Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour– 1st Peter 5:8 NIV
For a good part of my Christian life I preferred to just sort of ignore the devil and demons.
It’s not like I didn’t believe in those things, but, like most post-enlightenment Christians I simply preferred to focus on the “less weird” aspects of the spiritual realm. Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit and angels were my jam and I would have been perfectly happy to keep it that way indefinitely.
But, then the world went to hell.
Right before my very eyes. People began believing the most crazy-town stuff imaginable. People everywhere from every walk of life started claiming there is no such thing as objective truth. People actually started to say out loud we all have our unique little truth we are entitled to believe even without any evidence to back up the existence of our unique little “reality”. However, if your “reality” includes saying or believing the “wrong thing” you would be “cancelled” and lose your reputation, livelihood an the right to live in “polite” society. Full-grown adults bought into the notion that gender is “fluid” and therefore changeable. Universities began offering free tampons to men having their periods. Parents and teachers began encouraging kindergarteners to discover their true gender. People were willing to throw a perfectly good country out the window because the founders of that country were fallible human beings who behaved just like everyone else in their era.
Everything went to hell in a handcart and Ephesians 6:12 is only plausible explanation for the madness that has engulfed the world.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
The devil is real.
He is a created being who turned against God (Luke 10:18). He hates those who love God and it’s absolutely critical we understand his tactics. Satan wants to steal our ministry opportunities, turn us against God and eradicate our influence in this world. He does this through attacks where he plants lies in our minds and tempts us to behave in ways that steal our effectiveness, kill our love for God and destroy any positive influence we have (John 10:10). Satan waits for just the right opportunity to attack us (1stPeter 5:8). We give him the opportunity to do so when we do the following:
We don’t pray, we suddenly stop praying or our prayers focus only on the shallow-
I do not understand everything there is to understand about prayer. However, one truth I do understand is that regular prayer provides a powerful form of spiritual protection (Matthew 26:41). When we stop praying regularly or never really form a habit of prayer or we only pray perfunctory prayers we give the devil an opportunity to gain a foothold in our thinking (Ephesians 4:27). Once the enemy has traction in our minds he can plant all sorts of foul seeds that eventually grow into deception, dissatisfaction with God and curiosity about sin.
We wander where we don’t belong-
There are some places God’s people simply do not belong. Watching other people sin dulls our spiritual sensitivity and can awaken a desire within us to sin. Therefore, serious Christians ought to avoid any entertainment that presents sin as normal or healthy behavior. Being around Christians who are willfully and proudly sinning breaks down the natural desire all Christians have to remain holy and please God (1st Corinthians 5:11). It is spiritually strategic to avoid anyone or anything that makes sin appear attractive (Matthew 13:41, Matthew 18:6-7).
When our primary sources of information come from the world-
In Colossians 2:8 Christians are warned they can be “taken captive” by “deceptive philosophies”. This is most likely to happen when we get most or all of our information on life, current events and how to do life from those who don’t know God or understand how Christians are to live in this world. There is nothing wrong with an occasional secular book, podcast or seminar. That said, getting all or most of our “how-to” information on living life from worldly sources gives Satan ample opportunity to take our thinking captive. Once our thinking is captive our behavior will always devolve (Colossians 4:5, Ephesians 5:15).
When we have the wrong kind of self-focus-
There are two types of self-focus. The first is when we think endlessly about making ourselves happy, being successful and getting our own needs met. The second is when we put our attention on where we need to grow and how we can become emotionally healthier, godlier, wiser versions of ourselves so we can glorify God and make the world a better place. The devil loves the first kind of self-focus but hates the second because the first inevitably leads to self-destruction and a life of sin. While the second always leads to a life of profound joy that inevitably points others to faith in Jesus (Matthew 5:19, Colossians 3).
When we haven’t submitted our lives or some part of our lives to Jesus-
Seriously. Disobedience and rebellion and refusing to acknowledge or repent of sin are open doors the enemy will always walk through. Deal with those issues (Ephesians 4:27, James 4:7, 1st Peter 5:8). Pronto.
We refuse to forgive-
Refusing to forgive leads to bitterness and makes us more likely to sin (Acts 8:23). Satan would be a fool not to take advantage of that kind of opportunity to plant bitterness, rage and every other kind of evil in our lives (Hebrews 12:15). Forgiveness is never easy but is is the most spiritually freeing thing we can do. It is more than worth the effort. It is essential to our spiritual survival (Matthew 6:14-15, Luke 11:4).
For too long most Christians have lived as if the devil is a joke, a fantasy or an exaggeration.
This has resulted in a feeble church, worldly Christians and a world in crisis. We must endeavor to live lives that thwart the enemies plan and take back ground for the Kingdom. We do that through constant prayer, a commitment to forgive quickly, submission to God, becoming the best version of ourselves and looking to the Bible and other Christians, not the world for answers to life’s questions.