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The Attack of Our Adversary

by Julius Hovan

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)


We welcome you to this broadcast of Words of Life and we hope our message form the Word of God will be practical and helpful for you as we live our daily lives. I would like to talk to you about the attack of our adversary, Satan, as he seeks to attack us and to keep us from being faithful followers of our God.

The Word in 1 Samuel chapter 18 beginning with verse six provides our text. “It came to pass as they came when David returned from the slaughter of the Philistines the women came out of the cities of Israel singing, dancing to meet the king with timbrels and joy and instruments of music and the women sang one to another as they played and said: Saul hath slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands. And Saul was very upset and this displeased him, what the women were saying. And he said: They have ascribed unto David ten thousand, to me they have ascribed but thousands. What can he have more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David from that day forward. And it came to pass on the morrow that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul and he prophesied in the midst of the house and David played with his hand as he did day by day playing the harp. And Saul had his spear in his hand and he cast the spear and he said: I will smite David even to the wall. And David avoided out of his presence twice.”

For those who are familiar with the Old Testament Scripture, this story is the experience of the young man David in his battle with King Saul. And it can teach us about the battle every true Christian has and in some regard everybody has against the being called the devil. And you say, Preacher, do you believe in a literal devil? Yes. I believe in it for two reasons. First of all, I have done business with him. He has been a force in my life. And, secondly, I believe in him because the Bible says that he is real and that he is our adversary. And let’s make no mistake about this spiritual battle. Unfortunately all too many who call themselves Christians are losing the battle too often. So note with me for our lesson today David’s enemy and the attack of that enemy.

David has to acknowledge the attacker. He has to come to recognize he has an enemy in King Saul. David, first of all, did not choose the enemy. The enemy Saul chose him. Satan chooses to focus on every true believer, every Christian. He needs to waste little time on the lost. He already has them. Nominal Christians, he can let them kind of slide along, but he chooses that person to attack and the time to attack and we need to know that. We acquire this enemy as the result of a specific appointment. David is chosen by God to replace Saul as the next king. And Saul came to realize it and it caused his attack to increase.

And so as God’s chosen, we who are Christian, we who are appointed to eternal life, we are put into the very heat of battle. Satan cannot attack God, not directly, but he attacks God through us. Remember what Jesus said to Saul on the road to Damascus? Saul, why are you persecuting me? Saul did not realize he was persecuting Jesus. He thought he was just persecuting Christians. But we know how hurt God is when we say yes to the devil and when we say no to the ways of God, when we follow the wrong road and do the wrong thing we are losing the battle and our enemy, our adversary is winning that battle. We have a very powerful enemy with many subjects at his command. King Saul had his army, as we note in this passage of Scripture, and he was able to pursue David and seek to kill David.

In the sixth chapter of a familiar passage in Ephesians chapter six verse 12 we learn this truth. Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, that is, against something we can lay our hands on and see, but it is against principalities, against the power, against the world rulers of this darkness, a spiritual host of wickedness in the heavenly places. Paul says we must not be ignorant of this force, this evil force out in the world that battles against truth and against Christianity and against God and against the Bible. We are seeing it now here in the country of America as there are tremendous forces of Atheism and Agnosticism and Humanism wanting to eliminate all references to Jesus and the cross and the Bible and religion. We know it is a very real force and we must understand the tricks, the schemes, the devices that the devil uses when he comes against us.

And so, indeed, we have an enemy that has chosen us and he knows when to come against us and he is, indeed, a very powerful enemy and he has many helpers that do his dirty work. Now there is some action involved in this attack as we would certainly imagine. The attack, I would point out to you, is inevitable. It is going to come if you are trying to do right and be good and follow the commandments of God. The psalmist says in Psalm 27, The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? He is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers come upon me to eat up my flesh, even mine adversaries and foes they stumbled and fell. Though a host, that is a whole lot of folks, should encamp against me, my heart will not fear. Though they war and rise up against me, even then will I be confident.

The psalmist makes it clear not that ‘if’ there is an attack, but when the attack comes. It will happen. It will often happen at a time that we do not know. We do not know from whence the attack will come, when it is least expected, then the attack that inevitable attack of the evil one, comes against us. And it is very personal. Wrestling is a hand to hand battle. And so it is our wrestling against the evil forces of the devil. It is a very personal attack against me and against you and we must engage in that attack. No wonder Paul writing to that church at Ephesus when he was dealing with and talking about the armor, says in the 11th verse of that sixth chapter to put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the trickery, the wiles, the schemes of the devil. The attack is going to come. Well, how am I going to do anything about it? I need to stand.

Here are the tricks that Satan uses. Here is an orderly path that he takes. He knows what to do and he knows how to do it to trick us and to get us, every one of us that hear these words, myself included, we have been tricked by Satan to do his bidding. We are aware of his methods. In 2 Timothy Paul understood this, writing to a young man working with the church that he was with as their evangelist. Paul tells him in 2 Timothy two beginning with verse 24 that the Lord’s servant must not strive, but be gentle towards all, apt to teach, forbearing. In meekness correcting those that oppose him if, peradventure, God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth.

The duty of elders, of leaders, of shepherds in a body of believers, their duty has to do with what Paul says here. Those who wander away, those who fall to the tricks of Satan and begin to drift away from the things of God, it is the duty of the shepherd to go and find those lost sheep and recover those who have fallen into the devil’s snare, those that have been taken captive by Satan. It is no coincidence that the verse immediately follows references the grievous times of the last days.

