Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

Spiritual Assaults

Written by Rev. G. Procee
That the devil assaults GodÕs children is very clear from Scripture and it is something the LordÕs people should be aware of. Being forewarned and being aware of the possibility of such assaults is already half the battle. The devil is the great adversary of the Lord Jesus Christ and will do everything in his power to destroy the church. He will try to destroy the ministers of the Word and office bearers. He will do all he can to destroy the people of God. He hates true preaching, the church of Christ, the conversion of sinners, and a holy walk. He will do everything to undermine GodÕs Word and prevent the salvation of sinners.

The Devil is Powerful
The devil is a powerful enemy. He is sly and cunning. He has more than 6,000 years of experience of tempting sinners. He will use every means available: money, sickness, the sword, pain, suffering, lust, sex, alcohol, possessions, thrills, pride, rebellion, disobedience, ease, fear, etc. to accomplish his aim.

God's Word shows many instances of how the devil assaults believers. ÒAnd I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heelÓ (Gen.3: 15). ÒBe sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devourÓ (1 Pet.5: 8). ÒAbove all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Eph.6: 16). GodÕs Word calls the devil the tempter, the liar from the beginning, the adversary, the wicked oneÓ

These Assaults Must be Resisted
GodÕs children should be aware of these assaults from the devil. They should gauge their reality. They should know what to do to resist these attacks and how to overcome the devil. People who are under the gospelÕs influence should be aware of the attacks of the devil. It is our calling to resist him. Resisting the devil can only be done in the power and by the grace of the Lord Jesus. He strengthens His people. Alone they will fall, but with the Lord they can fight and be more than conquerors. ÒSubmit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from youÓ (Jas.4: 7). ÒPut on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devilÓ (Eph.6: 11).

You should be aware that as soon as you want to repent and live according to the will of God, the tempter and adversary will come against you. He will use tricks and temptations to lead you astray or try to paralyse a life of holiness. We are to be watchful and be alert. There is no need to be afraid, but we are to be watchful, looking to the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to believe what GodÕs Word discloses about this reality and not be sinfully ignorant in this matter. We must be aware of the reality of the devilÕs attacks and not be surprised.

The Devil Comes as an Angel of Light
The devil can come in various ways. He can come with straightforward violence, but he can also come as an angel of light. ÒAnd no marvel; for Satan is himself is transformed into an angel of lightÓ (2 Cor.11: 14). He often approaches the godly under the pretence of light. Something can seem good to you but you feel uneasy about it; yet it seems to be quite acceptable. There seems to be nothing wrong with it. But it is a deception, a trap, and a snare to lead you away from the Lord.

If the evil one cannot lead you away from God and keep you trapped in a life of sinning against God, he will try to push you to the other extreme by making you over-zealous, over-precise and over-reactionary. If he cannot make you live a loose life, he will try to make you so precise and legalistic in your life that you will try to make your strictness earn merit with God and take pleasure in your own accomplishments instead of ChristÕs

If the devil cannot lead you to ignore sin, he may try the opposite and exaggerate and so magnify it as to make you think there is no grace for you and lead you to despair and despondency.

The Devil Tempts to Sin
The devil desires to tempt to sin. Sin is disobedience and rebellion against God and His will. It is the opposite of love. It is hatred and promotion of self over against God and the neighbour. The devil wants to lead people to commit all kinds of sins. When the idea of sin starts in the mind and the heart, the outward deed is not very far away. Just think of David and Bathsheba. David looked upon Bathsheba; then he desired her and summoned her to come to him. Then he committed a most dreadful and painful deed with terrible consequences for himself and his family.

His sin began with pride, false ease, and carnal security. Those are the feeding grounds for sin. David should have gone out with the armies to fight the battles of the Lord. But he stayed at home to enjoy his palace. This led to adultery, lying, backbiting, deceit, and excessive indulgence.

Sin Often Has a Small Beginning
Sin may have a small beginning that seems insignificant. Brakel says that the devil can create the wonderful illusion that you need to relax and thus he seeks to make you idle, thereby making you a suitable object for him to tempt you.

