Satan knows he will be ultimately defeated. However, as every Christian is experientially aware, this knowledge has not deterred him from his malicious endeavors. This powerful, disgruntled entity is still fervently engaged in warfare against God and his blood-bought Bride. He is utilizing every second of his remaining time to hinder the spread of God’s glory in the earth. And we—as carriers of the message that magnifies God and transforms sinners into bearers of divine glory—are his primary targets.
Do we realize that Satan’s opposition against us is more about God than it is about us? I don’t know that we do. The way I often hear people talk about spiritual warfare seems to indicate that they believe Satan’s end-all goal is merely to make their lives difficult. Does he want to make our lives difficult? Absolutely. Does he glean some perverted kind of joy from our misery? Undoubtedly. But he doesn’t oppose us simply for the sake of opposing us. Satan unleashes all the demonic forces of Hell upon God’s people with the intent of rendering us missionally ineffective. His aim is to shut us up.
Well, let me clarify that statement: he wants to silence us as regards our proclamation of the gospel. He’s not at all concerned about us voicing our conservative political positions. Our “We need a President who will put God back in the White House!” social media shouting doesn’t bother him. I’m sure he sits back and laughs at those who equate the Great Commission with “making America great again.” The proclamation of the sin-canceling, soul-ransoming power of God in Christ is the speech against which Satan snarls.
Why? Because when redeemed lips utter the glories of the slain and resurrected Christ, otherworldly power is released in the spiritual realm. That’s not mystical mumbo jumbo—it’s the truth! The Spirit of God rides on the wings of the Word of God to save rebels and energize saints for the glory of God. When the truths and excellencies of Jesus Christ are communicated, the lost are reconciled and the reconciled are strengthened. There is real power in the name of Jesus, and Satan doesn’t want that soul-quickening, faith-strengthening, God-glorifying power put on display.
This is why he launches flaming darts in your direction. He wants to distract you, distress you, and make you feel morally discredited so that you will shut up about Jesus.
And he’s pretty effective, isn’t he? I know I’m silenced easily enough. He plays on my fleshly inclinations toward worldly indulgence, distracting me with food and Netflix and other things that numb my desire to magnify Christ. He pulls at the fear-strings of my heart, knowing how easily I withdraw into anxious silence. He entices me toward sin because the guilt and shame that follow always make me feel like I’m unworthy to share the gospel. Satan knows the weakest areas of my life and subtly works his dark magic in these spaces, desiring to make me an ineffective ambassador of Jesus Christ.
I’m confident most of you can relate to my experiences. So how do we stand firm against the gusting winds of Satan’s schemes? The Bible gives us some explicit instructions: draw near to God (James 4:8), stay sober minded (1 Peter 5:8), and put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18). But it seems like another effective counter measure—and perhaps the inevitable result of following the above instructions—is to do precisely what Satan is attempting to inhibit: be vigilant, outspoken ambassadors of Jesus Christ. James tells that Satan will flee from us if we resist him (James 4:7). What better way to resist him than by giving our minds, mouths, hands, and feet over to the God-glorifying purposes from which he’s trying to keep us?
This is a defensive tactic I have recently implemented into my own wranglings with the devil, and it has been powerfully effective. About a month ago, anxiety began to terrorize me with unprecedented intensity. It came out of nowhere, concerning things about which I have no valid reason to be so anxious—which leads me to believe it was demonically induced. My initial reaction to this attack was to withdraw from everything and everyone. I didn’t want to write about Jesus, share him with my lost friends and family, or encourage fellow believers in the gospel. However, I soon realized that retreating into silence and isolation was only making things worse. I understood this particular anxiety was spiritual in nature and that I needed to resist—not cower to—the demonic forces that were fueling it. So, though I felt utterly void of the energy required to serve the Lord, I resolved, by his grace, to do so anyway. By faith in God’s faithfulness to strengthen me by his Spirit, I climbed out of my dark hole and started writing, sharing the gospel, and loving my neighbors amidst my anxious feelings.
Was it easy? The furthest from it! Every time I went to open my computer, speak of Christ, or love my neighbor, the temptation to refrain soared. However, as I continued to [imperfectly] push past this temptation and gave myself over to God’s purposes for my life, the Holy Spirit faithfully gave me the power I needed to resist Satan’s silencing tactics. And, as I resisted, the intensity of Satan’s oppression gradually dwindled—eventually ceasing altogether. When I really began to resist Satan by means of faith in God’s promises and participation in his glorious, redemptive purposes, Satan really did flee from me.
Will he return? Of course! Spiritual warfare is an ongoing reality in every believer’s life. Some seasons will be bloodier than others, but Satan will continue railing against us as long as we are striving to love and magnify the God he hates. However, he will also continue to flee from us if we will gird ourselves up and resist him. We don’t have to cower in the face of our spiritual oppression. He who literally lives within us is more powerful than all the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12) combined. We really can resist our Enemy—and the most effective means of doing so is by seeking, cherishing, and serving our glorious God.