Read part 1 of this series here, titled “Open your eyes.“
To continue with the same journey of the warning of a hardened heart… Hebrews 3:12-15 says “Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Remember what it says “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.””
So this raises the question. Who deceives us?
Who is the real enemy here?
Ephesians 6:10 “A final word. Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in the dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will be standing firm.”
In pretty rose-colored church culture, we don’t talk about this a lot. Sure, we talk about being tempted by Satan. However, there tends to be more conversation about the failure and the breaking rules vs. why the people are failing in the first place and what we can do about it. But instead, we tip toe around the conversation surrounding the devil, demons, demonic spirits, and the fact that THE DEVIL IS OUR ENEMY.
We aren’t supposed to sit around casually and coexist with THE ENEMY while he devours everything and everyone around us. We are supposed to be ready and equipt to defend our homes from attack.
But read the scripture again… The devil is the enemy.
YOUR NEIGHBOR IS NOT YOUR ENEMY.
The devil might use your neighbor to work against you.
The devil might influence your neighbor in a way that makes you feel like they are your enemy.
But what I am here to tell you is that other people are not your enemy. That is a DISTRACTION and a LIE from the DEVIL.
- The person that looks different than you is not your enemy
- The person that thinks differently than you is not your enemy
- The person that annoys you is not your enemy
- The person that caused you pain is not your enemy
- The person living a lifestyle that you don’t agree with is not your enemy
- The person that lied to you is not your enemy
- The list continues…
Flesh and blood is not your enemy. Look deeper. Open your eyes. Open your ears. The devil is a liar. In fact, he is the father of lies. John 8:44 says “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Tools of the enemy
The enemy’s main goals are to (1) distract you, (2) deceive you, (3) for you to destroy your own self and then (4) to get you to believe that you are blocked from the direct access and power given to you freely by the Holy Spirit that lives inside of you after you give your life to Christ. If Satan has you distracted, mad at other people, lost in your own emotions, and believing that you are blocked from the presence of God then you will walk around with a hardened heart, mad at the world, living in chaos and self-destruction… all while not seeing or hearing what is really going on inside of you or right in front of you.
1 Peter 5:8-9 says “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same suffering that you are.”
Deception is the #1 tool of the devil. The devil KNOWS the truth about Jesus and his power over death. He just hopes you don’t. And he will use partial truths to deceive you into doing his dirty work for him. And by that I mean, he will shape shift around you, distract you, promise you the world, twist your emotions, and lie to you until he has deceived you into making all the bad decisions on your own. You have free will. But he will distort the truth to the point that when you go to make your own choice, all the wrong choices seem good at the time.
Read 1 Peter 5:8-9 again… It says that satan prowls LIKE a lion. It doesn’t say he actually is one. He can’t actually hurt you. He can’t actually make you do anything. He can only deceive you into HURTING YOURSELF.
He will inch his way into your life, one thought at a time, one deception at a time… until you ruin yourself on your own; and he didn’t even do anything except trick you, slowly but surely. And yes, it starts as early as childhood.
In 2 Corinthians 11:4 Paul writes “But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.”
Later, in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 Paul continues by saying “But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.”
We cannot defeat an enemy that we know nothing about. If you know how the devil operates, then you can learn how to equip yourself, for both defense and offense. If you know the areas of your life that are more susceptible to being attacked, you can better defend yourself. If you are ready to stand up and say ENOUGH… if you are tired of always feeling defeated by the world and even by your own mind, it’s time to take your own thoughts captive.
2 Corinthians 10: 4-5 “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”
The enemy in plain sight
Think of the devil or demonic spirits as a “mole.” In the language of spies and espionage, a mole is “an agent of one organization sent to penetrate a specific intelligence agency by gaining employment.”
He will walk right into your life, into your mind like he belongs there… like he’s ready to get to work and is there to help.
He might seem like he is there to help you to survive, help you to cope, help you to get ahead, help you to fit in, help you to get what you think you’ve always wanted. When in reality, he is of the enemy and he is only there to gather information about you to use against you with the hopes of destroying you in the future. He will watch you, learn you, learn your triggers, look for cracks in your foundation until he finds the weakest point and THAT is where he will attack with the hopes that you will crumble in self-destruction.
The point of me writing this isn’t to scare you or even to preach at you. The point of me writing this is to educate you by shining a light on someone that would prefer to stay lurking in the shadows. This is all information that God taught me while reading and studying the Bible through the lens of my own self reflection and life experience. I have been down this road before; I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I am preaching at myself wayyyy more than anyone else. Take it from me… what you are reading is the TRUTH.
Where are we the weakest?
It’s important to note that this is different for each person. But there are certain things that are clearly a common theme throughout humanity.
While the stronghold of Satan’s power in death was broken when Christ died for us, he is not completely powerless (especially when we don’t guard our hearts and our minds). When we give in to our own flesh, there are some things that give the devil a tactical advantage against us. Some of the weakest areas that we tend to open up for the enemy to creep in and attempt to destroy us revolve around anger, lust, unforgiveness, and resentment between others.
2 Corinthians 2:10 “And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.”
Ephesians 4:26-27 “And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”
Psalm 36:8 “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper – it only leads to harm.”
Ephesians 4:31-32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Galatians 5:19 “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkennes, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
When we give into these feelings and emotions, even when they are valid, we are opening a door for the enemy to gain ground in our hearts and our minds. This is not to say that your human emotions aren’t valid and should be suppressed. Instead, they should be acknowledged, recognized as something that needs to be carefully dealt with, and then handed over to God for healing.
Feeling anger isn’t a sin, but living in it will likely lead to sin and letting it fester and create hate is a sin.
Releasing your emotions to God and trusting that He knows best and He will work all things (good and bad) together for your good when you love and seek Him with your whole heart… that is the definition of living out your faith (~Romans 8:28).
Spoiler Alert: Jesus already won (which means you can too)
Jesus had to die and rise again in order for all of this to work.
John 16:7 “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate (Holy Spirit) won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.”
He won power over death and sent the Holy Spirit to live inside of you to guide you and to strengthen you in order for you to resist temptation and identify deception from the enemy. But you have to open your eyes and your ears and let Him lead you by spirit and not by sight.
1 John 3:8 “But when people keep on sinning, It shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the begining. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.”
Hebrews 2:14-18: “Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.
We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.”
What does that mean for you?
Romans 8:2-9 ” And because you belong to him, the power of the life giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin and death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did that so the just requirements of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Those who are dominated by their sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace…. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.”
Because the Holy Spirit lives inside of you once you accept Chris, you also have AUTHORITY over the devil to stop him in his tracks and tell him to get out of your house!
James 4:7 “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come close to God and God will come close to you.”
YOU now have TOOLS to BLOCK the devil’s lies and deception. But you first have to learn them, you have to become aware of them. The next part of this series will focus on the armor of God and why it’s important to protect your house (body and mind) from the enemy.