Do you ever wonder how some people get into the sins they find themselves in, being convinced in your heart that there is no way you could ever fall for that? Apart from being arrogant, an attitude like this also fails to take into consideration exactly whom we, as Christians, are opposed by.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)
Many people imagine the devil a comical creature in a red suit with horns and pitchfork, failing to recognize his formidable true nature. Yet Scripture tells us that he was once Lucifer, an angel of God:
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.” (Isaiah 14:12-15)
In Ezekiel 28:12-18 we get a even better insight into what Lucifer, who is also called Satan or the devil, was like, and what happened to him:
“…You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. ‘You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, til iniquity was found in you. ‘By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, o covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. ‘Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you. ‘You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading; therefore I brought fire from your midst; it devoured you, and I turned you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all who saw you.”
The supernatural being who opposes those who would follow Christ is a formidable opponent. Not only was he beautiful, he was also one of the “covering cherubs,” a position of prominence before God. While he is neither all-powerful nor all-knowing–and while not everything we encounter can necessarily be blamed on him–there is much going on in the spiritual realm that we are frequently oblivious of. This is why we are warned, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
The problem is both our arrogance and complacency. As we succeed in resisting temptation, or what we believed was temptation–obvious sins that really weren’t much of a struggle for us to begin with–Satan’s tactics seem to evolve. We begin to get situations of increasing difficulty and complexity thrown at us to try to beat us down and cause us to stumble, get broadsided with temptations we thought we’d never fall for, seemingly custom-designed for us. It’s just like the video games our children play with–once you get past the easy levels, you graduate on to navigate the advanced levels required to beat the game.
I Peter 5:8, 9 warns us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” exhorting, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” Most of us don’t live in a world threatened by lions, so we tend to miss this verse’s impact–yet the original recipients of this warning were familiar with the threat. A lion is relentless in stalking his prey. He is heartless, offering no mercy. He is vicious in his conquest. Those whom he corners are usually lost.
Satan pursues our demise in the same way. He is relentless in finding a successful method to wrench us from our Savior–to cause us to doubt, to despair, to turn away, to choose a life of sin. And his methods are sophisticated, not the child’s play tactics we typically credit him with. We should therefore not be dismayed when the stakes get higher, the issues become more complicated, or the the problems seem unsolvable because he is out to get us, in any way he can and in any way that will work.
So how do we fight him–how do we fight back? Ephesians teaches us that we are to put on the whole armor or God–truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God, prayer. And even if all else seems to fail, we must not give up!
Remember Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow?
“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. ‘There was a judge in a certain city,’he said, ‘who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’’ Then the Lord said, ‘Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?'” (Luke 18:1-8 NLT)
Help us always pray and never give up! Thank You for the pieces of armor You provide us with; help us put them on and withstand against the wiles of the devil. Amen.