There is little, if any, direct Biblical evidence that if you press in closer to the Lord, either by committing to the spiritual disciplines, or by stepping up and serving him in a new and influential way, that you will suffer attacks from the enemy. I looked. I looked because it is something that I hear quite often, and while it sounds plausible, I want to make sure that what I believe is based in fact. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” sounds good, but that’s not in the Bible either.
What the Bible does say is that in this world we will have trouble. So it’s a guarantee. Christians will face trouble. (John 16:33)
Furthermore, the Bible says that when we suffer for the cause of Christ, we should count that suffering as joy. (James 1:2) We will suffer.
The Bible also says, that our enemy prowls the earth like a lion, seeking whom he may destroy. (1Peter 5:8)
And then there is the passage about putting on the whole armor of God.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:10-12
So taking all that evidence into consideration, here we go…
Let’s just pause and think this through. If I were the enemy, I might look at my opponents, and in deciding whom to attack first, would likely try to take out the opponent who was causing me the most trouble. Why would I bother with my adversaries that were not moving things along that work against me? I might keep an eye on them, just to make sure they continue in their apathy, but I would mount my attack against the ones who are really stirring up problems for me.
So while I did not find a verse saying something like, “If you step up your faith game and start making a difference for the Kingdom of God, look out—the devil is going to come after you,” it is plausible that it does work that way.
Why do I think this? Because it happens to me every time I decide to press in and step up my faith game.
With so much regularity, in fact, that on Sunday’s when my pastor prays with people to receive Christ, I always peek to see who raises their hands. I pray, immediately, for the hands I can see. Because I know, they have just gotten the attention of the enemy. I know trials are coming. Great joy is coming, too, but challenges will follow any significant decision for Christ.
I recently agreed to step up my commitment to serve in leadership in my church. I knew. I did. I knew the attacks would come, and they did. Not even one week later. Interestingly enough, the attacks had nothing to do with my commitment at church. They hit in a completely different area of my life.
Distraction. It was a distraction. A diversion. Anything to keep my focus off of the new commitment I had made to God to serve him more. Now while I know full well what is going on, and I am doing my level best to call it out for what it is, I still have to walk through the trials at hand.
The enemy is good at distracting us from where our focus should be. He is the best deceiver. He pulls our attention from where we can do the most damage to his progress, and pulls our focus in a direction that will tie us up and prevent us from being all we can be for the kingdom.
So what do we do?
We have to focus. Or re-focus. Or in the words of Mr. Han from the movie, “The Karate Kid”-
“Your focus needs more focus.”
It’s not easy. If you think it is, ask Job of the Old Testament. Talk about distractions! Job was living a life that honored the Lord, and because he was setting such a great example of pressing in and following God, he came under attack. Job lost everything. Everything but that nagging wife! But Job continued to honor the Lord, even when he didn’t understand the trials he was facing. Even when friends accused him and his wife belittled him. Even when he lost it all, in the end, he refocused and continued to honor God.
If you have stepped up your faith game and are feeling like you are fending off attacks from the enemy, check your focus.
And press on. Run your race. Do not be distracted by your enemy. Remain faithful and watch what God will do.
Just ask Job.