"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." 4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:1-4
One thing I think that we tend to avoid talking about in the church body today is the enemy. We're so used to those warm fuzzies, and feeling good when we leave church on Sunday morning that we tend to just glaze over the parts about Satan. The thing is, though, if we aren't talking about him and his evil ways, how are we going to learn to recognize when he's trying to steal us from God? How are we going to know when those completely random thoughts are from the devil, trying to tempt us into doing something we shouldn't? I think it's important to talk about, and it's something very real, and something that I find is very important.
Have you ever just suddenly gotten angry? I mean, really angry? I have, more than once in the last few months. It's literally spontaneous anger. There was one day, not too long ago, where Andy went to church for a Saturday meeting while I stayed home with the kids. When he came home, he didn't tell me much about it, but the next day, other people did. I got so mad, literally furious and fuming that Andy didn't bother to tell me how he participated in that meeting. I was so mad, I was almost to the point of shaking-really. I kind of scolded him, then started doing some dishes to use the time to completely ignore him and fume. As I washed the dishes though, I felt something, I felt a nudging of the Holy Spirit, and right there, I knew. I knew that Satan was trying to find a way to creep in. He was using something completely trivial to try and wedge his way into our marriage. And it was almost working. I started praying while I did dishes, which is not an uncommon activity for me anyways, and by the time I was done with the washing, I was almost laughing. I mean, really, what came over me before? By that time, I'd calmed down and went to talk to Andy and things were back to normal between us.
I can tell you this, Satan wants our marriage. Big Time. Because it's really pathetic how I'll get really annoyed or mad and then just dwell on it. Andy will leave a pair of shoes on the living room floor, and instead of just picking them up and putting them away, I'll leave them and trip on them all day long and get more mad every time I see those shoes. Seriously. It's a pair of shoes, and it's driving me up the wall way more than you would think possible. It's the enemy, using anything he can to try and still, kill, or destroy. I'm finding though, that the more times he tries to come against us, it's easier to recognize, because his tactics don't change. The devil has one goal- and that is to steal, kill, or destroy in any way that he can. And when I recognize what is going on, I immediately put in some serious prayer time, banishing those evil spirits and thanking God for the marriage and family that I have, and praying for continued protection. I think this is so important, because Satan hates marriages, and wants them destroyed so badly, that we need to be on guard and spend time in fervent prayer for our marriages- and for the marriages of our loved ones.
Satan attacks in other ways too, and these are the really strange attacks. Those random thoughts to be naughty I guess, is a good way to put it. We have a casino nearby that we drive by all the time, and I'll admit that when I was newly 18 and it was legal for me to gamble, I went once or twice with a few friends. The hype wasn't worth it, and I found the whole experience less than satisfying, so I never had the desire to continue going. But a few weeks ago, I was driving by the casino and I had a fantastic urge to pull into the parking lot. My thoughts flew to ideas of putting a few quarters in a slot machine, pulling the lever, and coming home with a nice chunk of money. The idea had appeal! Yet I don't gamble, and even worse, it's Andy's layoff time, and every dollar needs to be accounted for. But wouldn't it be wonderful and a great boon to our household if I came home with a few hundred or even thousand extra dollars? Well, I didn't turn in, and the whole thing really puzzled me as I continued to drive by, but as I did, that feeling got less and less and before long it was gone. As I puzzled over it, it did come to me what I had just experienced, and I thanked the Holy Spirit for preventing me from doing something unrighteous. I haven't had that feeling again, even though I still drive past that casino. The evil tempter has struck and was trying to get me to do something that would only bring trouble. I would spend money I didn't have to spend, and then I'd have to either fess up to Andy or hide it from him... and I could just see the huge snowball of disaster had I done that one thing I was tempted to do.
