MPGC34- HOW DO WE OVERCOME OUR ENEMY - PART 1
The death of Christ on the cross was the defeat of Satan. In Colossians 2:15 it says, "He (God) disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him (Jesus)." RSV
This idea of making a "public example" or "public display" is a picture drawn from a triumphant Roman general. The captured foe was stripped naked and hobbled so that he shuffled behind the chariot. It was total humiliation.
In a similar way Jesus made a spectacle of the devil to all the demons and angels. He showed the devil defeated, bound, hobbled and stripped of all authority. Jesus announced that he now holds the keys to death and hell (Revelation 1:18) and that at His name all must bow and obey. By fulfilling and superseding the law, Jesus made it so that the devil could no longer accuse people by means of the law. The demands of the Mosaic law (those standards laid out in scripture that we are unable to keep) are finished.
Satan's stronghold on humanity was finished. We no longer have to be under his power. Jesus died to gain our freedom and therefore Satan has no right over our life anymore. If we are "in Christ" Satan no longer has any way of gaining access into our lives. It is "in Christ" that we are transported to the very throne of God (Ephesians 2:13).
The only legal foothold the devil has for access to and control over humans is sin. Sin is his doorway into the human soul. Therefore the occupation of Satan in these days after his defeat is to keep mankind in bondage to sin. For men and women who don't know or believe what Jesus has done for them he doesn't have to work very hard. They already live in sin (i.e. independence from God) and so he just tries to keep them living that way.
Satan's hardest work is with believers. They are protected in Christ and while there (in Christ) he cannot get at us. Therefore his strategy is to deceive us into using our wills to act outside of Christ -- i.e. to sin. He is a master at deception. He can make what is wrong seem right, what is bad seem good and what is black appear white. He knows the Bible better than we do and he uses scripture often -- out of context of course. He will not use what is grossly bad or evil to tempt a believer. He knows that would be discerned right away. No, he'll use the good to usurp the best and with that get us to walk back into the trap of sin.
Satan's chief strategy in deception is to shoot a random thought into our minds causing us to consider or reconsider something we've made a decision to do or not to do. For example: Let's say Joe was delivered by Jesus from alcoholism. He found freedom for the first time in his life and therefore made a commitment to Jesus ....AND to stay out of bars for good. Now comes the thought --- "But your old friends are there at the bar and you could lead them to Christ." Is that true? Yes. Does Joe have a heart for his friends? Yes. Does he want them to be delivered as he was and come to Christ? Yes. If Joe considers this suggestion much more, he will decide that, "Yes, I could go back to witness and just drink sparkling water." If Joe then decides to act on this suggestion he is very likely to fall back into sin because Satan knows he is not strong enough yet in his walk with the Lord to influence his friends and resist their negative influences.
All it takes is one thought strategically planted. If we allow it credence, it will lead us to rationalize our position on something. (All of this will be in our mind.) When we have finally become convinced, then we will act and often this action either is sin or leads to sin. Once we are in this spot then we have left our safety in Christ and have put our toes back into enemy territory. Once back on enemy ground we are vulnerable to all kinds of demonic influence that is geared to eventually trapping us back into total bondage to our particular sin and vice.
Satan doesn't care at all that we still call ourselves Christian, and go to church. In fact this is very useful to his cause. For if Joe goes back to drinking, while calling himself a Christian and going to church, you can see the hypocrisy his life has become to his buddies. Instead of being an influence to them for Christ, he has gone back to the trough of sin with his friends. No, Satan doesn't care what we call ourselves as long as he can keep us in our bondage to sin.
Therefore while it's a fact that Satan is defeated, he still roams this earth for a time looking for unsuspecting suspects that he can devour. If you and I don't want to be devoured then we need to learn......
How To Overcome the Enemy - Part 1
#1 - LEARN TO RECOGNIZE THE ENEMY
Day 1- How do we recognize our enemy? Contrary to what you might think we don't read every book written about Satan and demons. Instead we major in the truth and by doing so we can recognize the counterfeit -- or what isn't truth. How then do we study the truth? First we must see that truth is a "who" and not an "it".
