Satans method to entrap us always comes first through the mind.
Although impure sexual thoughts are frequently the means by which he ensnares young men, a more universal means for keeping men and women of all ages in bondage is through the harboring of malice. We harbor malice when we wish evil toward other people. Satan is full of malice: he wishes absolute evil for you and your loved ones. His only intention for your life is to injure, cause despair and wreak destruction. The hosts of darkness which follow him share this same mindset.
These wicked forces cannot harm you physically unless God grants them allowance. What God does permit, however, is that they touch you spiritually. They do this each day through the power of suggestion. These suggestions come via impulses to our minds in the form of evil presentations. The fallen flesh nature is conducive to these impulses, and if given the unmortified chance, it will indulge in all types of malicious fancy toward others. The war the Christian fights daily is in the mortification of these impulses which rise to strangle the inner man (Proverbs 24:29; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; I Peter 2:1). This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of Christian sanctification. No real advancements in perfection can be made with God if we are unable to effectively counter these malicious suggestions. We will always be hitting walls of flesh and spinning our wheels in the muck of failure. We will remain defeated, immobile and immature.
The way Satan overcomes us is by exploiting our weaknesses; the way we overcome him is by exploiting his. If we would overcome Satan, we must know what his weaknesses are and then act on hitting these points through the Spirit of the Lord. The secret to overcoming the powers of darkness consists in conquering all their evil suggestions with good actions. This is surest way to foil a satanic attack (Romans 12:21; II Corinthians 2:11).
A common tactic of demonic forces is to implant a malicious suggestion in your mind toward someone who has offended you. If this suggestion is not mortified, it will eventually make its way into your heart to create a stronghold of malice. When a suggestion of this nature presents itself to us, we must immediately reject it and continue to keep our minds girded in Christ. The rejection of malicious retaliation will cause our flesh to initially suffer, but we will have ceased from sinning in the meantime. Satan will then have to flee. Our fleshly suffering will soon cease and we will have gained a certain amount of grace and wisdom which, prior to the test, we did not possess (Romans 12:17; James 4:7; I Peter 5:10; II Peter 5:8; Hebrews 12:11).
But Satan will strike again, and there is a great danger of falling into a new trap here. We will be reminded of the offense and an impulse of vengeance will sail our way. This dart will come at a time when the mind is ungirded. If the conscience is not pure before God when this happens, the dart will escape mortification and penetrate mind (Luke 4:13; Romans 12:19; I Corinthians 10:12).
The way to overcome Satan at this very moment is to go on the immediate offense with good. I've found that giving the person who offended you a gift card and writing them a friendly letter or treating them to lunch is a wonderful way to turn the tables on darkness. Let those who offended you know how much you value their friendship, and express it to them with all sincerity (Romans 12:20-21). Seek to unconditionally bless in the same manner God unconditionally blesses you. Learn to see people the way God sees them: through eyes of holy compassion and impartial benevolence. Allow Gods mercy to flow through you through the Holy Spirit. This will exploit a weakness of Satan, because he will not transmit Gods love nor will he ever desire goodness to befall another person. You will have dealt him a blow that repels any campaign of destruction he may have been masterminding against you. And God will reward you deeply for availing yourself to His Spirit to bless another person (Luke 6:35-36; Hebrews 13:16).
You can overcome Satans forces every time. By deflecting his initial attacks through mortification and then by cancelling-out his suggestions of malice through Gods love, we will make good the power of our testimony: namely, that sin shall not have dominion over us, for we walk in the grace of the Holy Spirit and not according to the dictates of the flesh (Romans 6:14; I John 1:7; Revelation 12:11).
Regardless of this, we can often become very discouraged in the ongoing warfare of flesh mortification. This is because Satan is a master strategist, and he knows exactly when to strike the ungirded mind. The powers of darkness study us in detail; they know our weaknesses, the areas of past bondage, and all the issues, addictions, obsessions and perversions we were enslaved to while we lived in the cursed darkness of Adam (Ephesians 5:8).
Never therefore allow yourself to think you are smarter or stronger than Satan, for he has millions of devils at his disposal to seek out your destruction, and if it were not for Gods prevailing grace upon each waking moment of your life, you would in an instant succumb to the lusts of your flesh and be irretrievably lost. Keeping this fact in mind contributes to an ensuing dependency on Gods grace to survive Satans onslaughts. Such a dependency is vital to the Christian who seeks to overcome and deflect all the fiery darts of the enemy! It will do us good therefore to remember that a host of devils are encamped outside our minds and hearts a multitude of seducing spirits seeking daily entry.
Imagine an enemy force that tirelessly assaults a walled-up castle. This is a picture of the believers new heart inhabited by the New Man. The advancing enemy soldiers bring with them catapults of money, crossbows of lust, spears of self and flaming arrows of pride to raid the castles sanctified keeps. Night and day they encamp outside the castle walls, sometimes in quiet planning, and other times in a full-scale attack that can last for weeks or even months.
Every assault has to be first approved by God. This is how the Lord tests our hearts, by allowing Satan to storm the walls and incite our flesh to action. During these campaigns, the Lord watches how we react: Do we seek to repel the invaders through our own strength? Or do we too quickly succumb to the attack, without any resistance or fight at all? Do we pray to the Lord Jesus for grace? These are all factors God monitors during these castle-warring tests; His next course of action for our lives is built upon our reaction to the assault. When the test has accomplished its means, God commands a cease-fire, and then deals with the saint accordingly.
When a saint has been awakened to the amazing love of Jesus Christ and the power afforded to him as he surrenders his will and walks in the Spirit, a divine law begins to come into effect. All the hosts of heaven suddenly come to his aid. The powers of darkness are suddenly banished from the proximity of his soul. This marvelous work comes by a careful and consistent method of daily mortification. If we are faithful to fortify the loins of our minds, and if we allow God to renew our minds for the purpose of taking each seductive thought captive to the obedience of Christ, we can successfully foil each castle invasion. And as we continue to foil the plans and strategies of hell, our heart-purity remains preserved, and God is able to bless our spirits with an increasing sin-victorious grace (John 15:7; Romans 12:2; II Corinthians 10:3-5; I Peter 1:13). This is Gods divine will for the life of every Christian believer (Ephesians 5:17; I Thessalonians 4:1-4).
But if you have failed in any of these areas, I still have very wonderful news for you!
Regardless of how wretched you think you are, and how unfaithfully youve defended the castle walls in the past, God extends His mighty hand to you today to start afresh. In fact, your many failures can be counted as assets! This is because the Lord rejects those who by religious willpower have not yet learned to overcome evil by His power alone (James 4:6-10). Religious men may disdain and impugn you for your failures; God, however, wills to promote and exceedingly bless you despite your failures. If you are crushed, grief-stricken, exasperated and fatalistically downcast over your defeats, you are not far from the all-liberating power God. You are actually in a very blessed place, for it is in this state of brokenness where God begins teaching His children the holy art of spiritual warfare.
- Brother Paul West
Paul Frederick West