10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18, NIV)
So what are the strategies against Satan?
1. Understand who you are in your relationship with Christ. One of the hardest realizations of my growth had to be realizing the truth about who I am in Him (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17). For me this was the step immediately before repentance. Ultimately, only God knows you as well as you do. But until you are open about your own weaknesses you cannot hope to address them. This would include identifying your sin and then repenting for it. This is demonstrated in a 3 step process described in Romans 6… We need to know who we are in Christ (Romans 6:1-10)… We need to consider ourselves dead to sin (Romans 6:11)… We need to submit ourselves completely to God (Romans 6:12-14).
2. Know that you cannot defeat him on your own (James 4:4-10). Here is a solid piece of humble pie for many of us. You have to come to the conclusion that you are not in control. Even those who do not have a type “A” personality will try to control a situation when it starts to spin out of control. One of the hardest things for me to do is to realize that God…is in complete control. Even when “bad” things happen. You have to learn to let go of that control and walk in faith and trust God. This faith in God, is essential. Another bad cliché? No, the absolute truth. The only true way to defeat Satan is to accept Christ and to trust Him (Ephesians 6:16-18).
3. Know that God loves you. The most powerful moment in my life was truly understanding the depths of God’s love for me. I am His child. He loves me, defends me, protects me, and most importantly He forgives me. Realize this, Gods love for you is so complete, that even when you do stupid things… He will forgive you. God has never abandoned you. Despite your choices, which have put you at odds sometimes with God, God will always be by your side. This is an extremely important strategy to defeat Satan because for one simple reason, forgiveness. Satan wants to convince you that the sin you just committed is the one that will break the camel’s back so to speak. He wants you to think that THIS TIME God will not forgive you – The Bible calls this condemnation. This is an absolute lie, and I can say that with downright confidence because God has promised this (see Romans 8:1). Knowing that God loves you requires faith. God’s love can cover you with protection that you cannot imagine. You MUST accept this very simple truth. This can provide an armor so to speak that you have to put on (Ephesians 6:13-14).
4. Understand that Satan is as real as Christ. Everyone has heard the over used phrase “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”. Sound like a cliché? It isn’t. Satan shows intelligence (2 Corinthians 11:3), emotions (Revelation 12:17), and that he has a will (Isaiah 14:12-14, 2 Timothy 2:26). The Bible also shows that he is a created being (Ezekiel 28:11-19), and that he is a spirit being (Ezekiel 28:14). Satan manifests himself in this world through rulers, authorities, powerful people, EVIL PEOPLE (Ephesians 6:12). Do not fall prey to the thinking that the devil isn’t real. Do not believe the lies that Satan is some story. Do not cringe when you mention Satan or when others mention him.
5. Prayer, Prayer and MORE PRAYER (Ephesians 6:18)
6. Read, Study and Memorize God’s word… (Ephesians 6:17). This is our only offensive weapon in the Armor of God… Don’t believe it? Check out how Jesus Himself used His knowledge of the Bible to defeat Satan in Matthew 4:1-11.
Even knowing these will not guarantee that you will have success all of the time. Satan will score, but the outcome of the game has already been determined. Christ is victorious in a blow out. You have to be vigorous in your defense, and be prepared. Because the cool thing is that if you have totally placed your faith in God, you don’t even have worry about the outcome. Your fate has been decided.
If you have learned anything over this year it is that life is fleeting (Think of Chile, Haiti, the Olympic accident, etc). The search for truth that you may be agonizing over may end in an instant. At that point you will know the truth, and will find out that Satan, and God are both real. As each of us have seen or read about tragic and unexpected deaths of some nature or the other… The point is we all know that this life can end in a split second. No warning or lead up. Just over. In that moment Christ will reveal himself to you as your judge. You may think that you have years to take a journey to determine the truth. In reality, you may only have a fleeting moment before the truth will be revealed.
24 Series Finale
So Kevin was encouraging me to write about the 24 series finale. I’m not sure exactly what I can say. 24 burst onto the scene in 2000. The second season followed the September 11 attacks with controversy. The show pushed the limits, and brought something new to the screen…real time. I picked up 24 during the 4th season. Promptly went back and watched the first three, and was blown away. There are a number of things you can take away from 24. All of them are emotions that fans would have experienced while watching the show.
Disbelief – I, like many of you, was in utter disbelief as the good guys and the bad guys got wrapped up in some lie. More specifically I really got frustrated when it was the good guys. Some are willing to sacrifice things they believed in for a lie. Or willing to lie for the “greater good”. While the situations in our own daily lives are not to the extreme as the show…we are all faced with these kinds of decisions. Everyday. How do you know you are making the right decision? Prayer, faith. I tie this in with a conversation I had with my wife. As Christians we can’t afford to get caught up in a dogmatic sense of prayer. What I mean by that is that we need to be in prayer constantly. As we walk, at work, a quiet moment at home, before a meeting… it doesn’t matter where. Don’t get caught up in being so traditional in praying on your knee’s only at night before bed that you forget to pray at all. Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:17… pray continually. Do you think that President Taylor makes the decisions she made this season if she were in prayer constantly? I don’t know? But I do know that if the word of God was on her heart and mind… it would have been more difficult.
Virtue – Jack Bauer was a lot of things… did a lot of things. No matter all of the bad things Jack did (primarily the murder, death, kills) he was honest, had integrity, cared for his family, and for his country. Jack protected the things he cared about at all costs. These values (many would say) are passed down by your parents. I would agree partially. God’s word has been planted in every human being’s heart. It is up to us to follow through.
Shock – What can you say about the character Jack Bauer? The name has entered the lexicon status. Jack Bauer and Chuck Norris are now in the same league. While we all would cheer for Jack to stop the bad guys no matter the cost, there was a certain level of shock that came to me every time. How can a man of such virtue have the appearance of so little morals? What I mean by that is… here is a guy who hardly lied, stood for good, willing to defend it all costs… including the use of vengeance. The last 6 or 7 episodes of the series focused on retribution. Here was a man who, having lost someone he loved sought vengeance. Every person who has a family would think about the very same thing. If it were my family… I would want vengeance as well. In Romans 12:19 Paul tells us to never avenge ourselves, and that vengeance is the Lord’s. While all of us may have the natural instinct to seek retribution… know that God will have his judgment upon them.
Here I have to be honest… to what extreme can one go to protect the larger good from evil? This is the question that 24 ultimately left you with in every episode. As we watched Jack torture people to get answers (and you know he is going to get them) you have to wonder… should that happen? Not in the political sense that these things always end up in, but in the Biblical sense. How far is too far according to God? We know about the turn the other cheek verse and love your enemy verse (often quoted, or thrown in the face of Christians who support self defense). This very long and complicated answer deserves its own blog. But it is important to research and think about it on your own.