Evangelism and Spiritual Warfare: How to Stand Your Ground
God is on a rescue mission, reconciling the world to Himself. We are a part of this mission because God has commanded believers to share the gospel, the very message that brings reconciliation.
However, there is one who opposes the mission.
Satan, as a fallen angel, is hellbent on keeping people from God. Evangelism encroaches on his territory and threatens to move people from his kingdom of darkness into God’s kingdom of light. In response, he vigorously defends it. Fortunately for us, the tactics he uses are well-known.
In 2 Corinthians 2:11b, Paul reminds us that “we are not unaware of his schemes.” Paul can say this because there are specific, predictable strategies Satan uses to attempt to render us ineffective in evangelism – and his target is our mind. This is where the danger comes in.
If we are unaware or unprepared for this spiritual warfare, we will become susceptible to his distractions, deceptions, and accusations – and we run the risk of becoming paralyzed by these attacks and being a non-factor when it comes to winning others to Christ. So, what are we to do?
Standing our Ground in Spiritual Warfare
Here are three of Satan’s well-known spiritual warfare schemes, along with ways to counter them:
Distraction takes our focus away from God’s mission. The things that Satan may use to distract us are many. What often makes things harder is that the distractions Satan uses often are not bad things, and can often be healthy in moderation. The danger comes when they become so prominent in our lives that they negatively affect our obedience and availability to God. A few examples:
- Materialism—when living for things becomes more important than reaching others.
- Workaholism—when you work so much that your focus is more on your business than the master’s business.
- Entertainment – when entertaining ourselves through any means is a higher priority than pleasing God.
- Church activities – if you spend all of your extra time around Christians, you have little time for non-Christians.
It should be noted that not all distractions are seemingly “good things” to keep in moderation. Some distractions take the form of challenging events in life. For example, most people who are actively sharing their faith will often tell you stories of combatting relationship problems, financial problems, logistics problems and more as they seek to spread the Good News. These problems must be addressed with sensitivity, prayer, and with the full understanding that Satan will try to use them to distract from the mission to be used of God.
The best way to combat distractions is to keep your focus on Christ in whatever you do. Doing so will help you keep the main thing the main thing, being about His business. Ask Him to help you as you arrange your calendar. What would He have you do? What would He have you drop? How can you prayerfully prepare for problems that may arise as you seek to encounter others with the gospel?
This strategy of Satan has destroyed the witness of many believers. Satan uses temptation to get us to act independently of God. He might appeal to our pride, greed, lust, or a host of other desires. The goal of the temptation is always the same: sin.
When we succumb to temptation, it has several negative effects. First, sin dulls our senses to the things of God. Furthermore, it can squelch our desire to share the gospel as well as mar our communication with God which is so essential in evangelism. It can also affect our witness and testimony to others.
The good news is that we have a remedy found in 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. To confess simply means to agree with God that we have sinned and ask for His forgiveness and restoration. Keeping short accounts with God is essential in having a fruitful and effective evangelistic witness.
Satan is referred to as “the accuser of the brethren” in Revelation 12:10. He is a master of intimidation. Just as he can tempt you to sin, he can shame you to stifle your witness. Thoughts such as, “Your life isn’t what it ought to be,” “You’re not qualified enough to evangelize,” or “God can’t use someone like you” can keep you from sharing the gospel. They’re all lies from the accuser.
We need to remember that no believer’s life is perfect. If you wait until you are, you will never share the gospel. Seek to live the life you should and confess your sins to God regularly – and always remember that God uses imperfect people to carry out His business.
Knowing Satan’s methods and schemes helps us to counter his attacks in the midst of spiritual warfare. Once we understand how he works, we can oppose him with the word of God, resist him through the power of the Holy Spirit and ask others to be in constant prayer for us we go about His business. After all, we are on God’s side.
In Him there is victory.
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