When I was a child, I thought the word “ignorant” was used to describe someone that was dull in understanding. Someone you wouldn’t exactly call “the sharpest knife in the drawer”. As I grew up, however, I came to understand that this word wasn’t just for the uneducated or unsophisticated. I learned that any time we are in the dark about a thing, having no knowledge or understanding of it, we are ignorant of that thing.
While it is impossible to be knowledgeable of everything, it is absolutely imperative that we educate ourselves on the subject the Spirit has led me to discuss today: the devices of the enemy.
Before jumping into this, I will share a dream I had the other night as it helps to further prove the importance of recognizing when the enemy is at work.
In this dream, a relative of mine was married to a person of high status and because of this, she had to protect her identity. She couldn’t stay at home during the day for all of the people peeking through her windows trying to see who the wife of this celebrity was and she was afraid to go out in public for fear that people would eventually figure out who she was. For this reason she spent her days in her car, its windows tinted very dark, driving around in circles. With no destination in mind, she would get on the freeway and drive, eventually making her way back to her starting point and then driving that same route again and again until sunset. She was going nowhere.
After waking up from that dream, God told me to get out of the bed and get on my knees. It was 2am and my alarm was set for 4am so I hesitated a bit before finally getting up. He then proceeded to give me the interpretation of the dream: He has been making the same promise to me for the last few months, constantly telling me, “This is My will concerning you”. The problem is, because I have been struggling to rationalize it in my finite mind, I’ve had great difficulty receiving it. One day I believe it, a few days later I don’t. One day I’m on the mountaintop thanking Him for what He’s getting ready to do and the next I’m trying to protect my heart by rejecting the promise, thereby avoiding the pain that is sure to follow if it doesn’t come to pass. I’ve been going back and forth and back and forth – on the freeway driving around in circles until sunset. So at 2am on a Wednesday morning, He demanded that I make a decision – once and for all – about whether or not I was going to receive or reject this promise. He let me know that by having me caught between belief and doubt, between receiving and rejecting, the devil had put me into a mental loop. Despite the fact that I’ve been praying more than I have in years and seeking God’s face daily, my spiritual progress had come to a halt and doubt was to blame. In order to force myself out of that loop, I had to make a decision. And because I realized that God would not lead me to a promise if I didn’t truly believe there was a promise to begin with, I chose to receive it. I want where God is taking me more than I want where I am right now.
When that attempt to stagnate my growth and progress failed, the enemy then proceeded to plant a seed of discord between a young woman at my church and I. This seed of discord was different because she had spoken some hurtful words to me but for one, I knew that she had no intentions of hurting me and for two, I knew that she loved me. First I prayed for God to take away the hurt, along with the bitterness that was just beginning to take root. That didn’t quite do the trick so I began to pray blessings over her life. I began to pray that God would continue to do a work in her heart. That He would fill her with His Spirit and bless her to become all He had designed her to be. Just as soon as that prayer was released, that seed of discord came out right behind it.
Dissension among God’s children weakens the church’s unity and effectiveness and is yet another trick and trap of the enemy. It doesn’t just weaken our unity but when we are at odds with our brothers and sisters, it creates distance between us and God. Withholding forgiveness from others only causes God to withhold His forgiveness from us. As a result, we take ourselves outside of His will while convincing ourselves that we are still in it.
The enemy does not sleep. He is always devising a plan to separate you from your Father and the plan He has for your life. While we will never get it right 100% of the time, I believe we’ll get it right far more often if we are intentional about staying in God’s face. The bible says, “Men ought to always pray and not faint”(Luke 18:1). I acknowledge that it is impossible to pray interminably but it isn’t impossible to give Him more than the five minutes we give Him when we greet Him in the morning. Our relationship with our Father, along with our spiritual health, are worth the sacrifices necessary to get our prayer time in. That is our only defense against the enemy. Staying connected to Him.
To keep us from being ignorant of our adversary and what we’re up against, Peter lets us know that the devil is “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”(1 Peter 5:8).
In the book of John, the apostle informs us of his ultimate objective, boldly stating that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”(John 10:10).
Thanks be to God, though, that He has not left us without defense. Paul, an individual that was very familiar with the devil’s tactics and schemes and saw the work of the enemy in many ways and on many occasions, tells us how to fight back:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”(Ephesians 6:10-13)
He then proceeds to tell us about the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace with which we are to shod our feet; the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word. Not one of these is indispensable and if you only take on part of the armor as opposed to taking it on in its entirety, you make yourself susceptible to great danger.
If we aren’t connected to God, it can be easy to overlook the fact that some of the challenges we face, even the smallest ones, are evidence of the spiritual warfare taking place in our lives. The devil makes his presence known when he plants seeds of doubt, seeds of discord and traps us in cycles. But when we equip ourselves with the knowledge of his devices and tactics, we can recognize him more easily and cast him out before he can finish moving his stuff in. However, we can’t do that without the power of God living in us, which only comes from walking in close fellowship with Him. We have to be intentional about seeking God so that He can not only protect us but also make us sensitive to the things of the Spirit. In this way He will be able to speak to us and reveal to us our true condition. Otherwise we can go about our lives believing that we are walking in God’s liberty, completely blind to the fact that we are actually bound at the hands and feet. And because we don’t see our bondage, we don’t go to God for deliverance.
It is true that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy but our Father sent His Son so that we “may have life, and that [we] may have it more abundantly”(John 10:10).