Recognising and resisting spiritual attacks
As we grow closer to God, the enemy will try to distract, discourage or disunite us. Such spiritual attacks are more annoying than alarming. How do we arm ourselves with the knowledge to rebuke Satan and reject his schemes?
Satan and his demons tremble at the mention of God. They are terrified of our Saviour and Lord. Satan cannot defeat us when we stand up against him with the authority that Jesus Christ has given to us in His name.
James 2:19 NLT You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.
The cost of ignorance
Yet countless believers still fall for Satan’s spiritual attacks. Why? The answer is ignorance.
Satan deceives us into thinking that he is not real, he is hard to defeat, or that there is no spiritual realm. We are told we are to “only believe what we can see”. This is one of Satan’s favourite tactics. As long as we remain ignorant, he can freely steal from and destroy us spiritually.
2 Corinthians 2:11 ESV … so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.
How many of us have been deprived of our abundant spiritual blessings because we have been blind to Satan’s schemes?
2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV 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.
John 10:10 ESV The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Jesus came to defeat Satan’s works in our lives. When we refuse to step into Jesus’s victory over the devil by standing up to Satan in His name, we dishonour God’s sacrifice on the cross for us. It is our responsibility to stay alert against Satan’s schemes and spiritual attacks.
1 John 3:8 ESV … The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
How to recognise a spiritual attack
Not every flu, flight delay or incident is an attack by Satan. Some things happen simply because we live in a fallen, corrupted world. We can however, suspect a spiritual attack if we notice certain patterns.
1. Check the end result
If anything leads to one of the following results, we might want to stay alert to a possible spiritual attack.
- “No” to God – Satan will do everything possible to stop, delay or sabotage God’s gospel of love.
- “No” to God’s goodness – The devil will confuse us about God’s good and perfect will.
- “No” to intimacy with God – The enemy will tempt us to follow the world, rather than God.
- “No” to the Holy Spirit – Satan will obstruct us from living in the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
- “No” to spiritual warfare – Satan will blind us to his schemes so we don’t stand against him.
Matthew 16:23 ESV But he turned and said … “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
2. Check the tactic
There is a pattern to how the enemy works against God’s people. Satan attacks our thoughts, emotions and bodies and if we are not careful, we can buy into his schemes and deceptions.
- Accusing others – We receive thoughts that judge, condemn and curse other people.
- Agitation – We feel more agitated, angry, anxious or frustrated than normal.
- Busy-ness – We become so busy we have little time left for being still before God.
- Condemnation – We start to think we are unworthy, unloved or unlovable.
- Disunity – We have petty conflicts and misunderstandings with fellow believers etc.
- Discouragement – We begin to feel discouraged or “spiritually dry” for no reason.
- Disruption – We encounter delays and equipment failure during ministry.
- Doubt – We start to question God’s Word and His good character.
- Mental blocks – We find it hard to focus our minds and forget God’s Word quickly.
- Nightmares – We have nightmares or dream about things we would not normally think about.
- Sickness – We suffer an onslaught of sicknesses and pain as we follow God.
- Temptations – We receive incessant thoughts about sinning.
Our enemy will also attempt to make us re-visit areas where emotional wounds have been healed, thought patterns have been renewed, and temptations have been overcome. In the process, he will try to convince us that we are not really free in Christ and remain condemned. We need to realise that it is only a temporary setback if we fall back into sin. God readily forgives us and does not condemn us. It is Satan that tries to condemn us. This is a spiritual attack.
John 8:36 ESV So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Romans 8:1 ESV There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
If Satan cannot shake us this way, he will try to use other people to stand against us. We may find more accusations, disagreements or misunderstandings with other people than usual.
3. Check for the timing
Spiritual attacks will usually increase when we are following God’s will and doing His good work. This is simply an indication of God’s favour on His children as we represent Him anywhere we go. Spiritual attacks come the most when God’s blessings are just within reach. We simply need to persevere a little more before we get to witness God’s miraculous work through our humble hands. This would be the worst time to give up and forfeit our blessings.
Nehemiah 4:11 ESV And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and … stop the work.”
