Girlfriends in God - May 26, 2009


May 26, 2009 
Will the Real Enemy Please Stand Up? 
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth 
1 Peter 5:8-9 “Control yourselves and be careful! The devil, your enemy, goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat.  Refuse to give in to him, by standing strong in your faith. You know that your Christian family all over the world is having the same kinds of suffering” (NCV).

Friend To Friend 
Spiritual ignorance is not bliss – it is dangerous.  Many people say it doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as you believe something!  I totally disagree!  The apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (NIV).  To deal with sandpaper people, we must be able to discern between truth and lies. 

If the enemy can dupe us into believing his lies, those difficult relationships will eventually damage and even destroy our emotional health, seeping into the broken places, ripping open almost healed wounds inflicted by sandpaper people.  Complete honesty must steer every difficult relationship because sandpaper people must always be confronted with sound, solid truth in clear and transparent conversation as well as disciplined behavior.  We are in a battle for godly relationships.  In order to win that battle we must identify the real enemy.

1 Peter 5:8 “The devil, your enemy, goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat” (NCV).

Sandpaper people are not the enemy.  It is sometimes easier to convince ourselves that they are as it would make the attack plan so much simpler and free of guilt.   We could simply do everything in our power to eliminate that person from our life when what God really wants is for us to embrace that sandpaper person, celebrating the truth that where they are is no surprise to God. 

When our children were in middle school, several of their friends got laser guns for Christmas.  One weekend, they brought the guns to our house for a “big, bad laser war.”  The kids divided into teams and the object of the game was simple, to wipe out the enemy.  Wonderful!  What clean, wholesome fun. 

Hours went by to the sound of war hoops, shouts and threats and cries of victory.  They had a great time playing with those guns – that is, until it was dark.  I stood in the kitchen preparing dinner when I heard the kitchen door open and close – uh, rather slam – and looked up to see my daughter, Danna, red-faced with fury.  I knew it would not be long before I had every morbid detail of whatever injustice she had endured at the hand of “those boys.”  I was right.  “Mom, I need to talk to you – now!”  I knew a command when I heard it, dropped my spatula and waited for the story.  It was short and not so sweet.  “Everybody is mad at me because I keep shooting my own team.”  So far, I was totally lost.  I guess my confusion was evident because I could sense the exasperation that fueled her next words, “Mom!  Are you listening?”  I was – it didn’t help.  With a sigh and in her most patronizing tone, she explained, “I keep shooting my own team because it is so dark.  I can’t tell who the enemy is.” 

We often have the same problem when it comes to dealing with sandpaper people. We identify them as the enemy but they are not the real enemy.

“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” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).

Satan should never be the center of attention in any believer’s life.  We cannot focus on two things at once and if we focus on Satan, we cannot focus on God.  However, Paul clearly warns us that no Christian should ever ignore Satan or take him for granted either because he is a powerful and vicious foe.

Satan is our true enemy and would love to encourage our attack on those people who rub us the wrong way and ignore the hand of God in the matter.  Nothing and no one touches our life that does not pass through the Father’s hand, with His permission.  God, however, takes what the enemy meant for evil and uses it for good in our life – if we let Him.  

Let’s Pray 
Father, I praise You for the truth that You have already conquered Satan.  Please help me remember that while Satan is powerful, he is also defeated.  Give me the discernment to recognize his evil tactics and plans to use difficult people in my life to help me fail and fall.  I want to walk in the light of Your eternal victory over sin and live in the strength of Your power over the grave and the powers of the darkness.  Teach me how to love the sinner but hate the sin.  Keep me broken over my own sin and always be ready to offer the grace, mercy and forgiveness You have given me.

In Jesus’ name, 

Now It’s Your Turn 
Fighting the unknown is always more difficult than fighting the known.  Getting along with people who rub us the wrong way is dependent on understanding that Satan is at work around us wielding weapons of strife, anger, frustration and misunderstanding.  Victory is ours unless we hand it over to the enemy.  Ignoring him is foolish but by identifying him and exposing his malignant tactics, we rob him of power and negate his ability to control and manipulate relationships.  Read the following verses and then fill in the blanks to identify the different characteristics of Satan’s personality:  

  • Satan is a ______________________.  

            John 8:44 “Satan is a liar and the father of lies.” 

  • Satan is a ______________________.  

            1 John 5:19 “We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the power and control of the evil one.” 

  • Satan is an _____________________.

            2 Corinthians 11:14 “Satan changes himself to look like an angel of light.” 

  • Satan is a ______________________. 

            Revelation 20:10 “Then the Devil, who betrayed them, was thrown into the lake of fire.” 

More From The Girlfriends 
Need help learning how to study the bible?  Check out Mary’s E-Book Bible Studies that you can download for your personal use and/or for a small group study.  Mary’s online bible study, Light for the Journey, is a great bible study tool as well.  Check it out! 

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Originally published Tuesday, 26 May 2009.