Tag Archives: trials

The Limitations to Spiritual Attack

In the Christian life we can expect many trials. It is not a life of cosiness and comfort in the pleasures of wealth, power and prestige. Those who teach that “you only need faith and everything will be okay” are like the false prophets of old who said “peace, peace” when destruction was coming upon Israel: they deceive with promises of comfortableness, blinding their hearers to the truth.

Tank

We are attacked as Christians, but there is a limit to what the devil can do.

Scripture says that: “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence” (Matthew 11:12). Those who belong to Christ can expect attack from both within and without the Church. Oftentimes men of deceitful and violent hearts will enter the Church with the purpose to cause disruption and harm to the true, invisible Church. Jesus warned us to beware the false teachers and false prophets, calling them “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. Like wolves they seek to devour the sheep. Others, openly hostile to God and His Church, will seek to ridicule, perform violence – sometimes literally – and cause other hardships to those who confess Christ.

We should not be arrogant in condemning these people, but rather we ought to “love our enemies, and pray for those who spitefully persecute us”. We need to remember that we also were once enemies of God, and, bar the grace of God, we would still be violently opposed to the purposes of God. No, we should not be arrogant in our salvation but rather humble, knowing that we are also sinners, though thanks be to God that we are now reconciled to God in Christ. We must acknowledge that it is not the people who are our real enemies, but rather we should heed the words of the Apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12

Having acknowledged that it is the devil who is behind the attacks that come upon God’s people, we might become discouraged at such hostility. How do we counter this? It is through knowing the position which the devil has and the position that God holds.

God is Sovereign, He is Almighty, and He is Omnipotent. He is not limited by anything other than His own character, and there is no event, however small, which He does not know of and of which He is not the prime director. Every word of God’s mouth is sure, every word in His inspired Word is infallible. His purposes shall be fulfilled and every promise kept.

Soldier on horseIt is not so with the devil. The devil is limited. First, he is limited because by his very nature he is a created being. He is not omnipotent, neither is he omnipresent nor omniscient. Second, he has been defeated by Christ. Just as the devil bruised Christ’s heel, so Christ has crushed his head. The devil is a poor old man in his dying days, having been disarmed and defeated at the Cross.

But the most profound aspect in which the devil is limited is shown in the book of Job. I will let my friend Richard Swartz make this point, for he did it so well (you can follow Richard on Google+):

Satan can do nothing without God’s divine permission. Not one thing! “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away.” (Job 1:21) It comes down to the sovereignty of God, each and every day and each and every way. Not a single purpose of God is ever thwarted. (Job 42:2)

In order for the devil to make an attack on a man he must first gain God’s permission. Then the rules of engagement are laid down by God, and finally the outcome is again determined by God. (see Job 1:6-12, Luke 22:31-32.)

As we have our trials and come under attack, whether physically or spiritually, we would do well to remember that the devil is limited whilst God is without limit, and that if we belong to Christ there is nothing that can happen to us that will ultimately harm us.

And to conclude, these are Jesus’ words on fear:

And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! – Luke 12:4-5.

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Faith in God’s Deliverance

I had hoped to write this post over the weekend, and knew that as I was intending writing on this subject of “Faith in God’s Deliverance”, I should expect to get resistance in writing it – and I did! I have just been through a few days of intense difficulty and not without doubting and falling short. We are all works in progress and none of us has yet been perfected.

However, this is still an important subject: how we can have the utmost faith in God and that He will work for our deliverance. Even when we cannot see this, even when we are plagued with doubts, we can, deep inside, trust God and in due time He will bring us out of that time of trial. There are so many examples in God’s word of His saints going through truly awful times. Sometimes, as in the case of David, the examples include times of falling and even sin, sometimes times of despair as in the case of Jeremiah, and sometimes simply horrific events occurring with no apparent rhyme or reason such as in the story of Job.

God is Our Shield

God is our shield and will deliver us out of our trials.

Psalm 44 gives us a picture of how the Psalmist dealt with the very dangerous and destructive times that he and the nation of Israel were going through: he remembered God’s working in the times of his fathers and declares his faith that God will perform that work again to restore Israel. It is this trusting in the past works of God, trusting that He is still actively working for your benefit now, and trusting in the time of future working by God for the eventual deliverance, that enables one to persevere in faith.

It is also in this Psalm that we see the lot of the Christian saints – not one of earthly success, wealth and power, but one of self-sacrificial service:

Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. – Ps. 44:22 (see also Romans 8:36)

We are called to suffer but not to be cast away. God will preserve us through trials, and we can reassure ourselves that God is indeed with us even as we battle through our trials. (See Josh 1:9, Matt 28:20).

We will be tempted to sin, we will be tempted to turn our backs on God (Job found temptation came his way even from his wife), as we move along this pilgrimage of closer union with God through suffering. At such times we must remember to “submit ourselves to God and resist the devil” (paraphrased from James 4:7), and once the time of trial has passed we can see a great joy and a wonderful blessing, knowing that God has worked a work in us which could not have been performed any other way.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1:2-4

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

– 1 Peter 1:6-7

God will sometimes allow us to suffer and yet we can have full assurance that we will never be crushed or cast away, and even if the deliverance we have faith for and which we long for does not come in our lifetime, it is no less real for that, and so we can not only live by faith when we are awake but also die in faith when it is our time to fall asleep.

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