How to Know if You're under Spiritual Attack
- Christina Patterson
- 2019 Sep 04
As Christians, we wish that once we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, everything would immediately go well in our lives. However, if you’ve walked with Christ for more than 24 hours, you probably already know that is simply not the case. We can experience true peace, joy, and hope with Christ; however, living on this side of eternity doesn’t necessarily become easier.
In fact, there is one thing that may intensify when we choose to follow Christ, and that’s spiritual attack.
Spiritual attack is opposition from the enemy in your life to prevent you from living out your faith in Christ. Once you are saved the enemy can’t separate you from God but he’ll do his very best to discourage you from living out the abundant life Christ promises to believers (John 10:10) and being a witness to the goodness of Christ to others.
We know this to be true because we see spiritual attack throughout the Bible.
Examples of Spiritual Attack in the Bible
- In the book of Daniel, we read that an angel appeared to Daniel to answer his prayer. The angle also shared that it took him so long to reach Daniel because he first had to overcome spiritual warfare (Daniel 10:13-14).
- In the book of Job, the enemy asked God if he could harm Job to test his faith (Job 1:11-12). The enemy took his property, his children, and his health.
- In Genesis chapter 3, the enemy deceived Adam and Eve to eat fruit from the tree God told them not to eat (Genesis 3:1-6).
- Even Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness three times (Matthew 4:1-11). If Jesus, who is God in the flesh, was not exempt from spiritual attack, then certainly we aren’t either.
I don’t want this truth to frighten you like it once frightened me. Once you gain a better understanding of spiritual attack and who you are in Christ, you realize it’s the enemy who should be afraid. 1 John 4:4 encourages us:
“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 ESV)
No matter the attack, God has equipped all believers with everything we need to experience victory even in the face of spiritual attack.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11 ESV)
We can best use our armor when we know how the enemy attacks. To make this clear, here are five ways to know if you’re under spiritual attack.
1. You are being deceived or tempted to sin.
The enemy can’t force you to sin, but he sure will encourage you to do so. As we learned, even Jesus was tempted. This was the enemies’ attempt to prevent Jesus from fulfilling His ministry. Not every temptation is a spiritual attack. We can be led away by our own evil desires (James 1:14), but the enemy will use those desires against us to try to stop us from living the purposeful lives God desires of us.
Ultimately, any temptation from the enemy seeks to convince and deceive us into thinking that the things of this world are better than God. We combat temptation by seeking God to fill our desires. When we are filled with God, we lose the desire to be filled by any lower thing. It’s God’s Spirit in us that helps us to overcome temptation. Jesus tells us:
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41 ESV)
As we submit to God, the enemy has no choice but to flee.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 ESV)
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2. You are distracted from God.
The enemy may not be able to cause you to fall into temptation, so instead, he may distract you. He doesn’t need you to sin to get you off course. He simply may get you to focus on something other than Christ. It doesn’t have to be a sin as long as the focus of your attention is anything but God. It can be watching excessive amounts of television, reading gossip blogs, or constant texting. These things are not sins, but they and anything else for that matter, can become distractions. How do we avoid these distractions? We keep our eyes focused on Christ. Proverbs 4:25 tells us to:
“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” (Proverbs 4:25 ESV)
Keep looking to Jesus, and that’s the direction you will go. If you start looking to the right or left, you are sure to get off track from the path God has prepared for your life.
3. You are discouraged.
Encouragement may sound like a fluffy term, but it simply means to give support, confidence, or hope. Before leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, God commanded Joshua not to be discouraged (Joshua 1:9). Courage is a very important fuel for the believer to live out Gods purpose for their lives, and the enemy knows this. So he will do everything to discourage us and take away our hope. When the Psalmist became discouraged, he wrote:
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.” (Psalm 42:5 ESV)
Instead of listening to negative thoughts and being led by toxic emotions, the psalmist speaks to himself, reminding himself to place his hope in God. He chooses to praise God no matter his feelings because God is always worthy of praise, no matter our circumstance.
We fight back against discouragement by placing our hope in God, remaining thankful for all God has done in our lives, and remembering who we are in Him.
4. You are having relationship problems.
Whether it’s at home, work, or church, the enemy wants to divide you from those you love and those who love you. To do this, he’ll encourage bitterness, resentfulness, hate, anger, selfishness, and more to cause distance and discord between you and other people. In these cases, we must realize they are not our real enemy.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 ESV)
Other people are not our enemy, and if you want to be victorious against spiritual attack, you must fight the right enemy. How do we do this? We continue to be kind, gracious, and forgiving, even when others are not. Not for their sake, but for the God we serve. We will then be enabled to continue to be light for God’s goodness and glory.
5. All the above.
If the enemy can overwhelm you, he will. He’ll attack you from all sides and in every area of your life if he has the chance. His tactic is to run you empty with attack after attack and make you feel there is no way you can overcome. What he won’t tell you is that it’s all an illusion. Not only can you win, but through Christ, you already have. Jesus has already defeated the enemy, and the enemy knows his days are numbered. In Christ, however, the victory is already yours.
The ultimate goal of every attack from the enemy is to stifle your faith because faith in God is his greatest weakness. Faith moves mountains and can overcome any attack. The only thing that impressed Jesus during his ministry here on earth was not someone’s status or wealth but their faith.
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4 ESV)
No matter how great the attack, never forget your God is greater. Keep hoping, keep believing, and keep the faith.
Christina Patterson is a Bible teacher, author, and speaker passionate about empowering women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. Christina holds a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a 501(c)3 non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She is also the author of several books, Bible Studies, and the creator of the LIFE Bible Journal that helps believers to intentionally study the Bible and apply God’s Word to their everyday lives. Connect with Christina at www.belovedwomen.org.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Guille Pozzi