and his ultimate bondage is getting you to live as though his lie is truth."
~ Neil Anderson ~
Growing up, I viewed the spiritual realm as a sporting event; say a football game, with God and his angels sitting on the home side, and Satan and his demons sitting in the visitor stands.
As in any high school, the visitor stands are less than optimal. They are furthest from the concession stand. They are usually small, cramped, and rickety. Visitor stands face the setting sun and seem to catch the brunt of the wind. They are furthest from the restrooms and the parking lot. It is even hard to hear the announcer in the visitor stands. So from the moment the visitor arrives, he is irritated, and wants the home team to lose as much as he wants his team to win.
So, in my young mind, humans were the players, and the fans, be they God or Satan, simply cheered their team on. At that time in my life, I really did not think much about God or Satan being actively involved in my life.
It actually took two works of fiction for me to start thinking differently. I read C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, a fictional account of Satan training his young nephew to take over his work. He refers to God as “the enemy” and humans as “the patient”. He teaches him how take over the hearts of men, and the specific tactics to use when the target patient is a Christian. Instead of tempting him to steal or kill or commit some heinous act, he merely tempts him to believe that he is in control of his own life and does not need God. He works to busy the patient’s life so that he doesn’t have time to pray. He sends discouragement to set up camp in the patient’s home, so that he will stop going to church. In many ways, he actually works more on the Christian than the non-Christian, since the lost already belong to him.
It reminded me of John 8:44-47 when Jesus says of Satan, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Later on, I read This Present Darkness, which offered a fascinating glimpse into the unseen world of spiritual warfare. Frank Peretti paints a vivid picture of God and Satan actively at work in our lives, not just as spectators cheering us on in either direction. Purely a work of fiction, it did cause me to dig deeper into the scriptures and to study instances when God and Satan fought over the souls of men.
God desires that we come to him. He wants us to choose him. Satan, on the other hand, is a stalker. We are warned in I Peter 5:8-9: “Be self-controlled and alert. Our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”
Likewise, James 4:7 urges “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
I no longer think of the spiritual realm as a spectator sport. It is all-out war. Every day is a battle; every minute is a skirmish, and I, and I alone, decide which side is going to win for that day. Each day that I decide to be in control of my own life, Satan claims victory over that battle. Each day that I submit to God and seek his will for me, God and his angels rejoice as the victors.
Knowing all of this, I still struggle. How about you?