War is a hell of a thing.
I believe that we each have our battles, and struggles. We all have our fights and the wars we wage. Many of us think that admitting that we don't have it all together is a flaw, others believe admitting adversity itself is weakness.
From the day we are born we are at war. We are either at war with God, or at war with ourselves.
I think about that some times.
Is war the opposite of peace?
Is peace only obtainable through war?
What properties mirror each other, I often wonder.
I picked up a copy of the Screwtape letters by C.s. Lewis a while back, with every intention of reading it. However I think it was right before a move and my interests waned.
The premise is of a demon writing his nephew advice on how to disrupt the walk of a follower of the Christ.
I've wondered from time to time in the back of my mind about the question of a plan.
How would the enemy take me out?
It isn't something that I would say that I dwell on, as some might say that the question is irrelevant if you're focused and pursuant of God... But then again... Ephesians 6 makes the point that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
So in transparency, and awareness I can tell you what has worked on me, and on many occasions still does, as a point of caution, transparency and honest vulnerable accountability i suppose.
The Moment that I met God I was cautioned and aware of the enemy that sought to separate me from the one that I believe imparts life and light.
First off, I believe the goal of the enemy is to isolate and destroy the believer. This is done by undermining the value of both, Christ sacrifice, and also the soul that accepts it as such.
The enemy would tell you that you are part of some sort of package deal, like your soul came with the redemption of everyone thus minimizing the fact that Christ sacrificed his life for yours. Instead of being that person that he shed his blood for, you're now the coconut air freshener that they kinda just threw in with the free car wash. This is a clever tactic of the enemy, because you are in fact unworthy of such a gift. The irony is that , you were unworthy before you received it, and you are not any less unworthy of it having obtained salvation as such.
Upon the realization of that, and the monumental epiphany that Christ would have still gone to the cross for just me, because I matter to God, as I am made in his image... the enemy cleverly works in extremes and will push a strong sense of superiority, self righteousness, pride and hyper-spirituallity. Its times like this that the word of God becomes a pill that is forced on people, instead of life saving wisdom for those who really would like to live. This fosters the "Us" vs" them" mentality. Instead of seeing myself as a sinner who was redeemed and strives and fails daily, we start to draw lines of those in the church and those outside of the church. Those who are saved as being superior to those who are not. This is asinine when you pull from the entirety of scripture and see how many times God got pissed off at those who thought they were better than everyone else.
So, there is this delicate balance that we struggle to maintain between a sniveling nothing, and a condescending jerk. An awareness of this doesn't help maintain the complex balancing act that one has to do. Some times this is frustrating. When you fail, the enemy says that you're always going to fail, so why try. When you think you're doing alright, then you may be blind to the occasional helpful bit of criticism that might help you grow. It's interesting that a little advice is great wisdom, and too much a detriment.
When you get a pretty good balance of this after years of failure and refusing to just give up because things are hard... Then the enemy will say that you're spending too much time focusing on yourself. They'll start throwing up sins of the past, and ways that you have hurt others... and how you need to change all of these things about yourself....
which is a truthful lie. While we do have to surrender the things that aren't godly and die each day to self, the enemy pushes a vast emergency on that order, mandating that one must change everything that they were at once. The task of changing everything that you are, all your habits, thoughts, ticks, memories, quirks, dreams, mannerisms... in the blink of an eye, is more than a person could bear. The word says that God is patient.
That is when the enemy will try to push patience to a distorted extreme. They'll keep a person distracted from working on any one specific thing, all the while citing the patience of God as a justification for an obscure sense of apathy.
The adversary will try and get things pushed really far one way, or another. All head and no heart is out of balance. All heart and no head is equally out of balance. The head can be ignorant, and lack wisdom as the scripture comments on. The heart also can be deceitfully wicked, but is the place where God writes His Commandments for any whom are part of the Covenant.
