Vacationing at the beach is medicine for my soul. I love nothing more than sitting by the ocean with a good book and listening to the tide roll in. This is my happy place, and my plan on a recent family trip was all about relaxation, but that wasn’t happening this particular morning.
Our youngest son wanted to surf. Unfortunately, my husband was busy with work, so I was the parental lifeguard. No book time for this momma. This duty would be no big deal on a typical summer day, but there was a powerful storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, and the waters were too dangerous for a little boy to maneuver alone.
Watching from the shore, I saw him struggling against the current. I rushed out into the ocean and felt the intensity of the waves crash against me—so strong that I was knocked down and sucking saltwater. Pound after pound, waves sent me underwater. Finally, I reached our son, and after a few more falls, I determined I desperately needed to learn to stand.
Here’s what I learned: standing is part mental, part physical. There is a preparation of the mind that informs muscles and tendons. Standing is a decision of the will before it is a positional reality.
Gripping my son’s hand, I planted my feet deep in the sand, fixed my posture, and prepared for the next impact. That time, as I watched the wave swell, I was ready for it and stood firm.
Standing firm against the schemes of the enemy
Life for a Christ-follower can feel like standing against crashing waves. But the ones we face are mental and emotional in nature. We face insecurity, anxiety, temptation, and shame that assaults our identity in Christ. Dismayed, we scramble to our feet, puzzled at our weak faith, only to get knocked down again before we know what hit us. Many feel defeated, not realizing they are experiencing what the bible calls the “schemes of the enemy.”
Sadly, many Christians are ignorant of Satan’s schemes. I know I have been. We assume the waves that knock us down are just our thoughts, fears, weaknesses, and emotions. But to stand firm, we must wise up to the various assaults that seek to topple us.
In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul teaches us about this spiritual battle. The first half of the epistle focuses on our identity: We are chosen, loved, forgiven, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and seated with Christ in victory. The second half teaches us how to walk out our status as redeemed children of God. Finally, in Ephesians 6, Paul teaches us how to stand firm against the devil’s schemes.
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm. (Eph. 6:10–14)
What do these waves look like?
It’s one thing to acknowledge that spiritual warfare exists, but how do we know when we are in the midst of it? For the vast majority of us, the battle rages against our minds. The enemy works through deception, accusation, temptation, and condemnation, to name a few methods. For instance, when Satan went after Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, he didn’t use blunt force. He used words, just as he does with us today. Words of:
- Shame that heap condemnation on our hearts
- Fear that whisper dreadful scenarios
- Accusation that divide relationships
- Judgment that cause self-hatred and self-harm
- Doubt that lead us to question God and His Word
These mental assaults can feel like a fog, thick with despair, eclipsing joy, peace, and purpose. Others describe a heaviness that lingers and won’t lift. While this battle is explained in various ways, the key is to recognize the mental nature of the attack. And it should be noted how often the assault focuses on our identity.
Recently I took to social media to find out if I’m alone in these battles. Friends bravely shared their experiences with spiritual warfare. One woman confessed that she’s bombarded by sinful images from her past that cripple her with shame. Another friend struggles with the lies of perfectionism. She feels intense pressure to conform to subjective standards of perfection for the flawless body, home, kids, and marriage. Finally, one woman confessed that it doesn’t matter what her husband does to prove his commitment; she is overwhelmed with thoughts that he doesn’t love her.
Know God’s truth to resist the enemy
How do we stand in the face of these beating waves? Just as I learned in the ocean, the same proves true in the spiritual realm: standing is a decision of the will before it is a positional reality. We must come to a point where we believe God’s truth more than we do Satan’s lies.
As Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). Therefore, to stand against Satan’s schemes, we must determine to know God’s truth and resist the enemy when he speaks anything that contradicts it.
When we know what Scripture says about our identity, then we can refute the lies, accusations, condemnations, and temptations that come our way. Just as Jesus did when the enemy tempted him in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11) For every temptation (lie) presented by the enemy, Jesus spoke the Word of God (truth).
Today I talked with a friend whose marriage is in trouble, and she pinpoints the cause to her chronic insecurity. Through tears she described the darkness that descends over her mind and how she constantly feels rejected. While she knows the emotions aren’t rational, the waves keep coming.
Together we found truths from God’s word to refute the enemy’s specific lies. Then, taking a cue from Jesus, I told her to boldly speak these truths aloud anytime she felt the darkness descend. Now, she’s equipped “to stand firm against the devil’s schemes.” When the voice whispers that she’s rejected, she’s standing on who God says she is as His beloved child.
Plant your feet on solid ground
Just as I learned to stand by planting my feet and positioning my body against the crashing waves, the same is true in the spiritual realm. Standing firm begins with knowing our identity in Christ and continues each day as we plant our feet on the solid ground of God’s unfailing love.
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
Have you heard of the The 31-Day Pursuit Challenge?
Every marriage begins with passion, purpose, and pursuit, but few stay that way. That’s why we wrote Husband in Pursuit and Wife in Pursuit Together, they make what we’re calling the 31-Day Pursuit Challenge. Couples are encouraged take the challenge together. We’re already starting to hear stories of transformed marriages! Are you up for the challenge?