Have you ever noticed how distracted you become when you resolve to pray and read the Bible? Why is it that a million other things suddenly seem more appealing? Why are you suddenly so creative? So curious? So distracted? So motivated to do anything but sit quietly with God?
Why does your quiet time get so noisy? It’s because you are in the midst of a war. We are in a battle.
You might not think that you’re in a war. But this is proof that you are. Our enemy is a master in the art of deception. We are in a spiritual conflict against a crafty foe, and the cacophony of distractions are the mortar rounds blowing up at our feet. What would be one of the most effective strategies for winning a war? Convince your enemy to put down their weapons and abandon the fight. The only problem with this strategy is its low success rate. Most people engaged in battle are committed to winning. But, suppose you could somehow convince your enemy that the war wasn’t that serious or that it didn’t affect them. Cutting out the personal danger and involvement would be an effective strategy for weakening an enemy.
Know Your Enemy
In Ephesians 6:11, Paul writes to equip the church to “be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Satan, the Devil, is the general in the army of opposition. He is the dark lord. Formerly an angel, he has since has rebelled. He is called Lucifer, the accuser, the father of lies, and the adversary of God’s people. He remains militantly opposed to all that God is and is doing. He is the spiritual insurgent who aims to tear down all that God has built and done. And he hates Christians. He is deceptive in his craft. Disguising himself as an angel of light he works in the dark magic of spiritual forces. He’s relentless.
Paul, in providing the intel briefing on the enemy, writes, “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” (Eph. 6:12).
This is a battle against Satan and all of his demonic forces. It is against all of the forces of wickedness and rebellion in the world today. Our enemies are invisible, spiritual, powerful, supernatural, organized, tireless, and committed to this battle.
This should have our attention.
Know Your Need
One of the tactical maneuvers of the enemy is to confuse us. We can consider our lives and the great many physical blessings and assume that this is a sign of spiritual health. Physical, financial, and professional vitality is not the same as spiritual vitality. And often it can be a head-fake to get us out of position.
You might not think that you’re in a war. But this is actually proof that you are. Our enemy is a master in the art of deception.
Satan also uses a mind that is distracted and undisciplined. Jesus tells the disciples to watch and pray that they don’t enter into temptation (Matt. 26:41). Paul tells the Thessalonians to keep alert and be sober.
A sleepy soul is already an ensnared soul. That soul that will not watch against temptations, will certainly fall before the power of temptations. Satan works most strongly on the imagination, when the soul is drowsy. — Thomas Brooks
Little wonder then Paul commands the church to put on the armor of God. The battle is not fought with nerf guns and video games. This is not pretend or fantasy. It’s real life. In Ephesians 6:14-17, he urges the active dressing in the armor of God. He commends us to God and the Word of his grace (Acts 20:32). When you drive your heart unto God and his grace then you find your heart swelling with love and joy in him. When you behold God in his Word and see his great love for you, then you respond in faith, receiving his promises. This drives you into communion and joy in God.
Satan invades quiet times with the noisy distractions because he does not want your soul to feast upon God. The presence of distraction in the things of God is the presence of spiritual warfare. Christian friend, you need this Word. You need to meditate upon it. You need to pray and commune with God. It is not only the best thing for you; it’s the most strategic tactic to deploy in this raging battle.
Know Your Privilege
Remember whose armor it is.
There may be ways that you and I think would work better, but to use them and ignore his way only displays our ignorance. Also, remember that this enemy is not like regular adversaries. The opponent is not, Paul says, flesh and blood. Therefore, we cannot fight them with conventional weapons of warfare. It won’t work. But we have the privilege of wearing the armor of the Lord.
Remember, Christ has worn the armor and prevailed.
The language Paul uses in Ephesians 6 reflects what we see in Isaiah 52:7 and 59:17. But there’s a difference: the one who is wearing the armor is the divine warrior sent to save God’s people from the tyranny and oppression of their enemy. He put on the breastplate and the sword. Christ wore the armor and prevailed. But now, the divine warrior tells his followers to do the same. This is a tremendous encouragement and privilege for us. Christ has won the battle!
We are in a spiritual conflict against a crafty foe, and the cacophony of distractions are the mortar rounds blowing up at our feet.
Remember also the result of wearing it.
The result is perseverance. Look at verse 10, “Be strong in the Lord in the strength of his might,” and verse 11, “Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil,” and then verse 13, “take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Then verse 14, “stand therefore”—you see the point is to stand. It’s to finish. Don’t you want to finish as a Christian? Then you need to stand. This is the privileged posture of the saint.
In the fight against temptation and spiritual battles, Brooks is once again helpful:
I should look with one eye upon the choice and excellent things that Christ has done for me, to raise up my heart to love Christ with the purest love, and to rejoice in Christ with the strongest joy, and to lift up Christ above all, who has made himself to be my all. And I should look with the other eye upon those services and duties that the Scriptures require of those for whom Christ has done such blessed things.
It is a privilege to put on this armor and engage in the battle. As the demonic distraction invades your quiet time, drown it out with your reading, meditation, and communion with God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).