I once heard that after every blessing, comes a battle. In my experience as a Christian, the individual Christian’s life seems to follow this cycle. Great blessings, require great battles! At times it may even seem like more ‘battle’ than ‘blessing’.
Have you ever had that week - where everything seems to be going wrong? You wake up one morning and the hot water cylinder springs a leak and floods your home, the dishwasher decides it doesn’t want to work anymore, the washing machine seems to have learnt Chinese and just can’t follow any of your English instructions, and then the car just won’t start! You feel like money (money you don’t have) just flows out your hand. Then you and a co-worker, or your spouse, have a rip roaring fight; the children get really sick and the bank phones to say they need you to start paying back the money on your maxed overdraft. After such intense battles, we end up more often than not feeling extremely tired, weak and drained, and are tempted to worry more and trust the Lord less. At such times we may even feel like giving up. Everything seems to be against you and everything seems to be going wrong in your life. Ever been there? I know I have!
Shouldn’t everything in a Christian’s life be perfect? Once we become children of God shouldn’t we be living in His constant blessing and favour? Shouldn’t our daily stories start with “Once upon a time…. and they lived happily ever after. The end!?” The reality is, it doesn’t. We have an enemy called the devil who prowls around seeking to rob, kill and destroy. We are living on planet earth where the Kingdom of God hasn’t yet fully come and so bad things happen, even to Christians. Even Jesus, our great example and prototype, faced battles and blessings. Matthew 4:1-22 tells us about the blessing, and then the battles that Jesus faced and how He overcame them. What can we learn from Him?
In this account, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and God had just declared that “this was His son, in whom He was well pleased.” From this place of great blessing, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where he stayed for 40 days and 40 nights until scripture says that he became very hungry. It’s then that the devil comes against him with three battles.
Satan brings the battle of not trusting or waiting for God (turning stones to bread); the battle of who gets the fame (jumping off the temple); and finally the temptation of wanting the power (get all the kingdoms by worshiping the devil). The battle of not trusting or waiting on God, is brought in the form of Jesus being encouraged to turn the stones into bread and meet the need himself rather than looking to God. But Jesus knew that material things can never truly satisfy; especially because they always come with a condition attached. There is always a compromise needed by us. Jesus knew this and refused, knowing the need for spiritual food was more essential and necessary if He was to overcome.
Then the battle of who gets the fame came next. But Jesus knew the Word and He saw that the devil was twisting things and attempting to manipulate the truth. Yes, he was the Son of God, but he was living as a man and needed to live within those boundaries of humanity and trust His Father in heaven for deliverance and intervention. Thirdly, the test of wanting all the power came. The devil tries to question the very character of God himself. “Is He truly all knowing, all powerful, the only one who can rule and reign? You too can be all powerful and rule and reign, you just need to bow to me first”. And so he tries to question God’s power and ability to deliver.
When these battles come against us what should we do?
Never rest in your past successes. Often when we have just come through a time of blessing, victory or breakthrough, we can be off guard and not so alert to the enemy. We enjoy the victory so much that we relax and that’s when the enemy comes in for the kill. The Bible calls us to be alert and on guard all the time as we have an enemy who prowls around seeking whomever he can devour. It’s when we think we are standing firm that we are in danger of falling. Don’t fall into pride.
Follow the Holy Spirit. Develop your ability to hear and then follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, guidance and counsel. Jesus promised us that the Holy Spirit would be our help, strength, comfort, friend and counselor. Get to know Him and stay close to Him; go only where He leads you. Listen to His instruction. Know and understand God’s Will and try to live in it always. Remember, Jesus was in the Will of God in the wilderness when the enemy came against him. He was led into the wilderness, full of the Holy Spirit and by the Spirit. Being in God’s Will and listening to the instruction of the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean that battles won’t come, but it does mean that God will be with you in it and give you the way out. So stay in His Will no matter how hard it is and listen for His voice to lead you out.
Know God's Word. Hide the Word of God inside of you, the Logos and Rhema Word of God; so that when in a battle, you like Jesus, can counter the enemy’s attack with the sword of the Spirit. The Word is our primary weapon against the enemy. It brings light and truth into dark situations as well as gives us a clear understanding of God’s character, will and ways. The enemy can’t deceive us when we know the Word. Jesus was able to say, “It is written.” In our battles keep standing on the unchanging, unshaken Word of God so you don’t have the rug pulled from under you. We are taught to warfare with the prophecy’s given to us so that we can overcome the enemy’s strategies against us: “Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well.” 1 Timothy 1:18.
In closing, remember this truth, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). So follow Christ Jesus’ example as you face your battles, and “submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).