Exposing Our Enemy
If you’re a follower of Christ, you have an enemy even if you don’t think so. And if you’re not following Christ, guess what? You still have the same enemy!
Is this enemy resilient? Yes. Cunning? Certainly. Defeated? Yes. Powerful, wise and able? Only when we cave in. You see, our enemy isn’t some authority-wielding foe that defeats us at every turn out of some supernatural wisdom. Only God is all-knowing and all-powerful.
But what the enemy of the living God and of our soul does have is strategy. And we better have a plan to resist him.
Here’s something I found by Rick Lawrence, in his book Sifted: God’s Scandalous Response to Satan’s Outrageous Demand.
“…the enemies of God are reduced to deception, illusion and trickery. That is why another of Satan’s names is “the Tempter.” When we sin we unwittingly open ourselves to demonic influence not because Satan’s decommissioned mob has the authority to harass us, but expressly because our shame makes us reluctant to move in the authority Christ won for those who follow Him.”
There it is again. Unintended consequences. Look at the price we pay when our decisions and actions are rebellious and sinful. The consequences are enormous.
It’s crucial that we recognize that we are in fact engaged in an unseen battle. Paul writes that this explains the constant struggles that we experience.
“But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” Romans 7:23 (NLT)
And when we allow our flesh to rule the decisions we make, then we’ve already invited further battles: “When we sin we unwittingly open ourselves to demonic influence…”
I can’t say this strongly enough. Even if you do not recognize that there is an enemy who is engaged in battle against the Creator and against His creation, namely the human race, you’re still unwittingly, unknowingly, and unintentionally engaged. Failure to recognize the truth doesn’t change reality. Except you’re losing the battle by omission.
The Plan Against Unintended Consequences
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” Hebrews 12:1-4 (ESV)
Lay aside or get rid of, dispose of. Trash, delete, uninstall if you will, any sin that’s consistently present in your life. Habitual sin kills your body, mind and spirit. It’s the stuff that destroys your relationships and your witness. The junk that easily arms your spiritual enemy against you.
Run, yes run, weary and battle-broken as you may be with endurance, with your eyes on the finish line ahead. This is where Jesus, sometimes maybe even with the likeness of a track coach, locks eyes with you. This is where He is perfecting our faith as we walk, stumble, lose pace, trip on our face, then get back up and run, if even slowly.
That’s the plan. Though it isn’t complicated, it certainly isn’t easy. Hebrews 10:36 warns of the hardships that require our endurance. We feel the hard stuff even more when it’s the lives of our closest loved ones deep in the trenches. You know those times when you’re absolutely powerless to do anything except pray. You can’t rescue, save, or fix them.
Don’t miss it though. You win these battles, ironically, only when you surrender to the Savior, Jesus Christ.
“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13 (ESV)
The image Paul gives us there as he quotes Isaiah 35:3-4 is just like a runner in a race and a warrior in battle. When we’re exhausted we also hang our hands and our arms feel like heavy weights. However, we have to dig deep and find a way to place our eyes on the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), and to return to where He has called us (Proverbs 4:26-27).
It’s in surrender that we find victory against the unintended consequences of habitual sin.