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Archive for September, 2013

Faith under attack

One interesting observation regarding spiritual battles is that we very often don’t realise that we are in them.  Ephesians 6 (verse 12) states that it is not flesh and blood we battle, but spiritual forces.  In other words the battle is not actually with other people, but spiritual enemies who are simply using people to attack us.  Of course, any attack by the enemy can only go as far as God will allow it, and we believe it is for our ultimate benefit.  This is theory, but practice confirms what we know, and it will be worth examining this truth in greater detail.

First, the problem as described by God.  Ephesians 6, verse 16 says “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one”.  It is one of those verses that we perhaps don’t fully understand until we have lived through it, and even then only if we actually know what it is we are living through.  The devil will aim arrows, or darts at us.  One of the interesting things about an arrow (and this Biblical illustration) is that an arrow is far more deadly than a bullet.  If you attempt to remove it, the arrow will tear and cause even more damage.  This passage speaks of our defence being a shield, and it has in mind a Roman soldier’s shield which was a very large device, made of wood and covered in leather, probably soaked with water.  It was so large the solider could simply stand behind it and advance safely towards the enemy.  Our shield against the devils arrows is our faith.  Faith protects even more securely against these arrows of the evil one.

 We have to go further to understand this concept properly.  Our shield is faith, but what are the arrows we are facing?  They come in many forms, perhaps discouragement, trials, lies, and problems, and are not always through other people.  You will be anticipating a great day, and then out of nowhere the problems start coming.  They may be small – you loose your keys when you are already in a hurry for work (but just watch how you react to that ‘small’ inconvenience), or they may be large, perhaps a hurtful exchange with someone close to you.  Regardless, these are the arrows that have genuine potential to rock our world and leave us in an emotional condition that no child of God should be in, whether that is anger, hurt, pain, discouragement, fear or something else.  You can see, hopefully, that even worse than the resulting emotional state and any sin we may then go on to commit, is the state it leaves our relationship with God.  Suddenly we are no longer trusting Him, we are at a distance, we are not talking to Him, and if we sin as a result of these negative emotions it gets even worse.  Satan has won the battle, his objective achieved.  Now he just needs to keep on with further attacks, and soon we will be a spiritual mess.

 But this cycle can be avoided; remember the passage tells us how – with faith.  Now, at this point I want to talk about one specific arrow that has hit me recently.  And not once, but multiple times every day.  Its left me ready to give up on so much and finding it hard to pray.  It’s probably the most destructive of the lot.  It is lies.  Jesus tells us (John 8, verse 44) that “the devil…He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies”.  He goes about telling us lies.  And his lies are more destructive than any you will hear from a person.  They may be provided through another person, but much more common is that he will put them directly into our minds in response to circumstances.  He will tell you that you can’t trust your friend, that God has rejected you, you won’t get the job, you didn’t hear from God, that you are not good enough, that you won’t recover, to be afraid, to hold back, to play it safe, to respond in anger, that it wouldn’t work, to never let yourself get hurt again, and a thousand others.  We all know the difference between lies and truth.  Truth does not make sense and goes against logic, whilst lies sound reasonable, and usually have at least most of the evidence on their side.  Satan doesn’t change his tactics often.  We can respond to lies by going back to God, with faith.  Head to the Bible and find out what God has to say on the matter.  And if God has spoken to you specifically, trust Him, you did hear from Him.  You might think it is easier to believe a promise that is written, but actually Satan will attack both.  The most effective method is just to quote God’s word to yourself, and him.  It is what Jesus did, whenever Satan lied to him, he responded by quoting Scripture “it is written” (Matthew 4, verse 4).  It really is that effective.  Of course, Satan will challenge us, he has been doing it from the beginning with the well worn phrase ‘Did God actually say”…(Genesis 3, verse 1).  You would have thought we would have caught on to that old line by now.  Yes, he will cast doubt on what God has told us.  So that is why our faith is so critical, it is our sole defence.

 Faith is so important that in the words of Jarrod Cooper (Pastor, New Life Church, Hull, UK) ‘there is one thing the devil will attack day after day, and that is your faith in God’.  The Bible says “Your faith – more precious then gold that perishes” (1 Peter 1, 7).  Our faith is what protects us from all of this and that is why it is so valuable, and why the enemy is insane about attacking it.  Faith is what protects us, keeping us close to God, and avoiding unnecessary emotional pain.  When all around is falling apart, we can be calm, knowing that our God loves us, and that nothing will overcome Him.  When God says something, we can count on it, no matter what the circumstances are telling us.

 Okay, I want to leave on a high note.  I was praying about all of this on my way home recently, with circumstances still not looking too good.  In fact they had got worse, and since then there has been little change.  And I found myself praising God, because I realised in a deeper way that Jesus is very much alive today.   I want to ask you, is He real, is He there, are you going to step out and trust Him?  That is our faith, we have a relationship with Jesus and He came to give us life to the full, not the half life we try to get by with.  This blog post won’t help you, it just encourages you to get back to your Friend, spend time with Him, and get His perspective on things.  Trust and keep praising until things get better.  He showed me something really special today regarding my own challenges; all these things are leading to a stronger faith, and a closer walk with Him.  This is going to bless us.

Thank you Lord Jesus, may this all be to your glory.

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