Things go wrong in life. When they do, it’s often easier to point a finger and cast blame on something other than yourself. Many times, wrong is a result of someone else’s choices. However, my reaction to those choices can define the outcome and how I handle future situations.
This week, we begin the second part of a series at NewSpring called “Angels & Demons,” addressing the very misunderstood topic of spiritual warfare. After reflecting on the first week’s message, I’ve started to understand that I point my finger at the devil far too often. Many times, it’s my own reactions that get me in trouble, not the things I believe he’s throwing my way.
He gets too much credit.
As a believer in Jesus, I have to understand that greater is He (Jesus) that is in me than he (the enemy) that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Satan has such little control, but we blame him for everything! Yesterday I was reading in Galatians and came to understand that greater warfare takes place between my own selfish, deceitful flesh and the Spirit of God.
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another…
So much of this is beyond my understanding as far as rationalizing why the two must be in opposition, but it kind of makes sense. I’m a sinful person, plain and simple. “Deeds of the flesh are evident,” Paul tells us. It’s not that the enemy is always setting me up for something. In my sinful state, I have to understand that my mind and heart can, on their own, lead me to places contrary to where God wants me to go. I wrestle impurity, idolatry, strife, jealousy, dissension, and envy. That’s my flesh. That’s there without Satan even throwing temptation in my way.
So will I act on it? Will I allow my natural tendencies to manifest themselves when I am faced with temptation? Kaleb White said today that you have to know what you’re bad at because you better believe the devil knows.
Paul goes on to say in verse 22, that the evidence of the Spirit being in control is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Right now, I can say that I “feel” like the devil has it out for me (and I mean, of course, in a way, he does. He will oppose anything in union with Jesus). A lot of things have happened that could look like an “attack.” But I guess I’ve started to ponder that, whether it’s a spiritual “attack” or just some events in life that happen, my reaction is the difference maker. I join with the enemy’s side when I allow strife and envy and jealousy to take over my mind. But I’m partnering with the Spirit when I choose to be ruled by peace, patience, goodness and self-control in the same situation.
My flesh is naturally against God, just like the enemy is. My heart is the most deceitful of all things – MY heart (Jeremiah 17:9). My flesh and my heart take things out of context and lead me to only think selfishly. I believe there is a greater war inside my own head on the day-to-day. It’s in my head that I choose to either partner with the devil’s lies or demolish them with God’s truth.
The devil is real. Evil is real. Spiritual warfare is real. But I need to stop giving satan all the credit when the victory is already the Lord’s. Galatians 5:13 tells me that I am called to freedom! We are called to freedom. We can’t turn that freedom into an opportunity for the flesh to rule the day. That freedom is so that, through love (a fruit of the Sprit), we will serve one another.
I’m still trying to figure this out, friends. But something I want to practice when I feel “attacked” is to simply ask myself, who would I rather partner with through this? A deceitful, selfish heart, or a loving, victorious God?