Pastoral Exhortation

The Assaults of the Enemy

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 19 April 2015

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In opposing and rebelling against God, Satan and his demons target their attacks at the believers. It is because of their hostile activities that Christians are caught in that intense struggle mentioned by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” These satanic forces are unleashed against us to accomplish “the wiles (schemes) of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Satan and the demons are constantly conniving to discourage and defeat the saints in their individual and corporate life and ministry.

Scripture does not say that all our struggles with evil come directly from demons. Much of these also stems from our own evil nature (Romans 7:21-24; James 1:14-15) and from the world of lustful men around us (Ephesians 2:2-3; 1 John 2:15-17). Nevertheless, we must recognise that there are a great number of unseen hosts of evil spirits arrayed against us and we must prepare for this battle by putting on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:11).

The devices of the devil against God’s people and the church are many. It is not possible to describe all of them in this article but some of the more common ones are mentioned here.

AGAINST INDIVIDUALS

Assault on the Spiritual Life of Believers

The armour of God reflects the kind of spiritual attacks we may expect. Ephesians 6:14-18 suggests that Satan and the demons will hit us at the most crucial points in which our usefulness to God will be greatly affected.

They attack our confidence in God’s truth and promises, as well as our stand for righteousness (v. 14). These demons will also seek to cripple our Gospel efforts (v. 15). Our faith in Christ would also be threatened as fiery darts of trials and testing are hurled at us (v. 16). Lastly, our assurance of salvation will be under siege as they try to cloud our minds and cast doubt on the Word of God.

Assault on the Physical Body of Believers

The battle may also shift to the physical realm as demons can likewise attack by inflicting Christians with various maladies. Satan afflicted Paul with a “thorn in the flesh”. Paul pointed out this physical difficulty or sickness in 2 Corinthians 12:7 and referred to it as “the messenger [angel] of Satan to buffet” him. Most likely it was a demon that caused his affliction, but only because God had allowed it according to His sovereign purpose.

The same affliction can also be seen in the life of the Old Testament saint named Job. Satan had probably used demons to afflict Job in order to get him to turn against God (Job 2:7-9).

AGAINST THE CHURCH

Satan and the demons seek to oppose the main purposes of the body of Christ. The church is to glorify God, extend the Gospel and be edified in God’s truth (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:7-11). These activities are sure to draw the malicious attention of the devil and his minions. Hence, believers can expect the demons to spare no effort in frustrating these purposes in many ways.

Doctrinal and Practical Schisms

The church is to keep the unity of the Spirit in the body of Christ; such unity is to be maintained in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3- 6). Demons would love nothing better than to divide the church, whether locally or universally.

They will seek to create schisms within the church by promoting doctrinal divisions. Speaking through false teachers (1 Timothy 4:1-3), they will generally deny or cloud the truth of Christ’s deity, humanity, or His substitutionary sacrifice and its appropriation by faith (1 John 4:1-4). In view of this, God’s ministers should unambiguously teach and gently correct those who are influenced by them so that they may repent “to the acknowledging of the truth”, and thereby escape from “the snare of the devil” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

Demons will promote practical divisions, too. Because of earthly, sensual and even devilish wisdom that can pervade the lives of God’s people, jealousy, selfishness, arrogance and a contentious spirit could so easily arise (James 3:14- 16). Demons can exploit the fleshly lusts of Christians to create strife among the believers (Galatians 5:19-21, 26). They may even cause believers who are filled with carnal wisdom, to misguidedly rally around several of God’s servants to stir up partisan feelings (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).

Their evil work can also include causing the believers to harbour ill feelings towards a sinning brother and inciting differences of opinion as to his treatment. As a result, an attitude of resentment or a lack of full forgiveness among the brethren may open the door for Satan to cause further conflicts (2 Corinthians 2:5-11).

Hindrance to the Gospel Ministry

The Satanic hosts have always sought to hide the Gospel message from lost sinners, by blinding their minds (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) and perverting the Gospel message (Galatians 1:7-8). They will strive to hinder the Gospel preachers from performing their responsibilities (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18). As a result, they sometimes cause the Gospel efforts of the minister to be misunderstood (vv. 2-16). Believers ought to pray for deliverance from such evil plots so that the Gospel ministry may extend rapidly and God be glorified (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).

Persecution of God’s People

Christ warned the church in Smyrna of satanic persecution that would result in imprisonment for some of them, bringing about tribulation and possibly death (Revelation 2:8-10). Demons would be involved in this. They can play out this persecution through religious sources such as “the synagogue of Satan” (v. 9). Jesus has warned His disciples to be wary of some religious fanatics who may think that in opposing true believers, they are doing God a service (John 16:1-3). This will be the scene in the last great apostate ecumenical religion. Demons will be instigating men to persecute and kill true believers (Revelation 18:24).

CONCLUSION

Since his incursion into the garden of Eden (the perfect world of God’s creation), Satan and his demons have always been on the prowl looking to frustrate God’s people in their desire to live godly lives. Our Christian faith is constantly being sifted as we go through trials, temptations, attacks and assaults from demonic beings.

Therefore, we must be vigilant against our enemy and his ploys, and resist him (1 Peter 5:8-9). As the apostle Paul admonishes us, let us “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” and “put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).