It’s cool the different ways God gets your attention about something. For me recently, that “something” has been the devil. I feel like God has gone out of His way to impress on me the gravity of the spiritual battle we find ourselves in. If we had eyes to see, we’d know that there are bullets flying past our head and that there is a war being waged. There is an enemy who hates God and hates the people of God. And we need to resist him. We need to fight him.
How did God get my attention?
1. Two weeks ago, the elders at 7MR and the guys who are in the pastor prep track went away for a retreat together. We read through the book of 1 Thessalonians. We came across phrases like, “Satan hindered us.” So Paul wanted to go to Thessalonica, but he couldn’t. And he says – it was the devil. We talked for a while about the idea of a real enemy who is seeking to trip us up and stop us from doing God’s work. It was a great, long conversation, and through it, I was reminded that we have an enemy who is actively seeking to hinder us.
2. Shainu and I were fighting a lot. Wait, I know what you’re thinking. Don’t you love it when Christians blame the fact that they are wretched sinners on the devil. So whenever we screw up – we weasel out of it by saying, “Oh it was the devil. He made me do it.” (Right, like the devil poured you that 9th shot of Jose Cuervo). But this was different. We totally confess that we were wicked sinful during these fights. But it just seemed like the enemy was sitting on a perch with a sniper-scope aimed at our marriage. There have been a bunch of things recently that could have discouraged us in this last month as we head for Philly. And yet we walked through each (by God’s grace) with our eyes turned upward and joy in our hearts. But it just felt like the enemy found the one thing that could really cripple us in this season. Isn’t it odd that just a few weeks before we leave Boston, when we’re leaving close friends, when we need to cling to each other…just then, we would start to turn on each other. It has felt like our marriage has had a giant bullseye on it, and I was reminded again that we have a real enemy.
3. As soon as we recognized that our marriage was in the line of fire, we repented, confessed to other believers, cried out to Jesus, and renounced the enemy and his schemes. The very next day, we get an email from a dear friend who had been praying for us. The Holy Spirit had impressed her to pray and share 1 Peter 5:6-11 with us:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen
4. This past Sunday, Matt preached from 1 Timothy 6. Guess what the sermon was about? That’s right. Fighting Satan. I wish I was more Pentecostal because there were about 10 times in the sermon when I wanted to shout AMEN at the top of my lungs (but the Mar Thomite in me couldn’t open my mouth). I was reminded that Jesus has crushed the head of the serpent. “He has knocked his teeth in, stripped him naked, and made a public spectacle of him.” And in Christ, that victory is mine! Seriously, you should think about hearing the sermon.
Today I am reminded of Luther’s great hymn:
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.