|An island pastor prays for young women previously affected during spiritual warfare.|
It was a question I was asked on several occasions last fall when the island school was passing through intense spiritual warfare, manifested mostly in demonic attacks against our students.
Generally not, I would reply, but quickly note that Satan is still very active in America, just in different ways. Like a master deceiver, he knows which lies to tell to which unsuspecting listener. He knows which tricks will capture our attention and what traps we will likely fall into. He can definitely individualize temptations and attacks.
Before I continue, please understand - I don't intend this post to be judgmental, but definitely an exhortation.
Coming fresh out of the intense spiritual warfare as I returned to the U.S. in November, I was more than ever keenly aware of what might be "attacking" American Christians. Toward the end of my visit, I came to a conclusion - it may be more difficult to be a Christian in the U.S. than where I live in Uganda.
But it's likely not for the reasons you think.
There's just too much. Too many distractions. Too many appointments. Too many commitments. Too many activities. Too many devices. Too much media. Too much news. Too much stuff to maintain. Too much.
I believe "distraction" is a primary tool which Satan uses against many American Christians.
"Look this way so you won't see what I am doing in other parts of the world."
"Get involved in this so you forget to pray for your persecuted brothers and sisters."
"Become absorbed in this so you no longer have the time, the energy or the money to invest in that other kingdom."
I, too, am so guilty of this. Today I read a very convicting article about our laziness, cowardice and overall lack of response as fellow believers are daily being persecuted and daily losing their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ. The persecution of Christians is greater at this time than any other period of history - even compared to what the early Christians faced in Rome.
(I plan to write a follow-up blog on some of the things I've recently learned about the persecution of Christians worldwide. To read more, please visit OpenDoorsUSA or The Voice of the Martyrs for specific ways to pray, give, and act on behalf of our suffering brothers and sisters.)
My point is this, don't think the enemy of your souls is apathetic - He's just very clever. Just because you don't see ghosts or spirits, like those here in Africa, do not for one second believe you are safe.
The "safer" you think you are, the greater may be your danger.
Satan doesn't want you to pray, to read your Bible - let alone believe it, to fellowship with other believers, to attend church, to serve others, to use your gifts, to forgive, to show grace...well, you get the idea. And, he really doesn't want you to be aware of his presence and his schemes and tricks. Whatever God intends for you, Satan wants to thwart. And, if you have it, he wants to steal it from you and destroy it. And, to be perfectly honest, he wants to devour you.
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings." I Peter 5:8-9
The days are growing increasingly evil and the Lord's return is imminent. Are we aware of Satan's schemes, but even more, are we watching for Christ's return? By God's grace, identify the distractions. What is keeping you and I away from what Jesus desires for us? How is Satan deceiving us, stealing from us and destroying what God wants to do in and through us?
"Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” - I Peter 1:13-15
"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is." - Ephesians 5:15-17