This week I want to talk about how Satan attacks us. Last time, we explored a bit about when we are most vulnerable to his attacks, and before that we looked at the nature of temptation. We must remember that temptation starts in our own hearts, and we have no right to blame it all on the devil. At the same time, we are commanded to be alert and ready for his attacks. They are very real.
Satan basically has one major weapon, and that is deception. He is called the father of lies for a reason. The more I do battle with him, the more convinced I am that pretty much every attack is made up of lies. If you think about how temptation works in our own hearts, this makes perfect sense. We already have the seeds of sin in our hearts, and when Satan flings his darts of falsehood at us our deceitful hearts eagerly jump on them and believe them.
One of the dangers of our enemy’s lies is that we don’t take them nearly seriously enough, which of course just shows how fully we have bought into his deception. We tend to think of lies and think of a three-year-old with the marker still in hand, saying he didn’t write on the wall. We must not underestimate Satan’s craftiness, his subtlety. He is an enemy to be taken seriously. He has studied the human heart since the beginning of time, and he knows what is most likely to bring us down. He will never use a big lie when a tiny, subtle twist of the truth will do.
When Satan tempted Eve, he planted doubt– “Did God really say . . . .” And once that doubt had sprung up, it didn’t take more than a half truth to get her to take a bite of the fruit. “Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” This was true, sort of. Eve discovered new knowledge when she ate of the fruit– but she already had the knowledge of good. She added nothing good to what she had by following Satan’s lie. Neither will we, not ever. We have what is good if we have Christ.
I have to confess that I am struggling with this blog post this morning, because I have been believing lies myself. Right now, Satan’s attacks are mostly like this: Look at all you’re doing. Does this little indulgence really matter? Don’t you think God wants you to have a little bit of pleasure here? This other stuff you’re doing– that’s the really important stuff. But this one little thing– it doesn’t matter.
Again and again I fall to the same temptation, and it’s because my heart desires something that is not God’s best for me, and my enemy knows my weakness and he aims straight for that place every single time. He knows– and I am learning– that this one “little” thing is the sin that cripples my walk with God more than anything else. That this one “little” thing has the potential to push me into a pattern of defeated living that affects every other part of my life. This is my besetting sin. It is the thing I must be most on guard against, because it’s where Satan attacks me most. That’s not to say he doesn’t attack me in other areas, because he does. But day in and day out, and especially on the good days where I feel like I’m really walking with Christ, the devil can bring me down with one well-placed dart of deception aimed straight at this stupid, frustrating weakness.
I believe this is true for all of us. We are all prone to believe and fall prey to Satan’s lies, because we all have those seeds of sin in our hearts that really, really want to lead us astray. Thankfully, this is not the end of the story.
We are about to turn a corner I’ve looked forward to very much in this series– we get to quit looking so much at sin and Satan and start looking at Christ and the weapons of our warfare. But I believe it is so important for us to recognize our enemy. We are told to stand against him. We are told to be vigilant, because he seeks whom he may devour. We need to know who he is, but even more importantly, we need to know to Christ is.
Christ is the Defeater of Satan. His victory has already been won– that is why we celebrate the Resurrection. Satan’s worst weapon was death and the fear of it, but the resurrection of Jesus from the dead destroyed death just as His great work on the cross destroyed sin. We are fighting an enemy whose end is certain, whose defeat is not a hope but a guarantee– already accomplished by God Himself. If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, you have His Spirit living within you, and He is so much greater than he that is in the world.
So much greater.
The only way to combat the lies of Satan is with Truth. The truth is what sets us free. The truth is what makes us holy. Once we come face to face with real, holy, burning, beautiful Truth, all of the enemy’s substitutes are laughable. There is not a single thing that he can offer you and me that is better than what we have been given in Christ. Not one thing. This is truth– truth I am struggling to believe, to hold onto, to live out every day in my life.
God’s source of Truth in our daily lives is His Word. We simply must saturate our minds, our hearts, our daily lives with the Word. We will fail to recognize Satan’s lies unless we have the holy standard of what is Real and True and Beautiful before our eyes every day. My friend, I know your day is busy. I know your life is complicated and there are so many voices hollering at you for attention– sometimes literally. But can I just say, in love, that if you aren’t spending time daily in God’s Word that you are setting yourself up to fall? Sunday’s sermon isn’t enough. Your Bible study group isn’t enough. God’s Word is the thing we live by– it is our daily bread. We cannot hope to live any kind of meaningful Christian life without God’s Word being the center of it.
I too have a life that screams for my attention. And God’s Word doesn’t scream, so it can be easy to forget, like the houseplants I have killed through the years by forgetful neglect. But this is so much more important than a houseplant. When I open God’s Word in the quiet of the morning dark, God meets me there with something so much better than a scream. He meets me with a quiet whisper of truth that speaks to me exactly where I am. He says I am enough for you today. He says I love you, no matter how many times you fall. He says I am here to be strong in your weakness, and I will never leave you or forsake you. He says you are my precious child and you delight me. He says you are forgiven. He says abide in Me; without Me, you can do nothing.
God’s truth whispers to my heart and prepares me to face the screams of the day with grace. It feeds my soul. It frees me to stand strong against the wiles of the devil.
You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.