What Will You Do in the Face of Satan’s Attack?
“Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil.”—Eph. 6:11.
1. Against whom must we all be on guard, and why?
WHETHER you know it or not, you and all the rest of the human race have a vicious foe with whom to reckon. You may not have realized that such a hater of all mankind actually exists, but make no mistake about it. You are being stalked by a lying, premeditating murderer. Extra alertness on your part is required because of the fact that this one is invisible. No, you could not see him if he were standing right next to you. Yet through violent ways he has “the means to cause death.” Who is he? Satan the Devil.—Heb. 2:14.
2. Who is Satan, and what is his primary goal?
2 But what does he want? Why are you personally in danger? Well, it must be remembered that he was once a worshiper of the true God, Jehovah, but “he did not stand fast in the truth.” He became apostate, putting his own ambition and desire to be worshiped ahead of the interests of his Creator. To justify his actions and to secure worship for himself he made it his goal to break the integrity of all creatures in heaven and on earth. He wants to destroy your relationship with God. So you are under attack.—John 8:44; Matt. 4:9.*
3. What is the extent of the Devil’s influence on earth?
3 Devil worship may be the farthest thing from your mind, and yet the fact is that the majority of those who think they are worshiping the true God are actually on the side of Satan and the demonic angels who have gone over to the Devil’s way of thinking. Some people may doubt this; yet Revelation 12:9 refers to “the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” Additionally, 1 John 5:19 says: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” Elsewhere in the Scriptures he is called “the god of this system of things.” (2 Cor. 4:4) These references should make it quite clear to us that from the viewpoint of the Creator the vast majority of mankind are under the influence and control of the Devil.
4. How has Satan been able to achieve an apparent measure of ‘success’?
4 ‘How,’ you may ask, ‘has it been possible for most of mankind to have come under the influence of Satan, apparently without their even knowing it?’ It is because of the methods he uses, methods so effective that even perfect Adam and Eve were not immune. Having once been “in the truth” he knows very well how to transform “himself into an angel of light.” (John 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:14) Just as poisonous food tastily prepared may be quite appealing to an unsuspecting person, so Satan often takes things that appeal to normal natural desires but gives them a twist that certainly can be fatal. He wants to lead us to the point where, when we recognize what has happened, it is too late. Staying on this deadly course for a period of time soon sears our conscience so that eventually our perverted course becomes ‘normal’ to us, and we start thinking everyone else is wrong. Could it be that this is what has happened to “the entire inhabited earth,” “the whole world”? According to God’s own written Word, Yes!
5. Why can it be said that Satan has no really ‘secret weapon’?
5 This being Scripturally true, one might well wonder, ‘Can anyone successfully resist Satan’s insidious attack? Is there any way to know in advance exactly what his methods are?’ Happily, the answer is, Yes! By a study of God’s Word and the modern history of the Christian congregation we can learn the entire spectrum of his schemes. He has no really ‘secret weapon.’ It is true of him as stated in Ecclesiastes 1:9: “That which has come to be, that is what will come to be; and that which has been done, that is what will be done; and so there is nothing new under the sun.” Satan is not a creator so that he could devise something totally new and take us completely by surprise. He is limited. So, let us consider some of the “crafty acts” that Satan has used in his all-out assault on mankind and see what we can do to have our defenses ready.—Eph. 6:11, Kingdom Interlinear Translation.
METHODS OF ATTACK
6. What is Satan’s frontal attack, and how can Christians meet it?
6 In his warfare Satan often uses the frontal attack. This method is characterized by threats, imprisonments, bannings, and acts of violence, the flames of which are often fanned by nationalism. Some have lost jobs, homes, family members and even their lives because of taking an uncompromising stand while under such assault. By such scare tactics our enemy hopes to overwhelm us and frighten us into capitulating. He knows that it is natural for humans to do something to relieve themselves of suffering and anxiety. If you have a headache, you try to do something to allay the pain. Satan figures that, if he can cause you enough suffering, you will compromise to gain relief, thus breaking your relationship with Jehovah God. In modern times, on all continents of the earth, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have had to endure these things. The threat of such things being applied keeps most people in line with what is ‘normal,’ but true Christians, who are not afraid to ‘buck the tide,’ have remained faithful.
7. How does Satan use fear?
7 Another ‘crafty act’ that affects especially those newly associated with the Christian congregation is Satan’s playing on fear of what neighbors, friends and relatives may think. Close family members may turn away, and even our marriage mate may oppose us. Should this overtake us as a sudden surprise attack? No! Did not Jesus warn: “Do not think I came to put peace upon the earth; I came to put, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household.” (Matt. 10:34-36) As you try to conform to Bible principles you may find that such ones will bring pressure to bear against you. By this method Satan hopes that your normal desire to be accepted will cause you to give in. Have you been the target of such an attack?
