Deliver Us

One final request hangs ominously in the last verse of Matthew’s record of  the Lord’s Prayer, “deliver us from the evil one.” For if we need deliverance, that means we have been caught by an enemy.

Yes, we have an enemy – the devil. He is the Father of Lies, a disrupter of peace, a twister of truth, a roaring, prowling lion who seeks to devour you. AND he is utterly defeated.

Battling against this Enemy, also referred to as Spiritual Warfare, is the kind of lesson I would prefer to teach from the standpoint of a documentary. I would gladly recount victories . . .  look back at points of conquest . . . pick apart the strategies of success.

But all I have to offer is a report from the front lines. I’ve been engaged in a battle with the enemy in almost every area of my life for nearly 5 years.

The only victory I can claim: I am still standing. There have been no miracles in my circumstances that I can see, but my spirit is thriving in the presence of Jesus. I should be beaten down, but I am strong in His strength. And the enemy is so very angry about that!

I’m sure I’m not the only person who could speak from the front lines of the spiritual battlefield. Many of you have your own war stories – each significant to your journey with Jesus.

Mary DeMuth gives us this encouragement in her book The Beautiful Battle:

“As women warriors we can resist, believe truth, live in righteousness, walk in peace, wield our faith, believe and quote God’s word, pray for ourselves and others, and live a persistent, dedicated life. There’s no magic formula, no shortcut – just simple, dedicated obedience in a victorious, enabling God.” (pg. 66)

An often quoted scripture that Paul wrote to encourage us in our spiritual skirmishes is Ephesians 6:13-18

13 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. 14 Truth, righteousness, 15 peace, 16 faith, 17 and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. 18 In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. (The Message paraphrase)

Rather than elaborate on the finer points of battle gear, I want to take a broad view of these verses to notice these are weapons we already possess.  As salvation gifts we’ll need throughout our Christian lives, we need to be disciplined in using them.

Three spiritual disciplines have served me well in this battle. (They should come as no surprise to those familiar with Equip Her studies.)

  • God’s Word
  • Worship
  • Prayer

God’s Word is our offensive weapon to engage the enemy. The epic movies in The Lord of the Rings series gave flesh to the warrior princess in the character Eowyn, daughter of a king. As the men prepare for battle, she fights for the opportunity to take up a sword. Her reasoning with future king Aragorn:

(Eowyn) “Women of this country learned long ago that those without swords can still die upon them. I fear neither death nor pain.”

(Aragorn) “What do you fear, my lady?”

(Eowyn) “A cage. To stay behind bars until youths and old age accept them and all chance of valor had gone beyond recall or desire.”

(Aragorn) “You’re a daughter of kings … I do not think that will be your fate.”

This daughter of kings boldly proclaims that she wants a chance to fight the enemy, to be engaged in noble pursuits, to use her sword!

In a spiritual sense, do you have that kind of desire, or are you content to let others carry a sword while you wait to die? Not to be overly dramatic, but it’s very true that you are responsible for learning to use the Sword of Truth, God’s Word, to fight your enemy.

Are you good with the Sword?

Do you know how to study this living Word of God for yourself and understand what God is saying to you through His Word? Do you trust that the Spirit of God speaks to YOU . . . the same way He speaks to your pastor, commentary writers, teachers or other Bible authorities?

Sure, there is commitment and discipline involved in becoming skillful with the Sword, but you can understand God’s Word.

I began very simply with 2 key practices:

  • Writing down verses that impacted my life on 3×5 cards.
  • Praying repeatedly for a passion to know God’s Word.

In reflecting on your spiritual life, what ways have you developed to internalize scripture?

Worship is another weapon that I’ve made part of my battle plan. I noticed its impact in my life when I was recovering from surgery a few years ago.  Because of the pain meds and anesthesia, I just couldn’t concentrate enough to read anything. (So very frustrating for a Wordy!) But I could listen to music and worship from the heart.  I’ve continued to make music and worship part of my daily time with God even though reading has returned (Praise Him!).

Ps. 42:8 became precious during that time:

Then God promises to love me all day,
sing songs all through the night!
My life is God’s prayer.

Oh yes, God brings a song in the night!

The 3rd weapon God’s equipped me with is prayer . . . knees to the earth prayer! Here are some specific expressions of prayer I value:

~Breathing prayer … moment-by-moment dependence on Jesus.  This comes when you can’t put thoughts into words but rely on Jesus as your hope, your security, your identity.