John 1:14 / John 14:6 / John 18:37
Jesus is the embodiment of truth and if we want to know what is true we must study His life.
Day 2- It will mean for us a diligent, lifetime commitment to studying the Word of God. How often are we to read and study the Bible?
It will mean examining what we hear and see in our daily lives and comparing that to what God says in the Bible.
Acts 17:11 / 1 John 4:1
Day 3- But it will not be through God's word alone. It will also come through a dynamic relationship with Jesus. The scribes and pharisees loved to study the scriptures and made it their full time job. What words did Jesus have for them?
We have this relationship with Jesus through His Holy Spirit whom he calls "the Spirit of truth". Where does the Holy Spirit live?
John 14: 16-17
The Holy Spirit will take the truths of Jesus and show us how to live in the light of them. According to this verse what two things does the Holy Spirit specifically do?
In this way whatever life throws at you, you'll know how to respond, how to walk through it and how to proceed forward.
#2 - TAKE YOUR STAND FOR TRUTH (Jesus) AND AGAINST ......
Day 4- According to these verses what will every disciple of Christ need to take a stand against?
1 John 2:15-16
"The world" (cosmos) is not the physical world but rather the "world systems" controlled by Satan and those he controls. As believers in Christ we are to test and scrutinize all that comes to us through these world systems. These include schools, TV, radio, internet, books, magazines, newspapers. It must also include a scrutiny of what we hear in our churches for Satan has infiltrated even the church with well meaning but wrong teaching.
"The things of the world" are created by a loving God for our enjoyment. But when we become so attached that we just can't live without them then it means that something other than God has taken hold of our hearts.
Day 5- Why is love for the world and its systems so dangerous?
This is a very strong verse. It means we cannot be committed to the world if we want to be committed to God. They are mutually exclusive. Notice the two strong contrasts.
1- friendship with the world = hatred or hostility towards God.
2- to be a friend of the world = to be an enemy of God.
Day 6- Love for the world makes us commit spiritual adultery. It happens when we lust after the things of this world instead of God. (The things of this world can include people, luxuries we have grown used to, fame, honor, position, power and money.) Gradually and over time we find ourselves less preoccupied with our Heavenly Father and more preoccupied with getting and keeping the things of this world. Three things result from this gradual decline.
1st- our wicked deeds don't allow us to return to God
2nd-a spirit of idolatry controls our heart and
3rd-we do not know the Lord or acknowledge Him.
Day 7- If we don't take our stand for the truth and against the world systems controlled by Satan we'll find ourselves squarely back in Satan's camp. What will happen because of this?
Satan and his demons wait to catch us off guard. Would you ever have a day when you headed out to work without your clothes on? Probably not. Yet, that is what Christians do all the time in the spiritual realm. They don't give their spiritual life a thought and head out naked into a spiritual world fraught with danger (Ephesians 6:12).
Day 8- It is only as we put on the full armor of God that we can take our stand against the devil's scheme.
Notice in verse 13 it does not say "if the day of evil comes" but "when the day of evil comes." Satan and his demons are the world's rulers. Their evil powers surround us and work to oppose our walk with Christ. Our main war is not with men but with these evil forces of the devil. It is a life and death struggle that we are a part of -- a war for Heaven or hell, time or eternity.
#3- BE PREPARED ALL THE TIME
Day 9- Why do we need to have our armor on all the time?
1 Peter 5:8
It is just about the time that everything seems to be going well and we are in a firm place that we need to be especially cautious. Why?
1 Corinthians 10:12
Day 10- What is the most essential quality of a divine soldier?
2 Timothy 2:4
A soldier is focused on his job against the enemy. Self denial, courage and endurance are all elements of military training leading to strength in battle. But in the spiritual fight this strength must be "the strength of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:10). Our ability to stand will only be because we wear God's armor and make it our own. Jesus formed the armor and the Holy Spirit puts it on us and makes it a part of us. With this spiritual armor we can fight to the end and "having done all, to stand."
