Fiery Darts

by Mike Ratliff

Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” (Revelation 22:11 ESV)

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan is a allegory of the journey of one man, Christian, who is saved and makes the journey to escape his home town, The City of Destruction. The journey takes him to the cross by him entering the narrow way by way of the narrow gate that few find. After the burden of sin is taken away at the cross he journeys until he reaches the Celestial City.

One of the most interesting places he must travel through is called The Valley of Humiliation. It is the place where all Christians must travel through in order to reach Heaven. In the Valley their pride is attacked while their humility is cultivated. They are taught to rely solely on the Lord instead of their own wits or reason or abilities. In the book, Christian finds Apollyon there who is enraged that he had lost one of his subjects, who of course is Christian. A battle ensues. Apollyon does Christian much damage, but Christian uses his armor, sword and shield to fight to save his life. One of the main weapons of our enemy is his fiery darts. What are they?

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:11-20 ESV)

The schemes of the devil take many forms, but when they come into contact with a believer they take the form of a temptation. For most of my Christian walk I have always assumed that temptations involved lusts of some kind or perhaps had something to do with stealing, murder, or lying. I have always applied these temptations to some sort of beguilement that would entangle us into sins against the standards we find in the Ten Commandments. However, there is another form of these temptations from our enemy, fiery darts or flaming darts, which are enticements to react towards an offense from a platform of self-righteousness. For example, someone cuts you off in traffic, or keeps changing lanes in front of you so that no mater what you do you can’t pass them, or someone steals your parking place, or deliberately drives slow in front of you, or drives in such a way that you must adjust to them is a way that you don’t want to do.

Notice that all of my examples had to do with driving. However, if you ever go shopping in Wal-Mart or Target or the Mall or the grocery store you will encounter pretty much the same sort of disregard for common courtesy that is rampant on our roads. If you have a high standard for these things then our enemy knows how to shoot you with many fiery darts in order for you to react in a way that is not Christ-like. If we are not clinging to Christ, totally dependant upon Him as we walk through our day, then we are sitting ducks for these darts. My anger over the inconsiderate way other people drive causes me much heartache when I get alone with God later to confess and repent. I have been asking Him why I can’t simply let this go. Why do I react with such anger? Today, I was watching the trailer for the new Pilgrim’s Progress movie and saw the scene where Apollyon attacks Christian with a fiery dart that he handles deftly with his shield. It was as if God showed me right then that the rise in anger when people are rude and inconsiderate is the product of a fiery dart. My response to it is my fault for not clinging to Jesus and trusting Him. Instead, I rely on my own righteousness and am ambushed into reacting in anger.

Therefore, what are we to do? We must use our armor, especially our shield of faith. The word Paul used in Ephesians 6 for this shield was the one that described a large 2.5 x 4.5 foot shield that a person could hide behind. In the analogy that it is our shield of faith, Paul is telling us that to fight off the fiery darts or flaming darts we must put our trust in God and His promises. When we are at peace in our hearts with God and are relying on Christ to protect and sustain us then fiery darts are easily extinguished as we respond in His joy instead of our anger. All our sin comes when we fall to Satan’s lies and promises. When I am tempted to react in righteous anger against people who are rude and discourteous he is telling me that I have the right to do so and that I will feel a lot better if I simply give in and react in anger. That, of course, is a lie. However, we must remember that when we are full of adrenalin and are at the crux of the conflict that we must not give in to what we are being tempted to do. Instead, we must cry out to God for help, deny our selves, take up our crosses and rely on Christ to help us carry them. If we will do this then we will extinguish those fiery darts easily. Then we will see them for what they really are.

The schemes of the devil are designed to drive a wedge between God and us so that we lose fellowship with Him because of our sin and guilty consciences. However, God is good. He has given us His truth and if we will learn it and live by it, we will not carry out the desires of our flesh, but will walk by the spirit. Let us put on the whole armor of God and not let our enemy’s fiery darts take us down anymore. Soli Deo Gloria!

20 thoughts on “Fiery Darts

  1. I can’t wait to see the movie about the book I have loved for years. Besides being persecuted for our faith, I believe the devil’s most fiery darts are sent between family members. Husbands and wives, parents and children, and even among God’s people. Without faith and love those darts can be deadly.

  2. Same here Rick. It seems that the fiery darts coming my way are all try to get me to act self-righteously. We are all unique so your battles and mine may be very different. :-) In any case, our enemy seems to know what our besetting sins are so we much be vigilant and always ready to do battle the only way we can, which is to rely totally on our Lord through faith, prayer and His Word.

