Rather you want to believe it or not, the Word of God guarantees our struggle here on Earth. There is no promise for an easy life in Gods’ word. He tells us to put our burdens on Him and promises us rest. He assures us He will never leave us nor forsake us, and everything we go through will work to our good. However, He does not promise us a life free of trial, tribulation, struggle and strife.
We’re told the enemy is combing the land in search of people to devour. We’re instructed to resist the devil and in doing so he will flee from us. We are admonished to bring even our thoughts under Christ as our imaginings can be our downfall. Our Heavenly Father sent His Word to fortify us. We’re told we will win the struggle if we persevere, endure, and continue in patience and faith. In fact, we are already victorious.
The enemy is indeed a powerful adversary. Cunning and scheming. His greatest weapon is the power of suggestion. What does he usually suggest? Something really subtle. Your mind takes over from there. When is the enemy successful? When you act on his suggestion and ignore God’s direct instructions.
What image comes to mind when you think of the enemy (aka satan, devil)? What image do you envision when you think of your deadliest combatant? Your most lethal foe?
Here’s an exercise: grab a mirror; take a look. View your greatest enemy. Weapon of choice: doubt. No one can shut you down as completely as you can shut yourself down simply by doubting who you are and what you know to be the true in Christ.
1. To be uncertain about; consider questionable; hesitate to believe
2. To distrust
3. To be undecided in opinion or belief
Doubt is a wicked word. Mostly because it’s so unassuming. It’s a synonym for disbelief. During my study of doubt, I’ve become intrigued by the theory of doubt as the original sin, which then made way for disobedience. The question that led to the fall: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” That’s basically how the enemy operates, misrepresentation and exploitation of our desires. Temptation itself is not sin, yielding is.
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. ~ James 1:14-15
Though we are victorious conquerors through Christ Jesus, we can forfeit our victory. Doubt can nullify your faith when you take your eyes off of God, remove your focus from His Word and allow your faith to diminish. You can render yourself ineffective. Doubt can cripple your walk. Entertaining doubt can destroy you. Belief and obedience are basic requirements to prosper in God’s Kingdom. Your thoughts are precursors to your actions. We are admonished to not only be hearers of the Word but to be doers also (James 1:22). If you doubt the Word, what are you going to do? Truly? My guess is… nothing. And right there, by your continued inaction due to your unbelief or uncertainty your victory is lost. Or, at the very least, compromised. We deceive ourselves when we think believing by itself is enough to grow in the Kingdom. God always requires action – obedience to His instructions.
Here’s another exercise: look in the mirror again. View your strongest warrior. Weapon of choice: faith.
1. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1
2. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. ~ Hebrews 11:3
3. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. ~ Hebrews 11:6
I will stand before you today and tell you I fear nothing and no one. There’s nothing I can’t do, if I put my mind to it. There’s no obstacle too great. The bigger the challenge, the greater my determination. Two verses eliminated fear from my life.
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. ~ Colossians 2:9-10
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
For the past few years I have been learning to walk in my dominion. Wherever my feet tread is space God has provided for me (Joshua 1:3). I belong wherever I am. Whatever He has given me is mine to keep. Whatsoever I desire is mine for asking. I have only to think, speak, and walk in the name of Jesus. Then consider it done. That’s a powerful faith. A faith that has allowed God to move miraculously in my life.
How then does my enemy stand a chance of manipulating me? He gained an opportunity to get me to doubt myself. This strand of self-doubt sounded like: Have I applied God to my own selfish desires? If I was wrong about this pursuit, what else have I been wrong about? How can I trust my judgment in other areas, if I can’t trust my judgment in this (a thought I had been committed to for years). If I can’t trust myself to hear God correctly, then I certainly can’t trust myself to act on His behalf. One doubtful thought slipped in and spawned so many others I became incapacitated. I, through self-doubt, became my greatest enemy, capable of stopping my forward motion.
How did I leave that door open and unguarded?
I made myself vulnerable, which isn’t a sin within itself. However in my vulnerability I sought reassurance from others. So that seed of doubt took root and spouted from neglect, silence, lack of communication, the well-meaning criticism of friends and the not-so-well-meaning venom of others. Suddenly, my thoughts were in full-fledge war. You’re stupid! No, I’m not! You were wrong! How can I be? Remember this? Yes, but I also, remember that. Back and forth the argument went with plenty of evidence supporting both sides.
Somewhere in this struggle, I realized I had looked to people walking in the flesh to support my walk in the spirit. How had my thinking gotten so off?
I had taken my focus off the Word. I was concerned about my situation and sought to console myself with other peoples view point. My defenses were weakened and the enemy wouldn’t be the excellent enemy he is if he didn’t take advantage of the opportunity I provided.
Shield of Faith
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. ~Ephesians 6:10-17
I am equipped to withstand attacks. However, when this last attack of self-doubt came, I wasn’t ready. I had grown weary. Tired, listless, anxious. Lonely. I didn’t think I had put God to the side, but perhaps that’s implied when I began to focus on my shortcomings instead of His amazingly abundant provision. I know a truth I can’t explain even when breaking it into tiny nuggets of understanding. Perhaps my righteousness started to sound too much like unwarranted arrogance. My idea of being ready was chasing the bull down, grabbing the horns and jumping on its back, then rubbing its neck to sooth its agitation. But to do all that, I had to set down my sword and my shield. Where did that leave me?
I was so busy doing that I crossed the line into doing too much. At some point, I had stopped exercising my faith and started laboring in the flesh. God is never glorified or honored when you look to your own hand rather than His for results.
The Word of God says FAITH will extinguish/put out/destroy ALL flaming arrows/attacks from the enemy. (Ephesians 6:16). As long as I am standing firm in my faith, I’m protected. As long as I’ve done all I’ve been told to do; all I know to do, I am free to stand on faith that the outcome will be according to God’s perfect will.
As difficult as doubt can be, it can also be a strengthening agent to your faith and an energizer to your walk – once you overcome it. Keep up the good fight of faith! When you work through the labyrinth of screeching, halting, careening doubts tossing you to and fro in your mind, you re-enter the peace you have in God through our Lord Jesus Christ because of your faith (Romans 5:1). When you work through a difficult case of “doubts” you become more firm than ever in your faith and reliance on God. And that, my people, is why we are guaranteed struggle and should consider it a joyful process. Without struggles we would just be; with them we become… better, greater, more Christ-like.
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. ~ Romans 5:2-5
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. ~ 1 Peter 5:8-11