8. How can our desire for security be used against us?
8 Another area in which Satan tries to undermine us is in regard to our human desire for security. Christ Jesus counseled his hearers: “Stop being anxious,” and, “So never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’” Later the apostle Paul said: “Do not be anxious over anything.” (Matt. 6:25, 31; Phil. 4:6) In other words, if we do our part, Jehovah God will take care to see that we have the necessities of life. However, Satan does not want us to rely on the Creator. Rather, with the aim of crowding out spiritual interests he wants us to feel that we have to use extraordinary personal initiative to protect ourselves against inflation as well as shortages of fuel, food and other items. Even people who have their personal necessities for the immediate future well cared for find themselves anxious about what is going to happen months and years into the future. Some feel they have to stockpile beyond what is normal to protect themselves against contrived or prophesied shortages. How few people follow the plain advice in God’s Word: “So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things”! Many people have allowed this subtle attack of Satan to crowd out the spiritual solution to life’s problems. So in these matters, how are you doing?—1 Tim. 6:8; Rev. 6:5, 6.
9. Give an example of how Satan may use innocent desires as a means of attack.
9 Another natural desire we all have is the need for entertainment and relaxation. But subtle Satan can turn an innocent desire for a little change of pace into an all-out assault that can be just as devastating to our spirituality as anxiety, fear of man, and nationalism. Our interest in sports, music and other forms of entertainment can capture our attention to such an extent that the spending of time and money this way interferes with keeping up our spiritual obligations. How would you compare the time, interest and money you use for leisure-time pursuits to that spent in taking care of spiritual matters? Your answer is to some extent an indication of Satan’s success in his attack on you.
10. What is one of Satan’s most nefarious methods of attack? Explain.
10 Perhaps the Devil’s most nefarious method of attack is in connection with the perfectly normal desire for marriage and the intimacies associated with it. For example, an engaged couple may begin to reason, ‘Well, we are going to be married tomorrow, and we do love each other. After all, marriage itself is just a piece of paper and a few words. What really counts is the way we feel about each other. So what would be wrong with beginning now to enjoy some of the intimate privileges afforded married persons?’ In the Garden of Eden there was nothing wrong with the forbidden fruit in itself, but Jehovah God said that it should not be eaten, and that made the eating of it wrong. The same is true with the relationship between a man and a woman. What would be all right tomorrow may be wrong today. Satan’s subtle approach is to make us think that Jehovah is withholding something beneficial and pleasurable from us without just cause. He has fostered the idea that man has a “right” to decide for himself what is good and what is bad. Promiscuous sex is a by-product of such thinking and a snare against which we must guard. Christians must demonstrate unquestionable loyalty to the laws of God if they are to remain firm in the face of Satan’s attack.
11. What can we do to prepare for Satan’s attack?
11 Basic to preparing ourselves for Satan’s attack is that we recognize that our defense is not a physical one but is primarily a spiritual one. This is made clear for us in Ephesians 6:11-13: “Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places. On this account take up the complete suit of armor from God, that you may be able to resist in the wicked day and, after you have done all things thoroughly, to stand firm.” So in defending ourselves it makes no difference whether we are young or old, muscular or frail, in good health or infirm. As David did with Goliath, we can come up against an enemy who to all outward appearances has the advantage, yet we can still come off the victor. It is going to come, not due to our own expertness, but, rather, by keeping ourselves in a condition of spiritual readiness. Indeed, this is our only means of defense.
12. What issue must we understand in order to remain firm?
12 It is one thing to read and hear about others remaining faithful under strenuous tests of loyalty to God. But what will we individually do when the issue meets us head on, when it is our own life and integrity that hang in the balance? To meet such opposition personally and remain firm, it is all-important for us to know for ourselves why Jehovah permits the attack. We must remember that we are undergoing a test of loyalty, and that those not serving because of love of God will be, sifted out. Additionally, our maintaining integrity proves the Devil to be a liar and upholds the rightfulness of Jehovah’s sovereignty. If we lose sight of this reason for our suffering, we could easily succumb to self-pity, which would lead to compromise and a breach in our defenses. It is of great benefit for all of God’s people to review from time to time the part they personally play in the universal issue involving God’s sovereignty.—Luke 22:31.
