My son, Elijah is currently learning to drive. In the state of Kentucky, where I live, a 16 or 17-year-old must drive 60 hours with a licensed driver over the age of 21 before he can take his final road test.
Parents, for those of you who haven’t done this wretched chore yet, let me just warn you: nothing has struck fear in my heart quite like sitting in the passenger seat when my new driver is merging onto the highway. It will drive you to drink. Ironically, it’s one time you absolutely cannot drink—since being under the influence is generally frowned upon during driving instructions.
I swore, after my daughter got her license a few years ago that I’d never ever ever ever ever ever ever teach another Cooper kid to drive. Sorry, Jon. It’s all you. I potty trained them, YOU teach them to drive.
But because I am the one who is with my son in the car 90% of the time, I realized that he’d be 25-years-old before he got his license if I waited for Jon to accumulate 60 hours in the car with him.
So, it’s me.
Thankfully, Elijah has been driving an ATV and a large riding lawnmower since he was 14-years-old. This, amazingly, has given him and edge over his older sister, and thus, has helped me feel a little less anxious during his driving lessons. On the other hand, he struggles with ADHD and he’s obsessed with cars. This is a lethal combo when he’s driving. Pulling out onto a busy street with, well CARS, becomes a major act of self control for him. What he is tempted to do is notice the year, make, model, color, engine size, and interior features of every. single. car. that. passes. us.
One thing I learned early on that works well for both me and my student driver (other than the obvious KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD!), is to give him a good idea of what’s coming up BEFORE WE ENCOUNTER IT, and how he to handle it. Sure, he’s learned the basics about traffic laws in his driving course, but the specifics about the routes we drive on a daily basis? He won’t get those from just knowing the laws.
So I will warn him about about famous potholes or certain roads where traffic is difficult to see. I will coach him well before a dangerous intersection how to navigate it safely. Cars are scary. Driving is no joke. I want him to feel confident as he moves toward greater independence in driving. And I also don’t want him to crash my new car.
I am super-passionate about equipping you to live a well-balanced life. And one major way I feel like I can do that is by giving you an idea of what’s coming ahead, and how to handle it.
Today that means exposing your spiritual enemy and his strategies, so you can recognize these tactics in your own life, and address them effectively.
And I’ll do my best to discuss the devil without creeping you out.
I recently finished working through Priscilla Shirer’s Bible Study, The Armor of God for a second time. I have never done a study that has opened my eyes to the spirit realm or better equipped me for spiritual warfare like this study. I seriously cannot recommend it enough. It has absolutely changed my life and how I approach almost everything.
As I was working through it, I was thinking about you, and all the ways Satan strategizes against you as a woman of God.
If the enemy can keep you in a constant state of overwhelm or anxiety…if he can suffocate you with temptation or insecurity…if he can intimidate you with fear and worst-case scenarios…well, then you certainly won’t have peace to know your priorities and live them out.
So, today I’m going to give you 4 ways he’s always trying to keep you off balance. And at the end, I’m going to tell you what to do about it.
1. Distraction—the enemy wants you to be without focus
First, he wants to distract you from his work.
Ephesians 6:16 tells us to take up the shield of faith with which we can quench all the fiery darts/flaming arrows of the enemy.
In warfare, flaming arrows were often used, not to kill or destroy, but to distract! Not to shoot directly at the other soldiers engaged in the battle, but to shoot instead at a wagon, a chariot, or a home of the soldier. This tactic would disrupt the military lines and cause the occupants to focus on the blaze rather than the battle at hand. Then, when the solider was distracted by putting out the fire, the enemy would move in for the attack.
Listen, the enemy does not want you to think he’s behind your balance struggles, so he will do anything to keep you distracted from him. He wants you to think it’s anything but him…it’s your husband and his insensitivity to your needs. It’s your kids and their bad attitudes. It’s your mom and the way she always makes you feel like you can’t get it right. It’s your church, it’s your neighbor, it’s your boss…If he can keep the focus off him and his work, you will always be fighting the wrong thing.
Satan is behind fear, anxiety, overwhelm, frustration, hate, discontentment, pride, envy, striving, hopelessness, shame, temptation…all of it. But he’s over here going, it’s not me, it’s him! It’s her! It’s this situation!
