by Mike Ratliff
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 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.” (Ephesians 6:10-13 ESV)
Before believers mature to the point where they can consistently mortify the sins that so easily ensnare them, they are not a serious threat to Satan and his subordinates in his war against God. However, when believers have matured so that they continually seek to grow in their knowledge of and obedience to the Word and to serve the Lord more faithfully they will soon discover that their walk before the face of God, serving Him, and living for His glory becomes more difficult instead of easier.
This difficulty is part of the battle against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. When believers become Spirit-filled, growing in Christ-likeness, they come under attack by our enemy because his goal is to rob God of His glory and those believers are living in such state of grace that their lives bring glory to God more and more as they obey Him in every part of their lives.
What tactics does our enemy use in opposition to believers in this battle? We must remember that Satan was once “the anointed cherub” (Ezekiel 28:14). He is known as the ruler of the demons in Luke 11:15, the god of this world in 2 Corinthians 4:4, and the prince of the power of the air in Ephesians 2:2. He opposes Gods work. How does he do it?
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the templeand said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.” (Matthew 4:1-11 ESV)
As we see in this passage describing the temptation of Christ by Satan, that our enemy perverts God’s Word. From that He attempts to attack, question, and deny God’s character and credibility. Along with this, he works to create doctrinal confusion and falsehood within the Body of Christ.
He also works to undermine present victories by generating trouble that makes life difficult, thereby tempting believers to forsake obedience to God’s standards and calling. He works to hinder the good work of God’s servants.
“But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18 ESV)
He opposes the work of the Gospel by blinding the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of it.
“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:1-4 ESV)
He works to snare the righteous. In the passage below we see how imperative it is for Christian leaders to be mature believers who have learned how to walk in the armor of God.
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” (1Timothy 3:1-7 ESV)
The whole world lies in his power. Genuine Christian believers are not to be conformed to this world. Why? The world is in the control of our enemy. It is used by him in his war against God through attacking the Church.
“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1John 5:19 ESV)
As I studied spiritual warfare and the armor of God and what those have to do with our spiritual growth I was amazed at the parallels I saw between how Satan works against those obedient to God and the personal attacks I was receiving from various apostates and atheists via comments and emails. I never published any of them because they are vile. They are attempts to cast God as a villain. One fellow even told me that if God is real then the suffering in the world makes Him the greatest criminal. He told me today that if God did reveal Himself to him that he would attempt to kick Him in the crotch.
This same fellow has singled out several themes on Possessing the Treasure for attack including that God exists, that God is in control, and that our salvation is supernatural. This began when I wrote that series on the Resurrection a few weeks back. This fellow also attempted to claim that the fact that my nephew Travis had a brain tumor was proof that either God did not exist or, if He did, then He was impotent or evil. Here is a sample of one of his emails to me.
“For crying out loud, Mike! Do you worship something that would see one of “his creatures” burn forever? I want none of this monster! His “divine demand for perfection” leaves me stone cold.
The temperature of hell can be easily ascertained: Revelation 21:8 states, “But the fearful, and unbelieving… shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” A lake of molten brimstone demands that its temperature must be at or below the boiling point, 444.6C. No human can survive anything close to that temperature Mike, or do you have proof to the contrary? Man, the nonsense Christians believe – it’s embarrassing! Burning forever in a lake of fire. Pur-leaze!
The Christian doctrine of “Orginal Sin” is laughable Mike – this any freshman theology student should know if not blinded by “faith”. The doctrine is the result mostly of Augustine’s inability to read basic Hebrew. And his burning shame for a prurient youth.
And about this “sinful nature” of yours: Perhaps you should read at modern psychology for a month or two. Bronze Age nonsense cloaked in Dark Age ignorance and fear just don’t cut it, Mike. Why are “devout believers” so ignorant of the Bible and the history of theology?
I am still keen on an answer you have not attempted: Why praise “God” for Travis’ recovery if “God” could have saved you all the trauma by protecting Travis’ health in the first place? It’s like buying a band-aid from the guy that stabbed you. Ridiculous! God is nothing but a spoilt brat that needs discipline. He’s a sadist. His only excuse of course, is his nullity.”
He has also singled out a few of the commenters on Possessing the Treasure for ridicule, but I have refused to allow those comments to be posted. He especially hates it when we say that God is in control. Here is another sample of one of his emails.
“I visited your blog again and saw Sherry’s comment about God being in control. I wonder, Mike, why Christians think that God is “in control”. Can one reasonably conclude that a “loving God” is in control of our world? I think all evidence points to the contrary. Please tell me why you think that God – or any “deity” for that matter – is “in control””
Now what is the theme of these attacks. They are all designed to disparage God’s character and credibility. They are an attempt to discourage us and create doubt in our hearts. Why? If we can become discouraged and fall into despair then we will cease obeying God, perhaps, and that will rob God of potential glory. I hope you also noticed the liberal theology which our enemy has used to blind this person. Also, did you detect the voice of “deception” this fellow uses?
Has any of this fellow’s attacks discouraged me or caused me to doubt? No, not even a little. I have attempted to give the truth to him, but this has only exacerbated the viciousness of his attacks. I pray that you will continue to pray for me and this ministry and that God will give me wisdom and help me stand firm.