Faith & Insight: The struggle within us all
May 4, 2018
Usually the things in life that are wrong or that will bring us harm are more easy to identify — usually. Warning labels attached to chemicals say "do not drink" because, if you do, you're in trouble. It doesn't take being hit by a vehicle to know you shouldn't run in front of one. The things that aren't good for us and the scary realities of the world we live in are all elements we easily avoid or are taught to avoid.
1 Peter 5:8 says: "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour."
Jesus said "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10a), meaning those who choose to follow Jesus and let him be their Savior and Lord needs to recognize they're engaged in a fierce, life-defining battle against Satan and his schemes.
We often seek to equip people to say no to some of the big things in life that are wrong, but we tend to ignore the lesser known issues, aspects Ephesians 4 calls an opportunity.
These opportunities are the footholds created in our lives, places he will exploit. That foothold he takes becomes a stronghold. If one gives Satan control of just a small part of one's life, he will soon take over the whole thing.
Simply put: a foothold becomes a stronghold, and we can actually do something about this.
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The core issue, then, for us, the Bride of Christ, revolves around what we allow to have space in our lives — in our minds and hearts, in our attitudes and actions.
So, then, what can we do? First, we must not forget Satan isn't trying to bring us joy and freedom. We know this because we've been warned he will come as a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour and as a thief that will only kill, steal and destroy. That reality, is more easily avoided. But not so much with his foothold approach as he will seek to establish an opportunity in your life in order to take over more and more space. Once he gets deep enough into an area of sin, he turns the foothold into a stronghold, which is that full force roaring lion!
If we look to Ephesians 4:27, the foothold example was anger, but it could be virtually any thought or even the simplest of our actions, couldn't it?
If one fills his or her life with worry, then Satan has gained a foothold in your life. If you fill your life with bitterness, he's gained an opportunity in your life. If you allow guilt to turn into shame, Satan has a foothold in your life.
So secondly, the best way to deal with this foothold problem is to act immediately.
Scripture says to take every thought captive. Ephesians 4:26b-27 said: "Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil."
Take ownership over this and make the choice to deal with it right away. Otherwise it will grow, and it will give Satan the opportunity to establish a stronghold in your life.
We must not compromise what we know is right for some momentary pleasure or because it's easier. Be clear on what's happening and act quickly. "Do not give the devil a foothold" is a calling on our lives to engage in the battle that will seek to define us and shape us. We know well to stay away from the prowling lion, so may we live in ways that identify and take care of the root cause of the problem.
So, are you giving up ground? Are you even aware? Or, by the power and grace of God, are you winning?
Nick Emery is pastor of Hope Crossing Community Church and executive director of Life Choices Community Pregnancy Clinic. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.