One of the phrases Jesus used regularly was “Watch out ...” which means to be alert, awake and on guard at all times (Matt.26:41). Paul and Peter pick up this teaching of Jesus in their letters to Christians (Eph.6:10-18. 1 Peter 5:8-9).
When it comes to the spiritual battle we are in, we need to avoid the extremes of pre-occupation with the devil and his forces AND the other extreme of skepticism or ignorance of his existence and strategies. Satan is pleased with either extreme. Were he better known, he would be more hated, more resisted, and more defeated. Ignorance and deception are two of Satan’s greatest tools.
We live in a scientific age where there has been much disbelief in the supernatural, in angels and in demons. In the Western world many people doubt the existence of the devil. They see him as a “medieval and mythical two-horned, fork-tailed creature dressed in red flannel underwear, busily pitching coal into the furnaces of hell.” In contrast, non-Christian lands have a greater awareness of the reality and personality of evil forces.
Satan is subtle as a serpent, violent as a dragon, ruthless as a lion, deceptive as an angel of light. He is the destroyer, the enemy and the murderer. He is the usurper prince of this world, the accuser, and the evil one. Satan is immensely powerful and not to be underestimated. He attacks minds with doubts, fear and lies. He attacks spirits with lust, pride and hatred. He attacks bodies with diseases and death. Left to our own resources we are no match for Satan. He can deceive us and overcome us.
We need to be on guard. We need to watch out for lethargy, indifference, apathy, and spiritual drowsiness. We need to look beyond the natural (what we see with our eyes) to the supernatural (what we cannot see).
2. Be Prayerful!Jesus challenged his disciples to be watchful and prayerful (Matt.26:41). Prayer is our communication with God. He calls us to an intimacy and a friendship where we can talk to him about anything and everything, and where he wants to share with us his heart and mind.
Prayer is a matter of dependence. When we don’t pray we are saying “I can do it!” When we do pray, God promises to hear us and help us in every area of our life. When we don’t pray, we can drift into our own ideas and out of God’s will for our lives (see 1 Chron.21 and Acts 5:1-11). Beware that carelessness doesn’t replace prayerfulness. Prayer is our lifeline to God’s heart, God’s mind, God’s wisdom, and God’s direction.
Samuel Chadwick once said, “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayer-less studies, prayer-less work and prayer-less religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom but trembles when we pray.”
[More tomorrow ...]