Aug 7, 2022
Day 4: THEME: Buckle up the belt of truth about RESISTING SATAN.
All of the Buckling the belt episodes are scattered throughout the Bible reading calendar. This episode will be folded in at episode 219. You can find this and all the other Buckling the belt episodes by searching for the word ‘buckling’ at dailybiblereading.info. Searching for that word might also work in your podcast app.
After searching for answers in the Bible and reading a few books that talked about the topics we read about in days 1-3, I found myself still bothered and worried because I couldn’t seem to experience the level of victory that others talked about. I will tell the story today about how the Lord gave me the answer to my problem by showing me how to resist Satan.
Satan is alive and well. Yes, there are demons. No, Satan himself probably doesn’t have time to bother you or me directly. But he leads an army of evil spirits. They will not want you to listen to this podcast. Please try to push through their opposition. The more you feel interference and oppression, the greater your need is for the information I will share.
Because I am concerned that we get a good start on this topic, and with the hope that you will be able to listen to this podcast to the end, I would like to pray this prayer based on Ephesians 6:
How to pray to make sure you are wearing your spiritual armor:
Lord God, give me strength to stand firm. Help me to wear all of the spiritual armor You have given to me, so that I can stand against Satan and his forces:
Please remind me that I am always wearing the breastplate of righteousness, because Jesus died and was raised to life, and He has given me right standing in your sight.
Help me to keep on the boots of the Gospel, being ready to share the good news about Christ whether people are eager to hear it or not.
May I always wear the belt of truth, realizing who I am in unity with You,
and therefore never letting go of my shield, which is fully believing in You.
May I always have the helmet of salvation, because I know You have saved me.
Help me to know the Word of God and use it as my sword, not to hurt people, but to tell the truth in a spirit of love.
And help me to never forget that my instant connection to You is prayer.
Make my love grow for my fellow believers, and may Jesus find me among those who are blameless and holy when He comes.
The existence of Satan and his dark forces is something that those same forces normally seek to suppress. That’s why many in today’s Western culture can read the whole Bible and never notice that we have a living and dangerously powerful enemy. Satan first appears in Genesis 3, then his work is visible in the OT in the kingdoms of man opposed to God and his people, and in the persistent, seeming unconquerable desire of humans to worship idols, which actually represent demons. Take a close look at the things demon worshippers did in the OT, and you will see the same evil things in our culture today, including such things as male and female prostitution, and the killing of babies. Then in the NT, Satan is more personally revealed, starting with Jesus being tempted by him and with Jesus directly teaching about him. If you were to cross out every page in the NT that mentions Satan, evil spirits, or believers somehow struggling against the dark forces, you wouldn’t have very many pages left. The book of Revelation would be totally missing.
So, we have an enemy, and he’s not nice. As I have said in my podcast, demon possession in the Bible is not what we now refer to as mental disease. I do not discount that there is real mental disease. But I believe that we are unwise to think that there is no spiritual component in such things as depression, suicidal ideation, gender disphoria, schitsophrenia, and all the rest. I suggest that if we don’t deal with the root causes of such things, we will only be able to medicate ourselves in an attempt to deal with the symptoms.
My topic today comes with a big caution label, which I will read to you now: Many followers of Christ will be able to use the Scriptures and books I will suggest without outside help and see increasing victory over evil desires and sinful habits of thinking. I suggest you start with my recommended resources, especially the seven Steps for Freedom in Christ by Neil T. Anderson. But if you encounter stiff spiritual opposition, please seek the help of a professional Christian counselor or a loving group of believers who will encourage you, pray with you, and help you stay accountable.
One basic problem for me was that I thought Christians should not verbally rebuke the Devil, because the archangel Michael did not do so in the story Jude relates (Jude 1:9). (He told Satan, “May the Lord rebuke you.”) But there are several key ways my hesitancy was wrong.
1) We are commanded at least three times in the NT to resist Satan. (1Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7; Eph. 6)
1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.
James 4:7 NLT
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
2) Resisting the Devil and forbidding his minions speaking to you is not the same as the prideful ‘insulting’ of spiritual powers that Jude was speaking against.
