Ever find yourself too lethargic to pray? Or weak against temptations? These could be Satan’s devices to undermine our faith. Chiong Xiao Ting explains how to recognise spiritual attacks and how to overcome them.
The Bible teaches that Satan is an adversary to Christians (1 Pet 5:8-9) and he is actively working against them. His goal is to stop them from fulfilling their destiny and calling in Christ.
Some believers are bewildered when they face spiritual attacks or opposition—they have the misconception that life would be a bed of roses after they are saved. They start to question, “If God is for me, then why are all these things happening to me?”
However, once a believer understands that Satan is constantly trying to undermine him, he would not be surprised when he encounters difficulties or opposition in his faith.
At a virtual missions conference organised by City Harvest Church’s The Harvest Network in November last year, Chiong Xiao Ting, CHC’s translator and cell group leader, conducted a workshop on overcoming spiritual attacks.
UNDERSTANDING SATAN’S DEVICES
First of all, we must know that all believers are involved in a direct and personal conflict with the devil. Paul teaches Christians in 2 Corinthians 2:11, “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
We need to be aware of what the devil is doing in our lives so that we can guard against him and overcome him.
What are some spiritual attacks that you might face? Xiao Ting lists some that Jesus faced or came across in His ministry.
Everyone will face temptations—even Jesus did (Mt 4:1). But the good news for all of us is that “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:15-16).
Jesus understands us when we go through temptations, and He wants to help us. God will open a way out for you when you are tempted, and He will never let you be tempted beyond what you can bear (1 Cor 10:13).
How then do we overcome temptations? Like Jesus, we need to overcome them with the Word of God (Mt 4:4, 7, 10). Psalms 119:11 writes, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” This tells us that we need to hide the Word of God in our hearts so that we will not fall into temptation.
2. Spiritual Opposition
In Mark 4:39, Jesus was asleep on the boat when a storm hit. He arose from His slumber to rebuke the wind, “‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.”
This storm is no ordinary storm. It was a demonic storm and Jesus was coming against the principality in the region.
Very often, when you attempt to live for God or commit yourself to doing great things for God, you will meet with opposition. We often hear stories of Christians encountering demonic opposition during mission trips like blackouts or encounters with demons. This is the devil coming against the work of God.
These may seem dramatic and unless you have actually experienced such situations, it may be hard to relate to. But there are other types of opposition that may be familiar, for example, a huge sense of discouragement when you meet with failure or when you feel unmotivated to pray and read the Word of God. An even more common spiritual attack is fear, which is a powerful weapon of the enemy—he often uses fear to deter us from fulfilling the will of God in our lives.
In 1 Timothy 1:18, Paul told Timothy to “wage the good warfare”. The way to overcome spiritual opposition is to fight back by deploying the weapons of warfare every Christian has access to.
One: We have the Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit. Ephesians 6:17 teaches that it is our weapon of attack.
Two: We have the blood of Jesus. Revelations 12:11 reads, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
The blood of Jesus reminds us, and the devil, of what Jesus has done on the cross. He has overcome the devil and we can now do the same in His name.
Three: We have the name of Jesus. Mark 16:17 reads, “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name, they will cast out demons…” When you pray in the name of Jesus, you fight the devil under the authority of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that all authority on earth and in heaven has been given to Jesus and He has crushed Satan under His feet.
Finally, we have supernatural tongues. Paul tells us that we need to pray always in the spirit (Eph 6:18).
3. Demonic Oppression
In the Gospels, we see cases where people are under demonic oppression and have a demon living inside them.
Luke 4:33 tells of one such case: “Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice.” This man was in the synagogue to worship God, yet he was under demonic oppression.
This is not the same as being demon-possessed. When you are possessed, you lose control of your will and personality. But when the person is under the influence of a demon, the spirit manifests in the presence of Jesus.
Even believers can be oppressed by demons. There may be times we open up “doors” that allow demonic spirits to enter our lives and pressurise us to sin when we are tempted. That is why some people find it so difficult to break out of a sin cycle: there may be a demonic influence behind it.
It may sound scary, but we are not helpless. In Luke 4:35, Jesus cast the spirit out: “But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be quiet, and come out of him!’ And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him.”
If you are under any form of oppression, you need to cast it out. Like Jesus, we can rebuke the spirit and cast it out in His name. James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil by faith and he will flee from us.
You can either rebuke the demon and cast it out by yourself, or you can ask a pastor or church leader to help you in this area.
HOW TO PROTECT OURSELVES FROM SPIRITUAL ATTACKS
Overcoming spiritual attacks is good, but prevention is better. While we cannot always stop the attacks of the devil, we can defend and guard ourselves against it by putting on the armour of God.
Ephesians 6:10-12 reads, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
We need to put on the armour of God, which includes the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the girdle of truth, and the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace.
By putting on the armour, it means that you believe fully in what Christ has done for you in all these areas, apply all these truths into your life, and most importantly, live in them.
The thing that the devil is ultimately after is your faith because it is your faith that overcomes the world (1 Jn 5:4).
In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus told Simon that the devil is after his faith, and Jesus prayed for him. Similarly, Jesus is still praying for us today, that our faith will not fail. Hence the most important thing for us to do, when we are under spiritual attack is to guard our faith—do not allow the devil to shipwreck your faith.
Hebrews 10:23 teaches us this: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”. One sure way to hold fast to our faith is to speak out the word of God in your prayer and confession!
If you feel that you’re under spiritual attack and need help or support, speak to your cell group leader or pastor who can direct you to CHC’s Liberty ministry.