and mutter, "Mere superstition."

The second action step is to take authority over the enemy in Jesus' Name and resist him. Realize that "greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." 1 John 4:4 Oppression was a recurring problem for me in that place. It easily took the first six months to get a handle on what was happening and not be knocked down day after day! The real key came one evening at the dinner table. The devotions were being read from Isaiah. It was a verse that was very familiar to all of us, but all of a sudden it just clicked. He will give "…a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness." Isaiah 61:3.

I got mad! I got really mad at the deception of the evil one. "You know," I said to him, "you have had me fooled and deceived all this time. I'm not going to put up with it any longer!" Well, it was not "roses" from then on. But now I recognized the source and the solution. I took authority, resisted him, and then focused my attention on God with praise!

Sometimes it took as long as fifteen minutes. because we lived in a group housing situation, I couldn't be assured of much privacy at home, so I often went for a walk to be alone. I would tell the enemy he was a liar and to leave-in Jesus' Name! I would then begin talking with God: "I'm glad I'm Your child. Thank You for sending Your Son to die for me. Thank You for loving me. Thank You that You are all-powerful and that nothing is too hard for You." I would just keep thanking Him for everything that would come to my mind.

All that I would say would be directly from Scripture so the enemy couldn't argue with it. I would not voice my opinions or feelings on anything-only Scripture. Then, after I would run out of things to say (all of this was out loud), I would start singing praise and worship songs in the spirit, and I would sing until my mind was back in the right perspective. Then I would walk back home. Sometimes I would have to do this several times a week because it was such a constant battle. But I won! Rather, God won! I accepted His provision.

Chapter 3 - Our Attitude Towards War ← Prior Section
Chapter 5 - Spiritual Authority Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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