by Mike Ratliff
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13 NASB)
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 powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness 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. Of course God uses the ensuing battle both for His glory and the edification of His saints as well.
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 God’s work. How does he do it?
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘ Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. ’”
5 Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘ HE will command His angels concerning You ’;
‘ ON their hands they will bear You up,
SO that You will not strike Your foot against A stone. ’”
7 Jesus said to him, “ On the other hand, it is written, ‘ You shall not put the Lord your God to the test. ’”
8 Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “ All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘ You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only. ’” 11 Then the devil *left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him. (Matthew 4:1-11 NASB)
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.
17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while— in person, not in spirit—were all the more eager with great desire to see your face. 18 For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us. (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18 NASB)
He opposes the work of the Gospel by blinding the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of it.
1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, 2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:1-4 NASB)
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.
1 It is a trustworthy statement:if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), 6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:1-7 NASB)
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.
19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19 NASB)
As we study spiritual warfare and the armor of God and what those have to do with our spiritual growth it should become very clear what is going in our own ministries as our enemy tries to thwart us at every turn. I’m sure it depends on what type of ministry it is, but in the case of Possessing The Treasure it takes the form of direct personal attacks from various heretics, apostates, and atheists via comments and emails. I do not publish 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. That same person told me 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 fellow also attempted to claim that the fact that my nephew Travis had a brain tumor and died 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.”
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. In the beginning I attempted to give the truth to him, but this has only exacerbated the viciousness of his attacks. Now I just read his comments and then send them to the trash. 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.
Soli Deo Gloria!