  3. I have the same problems with my anger in traffic and stores. God has been dealing with me on this for a very long time. My attitude is just one place where I have to fall upon Christ because I can’t handle it of my own accord! I didn’t know that they were making a movie about The Pilgrim’s Progress. I hope they do it justice. When you go see it will you do a review of it on your site so that the rest of us know whether or not to spend our money seeing it? When is it suppose to come out?

  4. In my own Christian life fiery darts come from many angles and at various times. The one constant variable I see is the devil loads up with ammunition as I grow in the Lord and at a time where I feel almost hand in hand with my savior the evil one sounds the fiery charge. Using people, situation, or even parking strife he is not partial to any angle. I believe the devil goes on a destructive mission with even more drive toward those who are seeking the Lord. Believers who are stagnent in their walk are less of a spiritual threat then those who have their eyes set on the cross through the Holy Spirit. Great post Mike It reminded me of David and Goliath when they put the human armor on him and it was to heavy and useless. David had the full armor of God on and through that the victory was won! May I shed off the human armor that I sometimes put on! In His Name

  5. Mike:
    Thanks for this article. I hate it that Satan is so ruthless as to always attack most viciously when life’s circumstances are the hardest….He does indeed wait for a more opportune time. How grateful I am for God’s Word, His Holy Spirit and the overcoming grace available to all true believers. Wendy

  6. Sarah,

    It is a good thing to confess these things to one another. That way we know we are on common ground. We are forgiven, but in process.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  7. Great comment Jonathan. Yes, our enemy uses all of his devices against us. I too am guilty of using human armor. It is like paper against Satan’s fiery darts though.

  8. How have I learned to deal with offenses by the people the devil uses?Pray for them.I believe it was Oswald Chambers who said that difficult people are put across our path so that we may pray for them.God knows who needs prayer and may very well allow the enemy to place these people in our path to do the evil one’s work to see if we will pray for them.Prayer seems to get little recognition in all the teachings I have heard on the armor of God,yet it is a vital part of our battle.In whatever you do,whoever offends you at work,while shopping,or the neighbors you must deal with,pray for them and thank God that He gave you the privilege to do so.And it will knock that self-righteousness right out of you!

  9. What a timely message for me Mike……….I really needed to hear this today. Our Heavenly Father in really working on me in this area, but it is really hard, especially when the darts come from those who call themselves my brothers and sisters in Christ. It seems that to be accepted I have to see it ALL their way and I just can’t do that anymore………..Praise God

  10. Mike,

    Every so often the Lord will give me a dream that clarifies or strengthens my understanding of a spiritual truth. These dreams are often so vivid and lifelike that when I awake I am surprised to realize it was in fact a dream. This happened to me last night.

    In this dream I was being led down into the basement of a tall and pristine building with my hands handcuffed behind me. The basement was clean but dark and depressing. There was a well dressed gentleman walking beside me explaining that I was a prisoner in this place and would spend the rest of my life here. He seemed very friendly but serious in the way he spoke. I was placed in a cell with another inmate who by all appearance had been in this prison for some length of time. He kept saying over and over no one can escape from this place. After a time of listening to him rant about no possible escape we both were taken to a holding place where many other prisoners were standing around looking decimated and forlorn. I spoke out loud so that all could hear and asked if anyone had attempted to escape this prison. The looks of shock and contempt on their faces told me immediately that the idea of escaping was nothing more than insanity on my part. All of a sudden a prison guard stepped out of the shadows and pointed a bazooka at me and fired. The shell went whizzing by my head causing a tickling of my ear and a ringing in my head. I turned to see what happened to the shell and it simply faded out of sight without exploding. I asked another guard standing close by what had happened to the shell and he said it had disappeared. I asked why. He looked straight into my eyes and said, “Because it was never real to begin with.”

