In my last post, we considered Satan’s tactics and asked some very personal questions about where we see Satan at work. How do we fight back?
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)
Are we adept with the weapons of this kind of warfare? There are certain strategies that I think Wycliffe can apply, but for the purpose of this blog series, I’m going to keep it more generic.
1. Remember who your real enemy is. We do not fight flesh and blood. The person in front of you is not your enemy. It’s possible that he or she has been weaponized, but before you reach that conclusion, ask first whether he or she has been wounded. Pain, frustration, stress and failure can all cause behaviours that look like attack, but your brother or sister might not be the real attacker.
2. Practice the power of forgiveness. In my last post, I started with 2 Corinthians 2:10,11, where Paul reminds us that we know Satan’s tactics. The context is that Paul is asking the Corinthian church to forgive a brother. The two thoughts are not unrelated; forgiveness is the weapon Paul recommends so that Satan won’t outsmart us. Forgiveness, mercy, grace, confession and apology are clearly the weapons of the believer. They neutralize threats and diffuse conflict like nothing else. They’re unexpected by our culture and the enemy, and likely because, as we use these weapons, we reflect our Lord’s example.
3. Understand the promises of unity. Psalm 133:3 says that where brothers live together in unity, we can expect God’s blessing. John 17:21 says that in unity the world concludes that Jesus was sent by God. Division is easy. Unity in conformity is easy. But unity within our diversity is what God calls us to. It’s one of the hardest things to attain, but these promises give it nuclear power in the spiritual world.
4. Commit yourself to community. Knowing the tactics of a prowling lion encourages antelope to stick to the herd. Likewise, Dietrich Bonhoeffer begged believers to commit to life together. But he calls us to a higher standard than most church congregations reach, with their “pious fellowship.” Instead, he promotes something deeper: fellowship as a community of admitted sinners.
It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community
There are a lot of other weapons I could refer to, including commitment to truth, taking every thought captive, refusing to give in to condemnation, resisting the devil and discerning the spirits. I’ll cover one more in my next post: the proper clothing.
What weapons work for you? Which ones have I missed?
I very much appreciate #4 Commit Yourself to Community, and the definition of a community of sinners, forgiven sinners who recognize they themselves are sinners as well as those around them. Excellent Bonhoeffer quote.
Thanks, Jack. I admit I haven’t finished reading that Bonhoffer’s book that I took that quote from. Probably time to finish it, as it’s probably the preeminent text on the subject.