While it is said that that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” (William Congreve), I beg to differ. If you’ve walked as a Christian for anytime at all, and if you’ve had impact for Christ, you know that “hell” has a great fury and a desire for vengeance against those who are victorious at winning back the souls of men and women to their great and glorious God.
Satan doesn’t like losing control or possession of what he sees as his. His army of darkness is the same. If you take back land and people for God, you better be prepared to battle. But, unlike our fleshly response, Godly, honorable battle requires that we know some things, or, we’re going to lose. Here’s 3 things you should know if you’re going to step out for Jesus:
1) Expect Opposition and Expect Satan to be a SOB — Jesus warns in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13) that the seeds of the Kingdom of God are threatened almost as soon as they are exposed. As soon as we receive truth, there is a number of ways for that truth to die. If you receive direct revelation from God, that is confirmed by His word, to step out for Him, and you are excited, you can be sure that Satan, or one of his minions, will try and stop you. While I’ve always held that Satan doesn’t fight fair, a friend illuminated something about this for me today. She told me that SOB in the medical world stands for Shortness Of Breath. Satan is a disseminator of SOB. He will try to steal your joy, your confidence, your faith, your fearlessness, and your conviction. Expect it, and have Godly people around you to remind you to what God has called you to do. And, if you continue to fight for what God has called you to, you can expect that the enemy will hit back even harder. When this fight become tiresome, you must know that it is in Satan’s character to kick you while you are down. Retreating is not a form of defense against him. He will hunt you and try to finish your faith in yourself and your God. Never think that you will be able to battle him by yourself. You need a team of people around you (that’s why intimate small groups and accountability and loving church family are so important) and to know that it is really God who wins the battle, not us. Never get to the place that you stop asking Jesus to fight for you.
2) People, churches, and criticisms are not your enemy. Paul is very clear in Ephesians 6:12 that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness. There will come a time when you think that you are on your own. That people are your enemy. Especially when you are tired. Don’t push off correction. Don’t push off help. Verbalize your feelings. Say to people, pastors, friends: Are you my enemy? Because I feel that you’re my enemy right now. If that’s too emotional for you, just call out the specifics For example: I shared with you yesterday that I was experiencing “x” and you responded with “y.” Did you mean to imply this? If you feel your church is your enemy, walk through the Matthew 18 model (go to those that hurt you, go with a mediator, go to authority. If all fails, leave that place). Don’t feel sidelined or outcasted. He likes it when you’re alone. He likes it even more when you’re divided against your brothers because he knows what Jesus told us “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
3) Demons have no power that is not given to them. If the story of Job tells us anything, it’s that Satan has to ask permission before he does anything to us. The only thing that is greater than his destruction in our lives is God’s sovereignty. If you’re going into battle, you better have a good theology and experience of God’s sovereignty. You’re going to need it. When they hit you with fear, you respond with trust in the sovereignty of God. When they hit you with anger, you hit them with surrender to the sovereignty of God. When they hit you with foolishness, you choose to yield to the will and law of a God who loves you. When they hit with despair, you come back with gratitude for a good, gracious, all powerful, loving God. A belief that even if you don’t feel it. Even if you don’t see God working, that you know He is being sovereign and caring for you. These are all choices. And they are choices that will take everything you have. Make the right choice with what you have left in you.
Practice these disciplines in daily life. Practice them as you take thoughts captive. Practice because the day will come when it’s not practice anymore.
And above all, seek the Lord with all your heart. Never lose your love for Him. If your love is slipping for Him or His people, run back to Him as fast as you can.
With love and gratitude for a Father who taught me how to fight,
P.S. Implied in all of this is that you would pray and be in scripture. These are additional steps to those things. I assume those that are stepping out for God are practicing the spiritual disciplines.