I suppose nothing breaks my heart more than watching someone I love and care about being duped by the devil. In a close second, I hate hearing about someone who has previously been effective for the Kingdom of God having their life infiltrated by the enemy, rendering them ineffective and even destructive to the Kingdom.
Recently, as I expressed to the Lord how grieved I felt to see some dearly loved friends falling into the enemy’s hands, it occurred to me that I needed to examine my own life for a similar deception. Have I become a pawn in the enemy’s hand?
Yes, I have. As I prayed about this and asked God to search my heart and show me if I had walked in any hurtful way (Psalm 139:23-24), He tenderly and graciously pointed out that I had indeed lent myself to the enemy’s schemes during a long season of my life. While many areas of my life appeared sparkling clean, I had succumbed to the enemy in the hidden places. Secret sins had made me especially susceptible to his lies, a pawn in his schemes and an unintentional player on his team. Yuck.If I give the enemy access to hidden corners of my life, he soon runs the house. Click To Tweet
That season of my life has long passed and, thanks to God’s grace and power, I no longer work for the enemy. It may be hard to believe if you’ve never experienced a season of walking in darkness (and I don’t wish that upon you), but I can now see with amazing clarity the lies I had bought into. The difference in my ability to perceive, evaluate and navigate life is truly night and day. I’m not claiming to have 20/20 spiritual perception on all matters, but I do feel as though I’ve come out of a fog into the light of day…and I hadn’t known I was in a fog until I walked out of it.
I’m reminded in 1 John 1:5-7 that when I harbor unconfessed sin, I walk in darkness and my fellowship with God and His church is hindered. I also render myself an enemy of the God I claim to serve.
Friend, that’s no way to live. I don’t want to be an enemy of my God or His family of believers. I want to be a living stone, useful to the Kingdom. I want to be in sweet fellowship with my Lord and under His protection. And I want to keep a clear head and be able to discern between right and wrong, truth and lie, even good and best. Lord, help!
I asked God to show me in His Word how I can be protected from the deceptive schemes of the enemy, how I can keep from being duped. The Lord impressed upon my mind the word sober:
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
I believe sobriety is essential to not being duped by the devil into serving his purposes. But I needed to flesh that out. What does it mean to be sober in relation to resisting the enemy’s lairs?
That got me to thinking about a sweet friend of mine who has successfully been fighting for her life over the past year and a half through remaining sober. A few months ago she humbly showed me her one-year sobriety medallion and I reflected on what a different person she is from the woman I met a little over a year ago. Whereas before my friend had faulty judgment, was ruled by fear and anxiety, struggled to engage with other people appropriately and served the enemy’s purposes in many ways, now she makes wiser decisions, is increasingly led by the Holy Spirit, engages delightfully with others and testifies with word and lifestyle that Jesus is her victorious Lord.
Night and day.
I’ve learned a few things from my friend’s newfound sobriety. To be sober, spiritually, and resist being duped by the devil, I must:
- know my triggers. When I look back at my season of walking in darkness and duplicity, I can now see the insecurities and holes that left me susceptible to the enemy’s empty promises. Today I am vigilant to take those needs to the One who can safely and completely supply love, purpose, security and significance. But it’s a daily battle, ya’ll. I have to mindfully address these insecurities so they don’t lead me astray again.
- doggedly resist that which lures me. Just as my friend keeps alcohol out of her house, I must steer clear of that which would lure me into temptation. That will mean different things for each of us, but we must choose to do the hard work of not “imbibing”…even when others may without recourse.
- examine the pull. I’ll confess, for me the bait that pulls me in is adoration. I struggle with a hungry desire to know that someone thinks I’m the bomb. For you, the pull could be power, affirmation, companionship, attention, control, success, wealth, security, ease or any assortment of empty promises the enemy dangles in front of you. Here’s a clue: if the enemy has convinced you that God is holding something back from you, that “something” is probably your pull. Also, God never offers shortcuts, but the enemy does. Consider how he tempted Jesus in the desert. (Matthew 4:1-11) Call Satan the liar he is and stop listening to him.
- work the steps. My friend will forever more be working the 12 steps of AA in order to stay clean. We need to consistently and daily work the biblical “steps” of clean living, too. We need to daily examine, confess and repent. First John reminds us that we all have sin to confess and if we claim otherwise we’re deeply deceived.
- practice gratitude and acceptance. The Serenity Prayer, printed on one side of my friend’s sobriety medallion, reminds her to release what she cannot reasonably control to God because He is trustworthy. You might want to read the original prayer here. It reveals the heart of the author, Reinhold Niebuhr, more correctly. In the same vein, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “ in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Why does gratitude and acceptance help us remain sober? Because it’s in our struggle against God’s will for us that Satan whispers into our ears his “better deal.” Grateful submission, on the other hand, keeps our ears tuned to the One who knows what is best for us and consistently provides.
- set up accountability. In the spotlight of accountability I am more prone to keep a clean slate. I’ve invited wise and perceptive friends to ask me the tough questions, to probe further when necessary and to speak up when they see me heading down a destructive path. But I also have to be truthful with them and allow them to speak critically of my attitudes, words or behavior. Ya’ll this is really hard. But if I want to remain useful to the kingdom, do a little eternal good and steer clear of disqualifying myself from His purposes, I must stay exposed to scrutiny.
Do you desire to keep from being duped by the enemy? I don’t know about you, but I witness Christians falling prey to the enemy’s schemes far too often. And yeah, I’ve been duped, too. And I hate that. But by the grace of God I want to remain sober and alert so I can resist his “charms” in the future. Let’s do this together.
This is a little bit of a change of subject, but you might be interested in my Bible study, The View from My Front Porch. This short study helps you examine how you’ve constructed your worldview, how you can align your view of the world better with God and His Word and how to think biblically through some of today’s hot topics.