He will create the illusion that something is lawful entertainment. The devil can use insignificant things that do not appear to be sinful by concealing their sinfulness. Once a small sin is committed, another step, maybe very small, is taken. Bit by bit, very slowly, a Christian loses his or her strength and is led to commit outright sins and thus led into darkness. He can even be led away from God and fall away totally. It can very well turn out that such a person thought he or she was a believer but never knew the power of godliness. Such deceived themselves.

The Devil is not Omniscient
The devil knows the inclinations of your heart and knows your bosom sins. But he does not know everything that lives within you. God did not make the devil omniscient. Neither does the devil know who are the elect. The devil sometimes claims that he knows everything. But he is a liar and he is aware of your weak spots and there he assaults you.

He can present something to you suddenly and unexpectedly so that a temptation ignites immediately and some sin you thought you had under control, is committed again. When a sinner falls and desires to turn to the Lord, the devil says there is no hope for you; you have sinned too much. Then he tries to keep you away from prayer and from calling on the Name of the Lord. Finally, he leads you to commit sins of impatience, unbelief and despair.

Sinful Thoughts
The devil can also inject wicked thoughts into your mind. These thoughts can shock you and disturb you. You wonder where these thoughts come from. You detest the images that are brought to your mind and you are greatly troubled by them.

These thoughts are to torment you, and if possible, even to lead you to sin. The devil, however, does not know whether these thoughts will lead you to sin or not. He does not know the future. He does not know if you will fall or stand. But he tries. He wants to see how far he can go with you.

Such thoughts can also hinder your prayer life and make you unfit to serve God in faith, hope and love. God's children, however, should not let themselves be undone by such thoughts. They should ignore them and carry on. Resist them and fight against them. Do not believe these thoughts are yours. Often they come from the devil. These flashes are not your sins, but they are works of the devil. Therefore, you should not be troubled by them as sinful. Do not believe the insinuation that you are the source of these wicked thoughts.

Some of these hidden assaults on your mind may want you to say this or that or want you to do or think sinful things. The devil can even use Scripture by totally taking it out of context and thus inject a sinful thought, causing you to suspect God or make you think that a certain sin is permissible.

Once a child of God reasons and argues with the devil, the devil will hang on. What a child of God should do is to simply quote Scripture, again and again. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Sometimes the devil can plague you with the doctrine of election and hide the willingness of God to save or downgrade His offer of grace. When there is physical pain, he will try to instill doubts against God. He will try to make you feel confused by what God is doing and the way He is leading you. The devil will try to lead you to complain against God.

Sometimes the devil acts as a prophet and says: this or that will happen to you. But the devil is a pretender. He doesn't know the future. He has been a liar from the beginning.

Discerning Our Thoughts
How can we discern whether these thoughts are our own or come from the devil? Brakel gives an answer. The evil thoughts coming from the devil have these characteristics:

1. They occur suddenly, unexpectedly and are like lightning. They can occur even when one is engaged in a holy activity.

2. They are forcefully imposed upon us against our own will. They are unwanted thoughts, but they come back. We cannot avoid these thoughts, and we hate them.

3. They are accompanied with fear and terror so that our soul loses its composure and suddenly becomes incapable of reasoning rationally.

4. They are unnatural and repulsive to our nature.

Brakel concludes that such thoughts are not our own but come from the devil. They are as fiery arrows that dart in. He states, however, that all sinful frames of unbelief, fretfulness and despair come out of our own hearts. They can be the result of the assaults of the devil, but they do come forth from our own heart. That is because we let these sinful thoughts linger in our mind and give heed to them. We cuddle these wicked intrusions, but they bring unbelief and despair.

We need to be cleansed from wicked thoughts. The fact that wicked thoughts can enter our hearts shows us how depraved we are. If you are troubled that certain wicked thoughts originate in your own mind, remember that God delights in mercy. Confess your uncleanness and your lack of love. Confess that your mind is susceptible to wicked instigation. Ask the Lord to fill your mind with good thoughts. Meditate on GodÕs Word and read a good book. Turn your eyes away from vanity and beg the Lord for forgiveness. There is forgiveness and grace with the Lord Jesus Christ.

The next time we hope to look at how to resist the evil one.

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