Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
“My Brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2-3).
Have you ever thought things were going along just fine in your life? You had your bills paid, a roof over your head, the family was all healthy and all your ducks were in order. Most of all, your relationship and fellowship with Jesus was great and you felt close to Him. You were serving Him in a way that you knew He wanted. Then, from out of nowhere things began to go wrong. Friends turned on you or major health problems began to happen to you or a loved one.
Sometimes temptation is put in your way and the urge to sin is great. These troubles can happen to anyone but when a Christian is diligently working for Jesus, they are targeted by Satan for attack. Every Christian must be prepared for these attacks.
In the above verse, James says to count it all joy when these things happen. That’s hard to do, but the truth is when you are serving Christ and are right with Him, Satan is threatened. That is why we are to count it joy. If you are no different than a worldly person who doesn’t know Jesus, Satan wouldn’t care. Count it joy if Satan sees a need to try to thwart your efforts in whatever Christ has called you to do.
Because of Adam’s sin everyone is subject to the evils of this world, but only Christians are a threat to Satan. The Greek word “peirasmos” translated as “temptations” actually refers to troubles…a time of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness. It is the same word used in what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…” (Matthew 6:13a).
That actually should read “deliver us from the evil one.” When Satan attacks our first reaction needs to be prayer. The Lord is our strength and He will see us through every trial, temptation, and attack by the enemy. King David faced many attacks. He loved God and served Him. David killed the giant Goliath and won the favor of King Saul, yet Saul turned on him and tried to kill him. After Saul died David became king.
He was the one who God had always intended to be king, but David’s life was far from easy. His son, Absalom, was the cause of many satanic attacks; he helped his brother Amnon rape their sister, Tamar. He killed his brothers, he came against David to usurp the throne, he chased after David to kill him, etc. Absalom was used by Satan to attack God’s anointed. David faced many trials, but he always found that his strength was in the Lord.
“And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour, thou savest me from violence. I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies” (2 Samuel 22:2-4).
David knew his God and he trusted Him. When Satan attacks, follow David’s example and turn to God. It is in Him that you will find strength. David knew this truth, and every Christian should too. We need to trust God and we need to pray, even before the attacks come. Too often, when Satan attacks we try to handle things on our own. If someone spreads gossip against us, which can be a form of satanic attack, it is natural to get angry and return evil for evil. Wrong. First we must be sure that we have not done anything to promote such gossip. Were you seen having dinner alone with someone who isn’t your spouse? Even if it truly was innocent you have put yourself in a compromising position.
“Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:2).
If the gossip is truly unfounded then you need to look to Christ’s example. Forgive those who are used of Satan to do wrong to us. The worst satanic attack was when this prideful fallen angel thought he could defeat God. When God entered His creation in the form of a human, Satan tried every hard to stumble Him. He inspired the Pharisees to come against Jesus, he tempted Him in the wilderness, and he was the force behind the crucifixion. What Satan cannot understand is God’s love. The crucifixion was not a failure but a victory. It was part of God’s plan of salvation and Jesus went to the cross willingly. As He hung on that cross and looked down upon those who had pounded the nails into His hands and feet He only felt love and forgiveness.
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” (Luke 23:34).
Satan has no love within him. When he is confronted with God’s love his attacks are defeated. Live your life so that nobody will believe lies and gossip told about you, but also show love to those who spread those lies. Pray for your enemies. Is it easy to do this? No, but that is what we are to do because we represent Christ. Every problem is not an attack by Satan. Sometimes things just go wrong, and sometimes it is our own choices that cause the problems. For instance, God directs us that marriage is between one man and one woman and any sexual act outside of God’s perfect plan is sin. So, if you choose to have sexual relations with your girlfriend or boyfriend and you contract a sexually transmitted disease that is a choice you made. You cannot blame God or Satan.
The question remains, what do you do when Satan attacks? Paul urged the Ephesians to “…be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10.) This directive was followed by a “how to” list…how to be strong in the Lord. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Notice that he says to put on the “whole” armor of God. He doesn’t say to pick a piece you like and that is sufficient. This is spiritual warfare so you need spiritual protection. Put it on and don’t take it off.
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14).
This is the starting place for putting on the armor. Truth. God’s truth is where our defense against Satan’s attacks begins. If you are not well-versed in God’s truth, then you need to study your Bible and apply it to your life. Next is the breastplate of righteousness. This piece protects vital organs such as the heart. Your heart needs protection from satanic lies that can draw you away from God. Don’t neglect this piece of armor.
“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).
Proper shoes are important to a soldier, even a soldier who is fighting a spiritual battle. A Roman soldier wouldn’t consider going to battle wearing sandals, and so a Christian soldier needs the proper shoes to fight a spiritual battle. Shoes protect the feet from stumbling. The shoes of Roman soldiers are said to have had sharp nails in them so as to grip into the ground for a solid footing. The gospel of peace will keep you from stumbling and slipping in your Christian walk. Be prepared; don’t neglect your shoes. Study God’s Word so you have a good grip on His truth.
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Ephesians 6:16).
The shield of faith protects the other pieces of armor when Satan attacks. Every Christian must place their faith in Christ and His truth. What is faith?
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
This chapter lists those who placed their faith in God and accomplished great things for Him. Read it then study the accounts of their faith throughout the Bible. We need this same faith in God today because Satan is still trying to work his wickedness. Keep your shield of faith before you and don’t let down your guard.
Next we are to put on the helmet of salvation.
“And take the helmet of salvation…” (Ephesians 6:17a).
The truth of our salvation is vital to the Christian, but Satan’s fiery darts can plant doubt that you really are saved. Satan likes to plant doubts in a Christian’s mind, and these darts are the same ones he used in the Garden of Eden. He caused Eve to doubt God’s Word and tempted her to eat the forbidden fruit. Today God’s Word is still being twisted to cause doubt. Put the helmet of salvation firmly on for protection.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Don’t neglect the helmet.
“… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17b.)
Other pieces of armor mentioned are for protection, but the sword is something to fight with. The sword of the Spirit is aggressive, but what is it? It is the Word of God—the Bible. If you do not know God’s Word you are leaving yourself open to defeat. The Word of God is what Jesus used when Satan attacked Him in the wilderness. Satan tempted Him, but Jesus could not be swayed because He fended off the attack using the sword of the Spirit…the Word of God.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
Pray without ceasing. Pray for protection, pray for your children, pray for your spouse, pray for friends, pray for your nation, pray, pray, pray. Paul asked for prayers for himself.
“And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19-20).
Paul needed prayers to speak boldly? We usually think of him as very bold, but even the boldest need prayer. Have you prayed for your pastor today? He needs the full armor of God too, and your prayers are part of that armor. He needs to speak boldly of God’s truth without wavering on any point, and your prayers will help him keep his armor on.
Believers and non-believers alike will experience troubles in this life, but it seems as if the troubles are worse when you serve Jesus openly. Satan and his minions want to come between you and your Savior and the attack will be where it hurts most. So, what does a Christian do when Satan attacks? Trust Jesus. Pray. Sing His praises. Continue in your work for Jesus in spite of the attacks. Put on the full armor of God and don’t take it off.
God bless you all,
Ron & Nathele Graham