The enemy plays unfair. He tempts you with a thought, and then condemns you for having it! I’ve been the target of that cruel strategy far too often—as most of us probably have. We know that God says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” But somehow it’s seems easier to believe Satan’s accusation, “You are nothing but a sinner. Always have been always will be. You’ll never change, you’ll never overcome your sin. So why bother trying?”
When Satan goes after me like that, even if I don’t actually give in to the temptation, I usually spiral into a slump of defeat and disgrace. I feel so much shame that I can barely eke out much more of a prayer than, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” If I’m not very careful, I can get stuck there.
However, contrary to what the deceiver tries to convince us of, temptation does not equal sin. Tempting thoughts do not equal sinful actions. They can lead there, obviously, but temptation on its own is not sin. So I am getting pretty fed up with the enemy raking God’s children over the coals for being tempted.
But here’s the thing: if it were up to us to overcome sin and temptation, we could never do it. The enemy’s temptations are powerful and cunning. He’s both smarter and stronger than we are. So when he says that we will never change (and a thousand variations on that theme), in a sense, he’s right. We won’t—certainly not on our own feeble steam. However, and this is a huge however—it is Christ’s resurrection power at work in us that transforms us. And it is Jesus’ blood that delivers us. We do not save ourselves, we do not heal ourselves, we do not change ourselves—God does it all.
Today, the Holy Spirit directed me to some Scriptures that I can take up as my shield of faith whenever the enemy lobs his arrows at me. They all have the same theme—it is God in me that does the work, not me. I belong to Him, He is invested in me, and He will not let me fall to the evil one. Here they are:
- “The Lord will fulfill [his purpose] for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever–do not abandon the works of your hands” (Psalm 138:8).
- “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:8).
- ” I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).
- “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13).
These verses help me to believe that when the enemy goes at me with those below-the-belt accusations, I don’t have to prove or justify anything. I don’t have to show him how much progress I’ve made in sanctification. Instead, I can stand up to him on the basis of what God’s Word says. I can remind myself—and him—that I’m counting on God to do for me what He says He will do.
What Scriptures do you pray and use when the enemy tries to take you out?