“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Gen 3:15
This comic strip pretty much sums up my life this week. After such a spiritually high week of relishing in answered prayer, the enemy has made numerous attacks. He apparently did not appreciate my joy. I’ve struggled with everything from sickness to failed plans to despondency, even to writing this post! And I have to admit that I have not been as ummm…determined as the cave woman depicted in the comic strip. I found myself discouraged and wallowing in self-pity much too often this week.
Despite the humor I find in the comic strip, I do take spiritual warfare very seriously. I am very aware that it is not a little green snake that I am up against. Our Enemy and his minions are much more powerful, more cunning, more experienced, and much angrier than the spineless creature whose form he took in the Garden. He is a roaring lion looking for someone to devour; he is a cunning dragon with hatred and death in his eyes.
The rulers of this present darkness are watching us. They’ve been watching us from the beginning of time and are much more observant than we give them credit. They pick up on the little nuances that display our weaknesses even when sometimes we don’t even know where we are weak. My antagonist is very aware of the places in my life where I am struggling. He has no trouble finding the areas that will cause me to stumble or distract me from the tasks at hand. I definitely don’t have the best battle tactics. Sometimes I put my armor on crooked, allow holes in my shield of faith and let my sword (which is the Word of God) become unpolished, but my faithful Protector is gently showing me more and more of the battle plan (Eph 6:10-20).
I’m studying through the book of James in my personal time with the Lord. I’m going rather slowly trying to catch all that I can and to apply what I am learning to my life. Chapter 3 on the power of the tongue took a while… I’m sure I’ll be coming back to that chapter often. This week I’m in chapter four. James 4:6-10 says:
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
As I was studying these few verses of scripture, it struck me that this section begins and ends with humility. God “gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore…” at the beginning and “Humble yourselves before the Lord…” at the end of the section. And sandwiched between the two is spiritual warfare. “Resist the devil” it says, “and he will flee from you”. But how? How do I resist him? Only by humbly submitting myself to God. Only then can I have the strength to resist the devil. God “gives grace to the humble.” I’m learning that when I come to him with the knowledge that I can’t do anything on my own and have no strength of my own to combat the schemes of Satan, it is only then that I can “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” And then, “put on the whole armor of God, that [I] may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Eph 6:10-11)
Can you imagine if Eve would have said to Satan: “No, God doesn’t withhold any good thing from me. I will submit to Him. He knows what’s best for me.” Well, that is essentially what our Perfect Example did when He was tempted by the same evil serpent. But Jesus was not in a lush orchard filled with fruit and other good things to eat as Eve was when she was tempted. His trial was much more severe – in the harsh wilderness, fasting for forty days before the onslaught from the Enemy. But Jesus was victorious. And our Great High Priest will help us in our weakness to stand against the schemes of the devil as we humbly submit ourselves to God. (For more on this topic, I highly recommend the very readable book Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ by Russell D. Moore. It has become one of my very favorites.)
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Romans 16:20