Are you one of the 68% of believers who don’t believe in Satan or who are just confused about it all? I sure hope not. But even as part of the 32% that acknowledge that Satan is real and active, there are a few things that we need to do to prepare ourselves for battle.
- Realize: You are not already clothed with the armor of God.
I guess I’ve always thought that the armor of God is something you get when you’re saved. You know, like the fruit of the Spirit or spiritual gifts. But it’s not. And I’m certain I’m not the only one who got a bit confused about this. Ephesians 6:13 says that you must “take up” the armor of God. Other versions tell us to put it on. That means we don’t already have it on!
- React: Put on the armor of God.
It really is as simple as that. We need to consciously, regularly (if not daily) put on the armor of God. That might mean that you need to read through this passage every morning and physically go through the motions of putting each of these pieces on your body. I’m serious. Buckle that belt of truth. Go through those motions, asking God for each of the protections. Or it may be a little less literal. Here are some examples.
- The belt of truth – Refuse to believe or repeat statements that are not fully grounded in the truth of Scripture. No more sayings like “God never gives us more than we can handle,” when faced with a problem or “I guess God just needed another angel in heaven” when someone dies, or “Everything happens for a reason” when something happens you can’t explain. No more Christian platitudes. The words that you say and the beliefs that you hold must be grounded in Scripture. If you’re not sure what Scripture actually says, that’s a good place for you to start.
- The shield of faith – I have a friend who regularly preaches the gospel to herself. At first I thought that sounded a little bit corny. But the more I thought about it and the more I talked with her, I realized that this discipline is amazing. She regularly reads through the story of what Jesus did for her on the cross, in his life and in his death. She reminds herself often of what he has done. That is taking up the shield of faith. This repeated recitation of the gospel is a shield about her heart.
- The helmet of salvation – Of course we’ve already discussed the importance of salvation in fighting these spiritual battles. But the idea of a helmet is so important. Romans 8:5-6 says “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” That helmet is the protection of our minds. An unprotected mind is an easy target for the flaming darts of the evil one.
- Remember: We win in the end.
Revelation 12 says that Satan will be defeated and cast out and that God wins. As children of God and co-heirs with Christ, that is a promise for us as well. We may face all sorts of attacks and trials and temptations while on this earth, but we win in the end!
I want to show you a few verses in the book of Romans. Let me give you a little back-story on what Paul has been talking about before we get to Chapter 7. He’s been discussing the law and what the law has done to us. Basically, without the law, we didn’t know what sin was or that we were sinners. But as soon as God gave the law, we realized that there was no way we could ever measure up and meet all the requirements to be holy. The law showed us that we desperately need someone to save us. So in verse 15, Paul starts in on quite a rant as he tells us that he can’t seem to do what he wants to do and he keeps doing all the things he doesn’t want to do. Romans 7:15-20 says
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
This is a saved guy. This is the APOSTLE PAUL. He wrestles with sin. He confesses and repents and then has to come back again and again. This doesn’t mean he’s a failure. This means he is in the process of sanctification, just like you and me. So don’t beat yourself up when sin sneaks in. It will happen! Instead, keep turning to God. I love verse 25 where he answers the question he just asked “Who will deliver me?” by saying “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Jesus is our Deliverer. If you’re looking for help, you won’t find it within. You are not enough. You are beyond help! Look to Jesus, the author and perfector of your faith, who is your deliverer. Trust what Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We do not stand condemned; we do not stand in the flesh. We can walk according to the Spirit because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for us. We are free!
So here’s the battle plan. God’s will is your sanctification. He has plans to work all things for good for you. But there is a force of evil that is at work, seeking to harm you and to thwart God’s plan for your life. You also have sin in your life that will distract you and turn you away from God and His perfect plan. Learn to distinguish between the two. Is sin eating you up from the inside out? Or are you under attack from the evil powers? Will you take action, repenting of sin when necessary and putting on the armor of God regularly? It’s the only way to stand firm. Know what you believe and recognize your enemy. And always remember that we win in the end.
I want to leave you with one Scripture. 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5 says
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
There’s a war that’s being waged for your heart. Sin can’t win. Satan can’t win. The Lord is faithful and He will guard your heart. He will win in the end.