13. What historical study will help us?
13 Part of a successful defense system is to determine in advance how we are going to meet each trial that may arise. As Second Corinthians 2:11 says regarding Satan’s efforts: “We are not ignorant of his designs.” In the Bible we have a complete history of his strategy, so that no one need be ignorant in this regard. A good soldier studies historical battles of the past and applies with benefit what he learns. He determines in his mind ahead of time how he will react to the various stratagems of the enemy. He may even engage in mock encounters to perfect his various battle maneuvers. Well now, “as a fine soldier of Christ Jesus” cannot each of us benefit from the historical record of Satan’s assaults on God’s people as recorded in the Bible, as well as recently in the Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Why not make the various tactics of Satan a subject of personal study, considering how you will remain steadfast in each circumstance? Then you will not be caught off guard in a weak moment. There will be no sudden, last-minute decision to make, for it will have been made already. You will be inclined to react in the way you know is proper, and follow through.—2 Tim. 2:3.
14. What proves it is possible to resist Satan’s attack?
14 Additional assistance in maintaining integrity can be found in remembering what is said at First Peter 5:9: “Take your stand against [Satan], solid in the faith, knowing that the same things in the way of sufferings are being accomplished in the entire association of your brothers in the world.” Some have unbelieving mates and serious family problems. Still others have endured subtle temptations, the loss of their jobs and brutal persecutions, and yet they have remained faithful. ‘Ordinary’ people with weaknesses common to all of us have ‘taken their stand’ and come off the victors. If they did it, you too can ward off Satan’s attack. Remember, “oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.”—Jas. 4:7.
15. Where may help be found, and how should we strengthen ourselves?
15 Through the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world, assistance is available to help people to shore up their defenses. Jehovah expects all of his people to avail themselves, to the extent possible, of the various provisions made to build themselves up spiritually. Just as we find a way to shop for food, visit a doctor and take care of other vital matters in life, we must, likewise, avail ourselves of the congregational arrangement to get the necessary spiritual food, association and activity in order to be strengthened for the day of attack.
16. How can prayer help in the fight against Satan?
16 Since Satan likes to attack when we least expect it, our loving Father has given us a means of instant defense for any occasion. It is called prayer. Those who have endured for many years under Satan’s attack invariably refer to prayer as being a primary source of strength. You will notice that in describing the various means we have of protecting ourselves in this fight against Satan, as outlined in the sixth chapter of Ephesians, the following point is made: “Carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit.” Though you may feel weak in yourself, prayer can turn you into a tower of strength.—Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:13.
17. Is the main benefit of persistent prayer psychological, or what?
17 But in what way does prayer help? Is prayer’s main benefit just some psychological effect it may have on us? No! According to James 5:16, “A righteous man’s supplication, when it is at work, has much force.” So prayer really accomplishes something. True, the general pattern of world events may not be altered, but prayer can make a difference in how the details will be worked out. For example, how did Paul view matters when he was in prison? Do you think he said, ‘Well brothers, I am in prison. This must be God’s will for me and there is nothing any of us can do about it’? By no means! Rather, he encouraged his brothers to pray for him. Why? Notice: “But I exhort you more especially to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.” Their persistence in prayer could make the difference as to when he would be released. Prayer gets results.—Heb. 13:19; compare Philemon 22.
18. In what various ways does God answer prayer?
18 But what if Satan’s attack continues despite persistent prayer? Does this mean that God has turned his back on you? No! Be assured that Jehovah is answering your prayers even though he may not bring about a legal victory, lift a governmental ban, or remove some obstacle or temptation. He may have some other way of bringing relief, or it may serve his righteous purpose to allow the opposition to continue. In this regard we are reminded of what Paul said about his own imprisonment in Rome. No doubt he would have liked to have been set free, yet he could see why Jehovah might allow him to remain in prison. He said: “Now I desire you to know, brothers, that my affairs have turned out for the advancement of the good news rather than otherwise, so that my bonds have become public knowledge in association with Christ among all the Praetorian Guard and all the rest; and most of the brothers in the Lord, feeling confidence by reason of my prison bonds, are showing all the more courage to speak the word of God fearlessly.”—Phil. 1:12-14; compare 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
19. How will your remaining firm help others?
19 God has allowed prolonged brutal persecution of some of Jehovah’s Witnesses in such places as Nazi Germany, Korea and Malawi. But has not their faithfulness been inspiring to us? Have they not provided a public record for anyone to read, showing that as an organization they will not bend in their allegiance to God? When you face trials in your family, difficulties with your health or opposition from the world, remember the fine effect your faithful example can have in building up your Christian brothers. What a privilege to be used by God in this way! Prayer can give you the strength to endure persecution and loss of former “friends.” It will aid you to resist materialistic pressures and immoral enticements. How happy we are to have a strong spiritual defense in the face of Satan’s attack!
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ANXIETIES OF LIFE
FEAR OF MAN
Bible study will help you to “take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles.”—Eph. 6:16
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During his imprisonment the apostle Paul encouraged his brothers to pray for him, yet he could see why God might allow him to remain in prison—“for the advancement of the good news.”—Phil. 1:12-14