3) As we have seen in previous readings, we are now adopted as children of God. We are now unified with Jesus. This means that we have quite a different and better position than angels.
Footnote: There is some kind of legal permission that has been granted when a demon has established a stronghold in someone. Because of that, (unless the person being harrassed is your own young child) it will not be appropriate for you to command a demon to leave another person. (Yes, I know that the apostle Paul did that in Acts 16:16-18, and Jesus certainly had that authority in Luke 8:29.) Please don’t try to cast out someone else’s demons. (The response could get ugly.) However YOU do have the legal authority to resist and forbid demonic influences harassing you. Because of your unity with Christ, you can rescind permission that was somehow previously given (by a reaction to some event or word, perhaps long ago and forgotten by you).
Our authority over Satanic forces operating in our lives comes directly from who we are in Christ. It’s so important to know who you are! If you see yourself as a weak and sinful person who is continually not able to control sinful thoughts, then that is who you will be. But if you have done your previous homework to buckle the belt of truth— believing that you are forgiven, loved by Christ, and joined as one with him— then you are on the road to finding victory. Who we believe ourselves to be will be shown in our lives. Don’t believe Satan’s lies!
Let me tell you how that worked out for me.
We had been working among the Orya people for 9 years, and I was in the village of Gwae leading the men working with me in translating Philippians. Two Orya boys were staying with me at night, since Gale was not with me. It was at Pentecost time and there were several extra church meetings. In one of them the pastor (Yakub) led a hymn in the national language, too high, too slow, and sounding like a dirge. I said to him, “There’s no joy in these hymns.” And in rare candor he replied, “Yeah, you’re right. There is no joy in these hymns.” So I suggested, “How about if I write several songs in the Orya language to sing at the Sunday service?” And he agreed.
Starting that night, the boys and I put together three catchy little songs with melodies you could clap hands with. On Sunday, I cajoled the congregation to clap their hands while singing them. (It wasn’t easy to get them to do it, because clapping was never done in that church.) But they finally got into it, and I have pictures of the smiles that resulted. Being a musician, I had tried introducing Orya worship songs before, but this was my first success. The boys and I created 8 more songs over the next 10 days.
Then one Monday morning, when the translation team came to work, they told me, “Lëberina had a dream and you were in it. She’s gonna come this afternoon at five to tell you about it.”
That day I could hardly wait for 5 o’clock to finally come! But I want to admit (and I want you to remember) that there was a tinge of worry in my waiting. I was thinking, “Oh no. What if her dream reveals something sinful in me.”
Lëberina was the oldest widow in the village. She was also respected for her knowledge of traditional Orya songs. She came right on time and told me,
“It was evening in my dream. It was dark and people were cooking in their kitchens. Then all of a sudden there was a bright light in the direction of the sunrise. The light was so bright that it put out all the cooking fires and lanterns. We all went outside to see what was happening. You were there too, so we asked you, ‘What’s that?’ And you said, ‘That’s got to be Jesus coming again.’ And then you taught us a song, and here it is:
Bian, enho enkam kië gwë’an.
Bian, enho enkam kië gwë’an.
Kwasang, kwasang enkam.”
I didn’t waste any time in writing down the melody and words of the song that I had sung in her dream. Later, the boys and I added two more verses, and it became one of our worship songs.
Then I did a stupid and prideful thing: I said to the Lord, “Hey, I’m the missionary here. How about giving me a dream?”
Bad idea! I don’t recommend being flippant with the Lord, especially if your prayer is laced with pride. I think it was that same night that the Lord gave me the dream I will never forget.
I was in bed at night. Laying on my side, I could see out of the window with a lacy curtain that was directly across from me, and the moon was full. I could see an Orya man with an Afro haircut walking across the yard coming toward my house. He turned his flashlight on sparingly. His batteries were almost spent and it gave a very orange glow. I wondered if any of the ladies in the village were due to give birth. Maybe he was going to call me to some medical emergency. He stepped up on my porch, and because the house was built on stilts, the floor shook. There was an exercise bike on the porch in front of the window, and he got on and peddled a few turns. Turning the wheel activated a light on the front of the bike that shone in my window. As he lazily turned the wheel a few times more, I was beginning to not like this guy.
