The Devil’s Playground
. . . in order that Satan might not outwit us.
For we are not unaware of his schemes. ~ 2 Corinthians 2:11
There is no question that Satan has his favorite tactics, and has areas where he commonly attacks God’s people and God’s church. Paul was cautious so as not to be outwitted by the enemy of his soul. He knew the devil’s schemes and was aware when Satan was planting seeds of destruction, or was attacking outright to bring great injury to a person or a church.
As believers, we must understand our God-ordained place, our unique calling, our assignment(s), and our destiny. We are fathers, mothers, employers, employees, pastors, laypeople, government officials, private citizens, etc. These various roles require different things from us, and we can operate in God’s will as we serve in these roles. In the same way, God has other unique spiritual assignments and servant leadership roles for us. He is constantly preparing us and giving us experiences and spiritual gifts in order that we may be ready to serve in His kingdom. Knowing who we are in Christ and where God has placed us is part of the will of God for us.
There are three major areas where we can fulfill God’s will:
- With Our Family: We are sons or daughters, husbands, wives, parents, grandparents, etc.
- With Our Church: There are God-ordained pastors and laymen (who are officers and/or members), but we all need to be serving the Lord in some way.
- With Our Community: There are public servants and private citizens. There are people who need to know Christ personally and people who need to grow in their faith.
In his instruction on how to wear the armor of God, Paul reminds us, “stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm . . . ” (Ephesians 6:13b-14a). Peter tells us to, “Resist him [the devil] standing firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). James instructs us to, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, emphasis mine).
Stand – holding our ground; understanding our role and sticking to it. Knowing who we are and knowing God’s assignment for us is critical as we fight the enemy who is constantly watching.
Resist – not budging on the truth; relying on Jesus and trusting God, who has called you to a unique role in His kingdom.
This includes our understanding of the particular place where God has assigned us. For instance: Teachers understand that they are not the principal; principals understand that they are not the teacher. Bible study leaders understand that they are not the pastor of the church; the pastor understands the importance of the Bible study leaders. Along with our understanding, we have a duty. Working outside of the area God has for us opens us up to the enemy’s tactics.
Many pastors (and others) suffer because of unjust criticism, antagonistic “Christians,” and divisive people who attack them in any number of ways. These attackers often think they know more than the pastor or that they could do the pastor’s job better. Many have deceived themselves (and those around them) into thinking that they hear from God in unique ways and are somehow serving His purpose. This is dangerous turf to walk on. Pastors are not special in God’s economy – but they are unique in God’s calling. The Bible instructs us, “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” (Psalm 105:7; 1 Chronicles 16:22).
In a moment of time, King Saul realized he was not Samuel and had no right trying to do what God had called only Samuel to do. Saul’s rebellion in doing what Samuel had asked him not to do caused a downward spiral in Saul’s life.
The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way. ~ Proverbs 14:8
Many ignore and neglect their own walk as God has revealed it to them, and focus instead on another person’s mission. In doing this, they often distract, confuse, and even injure the unique calling of others. Our primary focus and loyalty should be to fulfill our personal calling. Are we a husband, father, wife, mother, pastor, congregation member, policeman, responsible citizen, etc.? We are responsible to God for how we fulfill the roles He assigned us. Others are responsible to God for themselves.
The enemy loves to distract and divide us through the methods of judging others and fault finding. When we become involved in meddling or gossip and have a critical spirit toward someone with another assignment from Heaven, we are opening ourselves to an attack from the enemy. Our spirit has become critical, judgmental, and arrogant. The enemy loves to divide and to bring pride into our lives. The person spreading strife gets a rush of excitement, but that thrill is not from the Lord.
Solomon was considered wise because he sought God for wisdom to fulfill his specific calling (2 Chronicles 1:10). Peter was rebuked because he wanted to know what John would be doing (see John 21:21).
When we get out of our God-given roles, we let danger into our lives and our spirits. We must walk in the path that our call prescribes to us.
It’s a tremendous advantage when we live our lives in obedience to our callings, whether it is pastor or layperson, husband or wife, governmental servant or private citizen, etc. Paul equates this discipline to our faith: “For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, rejoicing and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ” (Col.2:5, emphasis mine). He was saying . . . I’m happy for you because you are living in order (your role) and you are steady in your faith.1
Protect the calling that God has given you. You are a unique, gifted, and capable leader.
Always know that I am . . .
Your friend and servant in Christ,
Wayde Goodall, D.Min.
Dean, College of Ministry
1 Excerpts taken from The Battle: Defeating the Enemies of Your Soul, by Thomas E Trask and Wayde I Goodall.