Christians all over the world experience affliction and opposition. While many of those afflictions are indeed spiritual attacks, not all of them are.
Job 1, as well as 2 Corinthians 12:7, teach us that some of the hardships we encounter are intended by God to prove us.
Discernment is required to know whether we’re under spiritual attack. 1 Corinthians 12:10 uses the word ‘discerning,’ which is defined as distinguishing or judging. Sometimes we are reaping consequences for our actions or being proven by God; we need discernment to help us determine the root of our affliction. This discernment comes from experience and the seeking of wisdom.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
As we study Scripture, we see that spiritual attacks manifest either overtly or covertly. Satan’s temptation of Eve in Genesis 3:1-6, Satan’s temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4, and the evil spirit’s attack on the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19:13-16 are three examples of overt attacks. Covert attacks are much subtler. Here are 10 ways you may be experiencing a spiritual attack and biblical truth to overcome them.Photo Credit: GettyImages/boule13
1. Contradictions to the Word of God
God told Adam—and by extension Eve—in Genesis 2:16-17, not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they would die. The devil, in the form of a serpent, approached them and questioned what God had said (Genesis 3:1-6). When they answered and told him what God had said, the devil twisted God’s words.
Satan still uses this tactic today. Whenever we hear a voice or suggestion that contradicts the word of God, we can rest assured that voice is not God’s but Satan’s. Christians need to arm themselves with the word of God to overcome this type of attack.
Satan tempted Jesus in three areas. Each time, Jesus overcame Satan’s temptation using the word of God.
He said three times, “...it is written.” Hence, it’s imperative that Christians know what has been written.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
2. Temptation to Substitute Instant Gratification for the Word of God
Similar to the temptation of Eve in the Garden, Jesus was tempted by the devil when the Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness.
"...If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." (Matthew 4:3)
Jesus had been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. I'm sure he was famished. It would have been easy for him to turn stones into bread. However, Jesus refused to give in to Satan's temptation for an easy fix. He responded by saying, “...It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
This is another way in which Satan attacks Christians today. We need to be wary of any offer that provides instant relief from discomfort without an understanding of what’s really going on.
Photo Credit: ThinkstockPhotos-GeorgeRudy
3. Temptation to Test God
“...If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will give His angels charge concerning You; and on their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone."Jesus overcame this attack by reminding Satan, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matthew 4:5-7).
Whenever temptation drives us to test God’s protection by deliberately placing ourselves in harm’s way, we need to take heed. This is a spiritual attack. Testing God is evil; it comes from a place of wickedness and is reflective of Satan's character.
4. Temptation to Exalt Satan or Sin above God
“...All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:9)
Satan wants to be God. He wants the honor, glory, and adoration that belongs solely to God. Jesus responded once again with God’s word: “...It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only” (Matthew 4:10). Christians need to be on guard against anything that tempts us to give God’s glory to another.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
5. Attacks of Evil Spirits
There are quite a few instances in Scripture where an unclean spirit attacks. This is what happened to the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19:11-16.
Some Jewish exorcists were trying to drive out evil spirits when one of those spirits said, “...I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you” (Acts 19:15)? The Bible records that the evil spirit “leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded” (Acts 19:16).
Although this happened to Jewish exorcists, I believe there’s a lesson in this for Christians. The attacks of the spiritual world are very real, even if we don’t encounter them frequently in the western world. They possess both spiritual and physical strength that is very capable of causing arm.
But God’s power is ultimate; evil spirits cannot do anything he doesn’t allow them to. And as Christians, we are given the authority of Jesus Christ—authority that this evil spirit recognized by name but didn’t find in the sons of Sceva.
Photo Credit: GettyImages/BrianAJackson
6. Voices of Evil Spirits
As indicated in the previous point, evil spirits will speak and attack. The spirit spoke before it attacked the seven sons of Sceva.
Luke 4:33-34 records another instance where an unclean spirit spoke. The interesting thing about this instance is that the unclean demon was in the synagogue. This reminds us that spiritual warfare can be found in every corner of life, even in places of worship.
Nevertheless, God is sovereign and has absolute control over where and when these voices are allowed to speak. More than once during Jesus’ earthly ministry, he commanded demons to be silent—and they obeyed (Mark 1:34; Luke 4:34-35).
7. A Vexing Spirit
“And it happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a certain slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her master much profit by fortune-telling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, ‘These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.’ And she continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!’ And it came out at that very moment.” (Acts 16:16-18).
On the surface, there was nothing wrong with what the young girl was saying. Her words were true. However, she carried a spirit of divination. Thus, her words came from an unclean place— a place of wickedness. Paul's spirit did not bear witness with this unclean spirit, and he called it out.
Perhaps Paul knew, through discernment, that she was possessed with a spirit of divination. If you’re struggling with confusion, ask for God’s discernment to help you determine if you’re under spiritual attack and regain clarity.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/daniel-pascoa
Luke 13:11 says, “...there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all.”
Illness is an area in which spiritual discernment is required. Although sickness is part of living in an imperfect world, some diseases are a direct spiritual attack on a victim. Remember the boils on Job's body? Those came from Satan. Prayer, fasting, and Christian counseling can bring understanding and deliverance.
Photo Credit: GettyImages/Moostocker
9. Hindrance in Your Service to God
“For we wanted to come to you – I, Paul, more than once – and yet Satan thwarted us,” (1 Thessalonians 2:18).
Satan does not want God's will to be done on the earth. He will put up roadblocks in various forms to “thwart” God’s plans and hinder you from doing the things God requires. We cannot be discouraged and give up.
God’s word is full of reminders that if God has ordained us to perform a work, he will make a way for us to complete that work. Persevere and recognize that sometimes, the small excuses we make are ways the enemy keeps us from advancing God’s kingdom.
Photo Credit: GettyImages/Wittayayut
10. Great Loss and Affliction
Another sign that you may be under spiritual attack is great loss. John 10:10 teaches that the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. If your health, family, job, finances, etc. are suffering, leading to fatigue, discouragement, depression, and anxiety, you might be experiencing a spiritual attack. Just remember, such attacks are not a punishment, but rather an indicator that the enemy is threatened.
Such attacks can be fought through prayer and fasting, the study and application of the word of God, resisting the devil, and trusting the Lord.
Pressing into God instead of shunning Him during times of spiritual attack will strengthen us and help us stand in the face of opposition. Remember, what the devil means for harm, God will use for our good. You can trust His protection and deliverance.
For More on Spiritual Warfare:
4 Things to Know Before Engaging in Spiritual Warfare
4 Steps to Fighting Spiritual Warfare
Aretha Grant serves her local church as a bible teacher and elder. She loves writing and is the author of Overcomer: 25 Keys to Walking Victoriously. Aretha resides in Hagerstown, MD with her husband and two youngest children. You can read Aretha’s blog at www.arethagrant.com.
Photo Credit: pexels/Kat-Jayne
Originally published Wednesday, 22 May 2019.