~Lament prayer … telling God how much it hurts, then relinquishing that pain to Him.

~Rebuke prayer … when we just need to shout at the devil to flee, we can always call on God to rebuke Satan. We don’t rebuke the enemy in our own name, but only in the strong name of Jesus.

~Filling Prayer … asking to be filled with all that God supplies for all that I lack. “Jesus step into the middle of this situation with me.”

~Scripture prayer  … involves reading a portion of scripture, praising God for what He promises there, then asking Him to make my life reflect those qualities of His character.

Mind if I pray for us in closing? ….

Righteous King ~ in our bowing before You today, we acknowledge our utter dependence on You in this Spiritual Battle. Our Enemy seems fierce in this world, proclaiming his authority and power … in vain. Remind us often that his threats are empty, his power useless to stand against the TRUTH of Your gospel. May we live to make You known through Your Word, engaged in real worship and intent in our praying. Oh yes!

GOING DEEPER (for personal study)

1. Read Ephesians 6:13-18 in a couple different translations. What words and phrases catch your attention? What images come to mind in this explanation of our spiritual battle?

2. Matthew 6:13 says,

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

What is the relationship between temptation and the evil one? How does that relationship play out in your experiences?

DISCUSSION  (please share your answer with all of us by leaving a reply we all can read.)

How might you incorporate the 3 spiritual disciplines mentioned in the lesson to better fight the battle you’re engaged in?

Confronting Satan’s Lies

photo credit: Beshef/flickr.com

photo credit: Beshef/flickr.com

LESSON 8

“Lead us not into temptation . . .”

The next portion of the Lord’s Prayer deals with a struggle common to all of us . . . temptation. Consider this quote by Mary E. Demuth in her book Beautiful Battle:

“Satan devours us from the inside out by convincing us that something in this world will ultimately fill our hearts.”

 Isn’t that what temptation boils down to? Lies from Satan convincing us that God isn’t good—that He can’t supply all we need?

Adam and Eve heard those lies in the garden and believed them.

 “The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.” Genesis 3:6 (NLT)

Eve and her husband stopped to listen to the words of the serpent. They took time to examine the fruit God had told them not to eat. It looked good—delicious, in fact. And the serpent had promised it would make them equal with God in wisdom. God must be holding out on them. God must not be good.  Why else would he keep them from something so wonderful? So they ate of the fruit and brought death into the world.

Before we are too quick to judge them, don’t we all fall prey to those very same temptations? 1 John 2: 15-16 describes them this way:

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.”

A craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our own achievements and possessions—aren’t these the same temptations Satan used on Adam and Eve? They must be pretty powerful to be able to work time after time on every human who has ever lived.

Except one.

Jesus.

Hebrews 4:15 reminds us,  “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” (NLT)

When we pray not to be led into temptation, we can be confident Our Father won’t lead us there. In fact, if we follow His Son’s example, we will discover how to escape the temptations so common to us all. In Luke 4: 1-13, we find Jesus’ response to Satan’s lies. Let’s take a moment to read that passage.

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.

Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”

Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please.  I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”

 Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say,

‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’”

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,

‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.
And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”

 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.

The first temptation came after 40 days of fasting, and like Adam and Eve in the garden, Jesus was tempted with something to eat. Now I can be tempted by a freshly baked loaf of bread when I’m not even hungry, so I can only imagine how strong the temptation must have been to someone who hadn’t eaten in 40 days! And to be clear, satisfying a physical need is not in and of itself a sin. But Jesus understood what Satan was really asking of him which is evident in the truth he used to combat the temptation.

“Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” [Deut. 8:3]. Food and other physical pleasures are gifts from God. They satisfy very legitimate physical needs. But Jesus was in the wilderness to fast and pray and prepare for his earthly ministry. Bread might satisfy his physical body, but it would not equip his soul for the task that lay before him. His communion with the Father was his first priority. When we turn to physical pleasure to satisfy our souls, we will always come up empty.

So Satan tries again with a very common human temptation: stuff. How often are we bombarded with the message that we need more stuff in our lives? Isn’t that the primary lie of our world? The person who has the most stuff wins, right? The more we have of this world’s treasure, the more we have of everything else–more power, more happiness, more friends.  It’s the underlying message of every advertisement we see.

