I have heard many different whispers from Satan and his coworkers over my lifetime. One of his most persistent whispers has been Mike, you keep on sinning. God is tired of forgiving you—he can’t use you in ministry any longer. Another one I have heard often is Mike, you don’t know what you are doing. Your incompetency invalidates your ability to do ministry for God. I know now that both of these lies smell like smoke because they come from the pit of hell, but they are still hard to counter. The main reason why fighting these kind of lies is so difficult is that they are partially true. Satan is a master at taking truth and twisting it for his purposes. He is an expert at using half-truths. But I have learned an effective “two-step” strategy for battling these “half-truth” lies. It is based on the general principle of “agreeing with your adversary.” When two people are in an argument, if one person decides to agree with the other, the argument stops—it’s over. The first step, then, is to agree with the part of Satan’s accusation against you that is true. Then you must quickly move to step two which is to remind Satan of the whole complete truth.
An example of a warfare conversation in the battlefield of my mind might go something like this:
Satan: “Mike, you sin too much to be used by God.”
Mike: “You are absolutely right, Satan, when you say that I am a sinner and that I sin too much. But thanks for reminding me that I don’t relate to God based on my sin. I am a sinner saved by God’s grace, as the Bible says in Ephesians 2:8.”
Or perhaps this:
Satan: “Mike, you are incompetent. You can’t serve God.”
Mike: “You are absolutely right, Satan, when you say that I am unable to do much using my own abilities. But thanks for reminding me that God is my competency, just as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3:5.”
Notice that I used the truth of Scripture to battle Satan. I learned this from Jesus himself, in Matthew chapter four. When Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread or to throw himself down from the temple, Jesus used Scripture to put Satan in his place. The word of God is called the “sword of the Spirit,” and the Bible tells us to use it to battle Satan (Eph 6:17). The next verse tells us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers” (Eph 6:18). Prayer is one of our greatest weapons in fighting Satan, because it connects us with God. Satan is real, and he is powerful—more powerful than you or I—but he is in not more powerful than God, so we must stay connected to God in prayer and authentic relationship. Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Ephesians chapter six lists seven pieces of spiritual armor that we must wear when battling Satan: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the boots of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit (the Word of God), and prayer. If we can wear this God-given armor daily, we will continue to stand in our battles with Satan. We would be foolish to rush into battle each day unarmed and without protection. We must get up every morning and dress for battle, for the normal Christian life is not a playground: it is a battleground.
Satan is a defeated enemy thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but during our time on Earth, he has been given limited freedom. If we submit ourselves to God and resist Satan, the Bible tells us that Satan will flee from us (Jas 4:7). We need to be alert about Satan’s schemes against us so that we can resist him. The King James Version translates the first phrase of Ephesians 6:12 as “We wrestle not against flesh and blood.” Wrestling is a good metaphor for spiritual battle, for wrestling has no timeouts. In the same way, we don’t get to take a break from spiritual warfare: At no time is the battle not on, so we must be ready to counter whispered lies of the enemy in our minds every day.
REFLECTIONS: Try to articulate the kinds of accusations Satan or his coworkers constantly whisper to you. Work on agreeing with Satan for the part he says that is actually true. Read the list of spiritual armor in Ephesians 6. Which piece of armor are you missing? Write out some specific warfare prayers that you can memorize and use at a moment’s notice. Memorize specific passages of Scripture to use when Satan whispers lies to you.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
1 Peter 5:8-9