Satanic attacks are real to all persons, but specifically to Christians, because Satan is God’s enemy and thus an enemy to all God’s followers. Ever since his fall from grace, Satan has been organizing his forces (demons) to oppose the work of Christ in and through His followers, those that are called Christians. This opposition has been a reality from the dawn of creation as was seen in the Garden of Eden when Satan, in the outward appearance of a serpent, caused Adam and Eve to sin against God <Gen.3>. Satanic attacks on God’s followers are seen throughout the Scriptures, mentioned often in the New Testament, and seldom, but apparent, in the Old Testament; and belief in the existence and power of spirits (demons) was virtually universal in the ancient world, and is very evident in today’s society. Although Satan, through his demons, has power to bring catastrophe to humans, we should understand that they are only able to do so when they are permitted by God <see Jud.9:23-24a; Job 1:1-2:10>. How then can we as followers of Jesus Christ survive these satanic attacks?
The Apostle Peter, in his letter to Jewish and Gentile Christians, forewarns us that Satan pursues like a lion on the hunt for prey seeking those that he can overcome: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” <1 Pet.5:8-9 (NIV)>.
Be self-controlled and alert: we should not be asleep like unbelievers; we should be alert or on the lookout for the danger that lurks around us, we should “keep watch” as Christ encouraged His disciples <see 1 Thess.5:6-8a; Matt.24:42; 25:13> and as Peter remembered his failure <see Matt. 26:36-46>.
Resist him, standing firm in the faith: we are unlikely to succeed in our own personal attempts so it is imperative that we depend upon the help of The Holy Spirit in this purpose. It is useless to say “I trust God and ignore Satan” because we are reminded that our battle 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.” <Eph.6:12 (NIV)> so we need to put on the full armor of God. The war between God and Satan began when Satan rebelled <see Isa.14:12-17; Ezek.28:1-19> and it continues until the present day and will continue until Christ returns in triumph to reign on earth, since Christians are Satan’s enemy he will do everything to defeat us.
SATAN’S METHODS OF ATTACK
As followers of Christ and students of the Scriptures we should not be surprised at Satan’s tactics, so we must continue to live by the Scriptures “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” <2 Cor.2:11 (NIV)>, or as J.B. Phillips translates it – “We don’t want Satan to win any victory here, and well we know his methods!” Some of his methods are:
- Causing a spirit of laziness to overcome us, wherein we become tired and ambition-less in our studies. This can also be the result of the weather, our diet, or pressure of duties, so we need to set our priorities <cf Jas.4:7-8a>; and here again we must be reminded that it is only through the help and power of The Holy Spirit that we succeed. We cannot allow external pressures to keep us away from God; we need to set limits to physical living as opposed to our spiritual needs.
- Attempting to wreck our minds through incorrect thoughts, impressions or ideas, bitterness, grudges, life’s disappointments and pride. Satan is engaged in the battle of the mind in an attempt to regain control of our lives <cf 2 Cor.4:4>.
- Being the source of mental stress, triggering changes in our mental condition introducing thoughts of suicide, our routine changes, and we express this in the way we excessively conduct ourselves in the things that we do. We have to be cautious about our uncontrolled mental thoughts, especially when aimless and unsystematic. We should not be led by our “reasoning” but rather we should live by faith in God. We should always understand that God holds the keys to life and death, yet He permits Satan to act in various ways <see Job 1:12; 2:6>.
- Discouragement is one of Satan’s major weapons, and comes in various ways throughout our life, and especially as we get older and recognize some of our failures in our service for God or as we experience great difficulty serving God in “Satan’s territory”.
HOW DO WE RESIST THE DEVIL’S ATTACKS?
As believers in God we need to understand that we are in a constant battle with evil, the Devil will do everything he can to cause us to fail in our relationship with Christ. We need to be conscious of the fact that as we face the demands of life the Devil will cause us to have wrong desires, thoughts and motives; we need to seek God’s grace and humbly walk with Him each day <cf Jas.4:1-6>; recognize what we are experiencing as a Satanic attack, we then submit ourselves to God and “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” <Jas.4:7 (NIV)>. Here again we must understand that we cannot fight against the Devil by our own capability, our defense is only through the help of The Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
How do we submit to God? The method given to us is: “Come near”, “wash”, “purify”, “grieve”, “mourn”, “wail”, “change”, “humble yourselves before the Lord” <Jas.4:8-10>; and the Lord will direct our ways and deliver us as we resist the Devil.
How do we resist the Devil? We do so by clothing ourselves in the armor of God so as to stand against the Devil’s schemes <see Eph.6:10-18>. We need to protect ourselves with Christ and not think about gratifying our sinful nature <Rom.13:14>. We should defend ourselves by applying the Word of God <cf Matt.4:1-11>, and diligent prayer to God for His protection and deliverance. We must always remember to confess sin immediately, for sin breaks our communion with God and allows the Devil a foothold in our life <1 Jn.1:9> for the Word of God declares “They overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb” <Rev.12:11a (NIV)>.