The past four months have been some of the most difficult months I have faced in years. My little brother has been in a coma since the beginning of May, and although he is making some progress, there is no telling when or if he will wake up and what things will be like for him If he does. In addition to the horrible pain and agony over my brother’s suffering, this situation brought up a lot of difficult family conflicts as well as painful reminders of past family brokenness and trauma. Before I was even able to grieve what was happening to my brother I had to face the anger and intense pain I was feeling over the past. I had to grieve, not act on my anger, and forgive all over again. For months I was isolated from everyone but my husband and kids, broken, angry, unable to do any of the things I enjoyed, and angry at God. Add to all of this the ever present Covid-19 situation, fights about vaccines, political disarray and feuding, racism and hatred. Not to mention the many responsibilities of a wife, mother, and therapist specializing in trauma. Much like many Christians right now, I was overwhelmed, confused, and a prime target for Satan’s attack. Why do I share this? Because I believe it’s important right now that we not pretend that as Christians life is easy. That our faith is never shaken. That we are never overtaken by anger and emotion. That there isn’t a spiritual war raging against us. That we don’t have to fight hard. We need to be real with each other so that we can encourage and strengthen one another in love and truth.
Satan, as we know, is like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), with the goal of bringing utter destruction to his targets and the world as a whole. Satan has a way of saying exactly what he needs to say to us to discourage us and make us believe God isn’t as good as we thought. The more we question God’s goodness the less we desire to be in his presence and to please him. Why would I want to surrender every day to please God when it seems like he is against me? Satan will tailor his lies and attacks specifically to fit the deepest sufferings, insecurities, failures, and fears of his prey. This is exactly what he was doing to me. I had some of the closest most beautiful moments with God these past 4 months and some of the most discouraging hopeless moments as well. What I’ve realized in my spirit is that Satan is fighting hard against me lately, perhaps harder than he has in many years. Maybe he is doing the same to you. Many Christians are allowing the enemy to have temporary victory, as I have on and off for the last four months, mostly unknowingly. I had been fighting and overcoming only to be met with yet another attack. I believe he is fighting hard not just against me, but against all followers of Jesus right now.
What is resulting from these immense attacks on the children of God? Satan’s goal is to get us Christians to do the opposite of what pleases God. To hate instead of love. To deceive instead of live in the truth. To allow bitterness and anger to evolve rather than overcome them with goodness and prayer to and for our enemies and those we disagree with. To give into our sinful pleasures instead of walk in the spirit in faithfulness to God. To replace the power of the Holy Spirit with a bland religiosity. The only way this will change is for the children of God to recognize these attacks and fight the enemy with continual prayer, truth, obedience, and the power of the Holy Spirit. We have to get real with ourselves and start fighting the spiritual battle we are entangled in. We will win, but this must begin on an individual level. Each one of us has to start standing up against Satan, firm in the freedom we have been given by the blood of Jesus Christ. We have to stop following the Christian masses and start following Jesus and what he said. This is truly all that matters.
Perhaps it is our familiarity with the words of Jesus that is our downfall. Have we heard them too many times and they have lost their power? We memorize, study, learn, study some more, and yet sometimes we never take the next step of actually doing the things we are studying and learning to do. One of my favorite quotes spoken by Alfred to Batman is this “what’s the point of all those push ups if you can’t even lift a bloody log?” What is the point of all of our studying and memorizing if we can’t even do what we are supposed to do? There is none. Too many times I have allowed fear, discomfort, anger and selfishness to hold me back from doing what Jesus wants me to do. If we stay on this path Satan will continue to gain a foothold.
Peter literally saw his friend and savior crucified before his very eyes. His friend was stoned to death for preaching the gospel, yet he was still called to be at peace with and love those who did not believe. The very people who killed his friends. Somehow we believe that things are different for us. That somehow a world that is lost and following satan demands we fight with aggression and anger, rather than approach that world the way we are told to by Jesus himself, with peace, love, and truth. This might seem an impossibility, but so do all things Jesus asks us to do. We cannot do this without the power of the Holy Spirit supernaturally working through us. We have ignored him for too long and the effects are evident. Your hatred and disgust toward your enemies (and those you might think are your enemies) is not of God and is putting out your light. Sadly this has happened to me, and I’m sure it will again. It is possible to love people while standing firm on truth, Jesus did it and so did the apostles, and we must do the same.
