“Temptation is never stronger than when relief seems to dress itself in the very sin that Satan is suggesting” ~ William Gurnall
Recounting those words, one cannot help to see the truth of such an intense statement when reflecting on his or her own life. It is perhaps the best masquerade of all when Satan can deceive us into thinking that sin will provide relief to a current situation. It takes only a small nudge then to make justification for it. Perhaps the engagement of sin in society is so prevalent because we underestimate both its enticing power and Satan’s seductions. Both underscore the great need to be clothed in the Christian armour and lay out for us three defenses to guarding against Satan.
Know Who You Are
The first line of defense is to know who you are. Gurnall’s exact phrasing of this is to know your heart. To know yourself requires a humility that allows God’s Word to be a mirror in your life (see James 1:23-24). It requires an outright confession and admission to who you are as a person. A deep examination of one’s self permeates from the depths of the mind into the barred doors of the heart and beyond. Such an examination of one’s self is not only important in order to pinpoint areas of growth in Christ, but it forces us to recognize our weaknesses and failures. We can expect that those vulnerabilities will be the most exposed and utilized to Satan for his solicitations. However, with a view of those areas in the forefront it becomes easier to be on guard, to be aware of those so that we can be ready for those attacks and respond rightly to them instead of wrongly.
Know Who God Is
It seems obvious that are biggest recourse for avoiding defection from God’s army is by knowing God and trusting in Him. Yet it is often the last step for many fellow Christians. It is the last step to be avoided until it is finally necessary. If we were truthful though, we would recognize that this is the first step to defense: not knowing our antagonist, but knowing our ally. While a good defense will always know its opponent, our greatest defense is knowing our coach and trusting in Him.
A knowledge of our God comes with a trust in our God as well. We recognize that even with Satan’s lurking temptations that are quick to snatch us up, God is still sovereign and Satan cannot act outside of His authority. We see this in the often cited example of Job as Satan seeks to turn Job away from God (Job 1:6-12). Satan is never allowed to act outside of what God allows. It is seen furthermore in the temptation of Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:1-17). The Holy Spirit is at work as it is the Spirit that first brings Christ to the temptation, but it is also the Spirit that brings Christ through the temptation.
Thus, we serve a God who has complete control, even over evil. The comfort established in our hearts at such an understanding creates a great defense for us against Satan’s enticements.
Know Who You Are in God
Finally, it’s not only know who we are and who God is, but having a complete confidence about who we are in Jesus Christ. William Gurnall has rightly noted four fortifications to have against Satan: (1) beware of Satan, (2) cling to justification, (3) avoid entrapment, and (4) maintain assurance of your salvation. Each fortification is not only important, but it provides a unique aspect of our defenses against Satan. However, note that two of those defenses deal with our salvation (in other words, knowing who we are in God through Jesus Christ).
To neglect our salvation, particularly that we have been justified as forgiven and will not lose that justification, would be neglecting the whole aspect of our defense against Satan. It would deny the work of God in our life and on our behalf, and thus leaves us defenseless. In fact, it is because of these very points that we can have confidence in our stance against Satan. We have seen what God did in us, now we trust what God did for us.
We must never fear Satan and the enticing way in which he tries to engage us and draw us from our Savior. However, we must live constantly aware of his presence knowing that he is at work in the world around us. To forget him is to fall for him. Thus, our confidence and hope are never broken, but instead are elevated because we have the defense of our Savior working with us.
We have been reading through William Gurnall’s “The Christian in Complete Armour.” It’s not too late to join us, next week we begin chapter 2, section 2. Learn more here.