Tuesday, October 13, 2020 -
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). “Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:13).
It is an amazing thing to watch, meeting every night with the same ten men, how God is maturing each person. One of the most significant recognitions in the lives of these men who for the most part previously lacked any in-depth study of God’s Word or any type of spiritual depth being taught from the pulpit is that we are in the midst of a great spiritual battle, as is made clear by Ephesians 6. In coming to such a realization some of these men have been dealt fierce blows by the enemy. I am convinced this is merely because Satan knows God is doing a great work in their lives - - sanctifying them for His service. Significant evil and even unspeakable crimes, neglect, and abuse lurk in their backgrounds - - prior to salvation. These things the devil often uses to attack new believers, and established believers alike. This is part of the spiritual warfare all Christians go through as Satan tempts them not to let go of the sinful things and that once reigned in their lives, perhaps even as young children. The more severe the circumstances sometimes the greater the struggle. The answer, of course, is Jesus, Who provides us with a clean slate and through His shed blood, casts our sins as far as the east is from the west. It is too easy to blame oneself for things that happen in one’s life that are not our fault. Incidents that can ruin a life forever. Refusing to forgive others, not being willing to forgive one’s self, or not fully accepting God’s forgiveness when one repents of his sin and surrenders to Christ can open the door to fierce attacks of Satan.
As these men are recognizing that such spiritual battles are taking place over their minds, they are able to turn to the Holy Spirit to battle on their behalf. Often the battle involves becoming tempted to be involved in the same sin that led them to the crime that brought them to prison in the first place. Knowing they are being targeted by the devil and his demons is the first most important step for any Christian to battle such an enemy. But just as important is the recognition that the power to resist the devil, as well as the self-defeating thoughts he puts into our minds, comes from God alone. It’s one reason Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our “Helper.” Without His help, we will lose every battle. Only by recognizing one’s helplessness will the evil one be defeated.
It is exciting to watch God provide victory in the lives of these men when they’ve struggled for years. The end result, I know, is something great far beyond our comprehension. I praise God I can be a part of encouraging them and watching Christ get the victory in their lives! They are eager and ready to be used mightily by God in the years to come.