Read this passage aloud and carefully listen to these words spoken by Jesus himself
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 3-12
Jesus also said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Jesus spoke these words during a time when people were being persecuted, beaten, imprisoned, even murdered for going against the system. A time when women had no rights at all, and children were sent away even by his own disciples. He was speaking to us when he said those words, knowing exactly what it would be that we would be living through, and we need to start taking him seriously. If we don’t, we give Satan a stronghold in our lives and our salt loses its flavor.
I have seen myself question the love and goodness of God, I have seen children of God hate those who think and believe differently than them, cling to a person rather than to Jesus, bully and shame others over a vaccine (whether vaccinated or unvaccinated), spread lies about the power of the Holy Spirit of God, distort and pervert what the church should actually be, lie and cheat, abuse and cover up, all while acting as if we are somehow close to God and honoring him. Things have to change. Shame on all of us. We are called to be at peace with all people yet peace between Christians and other Christians, and Christians and the world, is often the last thing I see right now.
So many people speak truth to an unbelieving world with no love at all, sometimes while not even obeying that truth, causing division and destruction. So often we argue with other christians about unimportant things. We focus on a few examples where Jesus got angry, using that as our excuse, rather than focusing on everything he told us and desires for us to do. Read this next passage aloud and let these truths permeate your soul.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:22-26
Kind to everyone. Able to teach. Patiently enduring evil. Correcting with gentleness. I’m sad to think of how many times I have failed to do what pleases God, giving into my emotions and sin instead. Think of the person who makes you the most angry, who has hurt you or someone you love, who disagrees with something that you feel strongly about. Pray for that person and ask God to heal and bless him. He is not your enemy, he is either a lost soul who needs rescuing from the power of Satan, a brother or sister in Christ acting on their sin, or someone who is just doing something you disagree with. We need to have healthy boundaries and sometimes it’s best to stay away from unhealthy and unsafe people, but that doesn’t mean we cannot show love and kindness from a distance. Years ago my mentor told me that he was suddenly having bad dreams about people from his past and he was really upset by it. He asked me what I thought he should do. I don’t think the answer I gave was from me, but from the Spirit. I told him to pray for those people, that God would bless them. A few days later he told me that he did it and the dreams stopped and he had peace.
Satan wants to torment us with lies and hatred. As soon as we give in and go against what Jesus tells us to do we are giving into the enemy and allowing our spirit to weaken. Recently out of nowhere I had a sudden desire for vengeance on someone who had harmed me and others I love. Sounds bad I’m sure, but I’m being honest. I felt sick and horrible about this. I got on my knees and confessed to God what was in my heart and begged him to forgive me. Then I prayed for that person and all those feelings left. I want to encourage you, and myself, to read those passages again to see which of Jesus’ commands we are ignoring or doing the opposite of. Even if it is just one we are giving Satan an advantage over us and quenching the power of the Spirit in us. I am not talking about perfection and this is not a one time deal. Trust me, I would give anything for that. This is a daily battle against the dark powers in spiritual realms that we must fight. I personally have come against demonic spirits oppressing Christians multiple times in recent months, and with prayer, they left. This is very real. If demons can remain subtle and keep us believers from recognizing them, we won’t fight as we should. Sometimes Satan fights harder than usual and trust me, he always has a reason. We have to fight back with truth, obedience, prayer, worship, and love with the power of the Holy Spirit. If we don’t, we will find ourselves spiritually asleep, incapable of discernment and hearing God’s voice, ineffective in our ministries, and open to demonic oppression.
Jesus spoke the truth directly, yes, but he only spoke exactly what the father wanted him to. Do you? Do I? How did Jesus know? Because he had perfect fellowship with the father. We have fellowship with God almighty through the blood of Christ and the Holy Spirit living in us, and our active daily decision to enter into Gods presence, die to our flesh, be obedient, and walk in the spirit. What does this mean? As we draw closer to God and his presence and we are able to discern what it is that he, not our emotions, wants us to do and we do it. It is then that we are being like Christ.
