I was defeated again…lust was reigning in my life. When I would leave my house in the morning, darkness would set in. I felt compelled to look for porn and “act out.” It had been happening for months…and I was “in the ministry.” I knew better, but didn’t know how to stop and change my behavior. I was so discouraged. I was moving toward depression and despair.
I had traveled across the country and was attending a Christian leadership conference. I was staying in the basement of a friend. The feeling of darkness and the urge to sin were pressing in on me again. I felt hopeless and defeated and cried out to God for wisdom.
A Taste of Warfare Prayer
I was scanning the walls of the basement and on the bookshelf; one book almost literally started glowing. It was called Destined to Overcome, by Paul Billheimer. I immediately read it.
I’m embarrassed to tell you what I learned, but it transformed my life. He explained in the book the simple gospel of the cross of Jesus and the blood of Jesus. He explained the nature of salvation. When we come to Christ, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin and Jesus transfers us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. He makes us new creations. We become part of the family of God and heirs to the rich inheritance of Christ. Jesus also gives us authority over all the powers of the enemy. Because of the blood of Jesus, Satan was disarmed and defeated. When we claim that same blood, it reminds Satan of his great defeat.
The author offered up “sample warfare prayers” based on the clear doctrinal teachings of Scripture. It was something like this:
“Lord, thank you for dying on the cross for me. Thank you that you suffered, bled and died and that when you died, you redeemed me. Your blood purchased me back for yourself. Thank you that you now live in me and that I am your child. Based on the authority of your Word and the sufficiency of your blood, I command every demonic force that is arrayed against me to be bound. You promised, ‘whatever you bound on earth will be bound in heaven.’ Based on this promise, and because You live in me and I am your child, in your name, I bind all demonic forces of pornography, masturbation, lust and all sexual sin. Begone Satan.”
As I read that book and sample prayers, the thought, a new thought occurred to me. Maybe, just maybe, I am under demonic oppression. Maybe there are demons of lust that are driving me and harassing me, trying to compel me and lead me to sexually stimulating material and toward sexual sin. Before that time, I had never considered that Satan had anything to do with my sexual sins. I had concluded that I was just an over-sexed guy with lots of hormones.
I prayed the sample prayers. With all my heart, I cried out to God, reviewing the Scriptural truths of my identity in Christ, the power of the blood of Jesus, my position “in Christ” as a member of his family and the tremendous promises of God. By faith, I cried out to God and bound every demonic force arrayed against me and commanded them to go. I obeyed James 4:7-8 for the first time in my life: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
When I finished praying, I immediately felt a 500 lb. weight lift off my shoulders. I felt light. Like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, my heavy backpack was gone. I praised God and worshiped.
I felt so stupid. How could I have not even considered Satan and lust together in the same sentence? How could I have been a believer for about a decade and never seriously studied Satan and his tactics? I couldn’t answer those questions, but I knew that I had uncovered another key principle in the quest for purity. I needed to master warfare praying. I needed to learn about the enemy of my soul who has declared war on me and is literally “out to get me.”
Attack from the Air
The illustration of a Navy ship again highlights and reinforces this tactic, this key principle of warfare. At their best speed, most Navy ships can only go between 30-35 knots. Enemy warplanes or jets can go as fast as the speed of sound or faster. Obviously, ships cannot outrun an attacking airplane. A ship must fire bullets or missiles into the air in hopes of knocking down the air threat. A ship can’t flee or out run a plane; to survive it must resist attack.
Resisting attack is serious business. While stationed in the Persian Gulf, the noise of the sea and sailors working on our ship was overwhelmed one day with the sounds of alarms.
Bong, Bong, Bong. “General Quarters, General Quarters. All Hands man your battle stations.” Bong, Bong, Bong. “This is not a drill.” When the General Quarters alarm goes off on a Naval Ship at sea, adrenaline immediately rushes into the body. The hundreds of training drills that you have practiced during peacetime kicks into high gear; you react immediately. You run to your battle stations, donning your helmets and life jackets in case the “worse case scenario” takes place: the sinking of the ship.
