My husband and I always joke about how, in Sunday School, the answer to almost every question is “God” or “Jesus”. As in, “Who created the world?” “God.” “Whose birthday do we celebrate on Christmas?” “Jesus.” It’s funny (and usually true), but it also makes sense to teach little ones who God is and what he does. Part of taking steps in your spiritual journey is knowing the parts and players.
“Satan” is a character that comes into play a little later in life. It starts with the snake in Genesis with Adam and Eve, but it isn’t until later that we find out how far his influence goes. It doesn’t stop in the garden.
Luckily he’s not as powerful as we can believe. Mark 7 says that we are the ones who ultimately decide whether or not to sin. (Satan can’t make us.) 1 John 4 talks about how the Spirit, who is in us, is greater than the one who is in the world (Satan). John 16 also talks about how Jesus has overcome the world.
So Satan is not all-powerful, like God. Because of that, his warfare is tricky. He warps and manipulates our thoughts to guide us towards choosing fear over faith, and self over Spirit. Even though we have the final say, he screams at us from the sidelines, rooting for us to make the wrong choice every time. Or sometimes he just whispers.
One of the biggest ways he plays with my mind is by making me feel like I’m the only one. Meaning that no one else messes up quite as badly as I do. That no one else will understand. That I am the exception to every promise God makes in the Bible.
And guess who falls for it every time? I can honestly believe that no one has ever been so proud, so impure, so cowardly, so angry, so deceptive, as me. When I believe that, I truly believe that it is impossible for me to talk about it with anyone, because there’s no way anyone else will understand. Instead I bury it down deep.
Why is this so effective of a tactic? It reminds me of a video that circulated around my campus ministry. The video had a pack of water buffalo in Africa. One straggled away from the group and found itself on its own – and the target of a hungry lion.
When I’m on my own, I’m the most vulnerable, and Satan knows it. Like the water buffalo, I’m an easy target, and he rips me to shreds, mentally. I start doubting God, his promises, his goodness, and his way.
Satan wants you too to believe that you are the only one who isn’t confident, the only one who sins so shamefully, the only one who falls short, and the only one who is too far gone. Let me be the one to tell you the truth (as I tell it to myself): you are not, and never will be, alone. No sin is unique. No promise from God fails for anyone, including you.
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” – Isaiah 59:1
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘yes’ in Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 1:20
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
By the way, the water buffalo video doesn’t have the gory ending you might think it does. Instead, the water buffalo pack returns to fight off the lion, and protect the lonely one. It’s a clear example to me of how God provides what we need to fight off Satan. He often makes available people in our lives who will fight with us against Satan’s lies. We are just more powerful together.
How about you? How often do you feel alone? What makes you feel that way? What do you do to fight off Satan’s lies?