He dismounted and came right up to the window, pointed his flashlight inside and turned it on. At that distance I knew that he could see me through the curtain. I was overcome with irrational fear and with great effort yanked my pillow from under my head and covered my face.
I was drenched in sweat. And only then did I realize, “Hey, I don’t have a glass window in my bedroom! There is no lace curtain, and there definitely is no exercise bike with a generator light on the front anywhere in the province!”
Now, I often have unmemorable nightmares. If I am about to be eaten by a large cat or crocodile, the interpretation is that I need to get up and go to the bathroom. Recently I was even threatened by three turkeys.
The nightmare I just related held two important lessons for me. I will tell only the first one in this lesson, and save the second one for the next Buckling the Belt episode.
I somehow knew that the man with the flashlight was evil. Could he represent an evil spirit? That same night, before going back to sleep, I humbly asked the Lord if He would show me if my dream indicated that there was an evil spirit somehow involved with me.
The Lord did not keep me waiting very long for his answer. Right away He allowed me to hear my tempter’s voice. The demon only needed to whisper two words, and my mind went off on an evil trip, one that I had traveled thousands of times before. It is too shameful for me to tell you what that trip led to. Just imagine that it is like your own worst sinful lusts.
Only a couple of weeks later, while that experience was still fresh in my mind, I was back with our family in the provincial capital of Jayapura. At the English-speaking worship service (attended by most missionaries with children in the school there), the sermon was given by a retired missionary who had come back for a visit (Jim Sunda). Jim told how the Lord had unexpectedly given a ministry of deliverance to him and his wife in their home church in the States. He told stories of people being freed from demonic oppression, and ended by saying that on Monday he would have time for anyone who wanted to talk with him. I was the first one to approach him at the end of the service.
On Monday morning when I met with Jim, we sat across a small dining room table, and he asked several questions. I told him exactly why I thought I was being tempted by a demon. We gave the demon a title, ‘Demon of X’. (I’ll probably tell you the actual title we gave that demon in the next lesson. Footnote: Never ask a demon to speak or to tell you his name.) Jim explained the legal situation I explained above. He would not rebuke the demon directly, but he would suggest the words for me to pray to God, and then to speak directly to ‘Demon of X’, to forbid the evil spirit from doing anything with me. The prayer of confession and repentance that Jim led me through was relatively easy, but when we got to the step of forbidding the demon, he told me to look him directly in the eyes. With some effort, I focussed my eyes on his, but then quickly looked away. I objected that the archangel Michael didn’t rebuke the devil. He answered me like what I said above: Scripture explicitly commands us to resist Satan. OK, I had to admit that he was right, so we proceeded through that next step. Looking in Jim’s eyes I followed his suggestions, forbidding Demon X to come to me to harass, tempt, whisper, or bother me in any way. We also forbid him from bothering other members of our families. And we commanded him, “You go where Jesus sends you.”
Immediately afterward, I didn’t feel like anything had happened to me. But when I got into my jeep to go home, a voice whispered, “That was a real good thing you just did.” Here’s the tricky thing: It was a good thing for me to do, but I recognized this message as a temptation to pride. “Oh no,” I thought, “now another voice is tempting me.” Jim already had a couple with him. So, using the rearview mirror, I looked myself in the eyes and resisted that demon of pride.
For the next three days, I made repeated trips to the bathroom, in order to use the mirror there to look myself in the eyes. It seemed that the old demon was gone, but that he left his folder on me in the hands of others. Once or twice I had to smile, because the new ones knew the right words to tempt me, but their timing was terrible. (By the way, rebuke and resist demons verbally. They can’t hear silent rebukes, as far as anyone knows.)
I was rejoicing because at last I felt free. Of course I immediately confessed everything to Gale. On the third day, she came to me. My total honesty moved her to confess things that she had held back from ever telling me before. We at last were truly unified in our marriage and in forgiveness toward each other.
For years I had been praying that our work among the Orya people would not just be a wasted effort. There were lots of ways the Orya people were clearly enslaved to demons, including miracle-working shamans and a perverted cult that did shameful things. Now that I was free, the Lord allowed me to help set others free among the Orya people, doing the same steps I will recommend to you.
