Stand firm against the schemes of the devil.Eph. 6:11
by John MacArthur, Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith
Key Principle: Satan wants to catch you off-guard.
Yesterday we saw how Satan attacks God’s Word. Today we will see how he attacks God’s people. Persecution, peer pressure, and preoccupation are three weapons he employs with great effectiveness.
Persecution should never take Christians by surprise, because Scripture repeatedly warns us that it will come. For example, 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Yet, such warnings are often overlooked in the health, wealth, and prosperity climate of contemporary Christianity.
As the greed perpetuated by such a movement continues its assault on Christian virtue, many professing believers have come to expect a pain-free, trouble-free life. When trials come, they’re caught off-guard and are often disillusioned with the church or with God Himself. Some prove to be phony believers, whom Jesus described in His parable of the four soils—people who initially respond to the gospel with joy, yet fall away when affliction or persecution arises because of the Word (Matt. 13:21).
Satan also uses peer pressure as an effective weapon. Many people never come to Christ for fear of losing their friends or being thought of as different. Even Christians sometimes struggle with peer pressure, compromising God’s standards to avoid offending others.
Another weapon is preoccupation with the world. Often the hardest place to live the Christian life is in the easiest place. For example, becoming a Christian in America isn’t the life-threatening choice it is in some parts of the world. Some who stand boldly against persecution or peer pressure might falter in a climate of acceptance. Often that’s when the danger of spiritual complacency and preoccupation with the world is greatest.
To guard against those attacks, remember that God uses persecution to mature you and bring glory to Himself. Also, make a conscious choice each day to please God rather than people. Finally, evaluate your priorities and activities carefully. Fight the tendency to become preoccupied with things unrelated to God’s Kingdom.
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to keep you spiritually alert throughout this day, so the enemy doesn’t catch you off-guard.
For Further Study: Read Matthew 26:31-56. What might the disciples have done to avoid being caught off-guard?