We face two of types of personal attack from the forces of evil
If we do sin, we need:
This is all we need
We are involved in a spiritual battle. Our enemy is prowling around like a lion, looking for someone to destroy. These risks and dangers make spiritual protection an important issue for all Christians.
The modern church has doctrine of "covering". This doctrine says that we are covered and protected from evil by submitting to a pastor or being part of a church. However, this doctrine is not taught explicitly in the scriptures, but is based on an allegorical interpretation of the book of Ruth. Trusting in a vague and ambiguous doctrine of spiritual protection is dangerous. Not surprisingly, Christians everywhere are being decimated by evil, because they do not understand the real truth of protection.
To understand spiritual protection, Christians must understand the real limitations on the powers of evil. If we are in Christ and walking in the light and are not demon possessed or under a curse, then there are just two ways that the powers of evil forces can personally attack us. They have the power to:
put false ideas in our minds (Gen 3:1,4).
afflict our bodies with pain and sickness (Job 2:7).
These are the only two ways that they can attack us.
Satan cannot force us to sin. God has created us as free agents so we have control over our lives. Satan cannot force us to do something we choose not to do. The only way he can get us to sin is to influence our moral choices. Because his powers are limited, Satan tries get us to sin by persuading us make wrong choices. He uses his power to speak into our minds, to get us to believe lies that will affect our behaviour. They are usually a justification for negative thoughts or actions. They deceive us into thinking that something evil is good or that something wrong is right. He sometimes attempts to distort our view of God. On other occasions he may use another person to speak the words to us.Sometimes the thought will be a picture in our imagination.
Some examples are of the types of thoughts he can put in our minds are:
You deserve that.
No one will know
You are justified in hating him after what he has done to you
Just looking is not a sin
God would not do that
Deception is Satan's best weapon. He attacked Jesus in this way by putting thoughts in his mind that were partly true, but that would lead him to sin (Turn the stones into bread; you are hungry). If Jesus was vulnerable to this kind of attack, then no one is immune. The human heart is very deceitful (Jer 17:9). For example, David was chosen to be king because God saw that he had a good heart (1 Sam 16:7). Yet David persuaded himself that it was right to kill Uriah the Hittite so that he could take his wife Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:14). This should warn us that even mature Christians can be deceived into believing false ideas about good and evil.
The sole purpose of putting these thoughts in our mind or imagination is to make us more likely to sin. Satan's goal is to get us to harbour these thoughts and give them a home in out hearts. If we take ownership of them, they will begin to affect our behaviour and actions.
Negative thoughts are more effective if they are associated with strong negative emotions like anger or fear. Therefore, they will generally come into our minds at a time when we are emotionally stressed. To produce this stress, the devil will often use other people to attack us, eg persecution, opposition, slander, robbery etc. Other people cannot make us sin, but their negative attacks will often produce the negative emotions that will make us susceptible the negative thoughts that are popped into our minds.
When we constantly accept a pattern of false ideas, it becomes a mental stronghold in our minds, which Satan can easily and frequently exploit. If we listen to one of these false ideas a number of times, they become part of our memory. This also happens if we identify with it strongly or it is associated with strong emotions. Once the thought is in our memory, Satan no longer needs to put it into our mind. We will bring it out ourselves, whenever we are in a similar situation or feel the same emotion. The thought has become a mental stronghold that controls part of our thinking and therefore influences our behaviour (2 Cor 10:4,5).
If we fall into sin, it becomes much easier for Satan to attack us with sickness and with false ideas. If we sin frequently, he can get control of part of our lives.
The other power that Satan seems to have over Christians is to power inflict our physical bodies with sickness. He does not seem to have to wait until we sin to have this power. Job was a righteous man yet Satan had the power to touch him (Job 2:3). However, there was a limit: he could not take Job's life (Job 2:6,7). Satan tried to attack Epaphroditus to prevent him from doing the Lord's work (Phil 2:25-27).
Inflicting sickness is Satan's best weapon against Christians. It is the greatest power that he has. In the western world it is even more effective, because Christians do not associate sickness with him. Sickness weakens people and makes them less effective in service of the Lord. Illness produces negative emotions that make us vulnerable to false ideas (for more see Healing).
Spiritual protection from the two types of personal attack described above comes through relationships with other Christians and with Christian elders.
1. Protection from Deception.
At a personal level there are three things we should do to protect ourselves from false ideas.
Guard our own mind by testing all thoughts, imaginings, ideas and feelings against the scriptures, so that our mind is renewed (Rom 12:2). Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:5).
Remain in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, as the more we listen to him, the harder it will be for Satan to speak.
Refuse to listen to false ideas. Adam allowed Satan to speak. Jesus refused to let Satan speak (Luke 4:35). If we try to argue him we may lose the argument.
These things will help, but they will not totally protect us from deception. On our own, we will not be able to stand against a concerted attack. If someone like David was vulnerable, no one is safe.
Friends and Elders
Full protection comes through relationships with other Christians. This should be in place at two levels. The support of Christian friends will be adequate to deal with most attacks. However, we may need the intervention of mature elders to assist against really serious attacks.
