10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breast plate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—
As believers we are constantly told about God’s goodness to us. He has saved us through the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and session of His Son. We hear sermons upon sermons about these things that God has done. We are staying on the positive side of our faith. Fantastic.
However, there is one we need to also talk about frequently- Satan the devil, the enemy of our souls. He is constantly at war with us. In Genesis, he was able to deceive Eve out of her eternal blessing by asking her a simple question. ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat out of every tree of the garden’? He began a conversation with her and presented a distorted version of what God said. What God said was, ‘Of every tree in the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat.’ Compare this to what he asked Eve.
And this has been his modus operandi since then. He distorts God’s word and presents it to us. When he laces his distortion with his deception, only the believer who really knows his God can stand. Ask Eve. Eve was in her most perfect state but she could not discern the devil.
I have come to understand somewhat how it works but I don’t put thoughts about Satan on my front burner. I tend to keep trying to sort through stuff before it dawns on me that the enemy is at work. I know some believers who are Satan conscious and they leave me feeling slightly uneasy. I believe that we must find a balance. He is real. His mission is to make our lives as miserable as possible.
How does this distortive deception work? God makes a promise to you as a believer. He can speak it into your spirit or you can choose to stand on His word. As long as that promise is in line with the Bible, it is an authentic promise. You should be able to take it to the bank and not be denied.
You begin to pray and confess this promise and renew your mind so that it can become reality in your life. Then the game begins- distortive deception. First he starts with your experience. Everything in your life will most probably contradict the promise you have been given.
My husband, Iyke, used to have a bad case of ulcer. It was so bad that, he was no longer responding well to the usual medication and prescribed diet. He needed surgery. He was not born again at the time. His doctor, seeing the severity of his case, told him about Jesus, the Healer and soon after that he got saved. His first experience of God’s promises was healing from ulcer. He decided to stand on the promise of God for healing. Like Esther, he told himself, ‘If I die, I die’. For him death was a better option than living with ulcer. He stopped using his medication and started to eat regular food. The pain got much worse. It became so bad and the question became, ‘Are you sure you want to do this. Can God really heal you’? He held on and soon after that the pain began to ease off. Today, over twenty years after, he lives an ulcer free life.
Why am I telling this story? The workings of the enemy are all within it. His distortive deception mechanism depends on manipulation of our senses, what we see, feel, hear, read, understand, and taste. Those are very easy for him to manipulate. In fact, he specializes in manipulation of our senses. The idea is to create fear. He has a potent and well arranged structure of principalities, powers, rulers of darkness of this age, spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places, who specialize in the art of manipulation and distortion of the promises God makes to us.
Then he starts the barrage of questions. Did God really say? Can God really do? Is God real? Can God really heal? Can God really get you out of this mess you created for yourself? Can God really provide for your children? Can they really get Ivy League education? Is God really able? Are the promises authentic? Can God possibly get you out of so much debt? Can God really pay off that mortgage?
The combination of your experience and the questions are his trump card. Once he plays it, he expects to win. And he does, a lot of times. Again, ask Eve. She totally believed the lie and bought into it. She was so sure that God was not who He said He was and went ahead to eat the fruit. Many of us let go. We die of ill health. We live lives of poverty. Our marriages end. Our kids become vagabonds. Our relationships are ruined. We settle for less. We settle for less.
What is the alternative? We need to hold unto God’s word, His promise to us. When the enemy comes with his gimmicks, his questions, we answer boldly. Can God really do? He can. Did God really say? He did. Can God really heal? He can. Can He really save? He can. Can He really deliver? He can. Is God real? He is. No matter how he tries to manipulate or distort the promise, hold unto the original promise. No matter what your experience is, hold unto the original promise. Don’t let him wear you out. He does not give up easily. We must not give up either.
I think the simplicity of the promise is what makes us give up. It does not really answer any questions. It does not give any explanations. An example, cancer is known to be a deadly disease. The statistics are there to show how deadly it is. Then you have a doctor’s report that says you have a cancer somewhere in your body. The only word you have is, ‘By His stripes you are healed’. That sounds too simple compared to the statistics you have about cancer. That is what the devil plays on. Can something so simple, one single sentence, be the solution to something so deadly? Another question. What is the answer? Yes it can. In fact, it is the only solution.
God’s word is simple but it is ‘full of power’. When God ‘sends it forth, it never returns void. It accomplishes what it is sent to’. It is backed by the power that raised Jesus from the dead. The Bible refers to it as ‘the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ Jesus when He raised Him from the dead’. The intricate choice of words which Paul used in the Greek attempt to describe a power that is indescribable. That is the power in the Word as simple as it seems. It is available to us as believers.
That is why Jesus used them when the enemy attempted his distortive deception mechanism. ‘Man shall not live by bread alone. You shall not tempt the Lord thy God. You shall worship the Lord thy God and Him only shall you serve’. They silenced the enemy. The Word silenced the enemy.
Everything else the Bible tells us to do is centered on the Word of God. Our text for today, Ephesians 6: 14-18, is our official manual to deal with the machinations of the enemy. In it all The Bible says ‘above all, taking the shield of faith…..the helmet of salvation……the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit’. I can go into the Greek and explain all the words, but let’s leave that for another time.
However, let me take you to a trip to KFC. When you go to KFC, you expect to get chicken along with anything else. KFC is about chicken. It can come in combos of chips and chicken and a soda, or club sandwich and chicken with a soda, or chicken in nuggets, or chicken in barter, or whatever else KFC has, the main thing is the chicken. Same way, everything we fight the enemy with is centered on the Word-helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith are all centered around the Word of God, His promises to us, what He says about us, how He feels about us, the value He has placed on us. His Word.
I have shared this piece with you so you can recognize when the enemy is at work in your life. You may not see them but his army is at work 24/7. Be alert and understand exactly what he is doing. Give him fire for fire in prayer. He is a defeated foe. God is our side and He has already won the battle on our behalf. All we need to do is work in the victory He has provided in His Son who is the Word made flesh. The devil is a liar. Ck