The Armor of God Series - Part Two
She paused in my driveway as she was turning to leave and hesitantly added, “Could you please pray for my marriage? My husband finally went to church with us and we fought all the way home. The kids heard it. It was terrible. I wish he had never come.”
My heart broke for my friend. She has been praying for years that her husband would attend church with her and the children. And, now that he had, regret overwhelmed her. Her face dropped and the pain, so finely etched on her face, was unmistakable. She continued telling me about the events that unfolded and the words that were flung as soon as the car door had shut. While she was recounting the details, I zeroed in on one particular statement, “I wish he had never come," and that’s where I saw him. I saw the wily, crafty devil himself all over this. His fingerprints were obvious.
I stopped my friend, and, with a boldness that only comes from the Holy Spirit, I told her that the enemy had gotten to her. I reminded her that YES! She does want her husband to come to church. This has been her heart’s cry for years! The enemy lost the long fought battle on that Sunday morning when her husband walked through the church doors, sat on the pew, and listened to the Word of God preached. And, the enemy was MAD about it! He furiously started launching his fiery arrows the moment they stepped out of that protected, sacred space. Being unprepared, the ambush attack was more than my friend could stand. The arrows hit their mark. Its effect was explosive.
After calling it out, I urged her to rebuke what she had said. Then, I encouraged her to go home and tell her husband how much she appreciated him coming to church. If nothing else, her children saw their daddy in church! Glory!!
How did I know this was the work of the enemy? 2 Corinthians 2:11 tells us, “For we are not unaware of his schemes.” The Bible is full of his schemes. I could fill up an entire series of blog posts on all the ways the devil attacked believers throughout the Bible. But, instead, let’s go back to where we started last week in 1 Peter 5:8 when Peter tells us the devil is “like a roaring lion.” This four-word phrase clues us in on how the devil operates. By studying the hunting practices of the lion, as we did in part one, we learn vital information about the devil’s scheming behaviors. Going further, the phrase, “like a lion,” is used in other places throughout the Bible and gives us additional insights:
Stalking, hiding, dragging away, mauling, breaking...this is the type of predatory behavior we can expect from the devil as he goes about carrying out his sinister plans. He attacks with a bow loaded with lies and then swoops in for the kill.
And so, that’s how it goes. Time after time. Battle after battle. We grow so weary from fighting the devil that, like my friend, we often times do not even see that it’s him who is behind enemy lines. We think it’s the flesh and blood to our left or to our right. That’s his well-crafted intention. As he masquerades, cleverly fitting into our surroundings by disguising himself, he fools us into believing that we’re battling ANYONE OR ANYTHING but him. However, the Word of God is clear: the devil, Satan, is the one behind it all.
In Ephesians 6:10-24, we learn about the spiritual weaponry that is at our disposal for facing this sly, menacing trickster. But, unlike the ill-fitting armor that Saul lent to David, this armor is custom-fitted for each individual believer and assures us victory in each and every battle. The Scripture passage begins:
Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11
What are we to stand against?
Answer: the wiles of the devil.
Greek expert, author, and missionary pastor, Rick Renner, explains the wiles of the devil:
The word “wiles” is taken from the word methodos. It is a compound of the words meta and odos. The word meta is a preposition that means with. The word odos is the word for a road. When the words meta and odos are compounded into one word, as in Ephesians 6:11, it literally means with a road. When you connect this to the devil as Paul does, it means that the devil is like a traveler who travels on a road. He is headed in one direction and has one destination.
To further support this, we read in Job 2:2 where Satan told God that he had come from “roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” And, 1 Peter 5:8 says “the devil prowls around.” Scripture makes it clear in these passages that the devil is on the move here on earth. He is a traveler, full of fury Revelation 12:12, and the clock is ticking on how long he will remain on the loose. Therefore, he’s not wasting any time. He has to arrive at his destination to destroy as much as he possibly can, as quickly as he can.
So, the question is, where is he going?
In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth:
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray.”
It wasn’t the believers’ physical safety that terrified Paul. It wasn’t their provisional needs not being met that kept him awake at night. Both of these things were understandably very real concerns during the perilous times of the early Church. However, neither one of these things ranked #1 on Paul’s fear list. Rather, it was the believers’ minds being led astray by the serpent’s (the devil’s) cunning that he was most afraid of.
