Why doesn’t God stop him in his tracks?
It’s obvious that the enemy of our faith is at work in the world, sometimes very close to where we live. We wonder why he seems to be getting away with so many murderous acts, causing so much chaos, turmoil and tragedy.
Reminders of several basic facts:
- War is being waged for control of this planet, control of the people who live on the planet, and eradication of the people inhabited by the Creator of the planet.
- God gave control of this planet to human beings. Stopping the enemy is our job. We’re not doing a very good job of it, but it’s still our responsibility.
- It’s not an even fight, the sides aren’t even close to equal – but you’d never know that from the way some folks act. Or don’t act.
- We are the conquerors!
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39 NIV, emphasis added.)
- “(God our Savior) who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (I Tim. 2:4)
- “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9)
- God made a way for that to happen: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
The devil’s goal:
His goal is to destroy the things God loves above all – people, human beings created in His image. To do that, the enemy will try to:
- Kill every human being he can, Christians or not
- Prevent every human being he can from becoming Christians
- Prevent every Christian he can from bringing other human beings to Christ
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (I Peter 5:8-9)
Well, the enemy himself is not flesh and blood. He just stirs up flesh and blood to perform as his willing servants, or as his unwitting instruments.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12)
Stopping particular people the enemy is using will not stop him from picking other people to use. We should indeed do whatever we can to stop (or prevent) attacks by those people. But that’s certainly not all – we should also:
Learn how to fight the real enemy:
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)
Changing the mind and heart of the person is the only answer to shutting out the enemy from using that person to do evil. Praying, sharing God’s Word, God’s kind of love and life (living the gospel), displaying a God-filled life, are steps toward that change.
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” (2 Tim. 2:24-26)
You can shout and yell at people, but that won’t make them listen. You can shout and yell at the devil, but that won’t make him listen either.
Only taking authentic authority over him will work to stop his activity. And first you have to know he’s real, and that he’s really the one behind the evil actions.
“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.’
“Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.” (Acts 19:11-16)
Weapons of war:
Acknowledge that YOU have been given spiritual weapons. Know what they are and learn how they work. Recognize who is actually behind the evil activity you see. Ask God what to do about it and listen for his reply. The Holy Spirit will tell you what to do. Some weapons at our disposal include:
- Spiritual armor. (Eph. 6:10-18) This includes defensive and offensive equipment. “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11) “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Withstand and resist are the same Greek word.
- Gifts of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor. 12) We need supernatural information, wisdom on how to make use of it, faith, miracles, healing.
- Discerning of spirits. (I Cor. 12) We especially need to know whether the wicked behavior is caused by human or evil spirits. Believers can exercise authority over evil ones, but human spirits require other approaches.
- The Word of God. (Hebrews 4:12) Knowing it’s in the Bible isn’t going to help if you don’t know the scripture itself. Study. Learn. Get it in your memory banks.
- Prayer and intercession. (I Tim. 2:1-2) Ask specific requests, based on knowledge of the scriptures and who you are in Christ, being led by the Holy Spirit as you ask.
- Love and forgiveness are powerful weapons. “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.” (Luke 6:27-28) Remember, the kindness of God leads men to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
- Your own testimony. “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Rev. 12:11)
- Spiritual authority. (Matt. 28:18-20) Jesus told the disciples to do what he had been doing, and to teach others to do the same things. That includes you and me. He gave us this authority because he knew we were going to need it.
Matthew 18:20 says, “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” And “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” (Mark 16:20) Note: signs won’t confirm God’s word that isn’t preached, taught, or spoken.
- Stand firm in the faith. Having done all to stand, stand. Stand firm. (Eph. 6:13)
- Pray in faith, speak in faith. “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:17-18)
If you look up those events in I Kings 17 and 18, you see that Elijah didn’t actually pray about the rain stopping and starting – he just spoke about the rain. Whatever praying he did, he did beforehand, surely to ask the Lord for instructions on what to do next.
- Don’t waver back and forth in doubt, hoping for the best. “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7)
- Confidently expect results. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:16) “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.” (I John 5:14-15)
Weapons don’t wield themselves:
The problem is, too many Christians think all this is automatic – that they don’t have to be on their guard, don’t have to put on any armor, don’t have to exercise authority, don’t have to resist the devil, don’t have to pray for their enemies, don’t have to share the gospel, in other words, they don’t have to wield any weapons.
It’s as if they think, Let the preacher do it, let the missionaries do it, I don’t have to do it myself. They may pay a high price for that mistaken belief.
(Originally published in 2015 — still appropriate.)