This blog compiles some notes and observations from one average guy's journey of life, faith and thought, along with some harvests from my reading (both on-line and in print). Learning to follow Jesus is a journey; come join me on the never-ending adventure!
Losing weight, getting more education, and managing debt and stress top the U.S. government's list of most popular resolutions for a new year. Certainly, self-betterment in things such as health or finances is a noble goal. But issues in these areas are often mere symptoms of an underlying spiritual condition relating to whom or what we each believe we are—our identities. Consequently we use money, education, work and so many other things as means to define ourselves and steer our own destinies.I'm convinced that Satan loves to trap us in an endless cycle of "strategies" for self-improvement. In doing so, he keeps us on a treadmill where we consistently exert much effort, but get virtually nowhere. At the end of the week, month or year, too often we're in the same condition in search of yet another regime in which we can find purpose and meaning.
Ultimately Satan's strategy is to fill our minds with other voices that detract from the voice of truth that identifies us with Christ: a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), righteous (2 Cor. 5:21), chosen (Eph. 1:5) and accepted (Eph. 1:6). Satan knows that identity gives way to purpose and mission. That is, when you know who you are, you know what to do. So if he can confuse us about the former, then we'll be on a never-ending search for the latter.
There is, however, a single, simple spiritual method that Jesus used when faced with similar issues. And you too can apply its power in the same way to begin to silence the enemy, build confidence in your identity in Christ, and thus, change your life. Let's explore.
Jesus' Temptation Is Ours Too
At His baptism by John the Baptist, as Jesus arose from the water, the heavens were opened, the Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove and the Lord spoke:"And a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased'" (Matt. 3:17).
Jesus's baptism account marks the first time recorded in Scripture that God publicly spoke an identity upon Jesus. Freshly baptized, God declared Him to be His Son. And even further He assured His Son of just how pleased He was with Him.Immediately following, the Bible records that Jesus was sent out into the wilderness, where after 40 days of fasting, He was famished. Here, at His weakest moment, the devil came to tempt.
The story of Jesus's temptation is a popular one, which you've surely heard as the basis of more than one sermon. But what is less known, however, is what Satan was really after. Notice how he launches his attack against Jesus:
"If You are the Son of God, command that these stones be turned into bread" (Matt. 4:3).God had just previously declared an identity upon Jesus. And now Satan approaches Jesus in His weakest moment to question what God had already assured, taunting, "If you are the Son of God ... ." Satan's temptation was aimed to cause Jesus to doubt who He was and what He had.
Isn't this the bulk of the issues we face and the beginning of so much of our own spiritual attacks? The Word of God contains a multitude of incredible assurances about who we are and what we have in Christ, and Satan comes to us with attacks, threats, lies and accusations that cause us to doubt it all.
Doing What Jesus Did
It's important to notice how Jesus didn't respond. He didn't yell and scream at Satan as if His volume would make any difference. He didn't run back to His disciples crying, "Please pray because the devil is lying to me." Nor did He begin the latest self-help fad. No, what Jesus did is so much simpler. Three times He put the power of the Word of God at work against Satan by countering him with it. He boldly declared, "It is written," effectively saying, "Shut up, devil!" This silenced Satan's attacks and caused him to retreat.
You can apply Jesus' model of spiritual warfare to whatever lies the enemy is launching at you today. Below I've listed a handful of Satan's common attacks countered by the truth found in some of my favorite Satan-silencing Scriptures. As you read them, be sure to speak these truths aloud.
I will not let myself be overcome by evil, but I will overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).
I don't worry about anything. Instead I seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and I trust that all of my needs will be met (Matt. 6:31-33).
God has not given me a spirit of fear or shyness. Instead I have power, love and self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7).
I'm in Christ, and therefore I'm a new creation. My record of wrongs is erased, and I'm no longer defined by my past or mistakes, but I have a fresh new start (2 Cor. 5:17)!