If we begin to accept false ideas from the devil, they will begin to affect our behaviour and influence our decisions. If we are being deceived we will not notice ourselves. The first people to notice will be our friends, because they will need to be close enough to see the change in behaviour. Hopefully, they will love us enough to honestly challenge any false ideas that we are tempted to accept. As they challenge the false ideas, they will also resist the devil in prayer and release the Holy Spirit to speak the truth. However, we will only listen to them if we already trust them.
We all need to give one or two of our Christian friends the right to challenge us if we are being deceived or making wrong decisions. This is what it means to "submit to one another" (Eph 5:21). The more we share about what is happening in our lives, the safer we will be. The best spiritual protection comes from relationships with other honest and caring Christians (see Power Pairs).
We also need elders to correct us if we seriously lose the plot. In some situations, we may listen to an elder, when we will not listen to a friend. Elders may have greater discernment than other Christians. When operating in unity, they may also have greater power in prayer against deception. Elders can really do spiritual battle for us. Between them, they should have the full range of giftings needed to deal with any situation.
2. Protection from Sickness and Diseases
When the forces of evil attack us with sickness, we must resist them. However, we will usually need others to stand and resist with us as it is hard to resist when we are unwell. We do not have the energy for spiritual battle. Our faith tends to weaken, when we are burdened with sickness. In this situation we need Christian friends who are full of faith, who can stand against the evil attack with us and pray for our healing.
The paralysed man had friends with faith in the power of Jesus to heal (Luke 5:18). That was a good situation to be in. In contrast, the man beside the pool had no friends to press in for his healing (John 5:5-7). Spiritual protection from sickness comes from being in relationship with Christian friends, who will take action against attack. A couple of Christians should make a commitment, that they will go into battle for each other, whenever either is attacked by sickness. Having friends who have made this commitment is the best protection against sickness.
We also need elders who can pray for us in tough cases of sickness (James 5:14). Elders should have real power and authority to blow sickness away.
The Pattern of James 5 as it applies to spiritual protection is set out in the following table.
confess your sins to each other.
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:16,19)
for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of
a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (James 5:16-18)
|And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.(James 5:15)||Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.(James 5:14)|
The Armour of God
We put on the armour of God so that we can stand against the devil's schemes (Eph 6). One way of approaching the armour of God is to see as protection against these two forms of attack: deception and sickness. The first three protect against deception. The second three protect against sickness. The key to this is understanding the nature of the the "flaming arrows of the evil one". In Psalm 38:1-8, flaming arrows represent sickness.
O Lord , do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.
For your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down upon me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
my bones have no soundness because of my sin.
My wounds fester and are loathsome
because of my sinful folly
My back is filled with searing pain;
there is no health in my body.
David described his sickness as arrows that destroyed his flesh. Job also described his sickness as arrows in his flesh (Job 6:5). Therefore, the flaming arrows of the evil one are attacks of sickness and disease.
Belt of Truth
Walking in the truth of the word of God is the best protection against deception.
Shield Of Faith
Faith is essential for defeating sickness. The promises are received by faith
Breastplate of Righteousness
Understanding our righteousness in Christ protects from lies that would push us down into condemnation.
Helmet of Healing
In Greek, salvation = healing). We need a revelation in our mind that the cross bought salvation from sickness
Gospel of Peace
Meditating on the cross and the gospel is the best antidote to the deception of pride.
Sword of the Spirit
We can use the word of God to fight sickness, claiming its promises
The two worst forms of deception are pride and condemnation. Satan tries to either puff us up or drag us down. The second and third pieces of armour deal with these.
Submission is Essential
Submission is very important for the effective of the spiritual armour. When we submit to each other, we are giving other Christians the authority to act on our behalf against evil. This is a key to getting victory. God has made me free, so another person can only have authority in my life, if I give it to them. I give another person authority in my life by submitting to them. If I submit to the elders in my church, they have authority to resist evil on my behalf. The more I submit to them, the greater spiritual authority they will have to resist any evil that is attacking me.This relationship between spiritual authority and submission is not well understood. We often ask other Christians to pray for us, but it does not have much affect. The reason is that they have very little authority in our lives; but they cannot have authority, if we have not given it to them.
We often assume that if we have a large number of people praying for us, their prayers will be more effective against the attacks of the enemy. This is not correct. When resisting evil, two or three Christians who have real authority in our lives, because we have submitted to them, will be much more effective.
Spiritual armour is only effective when we are resisting together in submission to each other. The meaning of the word "submit" is to "place ourselves under". Therefore we must stand under authority before we stand against the devil. Submission and authority go together.
When Paul said that elders watch over or care for us (1 Tim 5:17), he used the Greek word "pro-histemi", which means "stand before". When we submit to elders, they are standing before us.According to the pattern in 1 Peter 5:5-9, submission and protection go together.Submit to one another
- Submit to your elders
- Submit to God
- Be vigilant
- Resist the devil
- Stand in the faith
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