Let's look now at the armor that we need to wear EVERYDAY if we are to be prepared all the time.
THE BELT OF TRUTH - Ephesians 6:14a
Day 11- The belt referred to was a leather belt with an apron in the front protecting the soldier's groin and lower abdomen. Small brass plates were attached to the apron to provide the best protection. This was the first piece of protective equipment the soldier put on.
Just as the Roman soldier puts his protective belt on first so we must put on Christ first. This means we first believe and put our trust in Him.
When we do that we become a Christian and in doing so we put on a new nature.
Ephesians 4: 22-24
The belt makes us ready for action because it was used to tie up garments so that they wouldn't get in the way while fighting. Every Christian must be prepared to defend themselves against the powers of darkness. This means we become a person of truth.
Day 12- Being a person of truth includes two things. The first is that we know the good news of Jesus Christ and why you believe in Him.
1 Peter 3:15-16
You can see why the belt needs to be the first piece of armor we put on. If we don't know what and why we believe then we won't be able to stand the assaults coming at us.
Day 13- The second thing a person of truth must be is one who lives an honest and trustworthy life. It's then that we become a person of integrity. What happens when our enemies accuse us of doing wrong?
1 Peter 2:12
Day 14- To know and walk in truth means we will need to study it until we know it well. Studying God's word will have two main benefits in our life.
2 Timothy 2:15
It will make us a proven worker before God, receiving His approval AND it will help us to teach his message accurately.
Day 15- Putting on the belt of truth first will enable us to stand firm. Why?
2 Timothy 2:19
NOTE: The New Living Translation reads, "But God's truth stands firm...." This truth is God's "solid foundation" spoken of in other translations and because it is a solid rock foundation we can stand on firm footing.
It will also make us ready -- for what?
2 Timothy 2:21
THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS - Ephesians 6:14b
The Roman soldier wore a metal breastplate around his chest. It was either chain mail (small metal rings linked together) or curved metal bands held together by leather strips. Either one protected his heart and lungs from a flying arrow that could easily penetrate this vital area.
Day 16- We learn in Isaiah 59 that the Lord goes to battle against injustice and corruption so as to restore peace and order to the land. Notice that he puts on righteousness as his breastplate.
Day 17- Righteousness is not something we gain by doing good deeds.
It is God's offer to every believer in Christ. When we put our faith in Christ we take on HIS righteousness.
Day 18- Putting on the righteousness of Christ -- our breastplate will mean three things:
A. It will mean taking our place in Christ and walking in HIS righteousness.
B. It will mean standing firm against injustice and corruption.
Leviticus 19:15 / Psalm 82:3 / Isaiah 56:1
In so doing that we stand with Christ who rules his kingdom in righteousness.
Hebrews 1: 8-9
C. It will mean knowing that we will be protected against the forces of evil because God has promised it for those who belong to Him.
Psalm 37:28 / Proverbs 2:8 / 2 Thessalonians 3:3 / 2 Timothy 4:18
FEET PREPARED WITH THE GOSPEL OF PEACE - Ephesians 6:15
Marching was a daily part of being a soldier as well as being able to stand and hold their ground. To do this they needed very sturdy shoes. They were made of thick leather with the soles studded with hobnails. These hobnails kept a soldier from slipping and enabled them to stand firm.
Day 19- We walk through life with the gospel of peace, sharing it everywhere that we go. It's the good news that we can have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
It's the good news that though we have lived independently and as enemies of God, we can repent and receive God's mercy and be restored to His good graces -- all because God truly loves us.
Day 20- The peace a Christian has to offer is very different from peace that the world talks about. Where does a believer's peace come from?
John 14:27 / John 16:33 / Ephesians 2:14
What is to be the "ruler" in every believer's heart?
If we don't have peace then we know it's not of God.
