CHRISTIANS, DEMONS AND CHOCOLATE CAKE
I am not one who believes there’s a demon around every corner or that the devil is to blame for all the bad things that happen in life. It’s nonsense to be preoccupied with the devil and give him credit for demons of flat tires and chocolate cake. On the other hand, I think some of us can ignore his legitimate attacks and be found ignorant of his tactics in our lives. There was a time in my life that I did just that.
A DARK TIME IN MY PAST
Three years into my first church plant in the beautiful state of Oregon, a random thought came into my mind that I was not called to be a lead pastor. Even though I had been serving in that role for three years and the Lord was blessing our church, I started to feed that thought. The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians chapter six that we are to put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand against the fiery darts, or the flaming missiles, of the evil one. The devil doesn’t throw real fiery darts at us, or flaming missiles for that matter, but what he does is bombard our mind with thoughts of doubt, evil, sensuality, temptation and anything else that will distract us from keeping our eyes on Jesus and running the race that the Lord has set before us.
For weeks I pondered the thought that I wasn’t called to be a lead pastor. I began to doubt what I was doing. I started to compare myself to friends who were pastors, thinking about how much more gifted and articulate they were. After a few weeks of these despairing thoughts, a new thought penetrated my mind. Not only was I not called to be a lead pastor, but I was not called to be in the ministry at all! In hind sight, I should have recognized this thought to be a lie because God’s calling on my life was pretty radical (a story for another time), but I had become so sucked into this thought progression of doubt and despair that I just went with it. Prior to pastoring this church, I had been a youth pastor at Calvary Chapel of Vista for seven years. It was one of the most fulfilling and impactful times of my life, teaching and ministering to hundreds of kids in the area. But in one moment, with the seed of one demonic thought planted in my head, I doubted seven years of fruitful ministry. As you can imagine, my depression deepened.
MARRIED THE WRONG WOMAN?
Another crazy thought came flooding into my mind. This time it was that I married the wrong woman! I should have recognized this as demonic because, aside from receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my wife has been the greatest thing that has happened in my life. There was nothing going on between us that warranted any kind of doubt. But suddenly, I am doubting and wrestling with all of it.
DRIVE HEAD ON INTO THE SEMI-TRUCK
The thoughts grew darker. One day I was cruising down the highway and a semi-truck was coming in the opposite direction. “Just veer head-on into the truck and end it all!” came crashing into my mind. “You have nothing to live for anyway, right?” The voice in my head was so real and the urge so incredibly strong, I literally had to grab the steering wheel with both hands and hold it straight with all of my strength.
“I SHOULD HAVE HAD A V-8” PHONE CALL
A few days later I received a call from a friend who pastored a church in Southern California that I had not heard from for about a year. He asked me how I was doing. I lied, like a lot of us do when asked that question, and told him I was doing fine. He pressed me. He said, “No Rob, really, how are you doing?” I responded by telling him that I was not called to be a pastor or in ministry, I married the wrong woman, and that I actually considered driving my car head on into a semi-truck and ending it all.
I expected my friend to either rebuke me, call me crazy, agree with the thoughts, or tell me to quit. Instead he said, “Rob, I have been having those same kind of thoughts recently, and you need to realize it is the devil. You are under attack.” Do you remember the V-8 commercial where the guy hits his forehead with his hand and says, “Oh, I could have had a V-8.”? Well, I hit my forehead with my hand and said, “Oh yeah, I am in a battle with a spiritual being who hates me and wants to destroy my life and everyone attached to it.”
HOW COULD A PASTOR BE SO DUMB?
At that moment I felt so stupid and ashamed, wondering how I, a pastor, could be so completely ignorant of the spiritual battle I was in. After I hung up the phone, I took a walk to pray and talk to the Lord. I asked Him to forgive me and to teach me how to fight! In that moment, I felt all the oppression lift from me. Like a broken damn in a river, I felt the water of God’s grace and love sweep over me in a powerful way. I have never battled like that again in my thought life. Now, I recognize the fiery darts of the wicked one much quicker and am fully aware that we are in is very real and power war.
DISARMED PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS
The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 4:4, “Greater is He (Jesus) who is in you than he (Satan) that is in the world. I love what the Apostle Paul declared in the book of Colossians 2:15 about the victory that Jesus won for us on the cross at Calvary. Not only did Jesus pay the price for our sins, but “He disarmed principalities and powers, making a public spectacle of them and triumphing over them.”
This is a picture that every first century reader would have understood right away. When the Romans conquered a city, they would take the leader and disarm him of his weapons. Then they would strip him naked, tie his hands behind his back, a rope around his neck, and made a public spectacle of him by parading him in front of the people he used to govern. That is what Jesus did to Satan and the demons on the cross for believers in Christ. They have been disarmed, made a public spectacle of, and stripped of any power or control.
A LION THAT HAS BEEN DECLAWED!
1 Peter 5:7 describes Satan as a “raging, roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” But in the life of the believer, Satan has been declawed and defanged. The best he can is roar! He makes a lot of noise and tries to intimidate us and control our thought life but, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” Romans 8:37. As believers in Jesus, we fight not “for” victory, but “from” a position of victory. Jesus has already won the victory so that we can win the every day battles!
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:10-13