Since January I have gone through a Church change, job responsibility change, and job layoffs (twice) at work (although I was not affected). Much of my life has not had the same routine that it had in previous years. Due to this, since about last January, I have felt like I have been under spiritual warfare. My marriage and personal life have been suffering and my anxiety levels have been higher than normal. Scripture reminds us to be constantly aware of this Spiritual warfare:
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.”
1 Timothy 6:12
Recently I was also reading about Jesus when he was being accused and attacked by Satan:
The Temptation of Jesus
1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’[a]”
5The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’[b]”
9The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10For it is written:
” ‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
11they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”
12Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]“
I realized, recently, thanks to http://www.ironworksmen.com/ that that this scripture shows us a series of truths and half truths that has described this spiritual warfare in my life the last few months. IN order to fight our enemy, we need to know who our enemy is and how he operates. I believe this scriptures gives us some truths about how Satan operates and some half truths (which are also half lies) about what Satan tries to tell us.
Truth #1: Satan wants to isolate man in a desert.
Satan isolated Jesus for a prolonged period of time. Its important is Christians to not allow Satan to isolate us so he can feed us his lies. We need to surround ourselves with other brothers and sisters of Christ and look to Gods word as the ammunition against Satans isolation. Worship, prayers, and relationship are our weapons.
Half Truth #1: Satan wants to tell us its about my needs
Even though we do need to take care of ourselves and many scriptures do discuss mans need for relationship, one flesh union, sex, and to take care of our physical bodies, Satan twists this into a lie. Satan wants to tell us its all about my needs and forget about everything except the thing you are hungry for.
Truth #2: Satan Intensifies Appetites: In the case of Jesus Christ, Satan made it so that Jesus did not eat for 40 days. Then he tempted Jesus to make a Stone into bread! This reminds me that my immediate craving, my immediate needs, should not the center of the universe when Satan tempts me; whether this is a sexual craving, hunger, power, materialistic, etc.
Satan, by increasing mans appetites, draws a fuzzy line between temptation, sin and Gods plan for our relationship with others. God wants us to experience his grace and glory and abundance but Satan manipulates this into “its about my needs.”
Jesus reminds us that bread alone is not the whole truth (Deuteronomy 8:3). Think about what Satan has made you hunger for and what you have as bread alone in your life: image and notoriety, sexual appetite, materialism, your stomach, etc.
Half Truth #2: Its about my name! (This one is much bigger than most people see or realize). The first command to have no other Gods is the foundation for all the other commandments. I am convinced if we could follow the first commandment that the next nine commandments would have never been necessary. Get rid of the other idols in your life.
Truth #3: Satan manipulates ambition: God wants man to have dominion but Satan manipulates this. Jesus response to Satan when he said he would give Jesus everything including authority and power if he would bow down to him was “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only”. Its about Gods glory and not my name!
My life has been full of people that are territorial and type-A personalities that do not see the bigger picture or how Jesus can play out in their lives. If you combine their lust for power with my own Type-A personality I need to keep this technique of Satan’s in perspective. Satan can not overcome someone if you have a deep identity in Christ.
Worship and obedience come first (Deuteronomy 6:13; Exodus 20:3).
Half Truth #3: Its about doing things on my schedule
Man has a fleshly lust (i.e. pride) and a desire to be the god of his own little world. As Christians its the word idolatry. Basically, man is an idol factory, constantly coming up with his next idol by twisting the world to suit him.
Truth #4: Satan wants to shortcut the process of demonstrating the Cross and the Gospel message and to shortcut relationship building: In verse 9 Satan wanted Jesus to demonstrate His strength by throwing himself down, but it was not the time or method yet to demonstrate this power. Satan wanted Jesus to show his power immediately but Jesus knew the process needed to go through Calvary and the establishment of a Church that needed to build relationships and spread the Gospel. I would love it if Jesus could show his power in some way so I could say “I told you so” but this is not Gods plan to show Glory. Gods plan involves Calvary, the Cross, and the establishment of His Bride, the Church. Satan wants to shortcut this process! Satan wants it done now and to shortcut building relationships, showing the power of the Cross, and shortcut God working the process of sanctification in man.
The weapons of our warfare:
The Grace of Christ is our defense:
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11
Belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation
The Truth of Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith is our offense:
“The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
As I reflect on this I realize I have been guilty of having an intensified appetite, making it about my name, and attempting to shortcut the process by not allowing relationships to be built first and fully in my life.
Lord Jesus, help me to see Your eternal plan and to not get so caught up in the here and now! Amen!