Day 21- When we walk prepared with the gospel of peace it means we walk through our life always prepared to share with others about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 4:2 / 1 Peter 3:15
We do this because we know that there is no hope or peace outside of Jesus Christ.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH - Ephesians 6:16
The shield of a Roman soldier was made of wood that was curved. It was four feet long and three feet wide. Over the wood goat skins were stretched with iron rims fitted on the top and bottom. An iron circle was attached to the center and inside the shield was a leather strap to carry it. Before going into battle these shields were soaked in water. Often arrows would fly that were burning at the tips. If they hit a soaked shield they would be extinguished even if they were stuck into the shield. These fiery arrows represent every temptation, every distraction, and every lie that Satan tries to hurl at us.
Day 22- Faith is built by the solid foundation of the word of God.
The more of God's word you know and hide in your heart the thicker that shield becomes and the easier it is to speak the truth and stand your ground.
Day 23- The thicker our shield the more confident we become in our faith.
The thicker our shield the more we are able to overcome the powers of darkness.
1 John 5:4
We must be clear however that it is not faith in our own ability and powers. Who do we put our faith in?
1 John 5:5
Day 24- It will not be good enough to just have a shield of faith. We must make use of it everyday in the things we say and do.
James 2: 17
And when we do, we find that God Himself becomes our shield of protection.
2 Samuel 22:31
Day 25- Indeed, he becomes much more to us then just a shield. In this verse list all that King David said that God was for him.
He will be that for us as well. What will be the result in our lives?
Let me give an example of how this shield of faith works.
Let's say you've had a string of disappointments and the thought (a fiery arrow) comes to you one morning, "I'll never amount to anything. I might was well give up."
If you have your shield of faith (a firm knowledge of God's word and what HE can do) you will recognize that thought for what it is. Immediately (without thinking a second thought like the first one) you rise up and say..... "God only allows things to come my way that will ultimately be used for my good and his glory. He will cause all these things to work together for my good because I love Him (Romans 8:28). Therefore I will trust Him with all my heart and not lean to my own understanding. I will acknowledge God in all that I do and He will continue to direct my paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Sometimes that simple stand of faith will stop the attack immediately. But if it continues you must continue to hold your ground and to say as Job did... "Though He (God) slay me, yet will I trust Him."
You will overcome if you keep your shield of faith and use it. Those flaming arrows will not stick. They will be extinguished.
THE HELMET OF SALVATION - Ephesians 6:17a
The Roman helmet was made of bronze or iron with two hinged pieces added to protect the cheeks. Often a soldier lined the inside with sponge or a felt material. On the top of the helmet, down the length of the middle was a horse hair plume. After 60 A.D. this plume was dyed a certain color so as to distinguish rank.
Our minds are the battlefield for all temptation. Most temptations start with one thought that leads to another and another until finally we act on those thoughts. If we are not saved, then our mind is wide open for every thought that flies into it. Without protection we can be bombarded with thoughts all day and all night until we are worn out. How many sleepless nights does a person have trying to sort through intractable problems that they can't solve?
The salvation God has provided us in Christ is our ultimate protection from these bombarding thoughts and the ultimate victory for overcoming temptation to sin.
Day 26- When we put on the helmet of salvation we have the assurance of being reconciled to God because our sins are forgiven and we have been delivered from the powers of darkness.
2 Timothy 1:9-10
This helmet of salvation allows us to be confident. Why?
2 Timothy 1:12
Day 27- Wearing the helmet of salvation puts us into a special group of soldiers. We are recognized by Satan and his demons as belonging to God's ranks.
2 Corinthians 5:17
We now live to do His will.
Psalm 40:8 / Psalm 143:10
Day 28- Our horse hair plume is dyed red by the blood of Christ and we are now under his protection.
Exodus 12:13 / Psalm 91:4
Day 29- Satan will still try and inject thoughts leading us back into sin. But with our helmet of salvation we'll be able to discern where the thought is coming from and soundly reject it. Christ's Spirit living within us (i.e. the Holy Spirit) will help us in this discernment.
John 14:26 / 1 John 2:27
Day 30- We may be persecuted for Christ, but as we keep our faith in Him we will be blessed and victorious.