I have heard of these attacks before, I just didn't expect to be on the receiving end of one. I've heard of otherwise Godly people suddenly desiring to kill themselves, or drive into a phone pole. I've heard of the serious desire to pull into that strip club or hop on the computer and look for adult web sites when no one else is around. When before, that person would never have thought to do such things. It's scary how Satan will use our thoughts to try and snag us! I find also that there are times where these attacks are more prevalent. Usually, when we're in a period of intense, fast and furious learning and taking in all we can, the devil tries even harder.
This past weekend is the perfect example. We spent so much time in God's presence and Monday morning when I woke up, I still was feeling the "afterglow" of a wonderful weekend. Satan wasted no time, because as I sat at the computer yesterday morning, he attacked physically. He planted some cold symptoms, which I continue to rebuke, and they continue to try to manifest. I have no time for sickness, and I am a child of God, my body is a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, and as such, sickness has no place in my body. Just writing that, I feel a shade less like I'm on the precipice of coming down with something. Yesterday morning I also was the beneficiary of a suddenly very stiff neck. Really, it was completely random, because I was just sitting here at the computer, I reached for my mouse, a normal activity and boom, my neck was stiff and sore and felt like I'd pulled it badly.
It was so tempting to take a lazy day. So tempting. After being gone all weekend, the house was in a state of serious disarray since it really was just a landing pad. The laundry piles up, and I also had a commitment last night to do a cooking presentation for a group of women last night. I don't know why, but Satan did not want me to honor that commitment! I came up with excuses all day long as to why I should stay home. It also took some real effort on my part to prepare for it. Thank God for His Word, because I pretty much didn't do a lot in the morning, and when I took the break for lunch, I sat down with Isaiah, and by the time I was done with lunch, I'd found some energy. God is great! My neck still hurt, and I felt on the verge of something, but by golly, I prepared for my meeting, threw in a load of laundry and started cleaning up a bit. I did honor my commitment last night and had a very nice time. I was nervous about it, but the presentation went fine, and we all spent some time chatting and visiting, and I'll tell you, I was very surprised that I was gone as long as I was.
So, what to do, and how to recognize these things. I mean, how did I know that the idea to turn into the casino wasn't an urging from God? What if he was going to use that as an opportunity to bless us? Well, first of all, while I do think that sometimes God will use a lottery ticket or such to bless someone, I happen to think that gambling is not a God-ordained activity. It's sinful to throw away God's provision, and I really don't think that God would ask me to sin in order to bless me. It's sinful to give into lust and pull into the parking lot of that adult bookstore. It's sinful to take one's life, it's sinful to steal, and it's sinful to try and cause harm to another person. God's not going to use an act of sin to produce an act of blessing.
I like to read Matthew chapter 4 these days, because it is an excellent reminder of why we read our Bible, and why we should be committing verses to memorization. Jesus was being tempted in a mighty way at a time when he was probably at his most vulnerable. What did He do to resist the devil? He quoted his scripture. He gave voice to God's Word which was inside of Him, and in the end, the devil lost and fled. I have to believe that eventually, those temptations will cease. The more I come against and pray against the evil desires that Satan tries to tempt me with, the more likely it is that he won't be back. One of these days, the devil is going to realize that he can't mess with our marriage, that we're not going anywhere and are going to honor our commitment of "til death do us part". But until that time, until the attacks cease, we are going to give special attention to praying for our marriage and doing the things that Satan really doesn't want us doing, like lifting each other up.
Everything we need to come against the devil is in God's Word. By spending time in it, by spending time each and every day putting more of those precious words into my soul, I am filling my thoughts with the thoughts of God- and eventually there will be no room for the devil to try and wedge his thoughts in. We also have our support systems. We have friends and family we can call if we need to. We can talk to our Pastor or an elder in the church if we're struggling. As a part of the body of Christ we need to be there for each other, and when someone is struggling, we need to make sure and pray for them, because every part of the body is integral and important. Every. Part. Of. The. Body. Is. Important. It's important that we don't let Satan have a single one of God's children.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10