By Stephen Leonard
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
This life is a battle from cradle to grave for most of us. For those in the last generation who will witness Christ’s return, victory for them is consummated when the trumpet blasts. But for most of us, now and in centuries past, the battle is engaged when we come out of the womb, and lasts until we draw our last breath.
Who is our protagonist? Who attacks us when he spies a weakness? Who is stalking us as a lion on the prowl? Who is ready to take advantage of sin? The once prince of angels, Lucifer, fallen from heaven; Satan, to be exact. He rallies his colleagues, his fellow fallen angels, to join him in his warfare, both to unbelievers, to ensure they do not repent, and to believers, to keep them from winning the prize of glories in heaven.
Both are the objects of his hate, for which he exists to bring them down to the pit. Both are intended by him to go down to defeat. Satan may emphasize his insidious attacks on believers, but unbelievers are not merely left to their own wanton desires, though that might be enough. He aids them onto the slippery slope surrounding the pit of destruction (Psalm 73:18-20).
As C.S. Lewis’s book, Screwtape Letters, illustrates, Satan is cunning in attacking our fallen whims and temptation-laden fallacies. Our fascination with sin is enhanced by the devil’s clever charades (2 Corinthians 11:14).
The more you are distracted from keeping in God’s Word, the more you are vulnerable to Satan’s machinations. It is a necessity for you to be regularly and constantly in God’s Word to ward off the devil’s arrows, just as Jesus clearly showed you in His wilderness battle with him (Matthew 4 and Luke 4).
You might see this as a spiritual battle, but it is so intertwined with the physical, that you cannot separate them. Satan leads us astray in the abuse of our physical bodies, as well as our minds and spirits, and in the disturbance of our emotions and desires as much as our very souls (your entire being). Physical and spiritual are together cunning and straightforward attacks; attacks which really should be expected and, therefore, completely unsurprising.
There is time for you to prepare in your heart for such attacks, if you have been reading and believing the warnings of Scripture, and take them seriously. Reading, memorizing, and meditation will fortify you for Satanic attacks. But if you do not read, meditate, and pray, you are vulnerable to succumbing to the devil’s cunning arrows. You need to take up the armor of God and personally place it on yourself (Ephesians 6). It is intended for your defense from any arrows Satan fires at you. In this way, you can “make the most of your time because the days are evil,” as Paul says. (Ephesians 5:16)
Your defense should be sharpened from your perspective of life, which is the application of a Christian world and life view that the Bible gives you to discern the world, your flesh, and the devil. Believe that Satan is, believe that he will attack you, and believe that he will not rest. His attacks are constant. But God’s Word says in return: “Submit yourselves to God and resist the Devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). You are never defenseless unless you choose to be.
Why is the battle ongoing right up to your death? This is to keep your spiritual guard sharp and alert to the very end, because the days are evil on this side of heaven. The fall remains in effect until Christ banishes it upon his return. And Christ wants you to know that in faith and by His grace, you can be victorious over Satan as He has done. Each victory encourages your faith and your intimacy with Jesus. He knows you well, and knows you can be victorious in Him.
“Jesus lives, and by His grace, victory o’er my passions giving, I will cleanse my heart and ways, ever to His glory living. Me, He raises from the dust: Jesus is my hope and trust.”