#4 - SUBMIT TO GOD DAILY
We have been talking about being prepared all the time by putting on our spiritual armor. There is one more piece to talk about but we will do so in #5 of how we overcome our enemy. This instruction to submit to God is found in James 4:7a. Here is how various translations write this verse.
"Submit yourselves therefore to God." KJV and ESV
"So submit to God." NET
"Be subject to God." ASV
"So humble yourselves before God." NLT
"So be subject to God." AMP
"So let God work his will in you." The Message
To submit is to obey. It means yielding our wish or opinion to God's. To be subject is to be accountable to God. To humble ourselves is to live without pride or arrogance knowing that it is God who is the Almighty. We are his creation without the perspective and knowledge that He has.
Day 31- Submission to the divine will was one of the things Jesus taught that we were to pray for.
Jesus modeled this submission throughout his life even in the toughest of circumstances.
We might say that Jesus followed after the example of His mother.
Day 32- When we offer ourselves to God what does this keep us from offering ourselves to?
Day 33- To be subject to God is to live a life surrendered to Him. Write out from these verses what this means.
Romans 6:11 / Galatians 2:20 / Galatians 5:24 / Colossians 3:3 / 1 Peter 2:24
Day 34- It is to live a life submitted to God's will -- not because we have to -- but because we want to. To know and walk in his will is something we yearn for.
Psalm 40:8 / Psalm 143:10
Day 35 - God gives us our bodies (lives) so that we can give ourselves back to Him for his own purposes. What does this "giving back" of ourselves become for us and God?
Day 36- A surrendered life is an obedient life. It is not talk but action.
At times to obey God will mean a clash with other men and women.
But an obedient life will mean a blessed life --
James 1:25 / 1 John 3:21-22
---- AND it will qualify us for #5 in overcoming.
#5 - RESIST THE DEVIL
This instruction to us comes from the second half of the same verse we just looked at -- James 4:7b. In seven translations I looked at all use the same words.....
"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
Satan is a renowned warrior of many battles but we must always remember that Jesus defeated him. He's a defeated foe but he still tries to fight with whomever he thinks he can win.
Day 37 - We mentioned earlier that Satan continually watches to see how he can get his foot back into the door of our life. This is usually done by deception that leads to sin. How do we keep this from happening?
In the Amplified Bible translation it says for Ephesians 4:27 : "Leave no (such) room or foothold for the devil (give no opportunity to him.)"
In the verse before, Paul is using the example of anger.
The New Living Translations says for Ephesians 4:27: "for anger gives a foothold to the devil."
You could replace the word "anger" with the name of any other sin and it would still be true. All sin allows the devil a foot back in our door. He is like a pushy salesman. Once he can get a foot in your door you may find him next sitting in your living room!
Day 38- Peter tells us clearly the stance that all Christians must take if they are going to keep Satan from gaining a foothold in their lives.
1 Peter 5:8-9
Depending on the version of the Bible you are reading you will see some of these words and phrases:
be well balanced
be sober or sober minded
be firm in faith
resist steadfast in faith
HOW DO WE RESIST THE DEVIL?
Let us now go back to the armor of God and look at the last piece of equipment. It is the sword of the Spirit mentioned in Ephesians 6:17. All the other equipment -- the belt, breastplate, shoes, shield and helmet are for defense. The sword alone is for offense.
The Roman sword was about two feet long and made from iron. The blade was hardened by covering the red hot iron with coal dust. The coat dust formed a hard carbon coating on the blade.
In battle formation the soldiers advanced with their shields while holding their swords flat and parallel to the ground. That means these swords were pointed straight at the enemy and they were ready for use.
Now Ephesians 6:17 says clearly that our sword is the word of God. How do we use that sword?
Day 39- In our last study we looked at how Jesus dealt with temptation. Three times he said, "It is written....." and that stopped Satan's advance in a particular direction. When John saw the Lord Jesus in his great vision called Revelation, what did he see coming out of his mouth?
