Have you ever experienced frustration while trying to obeying God? You aren’t alone. Several years ago, I co-taught a Sunday school class with a friend. She would teach several weeks and then hand off to me. Whenever it came my time to present the lesson, I experienced an invasion of dark thoughts, often accusatory or degrading. The words echoing in my head discouraged me. Later, when I began writing, my husband contracted encephalitis, an infection of the brain. Very serious. His illness horrified me because I knew the illness could take his life or cause disabilities. Those are two examples of spiritual warfare. Ephesians chapter six offers us guidance, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the… spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Satan will oppose every spiritual effort we attempt. How can we face combat? Just imagining battle makes me want to cower, but I know I must pursue God instead. Our father’s power surpasses the evil spirits so we must have courage.
First, we ‘take every thought captive’ rather than letting lies simmer inside us. For example, when the enemy proclaimed me worthless, it hurt. I had to refuse the pain Satan inflicted and remind myself Jesus loved me enough to die for me. Almost every Sunday morning I taught, Satan would tell me I had nothing valuable to say. God taught me to ignore the evil one’s message and confidently teach. Plus, I have learned not to marinate anger or selfishness even when that seems normal. Those attitudes leave an opening for the enemy because the battle begins in the mind.
Second, we can approach the throne for help and guidance. Ephesians says, “Keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” and First Thessalonians commands us to pray without ceasing. During those dark days when my husband lay semi-conscious in an intermediate intensive care, people all over the world prayed for us. I’m so thankful for that because all I could do was cry, “Help.” Today my husband has very few lingering effects and ranks in the upper three percent of those who suffer that illness. Praying for fellow believers ministers to them and keeps our mind off ourselves. Plus, if I keep my heart in a pray full attitude all day, I handle the tough times better.
Third, God outlined spiritual armor in Ephesians six. The helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, and the breast plate of righteousness protect us so we can stand under fire. I needed truth on my side when evil spirits told me I could not teach, otherwise I would have been paralyzed. We can attack the enemy just like Jesus did with God’s word, the Sword of the Spirit. I clung to the shield of faith when Satan fired numerous doubts my way about God’s goodness. He’d tempt me to doubt God’s provision while my husband was sick, but the prayers of my friends kept me from falling. To summarize, we will come under attack, but in the midst of heated conflict we have powerful weapons God prepared for us. I assure you the enemy will crumble if you maintain pure thoughts, pray faithfully, and use the armor of God. Pursue God with all your heart and win.