Christian, you have a real enemy. He is a spiritual enemy, waging spiritual war, and he can only be defeated with spiritual weaponry. Your enemy is not flesh and blood, but Satan himself, the accuser of man. He hates you. And he will do everything in his power to ruin you. Satan has millennia of warfare under his belt. And he has been using the same tactics against God’s people since the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. The good news is that Christians can stand against Satan in the power of the Holy Spirit, dressed for battle wearing the full armor of God. Spiritual battles are won in the preparation (Eph. 6:10-18). So suit up and be ever ready.
But what exactly are Satan’s battle tactics? How do I recognize if I’m under spiritual attack? From Genesis 3:1-6, here are three ways you can know that Satan has you in his crosshairs:
- When you are questioning the authority or the reliability of God’s Word. The very first words of Satan recorded in the Bible are directed at humans: “Did God really say…?” (Gen. 3:1). Have you stopped to think how amazing it is that the God of the Ages chooses to reveal Himself to us?! Not just generally through what He has made, but even specifically in the person of Jesus Christ and in the written Word?! Your enemy Satan wants to twist and manipulate God’s words to deceive you into questioning their trustworthiness. Be assured that when you are questioning the authority or reliability of God’s Word, you are under spiritual attack. Put on the Belt of Truth and stand firm on God’s Word which is “firmly fixed in the heavens,” (Ps. 119:89).
- When you are tempted to think that your sin is not really that big of a deal. When Eve repeated God’s Word, answering Satan’s question, Satan responded with these words: “No! You will not surely die,” (Gen. 3:4). Death seamed like an extreme consequence for a little bite of fruit. But keep in mind it wasn’t the fruit that was the issue – it was obedience to God’s Word. And the consequence of disobedience was spiritual death, separation from God. God is not a dictator in the sky, keeping good things from the children He loves. Rather, He is a good, loving Father who knows what is best for His children. His commands are given to us as good gifts, to keep us in good fellowship with Him and on the path of righteousness. The things He forbids are forbidden because they ultimately bring destruction and death. But when you start comparing your sin against someone else’s, or justifying your sin in light of your present circumstances, be assured that Satan has got you in his crosshairs and is firing away militantly. He loves for you to think your sin is not really that big of a deal. So instead of justifying or downplaying your sin… own it, repent of it, then put on the Breastplate of Righteousness and walk worthy of your calling in Christ Jesus.
- When you deeply desire what you know God has strictly forbidden. “The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom,” (Gen. 3:6). You can’t trust your heart. It is desperately sick (Jer. 17:9). If there comes a season when you know what God’s Word says, but you feel like the opposite may be true in your life, don’t trust your feelings. Trust God’s Word. Pray with the Psalmist, in moments of temptation: “Help me understand … Turn my heart … Turn my eyes … I thought about my ways and turned my steps back to your decrees,” (Ps. 119:27, 36, 37, 59). In the New Testament, James explains the correlation between unrighteous desire and sin: “Each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death,” (Ja. 1:14-15). The war of the hands is won on the battlefield of the mind. Satan will whisper in your ear all day long, hoping that his lies take root in your heart, so that they will be born in your hands… and then, yes… you will surely die. When you begin to deeply desire what you know God has strictly forbidden, you are under spiritual attack. So put on the Helmet of Salvation and unsheathe the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Slay sinful desire with a single merciless stroke and Satan will sound the retreat.
Satan’s tactics have not changed over the millennia. Know why? Because they work so well. But if you’ll learn to recognize when you are under spiritual attack and begin to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, you will win – not just the war, but the battles, too.
Grace and Peace,