We, my friends, are in the middle of a war: a spiritual conflict. Humanity is accustomed to war because for most of our history we have waged war amongst ourselves. This conflict is not one where we are civilians caught between armies fighting over some prize; in this battle we (humanity) are the prize.
Who are the Combatants?
In this spiritual conflict we have two sides: God the Creator and his Heavenly legions fighting against Satan and his fallen angels. Humanity is the prize, and Christians are involved in the form of a resistance movement.
Long ago Satan, then known as Lucifer, was the greatest of all angels. But he grew proud, vain, and ambitious: he desired to make himself equal with God, and led a revolt: the original spiritual conflict. As a result, Lucifer and 1/3 of the angels in heaven: those who had followed him, were cast out of Heaven. They inhabit Earth and the lower heaven, but cannot pass through the barrier into the Abode of God.
We are among them. We don’t normally see them because they are spirit, we are flesh. But they are here, and they mean us harm because we are God’s pride and joy.
What are the Weapons?
Neither God nor Satan can MAKE us (humanity) do anything. God always has allowed us free choice. Even the choice of whether we will acknowledge Him as God. Likewise, God does not allow Satan to directly influence us. Usually.
We know that God did allow Satan to “test” Job by inflicting hardship and disease to see if Job would curse God. Likewise, God allows situations into our lives to test us. These tests are meant to help us grow and develop, spiritually. But God does not afflict us with these. He doesn’t need to: there are situations aplenty in the world, most of those in our lives are of our own doing.
The atom bomb of this war is temptation. But even that is often misunderstood. Neither God nor Satan can force us into deciding to do or not do a thing. When we are tempted, that feeling of temptation comes from within ourselves, not from God, nor from Satan. The object of our desire may have been guided into our path, but the temptation is ours.
What tempts us is unique in each of us. Some are prone to alcoholism, some to fleshly lust, others to chocolate. Some are procrastinators, while others are workaholics. Each person is a unique set of desires, formed by our psyche and life experiences. Satan knows and uses our own set of weaknesses to steer us away from God.
In the book of Mark, chapter 4, verses 14-20 is recounted the Parable of the Sower, where Jesus taught how Satan works among humanity:
14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. 18 Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
In this parable the sower is a human who teaches about God and Jesus. At this moment, I am a sower. The word is the message of Jesus and the salvation he offers. These nuggets of truth are illustrated as seeds of grain.
Satan’s purpose on earth is to keep you and me from a clear understanding of God: to twist his revelations to us so we become disobedient. He comes to take away the word, the truth that was sown in our hearts.
Those who have hardened their hearts may hear the word, may even receive it, but they fall away quickly because they have no root: no knowledge to help them stand against the cajoling and ridicule that will come from their worldly friends, co-workers and family.
The thorns are the cares and worries of this world: money, health, greed, ambition; concerns that will spring up and choke out a new found faith, if we let them.
And finally we have the fertile ground where the seed will take root, flourish, mature, and yield a harvest.
Not all who hear the word will receive it. Of those who do receive it, many will be distracted by Satan and fall away. If we are intent on remaining faithful, how do we fight against the attacks of Satan?
First off, we must understand that nowhere in the Bible does it say that we, you and I, must defeat Satan and his fallen angels. Jesus will do that in time. For now, all we have to do is to stand against him. Resist his attacks as a tree stands against the wind.
What is Our Defense
Knowledge is power. By learning all we can about our enemy, and our allies: what they can and cannot do, and how we can resist Satan, we armor ourselves.
First, we must identify the enemy. We need to know who is attacking us so we don’t blame it on the wrong side. Nor do we need to accept blame ourselves. When a situation arises in which we are tempted to do something that goes against our understanding of wisdom, that temptation is not our fault. Our reaction to that temptation, and any consequences that may follow, are our doing but not the original temptation.
Second: isolate the enemy. You have identified the source of your trouble, turn your spiritual binoculars on him. Be aware of his movements; do not allow him to guide you into disobedience.
Third: repel the enemy. Use prayer to draw upon the strength of the Holy Spirit which surrounds you. Resist Satan and he will flee from you.
Is the Spiritual Conflict Over
You emerge from the battle victorious. Is the war over? No, the enemy will return. When Jesus was tempted in the desert for 40 days, Satan finally gave up and left Him “for a more opportune moment”. Even as Jesus died on the cross, temptation was hurled at him; “If you are the son of God, come down from there…”
The hard truth is that Satan has no need to torment the fallen. He will fight most urgently against those who are succeeding in remaining faithful. But if you are well grounded in the knowledge of The Bible: having a strong root to nourish and support you when the winds blow, and do not allow the thorns of life to choke out your faith, God’s love will flourish within you, you will mature, and you will yield a harvest unto your Lord.