I don’t know about what you believe, but, my friends, we are in grievous days. I believe they are the last days of this age in which we live. They are the signs that Jesus is coming soon and God is going to bring judgment upon the world and upon sinners and, oh, that we could turn to Jesus to be delivered. Here are the actions. They are inevitable. They are personal. They are very methodical and very real. And so what are we going to do? Ephesians again, chapter six and verse 14 as we deal with the instructions of the disciple there, it says to stand, therefore, having girded your loins with truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.

Notice simply, first of all, as we offer a counter attack against the evil one, we have to stand. My professor, and president of the Christian college that I attended, loved to say to us young men from 1 Corinthians 16:13 what Paul says, ‘Watch ye. Stand fast in the faith. Like me, be strong’. Oh, my friends, we must have strength to stand against the attack of the evil one.

And here is our posture. Our posture is to take a stand. That tells me I am resisting. I am putting forth effort against the evil force coming against me. But I need not only the right posture, I need the right protection. And so he begins to talk to us about the armor that we are to put on as Christians. There is, first of all, this belt of truth. Am I really a Christian? I do not want to be a hypocrite. I want to be truthful about my Christian faith. I want to live a consistent life. That will help keep me from the stronghold of the devil. It will help keep me from shame of defeat because I have fallen to his trickery. The belt of truth, when I know what truth is, can help me avoid what is in error. And then I want to put on the breastplate of righteousness. We have in one of our great hymns: Leave no unguarded place. If there is an opening, you may be sure the devil is going to find it. And so I must put on this breastplate of righteousness. It is especially vital because it covers the middle part of my body. Behind that breastplate are my vital organs. And I do not want them to be harmed.
Feelings can often conflict with our calling. We don’t feel this way or that way. We don't feel saved. We don’t feel right. These things can cause us to fall away and to retreat. The heart does not feel what we know in our heads. That is part of the struggle and it is part of the trickery of the devil. In l John three beginning with verse 19, the writer says hereby shall we know that we are of the truth. Do we know that? And we shall assure our heart before him. If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and he knows all things. Think about it. If in you moment of doubt you feel condemned, remember your faith in God and remember he is greater. Beloved, if our heart condemns us not, we have boldness before God. What a precious thought, indeed, it is to know that we have such a God who will not condemn us if our heart is right.
It is Jeremiah that reminds us that our heart is deceitful above all things. Our heart can trick us, but it is our faith that stands firm. And so we need the right posture. We must stand. We need the protection of the belt of truth and the breast plate of righteousness. We need our feet to be shod with the gospel of peace. Good shoes provide a firm foundation. We must be able to stand with peace and to stand with God even in the midst of a battle, in the midst of warfare, and in the midst of the battle to have the peace of God. When I am at peace with God I have come to him and he has redeemed me. He has forgiven me. I am his child. Then I enjoy the peace of God even in the midst of battle. I am able to keep my balance.

Satan is strong, but God is stronger and the gospel of peace is stronger. Satan’s accusations are often true. Often what he says about us in our failure is true, but God’s grace meets our need, for greater is he that is in us that he that is in the world. And then I need the shield of faith. Based on who God is, if we come to God we must believe that he is and he is a rewarder of those who believe in him. This shield of faith tells me that I believe who God is and what he does and what God believes and says is of primary importance. I found when I doubt God my foundation begins to crumble. My foundation can be destroyed through my doubting of God. I must have the shield of faith. We are told in the Bible it is impossible to please God without faith, so we need that shield of faith.

God’s character does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. And Paul says, I know whom I have believed, not what I have believed, but whom I have believed. He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. We are able to quench the fiery darts of the evil one as we hold up this shield of faith.

And we have a helmet of salvation. Our vital mind must be protected. Do you have an assurance of salvation based on who God is and what Jesus did and the faithfulness of Jesus to go to Calvary on your behalf and on mine? Do you believe that what God promised he can deliver? Do you know that as a fact in your life, your thinking? You know that in your mind? Yes, the helmet of salvation.

And then we have a weapon. It is our only offensive weapon. It is called the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. In a recent lesson on this broadcast we spent two lessons talking about that Word of God and how reliable it is and how powerful it is and how it works in our lives. And so we better have it. We better be reading it. We better know what it says. We had better have it laid up in our heart. For the devil knows how to use the Word. He did when he tempted Jesus, you will remember. And so I had better be familiar with the Word.

When the cults of our day come against Christians and try to lead them away we better know the truth of the Word of God and we better be able to wield this sword of the Word of God. Here is a specific divine word that God gives us for the various times in our life when temptation comes, when the battle is heated. We can reach back and grab that Word in our hearts, in our minds and do like Jesus did and win the battle against the evil one.

We are in a battle. We must have the right posture. We must have the right protection. And, finally, we need the right perspective. Satan, as we think of it, has authority over us only if we give it to him, if we allow it, if we allow our will and our desire to be submissive to him. The key to working out of God’s power in us is to submit to God instead of to Satan, to say yes to the greater one that is in us and to say no to the evil one that is against us.

David had an enemy in Saul. And as with David the attack was inevitable. It was personal. It was methodical. We can advance if we will maintain the right posture and take a stand and put on the right protection and keep the right perspective of faith. You can receive the benefit of this by becoming a Christian. We would love to help you do that. Write to us and let us send you material to help you become a child of God. And if you are a Christian, would you understand the attack and will you take a stand for the power and glory of God in your own life. God bless you is our prayer.


Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ in Bohon, KY.

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If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8