Monday, July 11, 2011

When Satan Comes With Accusations

I have John Cleese's
reading of Screwtape Letters.
It's brilliant!

When a person becomes a Jesus-follower, they will experience a spiritual counter-attack from Satan and his forces. This is normal. The spiritual battle is on. See, e.g., C.S. Lewis's brilliant The Screwtape Letters. Note what happens when the man becomes a Jesus-follower, and how the demons respond.

Here, as I see it, is the experience of the battle for the human soul. Who, or what, will rule it? You have come out of the kingdom of darkness into God’s Kingdom. The enemy hates that, so he will still try to get his claws into you. Most of us, if not all, have experienced this. As Lewis once wrote, you don’t know how strong the enemy is until to begin to resist him and walk towards God, just like a person will never know how strong the wind is until they stand up and begin to walk into it and against it.
What can we do about this?
1. Don't be shocked or freak out about this, as if something unnatural is happening to you, or think that you are an especially bad person who deserves this. 1 Peter 4:12-13 says, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." Satan hates the fact of someone embracing Jesus. This hatred is not theoretical, but experiential. Expect spiritual battle. View life, and our mission, in warfare terms. 1 Peter 5:8 says: "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

2. A lot of the spiritual battle happens in the heart and mind of the Jesus-follower. For me this has included thoughts of inadequacy, "this isn't for me," "I don't belong here," fears, and self-hatred ("I'm no good," or "I'm not good enough for God"). Two very good books to help with this stuff are: Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, and Neil Anderson, Victory Over Darkness.
3. Submit yourself daily to God. Resist the enemy daily. In James 4:7 we read: "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." And 1 Peter 5:9-11 says: "Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."
For a deeper theological and biblical understanding of spiritual warfare see, e.g., Greg Boyd, God at War, The Bible and Spiritual Conflict.

(Note: This is an intra-Christian post; i.e., for Jesus-followers only, at least in terms of one's understanding. Of course if one is an atheist this makes no sense. I have a number of atheist readers, and I'm very thankful for this. I understand that, for you, with the belief in the non-existence of God comes a philosophical naturalism that denies the existence of spirits and a devil. In my deistic days I didn't buy into any of this stuff eiether. But for me, with my conversion from deism/agnosticism/practical atheism to embracing the Christian noetic framework came the belief in demons, Satan, angels, and a spiritual world and spiritual realities.)