Have you noticed how stress levels have been on the rise lately? We are facing some challenges unknown to this generation, such as Covid-19 and the fall-out of the pandemic, rising food and energy prices, crashing heath care, wars and conflicts everywhere — not to mention concerns about widespread vaccine injuries. The list goes on and on. Add to that political instability leading to massive protests almost everywhere, economic chaos, looming food shortages, and you understand why there is so much confusion in the world.
We see people reaching out to total strangers on social media, looking for help and asking for prayer as they find themselves with their backs against a wall. Stressful times make us vulnerable for attacks by our enemy who loves to pounce on people spread thin by problems coming at then from every side. Spiritual warfare has become real for so many these days. Nobody is immune against attacks by spiritual enemies.
Even Jesus had to fight off the devil at the beginning of His ministry. He had just come out of a forty day fast, and was hungry — the ideal opportunity for the devil to tempt Him with food:
And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Matthew 4:2,3
What he suggested to Jesus was quite possible for Him to do, and there would be no problem with it, except that it would mean He was open to the whispers of the evil one — and in doing so, open a door that should stay shut. Jesus resisted Him, but that did not mean the end of his efforts to lure Jesus into submission to him. He quickly followed up with another temptation, and this is where things become very interesting:
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Matthew 4:5,6
It is highly unlikely that Jesus would physically follow satan up the pinnacle of the temple, and then jump off to prove that He is the Son of God. He always refused to entertain requests by anybody who asked for miracles to prove who He was:
And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Luke 11:29
It seems more plausible that the devil planted a suggestion in His mind to tempt Him get a foot in the door, so to speak, in His ministry that was about to start. He even quoted some Scripture to support the idea. Satan knew he was about to be defeated, and tried to get Jesus into a compromise that would make it impossible for Him to do what He was called to do:
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8b
Peter testified of Him in the same way:
…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38
Once again Jesus responded by raising the Word against those thoughts, to which the devil had no answer. Jesus was doing what James also told us to do:
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7
You submit to the devil by entertaining his suggestions, but to God when you hold onto His Word while under pressure. The enemy understood what was at stake, and continued with yet another attempt to bring Jesus into submission:
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8,9
Would Jesus follow the devil up a high mountain? I think not. There is no high mountain on earth from where you can see all the kingdoms of the world. This brings us back to the idea that he painted a mental picture in Jesus’ mind. This time he offered Him a shortcut to what he knew Jesus would possess in time to come. Was this a temptation to Jesus? The Bible says it was. Jesus knew the kingdoms of this world would become His, (See Revelation 11:15) but He also knew the cross with all its horrors was waiting on Him.
Once again Jesus raised the Word against him, and he left. I chose these words for a specific reason as we begin to look at the spiritual wars that we are drawn into.
The first step toward winning your battles is to identify your enemy — and it is not the person the devil uses to harass you. That person is a victim of the devil too, which is why Paul said we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. The devil desperately wants you to fight the person that you can see so that he can raise the level of destruction he is trying to create around you. Your enemy is spiritual, not physical, and is always an entity from satan’s camp working through a person of flesh and blood.
Secondly, it has no purpose whatsoever to hurl insults at the devil. He knows he is wicked; he also knows his future, and nothing you say to him will hurt him in any way. You fight the devil the way Jesus did — you speak the Word to him, and don’t think he will leave you after his first try. He will almost certainly follow up with another effort.
When you sense you are being attacked by the devil, see it as a temptation in disguise as he has no other weapons to use against you. His main objective is to drive a wedge between God and yourself to create doubt, confusion or disappointment in the Lord, hoping you will turn your back on Him.
Look how Paul describes the spiritual war:
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ… 2 Corinthians 10:4,5
Note, first of all, that our weapons are not carnal (or physical). Jesus pushed the devil away three times in a row with a spiritual weapon, namely the Word of God. The Word is a spiritual sword (Ephesians 6:17) that never failed Jesus; be bold to use it with confident faith. You also have the name of Jesus, in which is all the authority in heaven and earth, and using His name leaves the devil with no choice but to withdraw. He bows to the authority of the Son of God! Then there is nothing that satan fears more than the blood of Jesus, and just mentioning it reminds him of the painful defeat when Jesus disarmed him and made an open spectacle of him. (See Colossians 2:15) Sing songs about the blood, fill your mind with verses from the Bible on the blood, and keep them handy that way.
Spiritual attacks come in the form of arguments (thoughts, reasoning, debating) in your mind and “every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” The knowledge of God is truth — the truth that Jesus raised against those ideas that the devil used in His temptation. God’s Word says one thing, but the devil raises some thoughts against it to sow doubt in your mind. Remember, doubt is believing the devil over and against God’s Word.
The war is won by “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” The devil plants ideas, thoughts, suggestions, doubt, etc. in your mind, but the choice is yours to either meditate on them or reject them. Your mind is the devil’s playing field where he will always throw various ideas around to see what sticks. The best time to reject thoughts that exalt themselves against God’s truth, is the moment they entered your mind.
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:14,15
The devil knows your weaknesses, so expect attacks in those areas. Be on guard at all times. As society breaks down, and sin is promoted as virtue, blurring the lines will happen almost subconsciously. Expect temptations of all kinds to increase in both intensity and frequency.
Truth is the world’s greatest enemy, and if you stand for it, you will be persecuted. That is no reason to be quiet though; we need to make the truth known as never before, wherever and whenever we can: on social media, in interactions with others, and in our general behaviour. Time is running out fast, and many who are lost must still hear how they can escape God’s wrath that is about to be released on all unbelievers.
Paul described the atmosphere of the last days to us in his letter to Timothy, preparing us for stressful days:
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Timothy 3:1-6
A true sign of the last days is this me-first generation we live in. Narcissism is trending with all the pain it inflicts indiscriminately on those around them. Don’t underestimate the stress, heartache, disappointment and division a narcissist can bring to you. These people are brutal, they lack empathy, and see themselves as the centre of the world. You will find these people everywhere, from governments to pulpits to your own circle.
Activity in the spiritual world is ramping up as this era is winding down. Satan knows his time is just about over, and his minions are on the prowl for candidates to populate his dark dominion. This is not a time to be slack or lukewarm.
No matter who or what comes against you, be determined to win the battles you are engaged in. God’s Word is infallible and will always bring you the victory if you stay firm in its truth. Faith and unbelief never dwell together in the same heart — be strong in the faith that is able to overcome the wicked one. If you are born again, you are destined to win. If not, the door is still open — run to Jesus!
For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13