Spiritual warfare is a real and ever-present occurrence in the life of a disciple of Jesus. We spend most of our days fighting off Satan. Whether it’s in the subtlety of the decisions we make each day or getting smacked in the face with a major challenge to our faith, for as long as we are seeking to follow Christ we’ll be fighting off Satan. On our own, we’ll lose every time. Our sinful, physical beings are no match for the dark spiritual forces swirling about us.
But Jesus not only can defeat Satan, He already has. Satan is no longer any match for those who are allowing Christ to live through them. Knowing this, why do we so often succumb to the temptations of the devil? Why are we not finding more success standing against him?
When Paul talked about putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:14-17), he urged us to put on the breastplate of righteousness. The righteousness imparted to us by Christ’s death on the cross can never be compromised. This isn’t the righteousness to which Paul is referring. The breastplate of righteousness refers to our personal righteousness.; in other words, the strength of our breastplate relates to the way we choose to live. When we are inconsistent in our walk, we are vulnerable to the attacks of the devil.
Our choices and obedience matter. I’m not saying if you live in perfect obedience you’ll never be attacked. Quite the contrary, the bigger threat you are to Satan, the bigger target he’ll paint on you. But the way you live does to a large degree determine how well you will weather the storm and even survive the aggression. This is simple to prove, and I’ve done so countless times in my life. When I am totally focused on God and living in His presence, I have a great calm and peace regardless of what’s going on around me. However, when I let my eyes drift off God, I quickly find myself reeling at the slightest trouble. When I’m not finding my source of strength in God, I stumble over the smallest things. I’m unprotected and unable to withstand the attack.
What we need to do is both obvious and simple: keep our eyes on Jesus, and live in obedience to Him. Executing this strategy, however, is counterintuitive and difficult. We like living for ourselves, not someone else. We want to feel as if we’re in control rather than at the mercy of another. The irony is, the more we attempt to keep control of our lives, the more out of control they become.
Fighting off Satan is something you are going to have to learn to do. It’s possible only when we are living in obedience to Christ. You can’t spend your time living selfishly, seeking your own comfort and pleasure, and expect to be able to fight the devil. You won’t be strong enough. Your breastplate will be weak or non-existent. The way to defeat Satan is to build your character and discipline each day. Then, when the inevitable attacks come, you’ll be able to withstand the onslaught. It’s simple but difficult. In the end, it comes down to who you love. If you love God, you’ll obey His commands; you’ll be strong enough – in Him – to survive whatever comes your way. If you love yourself, you will not have the power to fight off Satan. Prepare for the attacks to come. Your decisions and obedience matter. Begin building your breastplate of righteousness today.