God has already decided who has the victory when we come under spiritual attack and will even fight the battle for us. But His power in us is limited by how much of the truth is in us.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
Spiritual attack is a sure sign that God is working. The greater the attack, the greater the work God is doing. The past two weeks reminded me over and over again that Satan pulls out all the stops to derail, detour, or defeat anything that God has planned. It started as a series of seemingly random and mildly irritating events that escalated into a full-blown physical, emotional and spiritual attack and a face-to-face confrontation with the spirit of death. Never before have I needed the full armour of God as much, nor experienced such a vicious and all-out hell-bent destructive encounter. Aside from the personal confrontation, this website was hacked and has taken two weeks to check the remaining data and reload the back-up posts as well as restore the theme customisations. But God is good. He is always there to guide, sustain, and strengthen us through it all.
Spiritual attack starts and ends with the Word.
This particular assault was triggered by the Gird with the Word challenge. I launched Gird with the Word on what I knew was the instruction of God on Saturday. By Monday, the site had been hacked and no longer existed – at least not in any format even vaguely resembling a website. Clearly, the devil does not want believers to learn the Word of God. While I don’t believe in dwelling on spiritual attack outside of praise to God for the victory, I do believe we should allow Him to ‘debrief’ us if He chooses to do so. In this particular case, He took me back to two truths. The one is the reason for the full armour of God and the reality of spiritual assault. The other is the critical role of the belt or girdle of truth.
Whether we are on the defensive or the offensive, no armour or weaponry God has given can stand alone in a spiritual attack. All are connected to and dependent on the belt of truth – the Word of God. I was reminded of the temptation of Christ. Satan knew the Word and wasn’t loathe to use it, albeit a little bent out of shape. This is a vital reason to learn the Word, to know what it actually says rather than what the deceiver tells us it says. In the same way, Jesus responded with the Word – the truth. Satan knows that the Word is eternal, all-powerful, and self-fulfilling. He will do anything He can to prevent the children of God learning the Word or using it effectively. Remember, Jesus is the Word. He is also the one who defeated the devil once and for all on the cross.
The breastplate of righteousness and spiritual attack.
Righteousness is our right standing with God, which comes only through the blood of Christ. That’s the truth. Jesus died on the cross for us so that we could share in His righteousness before God. But the devil is also known as the accuser. One of his common fiery arrows to challenge the truth of our righteousness. He’ll remind us of our sins and suggest that that they’re not all forgiven. He may suggest that we’re not ‘fully confessed’ and have left things out, distracting us and turning our attention from Jesus – from the truth – and onto ourselves. We cannot stand against spiritual attack if we stand in our own righteousness. The moment we focus on us rather than Jesus, we lose the victory because we lose the righteousness of Christ without which we cannot stand. Our armour develops a fatal chink.
The breastplate of righteousness is only effective when girded by the truth. Separate the truth, and the breastplate is simply cumbersome and without purpose. Part of spiritual attack is to question our standing in Christ. It’s through our righteousness in Christ that we draw near to God and into the place of sonship and heirs in Jesus, and access the full, complete, and perfect promises of salvation. The breastplate must be oiled and polished regularly to avoid rust and stiffness. This is the repeated application of the Word. When we know the Word, we know what it says about our righteousness and cannot be diverted or deceived. The truth in the Word makes our breastplate impenetrable. Satan’s lies have no power against the Word of God. They simply bounce off. Of course, reminding ourselves of what the truth is about our righteousness will speed things up a whole lot, too.
Spiritual attack and our Gospel shoes.
Aside from the connection to the command to ‘go and preach the Gospel,’ our shoes define where we stand. The Gospel is the full revelation and fulfilment of every single promise of God. Jesus is the ‘yea and amen’ to them all. He paid the price in full for every single one so that we can receive freely from God by grace. But many believers wear flip-flops rather than battle boots. They’ve got the basics – a little bit of sole and not much else. These is because they don’t know the full truth of the Gospel. They have the ‘saved’ bit but live in the assumption that it concerns our spirits only. Yet the little Greek word ‘sozo’ means equally saved, healed, or delivered, depending on the contexts. Yet these things, as well as every promised blessing, are already ours in Christ. In spiritual attack, we need Gospel boots.
Are our shoes standing on the truth? It’s a question we need to ask ourselves. If we’re standing only on half-truth, we have half-assurance and half-faith. In other words, we’re spiritually crippled, a lame duck easily picked off. To know the Word means to know the fullness of the Gospel. When darkness comes against us with disease and bondage, we can stand firm on the truth. We don’t have to rush off to find the truth because we sleep with our spiritual boots on. But their efficacy depends on how much of the truth we know and have in us. In spiritual attack, our shoes provide our stability. Strong truth-laced boots enable us to resist the devil, no matter what he throws our way. It gives ‘stand on the Word’ a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?
Spiritual attack and the shield of faith.
