Yesterday was a very difficult day for me. I felt as though I was under extreme spiritual attack.
That evening, as husband moved about the kitchen, I leaned on the kitchen bar counter- my voice raised with frustration as I questioned my own salvation.
"How can I be saved and have these thoughts? How can I?"
Thankfully, I can no longer bring to mind the questions and the turmoil that was winding its way around my heart and soul like a boa constrictor, threatening to choke the life out of me. My husband had just the tool. He pulled the rocking chair close to the couch so we could sit face to face. He picked up our favorite bibles- the ones that have much underlining, highlighting and notes scrawled in the margin- and we sat down to pour over the Scripture. Some time later, when my husband's voice was raw and worn from reading and discussing the Word of God, I realized that I once again had peace and assurance. My doubts and worries had been slain.
I was reminded of a sermon I recently read from Charles Spurgeon in which he states, "We have seen this sword take off the head of many a Goliath doubt, slay a horde of cares and unbeliefs. We have seen the Spirit pile up heaps on heaps of the slain when the Word of conviction has gone forth, and men have seen sin to be sin, and fallen down as dead before the Lord and His law. We also know what the use of the sword by the Spirit of God means, for within our own being He has left marks of His prowess. He has killed our doubts and fears and left no more mistrusts to worry us."
I recommend Spurgeon's sermon on Spiritual Warfare titled, "The Sword of the Spirit." It is one of the sermons in a series of sermons compiled by Warren W. Wiersbe (Classic Sermons on Spiritual Warfare). You can read this particular sermon free at the Spurgeon Archive.
I remember feeling relieved to find that other godly people I respect have also struggled with some of the same things I have. I am not alone! In one particular study session, Tim Conway confesses that, after he was saved, he began to question the existence of God. These questions which filled his mind, although unwelcomed, made him question whether he was truly saved.
We need to understand that the devil wants us to question God's word and work in our life. In fact, that is exactly what he does when he appears before Eve. He slyly asks, "Did God really say...." It is his favorite tactic!
Satan obviously knows God's Word. He tried to use it to tempt Christ! With every testing, Jesus responds by using the Word of God. So, Satan attempts to wield the Word of God against Christ, saying, "If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you, and they will support you with their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." [Luke 4:9-11]
Sneaky, sneaky- that one! Satan often uses Holy Scripture to lead me to question God, but we must notice how he twists it, throwing "ifs" and "buts" in there or leading us to question if we really understand what God has said.
It is clear that the only way we can fight the devil is through God's word, just as Christ did. Christ did not respond with excuses or try to form some convincing argument. He simply quoted the Scripture. He stood on the Word of God alone.
For the Word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of ideas and thoughts of the heart [Hebrews 4:12]. If you notice in Ephesians 6:10-18, the Sword of the Spirit is our only weapon. We are to put on the full armor of God and firmly grasp the Sword of the Spirit. We are not to lay it down.
Spurgeon goes on to say, "In this combat you will have to use a sword such as even evil spirits can feel, capable of dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow."
He reminds us, "Our foes are not only of our house, but of our heart. I find an enemy within which is always near, and I cannot get away from him. I find that my antagonist will get his hand on my throat if he can. If our foes were far away, and we could play upon them artillery which would kill at six or seven miles' distance, we might lead a pretty easy life. But no; they are here! At our doors! Yea, within us; nearer than hands and feet. [...] You have to slay your foe or your foe will slay you."
So often, when we think of the spiritual warfare, we think of what is going on in the world today, but we must remember that we have quite a battle ground within ourselves, within our very own homes.
"Take the sword with the grip of sincere faith; hold it fast by a fuller knowledge, and then exercise yourself daily in its use. The sword is to be taken for earnest fight. You will not be long before occasion arises in such a world as this. You will have to parry with it, to pierce with it, to cut with it, and to kill with it. 'Where shall I begin?' says one. Begin at home," Spurgeon commands, "and, for many a day, you will have your hands full. [..] Inside your own heart you will find a band of bandits which should be exterminated. There will always be a need to keep the sword going within your own territory."
As my husband and I dug deep into the word of God (and one can go deep into the Word and remain on just a few verses!), I saw my doubts beheaded and my fears bleeding out.
Hear Spurgeon's instruction for battle, "As quick as arm can move, drive texts of Scripture through every new fallacy, every new denial of truth, and spit the whole of them upon the rapier of the Word. It will be good to kill these doubts outright. Do not play with them, but fight them in real earnest."
It will be a bloody battle, and surely you will find that, as the Sword slices through falsehoods and doubts, you too will be trimmed by its blade.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take stand. [Ephesians 6:11-13]
Take note- you MUST take up the FULL armor of God. And there must be preparation. We must be devoted to reading and praying and to walking in the Holy Spirit. We must not rely on ourselves and our own "weapons"! Let us remember, as David M. Lloyd-Jones points out, "If Adam in that perfect state fell, who are we to stand?" We must stand in Christ if we are going to stand against the devil. We cannot do it on our own strength, with our own means, with our own words, or with our own agendas.
If we are not spending time in the Word of God, we will not be able to wield it as our sword.