4. Check for the Fruit of the Spirit
Last but not least, Satan’s spiritual attacks never result in the Fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
How to resist spiritual attacks
Satan cannot stand against his all-powerful Creator. As long as we are willing to resist him and lean on our Heavenly Father and Creator, nothing can be against us. God will always oppose Satan’s goals and protect His faithful children.
Romans 8:31 ESV What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Psalm 55:18 ESV He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me.
1. Never give in to fear, stand in the authority of Jesus
Human beings fear the unknown. When we do not know the power we have in Jesus Christ to defeat our enemy, we may be tempted to be afraid, doubtful and panic. Fear is not from God. Our Heavenly Father has not given us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
We need to repent for our unfounded fear of Satan and spiritual attacks. Instead, we ought to praise God that we have every victory over Satan in Jesus’ name. When we rebuke Satan in Jesus’ name, every demon must bow down. What an amazing visual reminder of our authority.
Philippians 2:10 NIV that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Also see Fear, an ungodly use of imagination.
2. Do not give the enemy a foothold through sin
Sin gives Satan an opportunity to attack us, especially the sins of pride and idol worship. We must repent quickly and never give Satan a foothold in our lives through any type of sin.
Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
1 Corinthians 10:20-21 ESV No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.
3. Put on the spiritual armour of God every day
Some people display crosses and Bibles in the hope that such things will drive away evil spirits and the possibility of spiritual attacks. This simply amounts to superstition. There is no power in such things.
Rather, it is our unseen spiritual armour that protects us in spiritual attacks:
- Belt of truth – We will not fall for the enemy’s lies when we know God’s truth.
- Breastplate of righteousness – We repent quickly for our sins in Jesus’ name.
- Sandals of peace of the gospel – We refuse to give in anything that does not advance the message of God’s love.
- Shield of faith – We fend off all doubts and lies about God.
- Helmet of salvation – We reject any thought that leads us to sin.
- Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word – We cut down lies using God’s Word.
Ephesians 6:14-17 ESV 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.
4. Simply resist and let God settle the matter
As we put on our spiritual armour every day, God calls us to simply stand firm and not fight. He will fight our spiritual battles for us.
Ephesians 6:13 ESV 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.
James 4:7 ESV Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
5. Take up the sword of the Word
In the meantime, we need to fend off any lies and temptation by using the Word of God.
When Satan tried to tempt Jesus in the desert, Jesus rebuffed him three times using the Word of God. Each time, Jesus quoted from God’s Word and began with “For it is written…”. He did this to demonstrate how we are to respond to our enemy. We need to remember what is written in God’s Word and use it in our spiritual battles to defeat the enemy’s onslaught of lies in our minds.
Ephesians 6:17 ESV and take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
6. Love exceptionally well
Love is one of the most powerful weapons of all. If we have love, we will readily forgive others and help them. We will go the extra mile to pray for and encourage our fellow brothers and sisters who are struggling under spiritual attacks. No one needs to persevere against the enemy’s attacks alone.
1 Peter 4:8 ESV Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
When we feel attacked, misunderstood, maligned or offended by other people, we must be disciplined and choose to only respond in love and grace, so as to defuse the enemy’s schemes and take the sting out of his attacks. God Himself will fight for justice so we should not be alarmed or over-react.
Psalm 35:1 ESV Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!
In all our relationships, we should always try to foster peaceful mutual understanding and grace so as to glorify God.
Hebrews 12:14 NIV Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
7. Always praise and worship
Another important strategy against the enemy’s attacks is to keep praising and thanking God despite our circumstances. When we focus on God’s power and goodness, we give our enemy less scope to slip in his crafty lies and attacks. We dishonour God when we think about our problems more than we think about Him.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 NTL Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
8. Join others in prayer
We should never hesitate to ask our fellow followers of Christ to pray with us if we believe we are under spiritual attack. God’s Word says that our prayers will be answered when we ask for His wisdom and protection in unity. God will not hesitate to guide, comfort and protect us as we seek Him with all our hearts.
Matthew 18:19-20 ESV Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Jeremiah 29:13 ESV You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
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