Back in the old days, this was an essential item. Soldiers could literally build a shield wall to protect their division depending on how the positioned their shields. But where does faith come from? It comes from hearing the Word of God. Without the truth, our shield is useless. It may last a short while, but real faith is only possible when it’s Word-based. Anything else is like ‘dress up’ and has no substance. The purpose of the devil in any spiritual attack is to separate us from God and from His truth. Once we’re isolated from our source and the power of His Word, we’re easy pickings. Standing on half-truth won’t work. It’s only when faith is fed from the absolute assurance that comes from the knowledge of God’s Word that faith is empowered. Then we can stand in faith – the truth – and know that the victory is ours.
To grasp this, we must go back to the truth of the cross. Faith, in itself, is a gift of God. It’s not something that we can conjure or create. It comes from God alone. But it is through faith that we access all the things of God. Faith is essentially ‘believing we have it’ because God said it. Satan loves to point our reality in spiritual attack – those things that seem to make faith blind trust or wishful thinking. Real faith doesn’t deny reality, but it does exalt God above the impossible. When we really know the Word of God, we are able to raise up a shield of faith that is impenetrable. That’s because real faith is empowered by God, not ourselves. When we believe for all He has promised no matter, that’s faith based on ‘it is written’ rather than on what we think He said.
The helmet of salvation in spiritual attack.
This is a biggie, because it protects the brain. And the brain, of course, is the place of self-life and self-deception. It’s often the area Satan will target first because he loves to use our own wrong habits, thought-patterns, and fears to direct us. Salvation is the message of the Gospel of peace. So we have Gospel shoes and a Gospel hat as well. That’s not coincidence. But salvation is also the message of defeat and Satan hates it. He knows, even if we don’t live it fully, that Jesus defeated him at the cross. The devil has no hope of regaining the victory. At best, he can take as many people with him at the end as he can. In the meantime, he’ll do whatever he can through spiritual attack to prevent God’s people from living in the full Gospel or speaking the full Gospel. It buys him time.
The helmet of salvation reminds us that God is the boss. We’re surrendered and He’s Lord of lords. Our brains happily betray us and find justification to do so. But the helmet only functions if the truth is in us. Unless we have the Word of God working in us to help us control our minds, they become a frightening battleground. It’s here that we tear down our strongholds, but our counter-strike has to be like Jesus’ – it is written. Negative thoughts must be replaced by the truth of God’s Word. But in the heat of a spiritual assault, it’s too late to ‘carbo-load’ on the Word. The helmet helps to keep the truth in as much as it does to keep the lies of the devil out. Salvation reminds us of the victory, but we have to know the truth to walk in the full power of the Gospel.
Wielding the sword of the Spirit in spiritual attack.
This is really our only offensive weapon. The others are all defensive – block and parry and perhaps sneak in a scratch or two. Spiritual attack follows similar principles to worldly warfare. Sometimes, we’re defending ourselves from what the enemy throws at us. But there is a point in any battle where we have to take up the sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God – and go on the offensive. It’s not victory to simply prevent the devil from winning. We have to drive him from the field. Send him home, fully reminded of Christ’s victory in our lives. Here, truth is critical. In fact, it’s everything. The Spirit of God works with the amount of truth in us. The battle isn’t ours but the Lord’s. Through the Spirit, He harnesses the truth within us to shape our sword. We speak, and the Spirit empowers it to fulfilment.
We limit God’s power when we limit our knowledge of the Word. To gird is to hold all in place, and the sword hangs on the belt of truth. In a sense, the belt is kind of our ‘repository’ for the Word of God in us. When on the offensive against Satan in spiritual attack, we change the dynamic of the assault. Through the Word in us which we speak, the full power of God works through the Spirit to enforce it. We need only do two things. First, know the Word. Not know about it, vaguely remember that God said something somewhere, or even mixing things up a little. It means know it like it’s a part of us. Second, we speak the Word. That is how we wield the sword of the Spirit. The moment we speak the Word, the Spirit is there to make it happen.
Spiritual attack can only be defeated by the Word.
Jesus has already obtained the victory. It’s done and dusted. He is also the Living Word. When we put more of the Word in us, we put Jesus in us. If we have more of Jesus in us, we have more of His victory in us. We need the power of God’s truth more than ever in this generation when Satan and his cohorts are turning up the heat. If you’re still living a half-Gospel and have never received and walked in the promises of God given in full at salvation, the only answer is the Word. Prayer shouldn’t be disregarded. Reading the Bible is as important. But getting the Word inside us is the key to victory, because spiritual attack can only be defeated by the Word. It’s a battle the Living Word has already one.
Thank You, Jesus, for all that You purchased for us on the cross. We honour You for Your selfless sacrifice and are in awe of all that You achieved on our behalf. Help us to fix our eyes on You and to learn the Word that is You, the revelation of all that God is and has for us. Protect us and guide us, but most of all, grant us a hunger and thirst for Your Word that we have never had before. Help us to remember always that Your Word is immutable truth – it cannot be changed, destroyed, or diminished, and will remain for eternity.