There are times of joy in ministry but it can be hard work. Satan’s strategy is to wear out the saints (Daniel 7:25 KJV). His attacks may come through fractured relationships, financial struggles, illnesses that cripple us, along with leadership disunity. Some of these situations are the result of living in a fallen world while at other times we are blinded by the fact that Satan and his workers are out to destroy us! Sadly he sometimes succeeds when Christian workers are blinded by his attacks.
However don’t live in fear or be a causality of war as through the finished work of Christ on the cross, victory has been accomplished. Hallelujah! In the power of the risen Lord we find confidence, truth and become a bondage breaker!
Manifestations of Satan: a snake (Gen 3:1), attractive (Ezk 28:17), prideful (Ez 28:2), a deceiver so often works through people (2 Jn 1:7), a possessor of people (Lk 9:41), tempter (Matt 4:1) and destroyer (Mk 5:15) etc.
Manifestations of Jesus: liberator (1 Jn 3:8), giver of peace (Jn 14:27), healer (Mk 1:34), forgiver (Lk 5:24), teacher (Jn 3:2), compassionate (Is 49:13) and one who lays down His life so others may receive life (Jn10:15) etc.
‘They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony’ Rev 12:11.
Be aware of the danger, particularly in the Western World of becoming too academic in ministry and so operate less as practitioners meaning we don’t see Satan’s schemes. The following are some significant areas where Satan attacks Christian workers:
- He seeks to deceive us. He is the father of lies (Jn 8:44). Emotionally and intellectually something or someone may seem good but in actual fact is not. Be discerning.
- He creates Disunity. Disunity often happens when we major on minor issues rather than important matters and when we rush into making important decisions rather than prayerfully seeking the mind of the Lord. Pride and personalities sometime dominate issues.
- Controls us by fear. Being fearful is natural when we are asked to do risky things outside of our control or experience but it is when we give in to fear that we fail. All godly leaders in the Bible faced the same tension at times, but in faith (not feelings) moved on in God. Is 41:9
- By us taking on an offense. ‘Our response to an offense determines our future’ John Bevere. Very true. Don’t take to heart either an offense to yourself or another’s offense. In the latter the one offended can get it sorted out in his heart or relationship but you are left still resentful.
- Discouragement. King David often felt discouraged but learnt the secret of ‘encouraging himself in the Lord’. Don’t make the decision to leave your ministry or any significant decision when at a low ebb. Nevertheless, don’t stay longer than your call. How do you encourage yourself in the Lord?
- Unhealthy sexual attractions. This unfortunately is a clever ploy of the enemy which often starts with subtle temptations and grows from there. Strangely it’s often not the physical attraction that initially draws two people together, but spiritual empathy. I will write in length about this later but beware. If you go down this track you are sitting on a time bomb!
- Money. ‘The love of money is the root of all evil’. Don’t fall for Satan’s deception in this matter. Jesus Himself had little along with His disciples. The prosperity gospel is of the devil. A detailed study of Scripture makes it clear that God is on the side of the poor, but can wonderfully use the assets of those with plenty. Consumerism is not a recipe for happiness.
- An attitude of pride. ‘Pride comes before a fall’ is true. People not repenting of pride have made shipwreck of their lives. That’s what also caused the downfall of Satan who tried to make himself above God (Is 14:12-15).
- Demonic possessions and curses. Demonisation can range from simply giving into temptation to full possession of a demon. It appears also that some cultures appear more susceptible to demonic bondages than others, especially those with an animistic background. I well remember the first time I was confronted with a sincere Christian oppressed by a demon. I felt bewildered until I confronted that demon by name and claimed the victory in Christ!
- The power of the cross. Several decades ago I had a nightmare. I dreamt that I was in some enclosed courtyard with high mud walls. I was standing tall with out stretched arms but with my body covered with a multitude of snakes tightly wrapped around every part of my body. It was so frightening that I felt myself suffocating. The only thing I could do was whisper the name of ‘Jesus’. After a period of time I managed to speak out more strongly and then I noticed the snakes slowly unwinding and eventually drop off me. In calling out to Jesus I was appropriating the powerful work of the cross where demons lost their hold upon me. Jesus releases us from the vice grip of Satan! Praise the Lord. He disarmed principalities and powers.
- Prayer team. A praying team is essential for protection in sustaining you for long-term ministry. Regular updates make the team’s prayer ministry more effective.
‘Do not lose your confidence which has a great reward’ Hebrews 10:35.
‘The bait of Satan’ by John Bevere
‘The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare” by Dr Ed Murphy
‘The Believers guide to spiritual warfare” by Thomas B. White
‘The Screwtape letters’ by C S Lewis