    All of a sudden it hit me. Everything about this prison was a lie and I was only a prisoner because I believed the lie. Courage and strength swelled up inside me and I boldly proclaimed that I was leaving this place and nothing could prevent it. I proceeded to walk out of that holding place toward the hall where the elevators were. I hollered at my cell mate to come and leave with me. With fear and trepidation he started towards me while all the other prisoners chided him. The gentleman who had escorted me to the prison cell earlier came running down the hall screaming that no way was he going to let us leave this prison. With calm and certainty I told him we were leaving and there was nothing he could do to prevent it from happening. As we waited for the elevator to arrive this gentleman kept listing all the reasons why we could not leave and would have to stay for the rest of our lives. Our wait dragged on and my cellmate started to cry and moan saying how foolish we were thinking we could escape. I told him to trust God and believe He would deliver us. Suddenly the elevator door opened and we all stepped inside. We went up to the ground level floor and the door opened to the outside. Brilliant sunshine and crisp clean air welcomed us. It felt so good to begin walking down the narrow highway that would take us to our true home. All the while that gentleman was inside the elevator yelling that we had no right to leave and would be brought back by prison guards.

    As my cellmate and I were a good ways from the building we heard sirens approaching. Several vehicles came to a screeching halt and surrounded us. Out of them came very menacing looking guards holding powerful weapons pointed our way. The head of the guards angrily ordered us to get into the prison truck. My cellmate cowed before him but I turned and looked that head guard straight in the face and said. “I am not your prisoner but I am a free man. I am going to my home. You do what you think you should but as for me, my trust is in the Lord.” I turned and proceeded to walk down the road. As I walked away I glanced back to see those guards standing there frozen with a look of bewilderment and fear. It was as if they were thinking to themselves, this can not be happening. At that point I awoke and the Lord began to explain the dream to me.

    In summary we are held prisoners to the sins that easily beset us. We are too willing to believe the lies of Satan that we cannot be free of them. The tall beautiful building represents the spiritual authority that we may submit to but underneath its beauty is a prison that keeps us enslaved to sin. The nicely dressed gentleman represents those who appear solid and grounded in the things of religion but whose teachings keep us bound in sin instead of released from sin. When we realized that it is Christ who has set us free from sin and has given us the power to live free from the bondage of sin is when we will begin to walk in that freedom through faith. Your post today is a confirmation of this dream I had last night. The Lord has spoken clearly to my heart that freedom from sin is a walk of faith in His truth. On that cross at Calvary sin was forever defeated. There is no other way of deliverance but through Christ, our Lord. Thanks Mike.

    Loddie

  11. Linda, I guess the darts are flying all over. Yes for us to this is a timely message. We are experiancing the very same thing you wrote in your comment. We are excited about the movie coming out. Great article Mike.

    Luann and Paul

  12. Linda,

    I know what you mean. We are to live at peace with everyone where possible, but there are times when to do so would be compromise and we can’t do that. I pray that the Lord will sustain you and give you the grace and wisdom to obey Him in this battle.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  13. If you will study the serpents sent when Israel was in the wilderness, you will find that God sent them. Moses was instructed to make a bronze serpent and lift it up. Anyone that looked upon the bronze serpent was saved. (Deut 8:15, 32:24, Num 21:6-9)

    Today, we are to look to the Cross for the same reason.

    Fiery darts, serpents, adders, stripes of men…they are all the same. Part of the refining fire. Part of the testing to see if our faith is real.

    In Job, you will see that satan can only do what God allows. The whole book of Job was a test of Job. Oh that we can hold up as well as he did!

  14. Without a doubt God allows us to suffer these things, but Ephesians 6:11-20 is very clear that it is our enemy who is attacking us and those attacks are coming from his schemes.

  15. Jer 8:17For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the LORD.

    Jeremiah appears to be written to the church in Jerusalem, and can be applied to the church today. We have pastors preaching “peace, peace” where there is no peace.

    Jer 8: 11For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.

    Then we look for peace….

    8:14Why do we sit still? assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there: for the LORD our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD.

    15We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!

    Not only does He send serpents…He gives us bitter water…
    hand delivered by false prophets. Many will die.
    Rev 8:10-11 Water turned bitter by the fall of satan when he was cast out of heaven.

    For safety..put on the whole armor which includes the breastplate of righteousness and drink water from your own well. Proverbs 5:15 The one you dig in the WORD, the Living Water.

    John 7: 38″He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”

  16. That is a good article Mike,
    Those fiery darts are really exhausting. I think that after what seems to be an onslaught of them I blow it. Satan is very good at what he does best, isn’t he. Last time I got the onslaught and all the mean words started popping in my head I started praying. It stopped the mean words from coming out but I was still a little angry for awhile. I really hate that I lose my patience like that. If I could just remember that it’s the spiritual forces of evil and not flesh and blood, that would really help not to get angry. I even have this passage taped to my wall by the suggestion of someone that posts in here. I just need to read it everyday. It is a very good one. :)

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