We are in a series of daily meditations about how our unseen enemy, Satan, and his demons strategize to bring people into servitude to demonic powers. In a later devotional, we will look at the armor of God, but if you are young in the faith and have only come across the last couple of these meditations, it would be wise to access the beginning studies in our series, The War Against Satan and His Angels on groupbiblestudy.com. They are all freely accessed online at the link above.
Before we look at several stages of attack by our unseen enemy, we need to think through some practical ways of defending ourselves. This view of spiritual defense is not a comprehensive list of ideas, just some helpful hints I have found beneficial.
Practical Strategies for Defending Ourselves: Often, people do not realize they are under spiritual attack until after they have given in to temptation. The enemy then quickly accuses through guilt and shame. When I have realized that I have come under spiritual attack, I have often formed a picture of myself taking Satan to the end of a pier by the scruff of his neck and booting him off the end! Other times, I have merely said, "Get out of here, Satan." I hasten to add that I only do that when I am alone. I don't want people thinking I am crazy! When I am around people, and a tempting thought comes to me, I imagine grabbing the idea in the air and throwing it to the ground. Do whatever strategy that is successful for you! Fill your mind with good things, and you will find that this also breaks the power of temptation as there is no "good soil" for the enemy's temptation when you think thoughts such as what Paul wrote:
Finally, Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things (Philippians 4:8).
The Bible tells us to resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). There is an excellent story about Martin Luther, the great reformer of the Christian faith in the 1400s, when he was under spiritual attack in Wartburg Castle, translating the New Testament into German. The devil did not want the Scriptures read by the ordinary people and wanted to disturb the sacred work, but when he tried to tempt and distract him, Luther grabbed the ink pot from which he was writing and threw it at the evil one's head. Today, tourists to the castle can see the room and the chair where Luther was sitting, and the spot on the wall made by the flying ink.
Let's look now at the different degrees of bondage or slavery to sin that we began to look at in yesterday's meditation:
1) Foothold. Demons tempt people with lures that draw them away, hoping they will bite on the temptation. What is a lure? In the New Testament, James wrote, "but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:14). Demons entice people with a lure or bait with a hook on the end. Think in terms of a fisherman with a rod and line. It is a temptation to do something that we usually would not do, but the bait offers some form of reward that appeals to our lower base nature as humans. A temptation to one person might not appeal to another. From the unseen realm, demons observe the things that appeal to our fleshly nature and offer us the reward through suggestion. When a person doesn't get the high, arousal, or excitement that he or she expected, the temptation is taken to the next level. Temptation can be resisted and rejected. Failure to resist and reject the enemy's temptations gives the enemy permission to go from a foothold to ramp up his attack through incremental stages to the next level. He then tries to manipulate us through habits.
2) Manipulation. In this stage, demons have made a foothold to be a knee hold in the door of your spirit. The door is not yet fully open to demonic control, but if the temptation, whatever it is, is not resisted, repented, renounced, forgiven, and forsaken, it becomes increasingly harder to resist. It may be alcoholism, drugs, pornography, or pride – you name it! People fall into the hands of the evil one by trafficking in the darkness and obeying the evil one's voice. Remember the scripture we read in the last meditation; the one you listen to and obey is the one you serve (Romans 6:16). In the manipulation stage, habits are formed along the lines of the temptation to which one has surrendered. What is a habit? It is an automatic reaction, a pattern of obedience to a specific situation, a settled or regular tendency, or a practice that is hard to give up. When the enemy manipulates us like this, and we give in, our will becomes shaped by dark, evil forces, making it increasingly difficult to say no. I pray that this is not your situation, but unfortunately, many are in the manipulation stage of the enemy. Jesus said, “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5). Keith Thomas
This meditation is a shortened version of the more in-depth study: Satan's Schemes.