The serpent waits in the shadows. He watches and observes every slight movement you make, decisions, interaction with others and words that comes out of your mouth. Waiting.
Waiting for that perfect moment when he can use your words against you. Waiting to divide the flock, isolate and then separate you from the flock.
And then in a swift movement, he will come crashing in. He will use miscommunication, other people’s fears of being called to the carpet, and half- truths to try to cut your legs out from under you. Most of the time, it will be petty issues. Sometimes, it can mean the difference between a person having the capacity to serve or not.
He will twist and discolor people’s thoughts about you to try to confuse and cause division with those who should trust you. And so, you find yourself, pushed to the outskirts, while people bristle and are frustrated with you. They will blame, finger-point or worse- remain silent while others belittle you.
Now, if you’re like me, this kind of thing needs to be processed for a couple of hours. I nod and listen while they rip me to shreds (or accuse me of something that is not entirely true). They may stomp off in frustration or saunter off in accomplishment, while I try to maintain control and continue about my responsibilities at the church. Hours later… I crumble.
I overanalyze, play the conversations over and over… until my true feelings rise to the surface. My shock wears off and then I’m either sad, mad or frustrated… sometimes all three at once. I usually internally scream to God, “Really? I don’t have time for this kind of crude right now!” (I know- right? So eloquent… and completely disrespectful.)
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are 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.
1 Peter 5:8-11
The Thing about Satan
Here’s the thing about Satan. He’s crafty. He’s got these tactics DOWN.
Satan is motivated by pride and hatred toward God and the people of God. So, he intimidates with power encounters (as a roaring lion does) when he is stalking his prey. He even uses Scripture to twist the truth and accomplish his agenda… by only using part of the verse… or ignoring the context of the passage (look at the Temptation of Jesus in Luke 4:1-13). He turns people against God or God’s people against each other. He confuses the truth and frustrates the plans of the Church. He is also the Accuser; He will even contradict himself to confuse and frustrate you. Ever heard the voice in your head, “It’s okay, just this once. God will forgive you.”
Yeah. I’m gonna say that’s probably not the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the deal: if I’m being attacked spiritually by Satan, then I can be assured that other believers are out there being attacked as well. And most of us will never speak up. Most of us will take it on the chin and not speak truth so that others will hear it.
I’m not talking about gossip.
I’m not even talking about going to the person you have beef with. (Yet.)
First: Drop to Your Knees in Prayer and Humility
I’m talking about dropping to your knees and going to God with it. This is PARAMOUNT. If you go back two verses in the 1 Peter 5 passage, Peter asks those he’s writing to, to humble themselves and cast all their anxieties upon Him.
Without God’s help, you will not see through Satan’s lies. You will not find peace to be able to forgive the person for their part in the issue. Without God’s help, you may screw the situation up worse- and cause massive division in your relationships… whether in the church, in your home or in your workplace.
Second: Ask for Prayer
Ask a godly mentor for prayer, a person outside of the situation that you trust to pray for wisdom for you (see James 5:13-20.) Don’t ask your neighbor next door… or your friend at church who knows the person- that’s tacky and a little behind the back.
Third: Go to the Person
Go to the person who came to you with accusations and talk to them about it. Acknowledge what is truth- and what was misunderstood. Ask for forgiveness for any part that is on you- and work toward reconciliation. (Click here for more on how to reconcile.)
Fourth: Don’t Listen to Satan’s Lies
If you still wish to “take it on the chin” just know that slowly Satan will trick you into believing that God’s calling for your life isn’t real. He’ll tell you that maybe you aren’t meant to be the person needed at this job, in this ministry or at that organization at all. He tells you that you are just the one who stands in the back and supports everyone else. (Do you see how he takes good and twists it?)
Fifth: Focus on Christ
If any of those above statements ring a bell, I urge you to stop allowing Satan’s whispers into your heart. You have been called and chosen for a task far greater than standing in the back in support. Focus on Christ, His promises and His call.
Hope for Unity and Reconciliation
What gives me extreme hope is that last verse in 1 Peter 5:10:
“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.”
He will restore us. He will give us the strength to hold firm and to be steadfast in truth.