How to Protect Yourself from…the Plans and Tactics of the Thief
By Bud Hancock
This is truly an amazing, yet crazy, time to be alive. So many things have changed in the world since I was a youngster, back in the late 40’s and early 50’s, that I almost cannot remember what life was like back in that calmer, simpler, more peaceful time. The horrifying events we now see happening almost every day in the US, and around the planet, were completely unheard of back then. In my small southern town, few people ever locked the doors or windows in their houses; possessions were left out in plain sight, knowing they were unlikely to be stolen.
There was a sense that people could be trusted and that neighbors could be relied upon to help whenever help was needed. Life was so much easier to live under those conditions. It seemed that communities were growing, businesses were expanding, jobs were plentiful and prosperity was evident almost everywhere. Maybe it was due to the relief everyone felt after World War II ended. Whatever the reason, people once again began to feel…safe.
Now, however, nearly everything has changed; many communities are shrinking, businesses, especially in the retail area, are folding, jobs are anything but plentiful, at least the well-paying ones, and, in spite of all the phony government statistics to the contrary, prosperity is only a word in the dictionary. And, if they’re truthful, most Americans will admit that they do NOT feel safe. Danger seems to be around each corner, just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
It could easily drive a person to consider becoming a hermit. However, for a Christian, that choice would be contrary to God’s will. We are told that we are IN the world, but not OF the world. So, since we are IN the world, what is expected of us? We are to be the ‘Salt’ that both preserves that which is in danger of decaying, and the ‘Light’ that banishes the darkness.
That would seem to be an easy task were it not for the fact that we have many enemies that are determined to prevent us from accomplishing that which Christ commissioned us to do. These enemies are ‘hiding in plain sight’ all around us; some are visible, being flesh and blood people who have set themselves in defiance of God and His Son, and others, the much more dangerous ones, are the invisible beings described by Paul in Ephesians 6:12, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. These creatures are evil fallen angels and demons, working with, and for, Satan to stop anyone who is willing to take a stand for the Gospel.
So, while it seems there are many humans that would want to harm us, they are not the primary ones we should be ready to protect ourselves from. With so many spiritual enemies lined up against us, which ones should we fear the most? The answer: none! Whether flesh and blood, or fallen angels, Jesus has already defeated them, recorded in Colossians 2:15, 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Why should we fear a defeated enemy? We should not, but the fact is, we live in a world where fear has become a part of the culture and, for millions in America, a way of life. Just watching the news on almost any network or cable channel one can see and hear reports from all over the globe that reinforces the fear that is so prevalent in the world. For some, the best thing would be to NOT watch such reports, but ignoring the situations that produce the fear is not the answer. Jesus commanded us to ‘fear not’, because he knew that fear negates faith. He lived his entire earthly life without one moment of fear.
So, we should merrily go about our business denying the enemy’s existence and ignoring his plan and strategy and everything will be just fine, right? Not hardly. Even though Jesus has already defeated the enemies we face, they are still there, still working for Satan, and still arrayed against us, and we must learn how to protect ourselves against them. Since the most terrible of our enemies are not flesh and blood, we cannot defend ourselves against them with carnal weapons. We must learn to use the same weapons Jesus used against Satan during His earthly ministry. When he was confronted by those who wanted to destroy him, he simply spoke the truth, and told them “It is written”. In short, he used the already-settled Word of God as His weapon, and it always worked. Whether his attacker was the Chief Priest, a Pharisee, Sadducee or Satan himself, His weapon never failed.
So, then, this warfare should be a breeze, right? Again, hardly. Remember that Jesus was God in the flesh, but He chose to empty Himself of all his Glorious attributes and function on earth as a flesh and blood man. In order for Him to defeat His enemies, he had to spend much time in prayer to His Father. He fellowshipped with the Father on a constant basis. Only then could He face His tormentors and enemies and be completely assured of total victory.
In training His disciples, Jesus constantly reminded them to “fear not’; he was trying to build their faith in order for them to be able to resist fear. The apostle Paul followed the example of Jesus, telling his disciple Timothy, recorded in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” If the ‘spirit of fear’ doesn’t come from God, then it must be from Satan, and it will totally contradict and work to negate the power, love, and sound mind that comes from God. If we allow this spirit of fear to invade our lives, even for a very brief time, we will be rendered powerless to function as Jesus commanded us.
As the voice and hands of Jesus on the earth, we will only be victorious over the same enemies that Jesus faced when we follow His example and spend time in prayer and The Word. We know from Jesus’ Words that Satan is THE thief, who comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Satan has a limited number of tactics that he uses against us, chiefly, lies and deception. He began using these tactics in the Garden of Eden when he deceived Eve and, through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, caused the downfall of the human race. He still uses the same tactics today, but he has had thousands of years to perfect them. He is so good at this that he now has millions of human followers on this planet who don’t seem to know the difference between a lie and the Truth.
Our warfare is not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. These lying demons come against us in the mental realm and present their lies, very cunningly wrapped up in “sound good/feel good” words that appeal to our human fleshly nature, trying to get us to accept them as OUR thoughts, hoping that we will allow them to be turned into words that produce actions. This is the type of attacks that we face on an almost daily basis. Only when we know the Truth, and that TRUTH has made us free (John 8:32), will we be able to recognize each lie that is used against us, and defeat it with the Truth. If we try to defeat the enemy without knowing the TRUTH, we are bound to lose the battle.
Just as important for the believer in fighting, and winning, these battles is the knowledge that we must never allow ourselves to use a lie; it must not be found as part of our makeup. This is a very difficult task, since, according to the world’s view, “what’s wrong with a small lie now and then? Everybody lies at some point”. In the first place, there is no such thing as a ‘small lie’. Every lie is sin and we are to be ‘people of truth’, and Truth should always be spoken in love.
The Apostle Paul laid out the Christian’s defensive strategy that we must all use in order to protect ourselves from the Thief. In Ephesians 6:10-18 is the key to our complete protection. The individual pieces of ‘the whole armour of God’ can be linked directly to the truth of God’s Word. When used properly, every part of our being is covered with the righteousness and protection of God.
Only when we 1) know the truth and 2) have been made free by the Truth, will we be able to understand what the whole armour of God is, how to apply it and why it works. This is not something that is learned from a quick perusal of the Bible; it takes a lot of prayer, study and practice, and is something that must be used on a daily basis. The Thief is out there, watching and waiting (as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, I Peter 5:8) and, like a wild, hungry lion, will not hesitate to spring when he sees an opening. In order to defeat him when he attacks, our armour MUST be in place, all the time. Only then will we know the perfect protection of God. Having been through several serious battles with the ‘powers and principalities’ and experienced the bruises from being unprepared, I have learned not to take victory for granted. Victory requires preparation, and preparation requires much time and prayer. If we are willing to make the preparations and engage with the enemy, then we will be able to go into the battle against the enemies of our faith with the confidence that we will emerge not only triumphant, but stronger than when the battle began.