Revelation 1:16 / Revelation 2:12,16
Day 40- In two of these verses the Lord's sword is described as sharp and double-edged. This verse goes on to tell us more about our spiritual sword which is the word of God. Write out the things that it tells us the word of God is and can do.
THE POWER OF THE WORD
Let's look now at how this sword works. It is living, active, sharp, penetrating and judging.
Day 41- Speaking the word and hearing the word has the power to convict us of sin.
Acts 2:37 / Acts 24:25
This is an advance against the enemy because he wants to keep us in sin. If he can keep us ignorant of our sin then we won't repent of it and he maintains control over our life.
Day 42- The word (or gospel message) has the power to regenerate us (make us new in Christ).
James 1:18 / 1 Peter 1:23 / 2 Peter 1:4
This is an advance against the enemy because it means our old nature, that was at home in the enemy's camp, is now completely made new and no longer wants any part of living in sin. This new nature, filled with the Spirit of Jesus, now belongs to Christ's ranks and fights from a vantage point of victory. You can see why Satan fights very hard to keep a person from coming to Christ and His word. He (Satan) loses a slave to the enemy (Jesus).
Day 43- The word has the power to produce faith.
Faith is fully relying on God to do what He has promised. As we read the word and see over and over how God has kept his promises then we become confident that God will indeed keep His promises to us.
This is an advance against the enemy because when he tries hard to discourage us or get us to believe one of his half truths (which are total lies) we are confident enough to rise up and ask God to do something on our behalf.
1 John 5: 14-15
When we do this we are declaring to all the world and our enemies that we know our God and no matter what things look like for the moment our God will triumph and therefore we will triumph.
Day 44- The word of God has the power to produce joy.
Jeremiah 15:16 / John 15:11
When we are gloomy and downcast we say to the world and our enemy that we are oppressed and losing. But when we keep a joyful countenance we declare a victorious position even before we actually see the victory. This is an advance against the enemy because our joy and confidence in God unnerves him. Why?
Day 45- The word of God produces in us patience, comfort, and hope.
This is an advance against the enemy because it means we won't "cave in". The word will give us the patience to endure, the comfort we need to go through our battles and the hope that we will be victorious in Christ.
Day 46- The word of God has the power to protect us from error and sin.
Psalm 119:11 / Acts 20:29-32 especially verse 32) / 2 Timothy 3:13-16 (especially verse 16)
As you can see especially from the verses in Acts that Satan will constantly be at work to deceive us so that we fall back into sin and therefore back into his camp. By keeping us from error and sin we advance against the enemy because we recognize his lies and half truths and we don't tolerate them. We give them no credence because we know the truth and stand firm on that truth.
A PERSONAL EXAMPLE
I am a sales representative for a product. I travel the East coast of the United States going to stores that sell my type of product. Before going to any particular area I do my best to get a full schedule of appointments which I confirm before going.
I noticed that whenever I got one or two or three "no's" that I would plunge into a depression. Thoughts would literally flood into my mind --
"My product didn't sell for them, I have lost a customer. "
"God didn't bless our product in their store. Why?"
"What if no one wants to meet with me?"
"What am I going to do with my time?"
"How will I make up this loss?"
These thoughts were like arrows burning in my mind and they had the power to truly depress me and make me want to give up. One day I rose up and fought back. I bought a children's music CD of praise songs. I had verses written out onto small flash cards that I was memorizing. On a small tape recorder I recorded 30 minutes of scripture that I read back to myself as prayers. "The Lord is MY refuge and fortress. I WILL NOT be afraid!"
The next time I plunged into depression I put the music CD into my car system and began to sing along out loud with the kids -- "How great is our God, how great is his name!"
I then listened to the tape I made of praying scripture verses or I would meditate on the verses I had written out. I was truly amazed. Almost within moments Satan had to flee. I think the worst thing was hearing joyful praise songs from me and the kids. He really couldn't stand it! The word of God is too powerful for him.
Let us go onto our next study to look at the sixth step in overcoming our enemies.
Next Study: MPGC#35