Sometimes, God will show you something and because others do not see it, the enemy will do what it can to make you seem crazy. The oldest and only sin really is "did God really say"
Doubt, when honestly explored isn't the enemy of faith... but often establishes it. Yet, the enemy will often try to instill a fear of the unfamiliar in regards to biblical text. Asking questions may prove a doctrine to be false when rendered to scripture. The fact that there are many false doctrines out there, as stated in the Word, will make a person amazingly unpopular when you reconcile them to scripture. The enemy will show this to you, and you will have to make a choice between standing firm in your convictions, or compromising for comfort. There is solace in the fact that Israel killed all their prophets. There is warning that Christ says that if you seek to save your life, you'll lose it.
The enemy will tell you that the only thing that matters is love. What they will fail to emphasize is that love encompasses discipline, consequences, justice, sacrifice and serving others. IF they don't shy away from the point of serving others, they will try and twist it to the point where serving comes to the point of being treaded on.... then they will morph that perception into the greater body of the church, that all serving is the abuse experienced.
The enemy will either try to get you ridiculously dependent on God, so that you are to the point where you are starving to death, while praying that God put your shoe on your foot, and then when he doesn't then there must be something wrong with your faith... or they will try to get you so completely self reliant that you try to take everything that you have handed over to God that you couldn't fix, and then you try and fix it. Both of these are wrong. Remember that God brought them out into the wilderness and fed them Mana, but they still had to gather it. Depend on God, but also be obedient to what he has called you to do, things you should know as you mature as a believer.
The enemy will try and make you think that all of this is some burden. That God is nothing but work. That God is busy and wouldn't have time for you, and you must keep following a set of rules for the sake of being "spiritual" or "holy". If you are following rules to avoid hell, the point of the work of salvation has been missed. If you are following the commands of God for any reason other than your heart is compelled to out of the love that you have for him, then something is off. The enemy exploits that.
The enemy will exploit sicknesses and illnesses. they will say that you are sick because you lack faith or because your sin has caused God to remove his hand of protection over you. This is possible, but it isn't the standard I don't think. Sometimes you're broken because God made you broken... and if you were made broken with a purpose, then you aren't really broken at all. I fight bi-polar disorder. I have all my life. Though this has been something that has been really really tough for me, as some people yell at me for being sad or hurt from time to time, it does not denote a lack of faith in God. The disorder has enabled me to see patterns and draw deep connections that not everyone sees. However, I feel emotional pains and highs deeper than most people. This goes back to the head vs heart thing. My mind keeps the feelings in check most of the time. The enemy would often say that an acknowledgement of this disorder is to speak a curse, and that God could deliver me from it if I just had more faith. I am reminded of the fact that it was the faith in God that resulted in the physical breaking of Jacob. Sometimes God does things contrary to human thinking because he is a masterful artist with a pallet of wonder no man could match. That doesn't mean God couldn't heal me if he wanted to.... because he has the authority and the power... but he also has the sovereignty. I've always struggled with that idea of speaking curses over my life by admitting I have a sore throat or something. I mean, I don't think that I am some kind of mythical wizard that with the power of the word can just say something and have it be. If that were the case, I'd have blessed myself with riches that would have cursed me a dozen ways. On the other hand I know that the word does say that there is an element of authority that we are given in God. Authority to cast out sickness. I've seen this first hand when praying for my nephew or other family members.
God says blessed are the peacemakers, and he also states that he has come not to bring peace but a sword. The enemy will try and get the simple sinful mind to take this as an excuse to toss out all of faith at a surface glance. Pretend that this is a contradiction and go out living lustful worldly desire feeding every whim and fancy. There is an explanation, and a rather simple one.Look for it. Ask questions, seek the truth. yearn for understanding, and help those who fall around you.
So yeah, I hope that helps. In this perceived dichotomy of guidelines and advice in which the enemy has tried to bring my mind down from within, know that there are answers, and that that it is called the straight and narrow for a reason.