During high school economics, we participated in a mock stock project. Using the local paper, we picked companies to invest our pretend money. Then we charted the progress of those stocks daily. My dad gave me a great tip. He told me the name of the company that produced patriot missiles for the government. In the middle of Operation Desert Storm, the stock continued to rise. I have no idea what happened to that company later, but for the duration of my project I did well with my obscure pick. Everyone else chose companies like Coca-cola and IBM. Now some of you young’uns might be wondering what patriot missiles and desert storm have to do with enemy fire. “The Patriot missile system has been deployed in many situations because it is able to shoot down enemy missiles (e.g., Scud missiles) and protect soldiers and civilians from a missile attack.” (http://science.howstuffworks.com/patriot-missile.htm)
Patriot missiles intercept and destroy enemy fire. By knowing the most common ways our enemy tries to keep us from pursuing God with a whole heart, we can be on the lookout to intercept his missiles before they do the most damage. 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 tell us the first scheme of the enemy that we need to be looking out for: “When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.”
Unforgiveness ranks high in Satan’s playbook. If he can turn us against each other and let deep roots of bitterness grow, he knows he can render us ineffective. I wish I could lie and say the enemy hasn’t launched this scud at me continually. My husband hurts my feelings. I feel betrayed by friends. Unkind words are spoken and the repeat button on the tape inside my head gets stuck. If we don’t become professional forgivers, we could find ourselves outwitted by our real enemy – not the flesh and blood ones.
Colossians 3:13 issues the command, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Some things that have helped me when I am struggling to forgive are:
- Pray God’s blessings daily on the person you are struggling to forgive
- Serve them tangibly by performing kind acts for them (meal, note of encouragement)
- Go to them privately and explain how you have been hurt (if they don’t listen – follow the steps of Matthew 18)
- Write your feelings in a journal so you won’t be tempted to “vent” to others negatively about them
Now, another enemy tactic takes us all the way back to Genesis 3:1. It’s an old trick, but Satan still finds success with it 6000 years later. “The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
Deception is the next way Satan tries to get us to question God’s Word. He says, “Did God really say that?” He doesn’t come out and make it blatant. “Satan rarely ever tells blatant lies when he initiates conversations. He usually uses a remnant of truth, then distorts it to plant a seed of doubt.” (McCoy 24) John 8:44 further expounds Satan’s propensity for untruths by calling him the “Father of lies.”
He wants to twist God’s truth so we don’t live in the victory over sin Jesus paid for with His blood. His deceptions though subtle can be powerful. “Did God really say the borrower is slave to the lender? Can’t you overspend just a little to make your home look nice?” “Did God really say gossip separates close friends? Can’t you just vent a little about this situation?”
We need to be on the lookout for deception missiles launching at us from behind enemy lines. Let’s take a look at one more scheme that Satan often uses. It’s good old fashion pride. 1 Chronicles 21:1 tells us Satan rose up against Israel in causing King David to take a census. It doesn’t seem like a major crime. He just wanted to count the people.
However, God knew David’s heart. Likely, he wanted a census so he could boast about the size of army to feel important. Satan appeals to our pride. He offered God’s own Son riches and power to try to tempt his humanity to no avail. Unfortunately, it often works on Christ-followers much more effectively than it did on Christ himself. Our flesh takes the bait when the enemy dangles money, status, power, beauty, talents, or anything that makes us feel worthy on our own.
Pride was Lucifer’s downfall and we must guard against it too. It’s why 1 Timothy 3:6 warns us that elders must not be new believers because, “he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall.” We too must be careful about pride going before a fall.
We need the patriot missiles of God’s full armor to help protect us from the enemy of our souls when he comes at us with unforgiveness, deception, and appeals to our pride. As we become aware of his schemes, we can be sure not to let him outsmart us as we yield to God quickly and put on His armor when we recognize enemy fire.