One of the things Jim encouraged me to do daily was to pray through putting on the armor of God in Ephesians 6. I followed his advice for a few weeks. It may have helped. But I began to realize that putting the armor on had just become one of my morning rituals. Christians are not given magic words to repeat. Somewhere after that I saw that the pieces of armor are actually pillars of our belief in God. These pieces of armor reveal who we are in Christ, and therefore a Christian can never take off his/her armor.
I also began searching for how we actually put on our spiritual armor. I like the way our Indonesian translation helps readers to understand how the various parts of the armor are actually applied or ‘picked up’ and ‘worn’. An English translation that shows how our Plain Indonesian Translation conveys those concepts is found at the bottom of the episode notes. And, it is basically the same way I led us in prayer at the start of this episode.
Now I want to give resources to help you in resisting Satan and his dark forces. I recommend two books by Neil T. Anderson. The foundational best-sellers are
Victory Over the Darkness
The Bondage Breaker.
Get your hands on the newest revised versions. They are also available as ebooks.
The subtitle for Victory Over the Darkness is Realizing the power of your identity in Christ. I would characterize this book as way better and more complete than the things I have shared in my first three lessons for buckling the belt of truth.
The Bondage Breaker has the subtitle of Overcoming negative thoughts, irrational feelings, and habitual sins. If you are new to the whole topic I am sharing today, and if you agree that you are struggling against sinful thoughts or irrational feelings, if you are ashamed of habitual sins (as I was), or if you know that some sudden impulses seem to come from someone other than you, in the pages of this book you will find that you are not alone, and you are not crazy. Somewhere in the twelve chapters of The Bondage Breaker you’ll find someone like you that was set free from spiritual bondage.
The seven Steps to Freedom in Christ I have mentioned are found in the appendix of The Bondage Breaker. They are also easily found on the Internet, and I am placing a link to them here in the episode notes. Each step will ask targeted questions and will lead you through some written prayers. It took me a little over an hour the other day to pray through all seven steps. If you don’t have time to read either of the two books suggested above, I urge you to work through the Steps to Freedom in Christ.
As I prepared for this podcast (in the summer of 2023), I read a followup book: The Bondage Breaker, the Next Step, copyright 1991/2011. This book shares research findings about the success of Anderson’s counseling method, plus each chapter shares the testimony of someone who has been released from spiritual bondage. The end of the book gives information about the international scope of Freedom in Christ Ministries. There is a wealth of teaching materials available, training seminars, and many other books available at their website, www.ficm.org.
If you want to contact me, please use the contact button in the top menu bar of dailybiblereading.info or dailygntbiblereading.info.
I will be praying for you, dear listener!
May the Lord bless you ‘real good’.
Suggested reading for this episode are:
Plain English Translation of the Plain Indonesian Translation (TSI):
PET: 10 As final instructions, you should each become strong because you keep on hoping completely in the Lord's amazing power, and also because you have become one with Him. 11 Just like a soldier wears his equipment for war, you must wear all the battle equipment that God gives us. In that way you can reject the devil's lies. 12 For we aren't fighting against people on this earth. But we fight against evil spirits and all the powers who rule those evil spirits. They're the ones who now control this dark world from the sky above. 13 That's why you need to use all the tools of war given by God, so that when the enemy comes to attack you, you won't run, but can oppose him and keep enduring until the war is over.
14 So stand firm. Hold on to the true teaching from God, because true teaching is like a belt that makes you ready to act. Believe that you have been made righteous by God because of Christ. That certainty is like a metal vest that protects you from the enemy's attacks. 15 And keep holding onto the Good News about Christ. That news helps you to feel calm in the protection of God. Continually hold on to that news, just like a soldier always wears strong boots, so that you stand firm in war. 16 Besides that, keep believing in the Lord. For your fully believing is like a shield that protects you from all of the flaming arrows that the devil shoots at us. 17 Keep on being certain that God has saved you, because that is like your war helmet. And hold onto all of God's Word like holding a sword, because His Word (theBible) has the power of the Holy Spirit.