He wants you to fight a person or a situation or a circumstance, because he knows, if you start fighting him with the spiritual weapons God has given you, he must flee.
Second, he tries to distract you from your priorities.
We know that balance is all about knowing your priorities and living them out. If the enemy can keep you distracted from doing the things that are most important to you or the things that God has called you to do, he’s good.
He doesn’t even care if you are doing sinful things. He just doesn’t want you to do what God has called you to do. He wants you to be busy with so many other things, you can’t possibly get to what God has called you to do.
I don’t know if we have ever lived in a time that is so wrought with distraction. This is not news to you, but I’ll just offer this as a sober reminder: your phone, your computer, your newsfeed, your Netflix cue…all those things are distractions or gateways to distraction. No, I’m not saying Netfilx is satanic or that busyness is evil. I’m just saying, the enemy will use those things to distract you and lose your focus.
2. Discouragement—the enemy wants you to be without hope
He wants you to have no hope for change in your circumstances—I will always be busy. We will always struggle financially. I will always need to work outside the home.
No hope for change in your children—my daughter will always struggle academically, my son will always have a bad temper. My kids will never have good friends.
No hope for change in yourself—I will never get a handle on my emotional eating, I will never get organized. I will always yell at my kids.
Proverbs 13:12 says hope deferred makes the heart sick.
When we are discouraged and without hope, it damages our heart. Not our literal heart, but the center of who we are. The word tells us to guard our heart above all else, because out of it flows life. If the enemy can keep us discouraged and hopeless, it will affect everything—our prayers, our peace, our parenting, our entire lives.
3. Deception—the enemy wants you to be without Truth.
One thing we know for sure about Satan, is that he’s a liar. In fact, Jesus called him the Father of Lies (see John 8). That means he’s the originator, the founder, the inventor of lies. He lies about everything. But here are a few areas in which he lies to women in particular:
Who God is: He is not good, He is not loving, His motives for you are not good. He won’t answer your prayers. He can hear you but he doesn’t care. God doesn’t like you. God is mad at you. God’s messing with you, He’s holding out on you.
Who you are: you are flawed, broken, dirty, ugly, fat, angry, impure, unloveable, trapped, bound, unforgivable, stupid, not enough, too much.
If he can convince you that God is against you or that you are unworthy to approach God, then guess what? You won’t pray for wisdom. You won’t pray for strength. You won’t pray for direction. You won’t pray at all.
4. Division: the enemy wants you to be alone and isolated
He knows the power in unity. He knows what happens when the body of Christ functions in health and every part does its work. So, he will tempt you to be hurt and offended any chance he can. And if he can get you all fired up so you need to “vent” to someone else, and you get THEM all fired up, even better. The more people he can drag into division, the more isolated you will become.
And then he will tempt you to nurture and feed and caress that offense like it’s a pet, until it morphs into unforgiveness and eventually a root of bitterness.
He’ll sow seeds of division everywhere:
In your marriage
Between you and your kids
Between you and your Extended family, in laws, siblings
In your Church
In your Friendships
At your job
4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it…
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.Ephesians 4
Unity is powerful. As we join together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, with our families, with our neighbors, with our coworker, with our girlfriends, and we all refuse to be divided, but instead link arms and hearts together and operate in our natural gifts (what ever they may be) something amazing happens: We become mature. We grow. We aren’t fooled anymore about what’s right and wrong. We become more loving. This is precisely why the enemy wants you alone.
We all struggle with discouragement and distraction and loneliness from from time-to-time. We all struggle to understand Truth. We know these things throw us off balance–this is not news. What may be new information for you is who is behind it all. Maybe you never considered that there is a whole thing going on in the spirit world that is causing you to struggle.
OK, Sandy, you said you wouldn’t creep me out, but you’re being super creepy. What the crap, Sandy? What am I supposed to do?
We must fight spiritual battles with spiritual weapons.
The Apostle Paul, later in that same letter to the Ephesians says this:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.Ephesians 6
We must put on the armor of God, and pray. Stop fighting your people. Stop fighting your circumstances. Instead, pick up your spiritual armor and do battle with the real culprit.
To download a copy of a scripture-based prayer concerning our spiritual battle for balance, click here.