During our three year term in SE Asia, our team hosted countless volunteers from the States. Although we were positioned on the literal other side of the world, with a 12 hour time difference and 2 days of air travel between us and America, people still came. It was a huge encouragement to our team, but one particular visit stood out to me and still does.
Dr. Chuck Lawless, at that time the Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at The Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY, was one of the volunteers who traveled to the other side of the world to work alongside our team, and one evening he offered to have a time of teaching for us. At my age, (weeks away from turning 50! WHAT) I have lost count of how many sermons I have heard over the course of my life, most of which I should be ashamed to say, I have since forgotten. But Dr. Lawless taught us something that night that deeply resonated in my soul and has stayed with me ever since. Though I have read many great books on spiritual warfare, and been trained by one of the best organizations in the world in how to deal with it, Dr. Lawless’ message is the one that has stuck and that I continue to apply to my life today.
Its something that we should all be mindful of, not just during seasons of discouragement, but maybe even especially when things are going well.
“Satan is constantly trying to get you to do one of four things,” Dr. Lawless taught us. “He wants you to give up, shut up, puff up, or mess up.”
Think about that..Do any of these thought patterns sound familiar?
“This life is so hard. These people are so content to remain the way they are, they will never believe. I can’t do this anymore. This just isn’t worth it. These people aren’t worth it. How long have we been here and not seen any fruit? If only I was back in the States…”
“I’m afraid to share the Truth. I could get arrested. I could get kicked out of the country. I could jeopardize my whole team’s ability to be here. My language isn’t good enough. What if I say the wrong thing? What if they ask me a question I can’t answer? What if they don’t want to be my friend anymore after I share Truth with them? Someone else will tell them.”
“I’m awesome at this. Thank goodness they met me so they could hear the Truth. Without me here, no one would believe. I am the most valuable member of this team. At least I take this seriously. God must be glad that I am here and on His team. I gave up so much to be here. I am a hero.”
“Oh I deserve a little break, soo one will notice if I … I’ve been having romantic thoughts about <a person you are not married to> a lot. Internet porn doesn’t hurt anyone because its not real. I just need a little release from all the stress. It isn’t hurting anyone. One sip doesn’t mean I have a problem. No one has to know I…”
Dr. Lawless was right. Spiritual attack is a constant for the believer, especially one actively engaged in the mission of God. But identifying these four aeas of how Satan most commonly attacks has helped me point my finger to the problem during my own times of attack and see it for what it is…an attack by a defeated foe. It doesn’t make his attacks any less annoying or persistent, it just reminds me who is really behind my thought process and that helps me re-claim my identity in Christ.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain.” (1 Cor 15: 57-58 ESV)
Thank you, Dr. Lawless.