“For we fight not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand in the evil day and having done all to stand.”
While talking recently with a person struggling with feelings of inadequacy, any advice I gave proved to be totally ineffective. Then a thought came to mind that turned out to be the key to opening the door to this person’s emotional prison.
“This feeling of inadequacy is exactly what Satan wants you to focus on. Of course we are inadequate; we are human beings and have limitations. In contrast, God wants us to focus on Him, to find our adequacy in Him, our acceptance in Him, our worth and joy in Him.
“Satan, however, wants us to focus on what we can’t do; he wants us to work for our worth and to seek for the elusive happiness of accomplishment. So, whose lead are you going to follow? Are you going to fall into devil’s trap, or sidestep it with God’s truth?”
Asking “What would Jesus do in this situation?” helps us think biblically. Adding the question, “What would Satan want me to do?” will bring even more biblical clarity. Paul refers to this in Ephesians 6 when he says, “Put on the whole armor of God so you will not fall in to the wiles of the devil.”
The devil is clever and does not want us thinking about his desires; he wants us to unknowingly mix our personal and cultural bias in with a bit of Scripture and do things that make us feel good–and please him. It is easy to fool ourselves into thinking that our preferences as Christians are the same as God’s. For instance, in our culture we have come to confuse busyness with being spiritual, having results with being blessed and talent and training with being spiritually mature.
When faced with an opportunity for more ministry, we need to think about what Jesus would do, and what Satan would have us do. Satan is happy when we are striving to push ahead in our own effort, keeping very busy “for the Lord”, wearing ourselves out for others. He is not happy when we spend time first in prayer and in the Word, seeking God’s direction, weighing our motives before Him, waiting for His timing–and then working hard with Him as He directs.
As a concrete example of this concept, here in the Middle East we have often had opportunities to help believers financially. “Of course Jesus would have us give to them!” we thought.
Yet as we look back now, it is clear how in the early years of ministry, channeling funds to seemingly desperate needs produced far more bitter and dependent believers than anything else. Our help was toxic, not a tonic.
We have to admit that our estimation of what Jesus wanted was not fully correct. Yes, it made us feel good to help and we got the believers out of binds, but also often prevented them from learning the lessons God had for them.
Later, when God had gotten our attention and made clear that we should step back from such rescuing attempts and let Him teach important lessons of character, believers matured and grew in new ways. There are times to help, but wisely, in cooperation with God, not with Satan’s feel-good solutions.
Prayer: “Lord, as we seek your will in situations, remind us to search Scripture, asking the question, “What would Jesus do?” and also add the question, ‘What would Satan want me to do?’ Guide us in cooperating with you in your intentions not with the devil. Amen.”