Why their minds?
Because that’s where the devil operates.
Our mind is his destination and mental health is his game. It is where the battle takes place. He’s heading towards our minds each and every time he's on the prowl. Like an air traffic controller, if the devil can breach the tower and enter the control room of our minds, he can begin to direct our lives. He begins to wreak havoc one thought at a time. He did it to Eve. He does it to me, too.
The wiles of the devil, which is the word we derive the English word “method” from, are well-calculated, well-coordinated, and well-executed tricks. The devil has a unique method of operation for each one of us that is designed to inflict as much harm as possible. These methods are based on the observations, the 24/7 surveillance, that he and his pride of fallen angels conduct on our daily lives.
Like a lion intimately knows his prey before he strikes, the devil intimately knows us, too. He knows our weaknesses, our habits, and our vulnerabilities. He takes full advantage of them and considers the easiest access point. The easiest door to get to me may be different than the door to get to you. But, you can trust that no matter how much our access points vary, the devil knows them well. He has done his homework; it is thorough and complete. His files on us go back throughout our lifetimes and he doesn’t hesitate to use any past pain, fear, rejection, sin, or doubt to pry his way in, leveraging them for maximum impact.
Being a calculating masquerader, the devil is artfully subtle and knows exactly how, when, and where to attack our minds. He can do this with an avalanche of lies or a tiny but malignant half-truth...whichever he thinks will be most effective. The attack is as precise as a mathematical equation. He attacks through our emotions (a prime spot for women), pride (a big one for men), fears, self-worth…you name it. Anywhere he has discovered he can easily get to us, he will. It is all designed to take our eyes off of God and put them on ourselves.
With eyes diverted and focus directed inward, our minds become the perfect soil for the five D’s – discouragement, depression, discontentment, distrust, and deception – to take root. And, each supporting thought thereafter is the water that helps these deadly seeds grow.
No matter how he does it, every single attack is intended to do three things: kill, steal, and destroy John 10:10:
Kill our hope.
Steal our peace.
Destroy our lives.
For me, I experience this hour upon hour, every single day:
He attempts to steal my focus as a writer and Bible teacher by whispering cleverly crafted lies of inadequacy into my ear, sowing confusion into my mind, and laying the deadly trap of comparison. When he steals my focus, I quickly become discouraged.
He attempts to kill my joy as a mother by creating unrealistic fears over my children’s safety and well-being, making me believe that my children are a burden, and reminding me daily how exhausting parenting is. When he kills my joy, I quickly become depressed.
He attempts to destroy my marriage by pitting me against my man during minor disagreements, pulling strings of discord, and, sometimes, on the darkest days, like my friend, convincing me that life would be better without him. When he tries to destroy my marriage, I quickly become discontent and deceived.
It is all so subtle, so sneaky. Like a lion tip-toeing through the thick bush, I don’t easily recognize him. I don’t hear a roar, I don’t hear his footsteps. He attacks with claws extended and teeth exposed from seemingly out-of-the-blue. I’m caught off guard and rocked from my stance. Confusion sets in. My emotions are like a tidal wave threatening to sweep me away. My mind is sent reeling in a thousand different directions. And, for the moment, he’s got me.
Yet, listed three times in the description of the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-24 and again in Peter’s exhortation to us in 1 Peter 5:8, we are told to stand firm. With so much mental chaos swirling around on the inside and flaming arrows coming at us on the outside, how do we do that? How can we possibly be immovable during such an onslaught? How do we dig in and resist?
The answer to these questions will come next Wednesday. Until then, find great peace in knowing that there is, indeed, an answer.
PRAYER REQUEST: I have been given permission by my friend to share her story. Her exact reply to me was, “ Go for it and let God use it for His good. 'You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives'” Genesis 50:20. That’s my girl! May you be encouraged by her story and learn from it. And, would you please join me in praying the Lord continues to woo her husband to church?
Read The Armor of God - Part One here.
Read The Armor of God - Part Three here.
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural, an even 50/50 split of introvert/extrovert, and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.
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