The apostle Peter warned, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
A good friend who has been to Africa on multiple occasions clued me in to a lion’s hunting ritual. They aren’t eager to expend a lot of energy in a fight with the strong. They’d rather take out the stragglers, the weak, those on the fringe. And like a lion, if Satan can use the weakness, the pain, and the hurt of a situation to hold us down, he will.
A couple years back I was struggling and losing a battle with shame. The less than stellar things I had said and done easily floated to the surface of memory. Instead of recognizing this as a tactic of Satan, I sunk into humiliation, and the narrative that played in my head was this: Stupid! How could you do that?
One day I came across this quote from the reformer Martin Luther: “So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is, there I shall be also!’”
Luther defied Satan and refused to fall into his trap. Once I understood that when I wallowed in shame, what I was really saying is, “Jesus, your sacrifice wasn’t big enough for this,” I, like Luther, defied Satan and refused to fall into that trap.
Cue happy ending music, right?
Not so much.
Satan is an excellent strategist. If he couldn’t beat me with shame, what could he do with hurt? Turns out, quite a lot.
Over the past month I’ve been working through the hurt of another situation. I’ve been chatting with a pastor via email concerning it. When I mentioned that it was the pain of the situation I was struggling with, this wise pastor emailed his response: “Please do not forget Satan’s role in all of this. He cannot rob us of our salvation. He does not have that power. What he does try to do is rob us of the joy of forgiveness. . . . You are in a knockdown, drag-out fight with Satan in this matter. You need to do what Jesus did with Satan as he wanted to take over Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan.’”
And just like that, my eyes were opened. Satan was using the hurt of the situation as a weapon. As soon as I understood and defied Satan and his attempts, the hurt was gone.
Pastor Mike’s message this week is about forgiving ourselves. He says, “The devil duped you with pride when you committed the sin; don’t let him beat you twice by holding on to it.”
Whether it’s the hurt or shame of the situation or something entirely different—paralyzing fear or addiction—whatever Satan is using to hold you down, recognize that it isn’t God. God forgave you, and God is powerful enough to heal your wounds and fill you with courage and strength. Jesus’ nail-scarred hands are the proof.
If you’ve been praying and you’re still struggling, consider the role Satan is playing in the matter. He aims to steal your peace and keep you from the important work God has for you to do.
You have the power to “resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). When you recognize and defy Satan and his evil minions, you can overcome. If not, you will surely continue to be devoured by them.