The Captain came over the ship’s intercom system. “Two Iranian warplanes are inbound, heading toward our position. We are warning them to turn away, but they have not yet responded. You have been trained for moments like this. You are well trained. Everyone do their duty and be brave.”
I was standing watch on the bridge of the ship. The Captain ordered, “Missiles on the rail.” Our ship had missile launchers both on the forward and after parts of the ship. Missiles are normally kept safely below decks to keep them from getting damaged from the moisture of sea spray and sea salt. It was the first time in my Naval career that anti-air missiles were placed on the launchers with the intent to engage an enemy.
The crew was ready for battle. The missiles were armed and ready for launch. Every hatch was secured; every man was at his battle station, ready to do his duty. Over the radio, warnings were being given in the Farsi language for the pilots to turn back. “You are approaching a United States Warship. You will be shot down unless you turn around. Repeat, this is a U.S. Warship, if you continue on your current course, you will be shot down.” The ship’s captain only had to give the order to “Fire the missiles” and the “threat” would have been eliminated. We were armed and ready, missiles were “on the rail.”
As the planes got to the outside range of our missile envelope, at the last possible second, they changed course and left our area. There was a collective sigh of relief felt on the bridge of the ship. The captain secured General Quarters and took the ship off of a state of heightened alert.
How to Counter-Attack
Satan has declared war on every person who holds to the testimony of Jesus and who obeys his commands (Revelation 12:17). This is “not a drill.” He is planning his attacks on us. Luke 4:13 says the devil “departed from him [Jesus] until an opportune time.” He will launch his attacks when they will inflict the most damage on us. His goals are clear. He has a well-defined mission statement.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). He also said of Satan: “He was a murderer from the beginning…he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
First Peter 5:8 says, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan’s mission statement could read: to make war on all believers of Jesus, to steal from them, to kill them if able, to destroy everything they own and to devour them, by any means necessary.
The command from Scripture is clear. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). This same command is repeated in 1 Peter 5:9 “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
How can we practically resist Satan?
Jesus modeled this for us in Matthew 4:1-11. First, Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights. In preparation for the encounter with Satan, He fasted. When you know that you will be entering into an area of spiritual opposition, I would exhort you to also enter a time of fasting.
When the first temptation came, Jesus responded, “It is written…,” then Jesus quoted a verse that he had memorized from Scripture. During the second temptation, Satan tried to get Jesus to sin by also quoting Scripture. Jesus reacted the second time the same way as the first time, “It is written…” and then quoted more Scripture. For the third temptation, Jesus resisted Satan again by quoting another verse from Scripture. Three temptations and three times Jesus said, “It is written…”
Jesus recognized Satan’s attack. We too need to recognize when we are under attack. Satan is devious and disguises himself as an angel of light, so often we are unsure if the attack is coming from our own flesh or from Satan. As a general rule, any time that I have a sexual thought that is not about my wife, I treat it as a demonic attack. The method that I use to resist Satan is the same method that Jesus used. I immediately say, “Be gone! For it is written, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God‘” (Matthew 5:8). Or I quote another verse, like 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Like a Navy ship, I want a full load of missiles. I am constantly memorizing and reviewing Scriptures. Each verse is like an anti-air missile. I want to have hundreds of “missiles” at the ready, and on the rail, ready to fire at a second’s notice. It only takes a second or less to come under attack from the evil one. Lusting thoughts, like flaming arrows, can be shot into my brain by the evil one. I need to be able to recognize the attack and respond immediately. Failure to launch an immediate counterattack can cause me to want to act on the initial impure thoughts and “act out” and sin sexually.
The principle of resisting Satan is a tried and true principle and command from God. Failure to understand this tactic and failure to use this principle will lead to certain defeat. Every believer must learn how to fight and overcome the attacks of the evil one. It is a “rite of passage” toward maturity. First John 2:14 says, “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” Until you learn to both recognize and learn to overcome the evil one, you will remain as a baby Christian and you will remain trapped in sexual sin.