How Should We Battle?
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God … Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (from Ephesians 6:10-18–NIV).
We’re fighting a battle.
Not one of us is exempt. We’re all soldiers, and though the skirmishes may vary, the enemy is the same.
The adversary of our souls, his name is Satan, and he’s a thief who schemes to steal our peace and joy.
He doesn’t know our hearts, can’t read our minds. Still, he knows enough because he’s ever watchful–seeking whom he may devour, who he can destroy. (I Peter 5:8). And he’s wily–learning how we’re wired, assessing what makes us tick, what makes us timid.
With such knowledge, he lurks in the recesses, hides in the shadows. But he’s brazen, too, at times–attacking full-force in broad daylight. Though he may come calling clothed in sheep’s softest, most appealing fleece–having purposefully abandoned his more common costume–don’t be fooled. He’s a predator, and even if he appears as an angel of light, he’s an angel of darkness (II Cor. 11:14).
That’s why we’re so aptly warned–that we’ll be wary, ready. And what is our weapon?
We read of it in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (6:17).
Let me repeat: Satan cannot read our minds, but he can certainly ascertain enough by observation to know how our minds–our thought patterns–work, and therein lies an insidious threat. That’s why we need our helmets–to guard our minds. Yes, to save us!
Joyce Meyer writes of this in her best-selling book Battlefield of the Mind (Warner Faith, 2002), stating–
The mind is the battlefield.
It can’t be emphasized enough. Satan cannot read our minds; however, he listens to us, watches us closely. Therefore, he knows full-well our habitual choices–how we respond with fear, how we’re prone to act in particular situations–and he, in turn, knows how these actions affect our minds. Our thoughts, then, conversely guide our actions–a potentially vicious and destructive cycle.
But unlike the ways we fall prey and concede to Satan’s scheming, Jesus, who was also tempted by Satan, never succumbed. Though he was tempted in every manner similar to humankind, Jesus remained sinless (Hebrews 4:15). Understanding how our sympathetic Savior stood against Satan’s temptations offers us guidance.
Indeed, it offers us hope.
Not long after Jesus’ baptism, he retreated to the wilderness. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he fasted and prayed for forty days. Being fully human, he grew hungry, and Satan knew best how to tempt him; thus, he tested him first with food.
If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread (Luke 4:3).
And what is Jesus’ response? Before his mouth could begin to water, he combated the temptation of the enemy with words straight from the ancient scriptures.
Man does not live on bread alone (Deut. 8:3).
Next, aware that Jesus has been in isolation all this time (just prior to beginning public ministry) and knowing, too, that he, being man, would likely long for power, Satan tempted him a second time. Taking him to a high place, Satan showed him the kingdoms of the world.
I will give you all authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours (Luke 4:5-7).
Again, however, Jesus wielded the weapon of God’s Word, and humbly–though with authority–responded,
It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only’ (Deut. 6:13).
Finally, Satan showed Jesus Jerusalem. Standing on the highest point of the temple, he was tested a third time as Satan attempted to convince Jesus to prove his God-given authority by sneering–
If you are the Son of God … throw yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone’ (Luke 4:9b-11 / Ps. 91:11, 12).
But Jesus recognized the enemy’s wicked scheme as Satan, too, knew enough to wield God’s words straight from the ancient songbook (Psalm 91). Without hesitation he boldly proclaimed–
It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’ (Deut. 6:16).
One can almost see Satan recoil, pierced right through with those powerful words. Luke’s account tells us that, after this third temptation, Satan left him.
Now, I don’t know about you but I, like my Savior, have been tempted similarly–by food (and other tangibles), by a lust for power, and with the need to prove myself. Unlike him, however, I’ve fallen–given in. Yes, I sin.
Satan knows this. He’s been watching me since the day I entered the world, and he’s been watching you too. He knows how our struggles with the flesh will inevitably affect our thinking, and he knows how our thinking will then direct our actions. While he cannot read our thoughts, he’s observed us enough times to estimate a particular response, determine a reaction, and he’s lurking to lead us astray.
Like Jesus–The Word with God (John 1)–we, too, have a weapon to wield when the battle of the mind (our thoughts) and the ensuing behaviors are anything less than that which leads us toward holiness. Like Jesus, we have the very Word of God–our sword (Ephesians. 6: 17b). With it, we can combat the enemy and win. The Word wielded, we can conquer the enemy, because, when we resist Satan’s tactics by surrendering to the truth of our Savior, he flees (James 4:7).
Wow! Jesus wielded it, setting the example, so why should we think we can win by doing less?
This is the time! Now is the day! We can only appropriate God’s Word by being in it–reading it, memorizing it, hiding it in our hearts (Ps. 119:11). The Prophet Jeremiah even went one step further–encouraging us to eat God’s Word.
Your words came, and I ate them; and they were my joy and my heart’s desire… (Jer. 15:16).
When one fills up with God’s Word, there’s less room for the enemy’s lies. And, as Joyce Meyer says in Battlefield of the Mind–
The devil will give up when he sees that you are not going to give in …
Therefore, dear friends–let us not give in to his lies. To his temptations (which are always deceptions aimed at making us think there’s something better apart from God’s best). To his tactics to scare us, send us fleeing.
Put on your helmet and hold–by hiding in your heart!–your weapon. Spend time sharpening your knowledge of and love for God’s Word by reading it regularly. Share what you’re learning with others as a testimony of God’s work in your life. Have several who hold you accountable and who look to you to do the same. Write down scriptures that speak to your heart, then place them strategically that they might continue encouraging you at just the right moments–on bathroom mirrors, kitchen cupboards, the dash of your car.
And always keep in mind–we’re to be like Jesus who knew just how to combat the enemy. To be victorious, we certainly can do no less.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought to make it obedient to Christ (II Cor. 10:3-5).
(To be encouraged by truth–from God’s Word, as well as from a wealth of wisdom God’s given her–check out my friend Lori Roeleveld’s website here. You won’t be disappointed!)