If you are speaking harsh truths to people who do not yet know Christ out of self righteousness or anger you are not doing what the father wants you to do. If you are speaking hateful angry things to people you disagree with, regardless of your suffering, this is not what the father wants you to do. Our painful experiences do not justify hate and unkindness. This only gives Satan power over us. Trust me, I know. Hebrews 12:14-15 says “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Bitterness will defile you. When I allow bitterness to grow I lose my joy and my connection with the Holy Spirit is diminished. Praise God he is faithful and will reveal this sin to us so we can repent and replace our bitterness with love, forgiveness, and kindness. This is a battle we will face and one that we cannot allow Satan to win.
Yes, Jesus got angry in the temple, because that it was the father wanted him to do, and his perfect fellowship and oneness with the father allowed him to know that. His disciples recognized this as a fulfillment of Psalm 69:8-9. Scripture tells us, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” Colossians 4:5. These aren’t just nice sayings. They are the very commands and desires of God for his children. When we do not obey his words there are spiritual consequences. This does not impact our eternity, but it severely impacts our time here on earth, and that does matter.
What does Jesus tell us to do? We are told to stand firm and grounded in our faith, to obey, to live holy and set apart, to speak the truth in love, to care for the broken and hurting, to love each other, to be examples to outsiders because of our love, to love and pray for our enemies. This is not what I see right now when I look at Christianity. This is not always how I respond and I’m ashamed to say that. The difficulty is that following Jesus and doing the things that please God requires supernatural strength and can’t be done in the flesh. Satan is counting on us to ignore the Holy Spirit, hate rather than love those who disagree with us and look and act differently than us, ignore the broken and hurting, and to be a church divided. We have to unite as the church of God almighty and start loving and living like Jesus.
Times today are just as evil and wicked as they were before. People are just as against Jesus Christ and against us. What we were told to do then still applies today just the same. If Satan can get us angry and hateful enough he has victory over us and will successfully keep us from obeying Jesus and shining our lights to the world around us. Let’s start obeying Jesus and stop allowing him to do so.
Last week I was so discouraged and beat down, believing God did not love me very much and did not really care. The craziest part? These lies came after reading scripture of all things. Just as Satan twisted scripture in the wilderness when he tempted Jesus, he had done the same to me. I have to tell you honestly, I have never in my life as a child of God believed these specific lies and struggled in this way until now. Yes in other ways, but not to the level of questioning God’s love and goodness, despite a horribly traumatic childhood and countless pain I have endured. Finally I recognized the discouragement and lies were an attack from Satan, I fought back in the right way, and the darkness lifted. I got angry and commanded the enemy to leave and I spoke the truth to those lies. I begged the Holy Spirit to give me strength and help me overcome. I was honest with him about where I was at and confessed the things that were in my mind. The next day I couldn’t even believe what had been going on for me and how I was unable at first to recognize it was Satan. He is cunning and deceptive, and without faith we cannot overcome.
If you are feeling anger and hatred right now take it to the Lord in prayer. No matter how justified you feel in acting on that hatred I am telling you that you are not. Do not give Satan that victory. Ask God to heal your hatred and anger and to give you a heart of love and kindness, even toward those who you are angry at. If you are feeling defeated and discouraged, believing negative and evil things, acknowledge that it could be a spiritual attack. Tell Satan and his demonic spirits to leave in the name of Jesus. If you have the Holy Spirit living in you they will. Fight back, submit to God resist the devil and he WILL flee. He is not allowed to stay when we choose to resist him with the authority given to us from God through Jesus Christ. I promise God will help you through and give you peace and victory if you do. I know what it’s like to act on my anger and hate and to allow Satan’s lies to take root in my mind and what it’s like to obey Jesus Christ, take my thoughts captive, and love and pray for my enemies. Trust me, obeying Jesus brings freedom and there is nothing like it.