Satan offered Jesus all this world had to offer and all the power that came with it, but Jesus recognized the true cost of such an offer—worshiping something or someone who was not worthy of worship. He fought the temptation with truth: “You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name” [Deuteronomy 6:13].

Finally, Satan tempted Jesus’ pride. “Prove who you say you are,” he goads. “Throw yourself from this parapet and let the angels save you.” Jesus was God. He created the earth and everything in it. How tempting it must have been to elevate Himself back to the position He very rightly deserved. Satan used the very same temptation against him three times on the cross—when physically Jesus was at His weakest point. The Jewish rulers . . . the Roman soldiers . . . even the thieves at his side—all called out the same words, “Save yourself. Prove you are God.”

But Jesus knew this was not a game. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” [Deut. 6:16]. The purpose of His coming to earth as a man was not to save Himself but to save us. He battled Satan’s lies with truth and Satan retreated.

“The key to winning the battle of the mind is truth. Huge heaps of truth.” –Mary E. DeMuth (Beautiful Battle)

So what can we learn from Christ’s example? First of all, we have the same power Jesus had to combat temptation—the power of Holy Spirit living in us.

 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB)

When we study the temptation of Jesus, we see He did these three things:

  1. Communed with the Father. Jesus spent time with His Father. He knew His heart. He knew what God wanted of Him so that when the temptation came, He was prepared.
  2. Attacked with the Sword of the Spirit. Jesus knew the truth and used it to combat Satan’s lies.
  3. Obeyed, confident in His position as God’s Son! He knew sin had no power over Him and as God’s children, we can have that same confidence.

“Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.  Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” [Romans 6: 12-14]

GOING DEEPER  (for personal study)

Prepare yourself for the battle:  Read through the following list of common lies women believe. Highlight ones that tempt you. Take these lies to the Lord in prayer, and then spend some time in the Scriptures finding truth to combat those lies. The next time Satan attacks, confront him with the truth and live free!

Lies Women Believe

  • God is not really good.
  • God’s ways are too restrictive.
  • I will never amount to much.
  • I must take care of everyone or no one will be taken care of.
  • God should fix my problems.
  • I have my rights.
  • I should not have to live with unfulfilled longings.
  • I must be perfect for God and others to love me.
  • Life is fair (or should be).
  • You should never suffer as a Christian.
  • God cannot use me.
  • God is too lofty to be knowable. Why even try?
  • I don’t need other Christians.
  • I can’t help the way I am.
  • I can sin and get away with it.
  • My sin isn’t really that bad.
  • God could never forgive me for what I’ve done.
  • It’s just a minor flirtation. It will never amount to anything.
  • I am ugly.
  • I deserve ridicule or abuse.
  • Prayer is just a waste of time.
  • It doesn’t matter that your business partner (or boyfriend) isn’t a Christ-follower.
  • I am not fully responsible for my actions or reactions.
  • I have to have a husband (child) to be happy.
  • It is my responsibility to change my mate (child).
  • I can’t control my emotions.
  • If my circumstances were different, I would be different.
  • It’s all about me.
  • God is holding out on me.
  • God will never answer my prayer.
  • My gifts are unnecessary in the kingdom of God.
  • I will never overcome my repetitive sin.
  • I must have control to feel safe.
  • I can earn my way to heaven.
  • How I look = who I am.
  • I don’t have to ask _______________ for forgiveness.
  • I can never forgive _________________.
  • Grief will always be my constant companion.
  • Every thought you have originates with you, and the evil thoughts prove you’re unworthy.
  • Satan already has a hold on you and cannot be defeated.
  • Telling the truth about sin in your life is unnecessary.
  • I can’t help but duplicate the mistakes and sins of my parents.
  • Something other than God (food, sex, money, possessions, relationships) brings happiness.
  • Because you failed in the past, you will fail in the future.

[Compiled and adapted from: Beautiful Battle: A Woman’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare, by Mary E. DeMuth (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2012) and Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets them Free, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (Chicago: Moody, 2002)].

DISCUSSION  (please share your answer with all of us by leaving a reply we all can read)      

Share a verse you’ve used to combat one of Satan’s lies.

Knowing God’s Heart

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LESSON 3 If you’ve been praying long enough, you’ve probably experienced the high of answered prayer—a tumor that miraculously disappears, a surgery that goes far better than expected, the return of a prodigal, or the birth of a long-awaited child. … Continue reading