This isn’t going to be an in-depth study of the devil. If you want that, there are lots of good resources available. What I want to talk about is the ways Satan attacks us as believers. And honestly, all I really know is how he attacks me. Because I expect that even though the attacks might look different on the outside, my experiences and yours are probably pretty similar at their root.
In this post, we’re going to look at our weak spots. In the next post I will explore the ways Satan attacks.
Our enemy knows us. He has studied human nature since time began, and he is cunning and crafty. He specializes in lies that appeal to our deceitful hearts. He knows our idols, our fears, our struggles, and our weak spots. He recognizes when we are most vulnerable and he does not hesitate to strike. Satan is an enemy to be taken seriously, and we should respect that fact. Peter reminds us to be serious-minded and watchful. He compares Satan to a lion who is prowling around looking for someone to devour.
Here are some times when we are likely to be vulnerable:
- When our physical needs are not being met. There’s a reason Satan tempted Jesus after He had been fasting for 40 days. He was hungry. When we are extra tired, extra hungry, sick, in pain– these are times we need to be on our guard against temptation. Often for me this comes in the form of anger. When I am tired I get irritable. You’ve heard of the word hangry? Make no mistake, giving in to temper when we’re hungry/tired/etc. is sin. We are responsible to recognize our vulnerability and seek the help we need, both spiritually and physically.
- When our spiritual needs are not being met. We must be in God’s Word daily if we want to be able to stand against the devil’s schemes. Paul doesn’t tell us to be strong in our own awesomeness and the power of our fabulous abilities. Our strength comes from the Lord, and it comes through time with Him. Every time we open God’s Word we are arming ourselves for battle. Don’t believe me? Just try to start a routine to immerse yourself more regularly in the Word. And don’t be surprised when everything seems to fall apart at first, because Satan does not want you in the Word of God and he will fight it. Press on, soldier. Because eventually everything will come together, as God’s Word dwells in you richly and, hidden in your heart, keeps you from sin.
- When we’re not spending time with other believers. Just like a lion will pick off the weak stragglers that aren’t a part of the herd, so Satan will go after those who are not strengthening themselves in biblical community. We need each other. We are a body. Whether you’re an eye, or a kneecap, or a fingernail, you need the rest of the body to function properly. When we are disengaged from spiritual community, we are at risk of attack. I encourage you to make group worship and Bible study and the preaching of God’s Word a priority in your life, and if your life’s circumstances make that impossible right now, then I encourage you to be alert and ask God for special strength to withstand the attacks that will come.
- When we have just experienced a great victory. I don’t know how many times I have come through a really trying time spiritually and been rejoicing in victory, only to fall flat on my face before something that I thought I had put behind me long ago. For me it’s usually food. I have had so many weeks when I dealt with one hard, heartbreaking, impossible thing after another and really did have victory through Christ, only to fall flat on my face into a carton of ice cream, or a bag of M&M’s, or whatever. Your “besetting sin” might be different than mine, but you probably have a pretty good idea what it is. It is the thing that always tempts you. After a victory, we tend to let our guard down. Our enemy is watching for that moment and he will strike as soon as the shield drops. He loves to take away the sweetness of victory by mixing in some defeat and self-disgust. That’s why Paul told anyone who stands to “take heed lest he falls.“
- When we are weary of the battle. These times come to all of us. Just that feeling of tiredness from fighting all the time. Maybe we haven’t had victory in a long time. Maybe we can’t see God working like we think we should. Maybe we have been hurt, or experienced a painful and faith-shaking loss, or have fallen and fallen and fallen and just can’t seem to beat this particular sin. Satan wants us to give up. And in these times, it is so tempting!
These are the times when we need to be on guard. Well, we always need to be on guard. But if we recognize ourselves as especially vulnerable, we can draw nearer to God, arm ourselves with Scripture, and prepare to stand in the evil day.
There is a truth that we can remember when we recognize our weaknesses– our God didn’t choose us for our strength or our wisdom. Sorry, folks! The truth just the opposite– God chose the weak things of the world and the foolish things of the world to show off His glory and to shame the strong and the wise. His strength is shown most completely when we are at our weakest. This is such a great hope. Your enemy knows when you’re at your weakest, but so does your strong Defender. Admit your weakness. Humble yourself and draw near to God. That is how you resist the devil.