I heard author and speaker Lisa Bevere relate this story recently.  A friend's son had been taking fencing lessons for some time.  He had advanced so far that he was taken on as the student of renowned instructor.  For his first lesson, she told him that he was to go home, stand in front of a mirror, and practice his on guard position for the entire week until the next lesson.  He attempted it, but feeling foolish, ceased to do so after the first day.  When he returned for the lesson, she asked him to demonstrate his on guard stance.  He did so, and she quickly stated, "You didn't practice, did you?"  He told her that no, he didn't, feeling the exercise a useless one.  She then told him that in any fencing match, the key to victory began with knowing how his defense looked to his opponent.
     I think we in the church have done two very self destructive things.  First, we have so emphasized the works of the devil as to make believers more aware of him than of He who totally conquered him on the cross and in His resurrection.  Many have suffered because of this.  However, I think even more have suffered as the result of living as if he didn't truly exist, consigning him a place in the past, not seeing him as any kind of presence in the sophisticated, modern culture we now live in.  We do so, to our great harm, to the harm of our households, and in the end, to the harm of the church and the cause of Christ.
     I Peter tells us in 5:8, "Be careful!  Watch out for attacks from the devil, your great enemy.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour."  Paul warned the church to be aware of satan's ways and strategy, that we were not to be ignorant of them.  This doesn't mean that we live and walk about constantly rebuking him, and looking for demons in every "nook and cranny" of our lives and the church.  We are nowhere told to be a bunch of "spooky and creepy" people.  We are told, exhorted though to be "on guard." to be aware of him and his constant seeking of openings into our lives, homes, and churches.  To fail to do so leaves us open for destruction in all of those areas.  I saw this in my own life.  I assumed that because I was a believer and follower of Christ, I would be immune from and protected from these attacks.  I did not live in an "on guard" position, and so, my enemy was able to subtly work to destroy my marriage, and if not for the mercy and grace of my God, my ministry and life.  I didn't seek to know what my spiritual life and defense looked like through the eyes of my enemy, and so, he was able, in the short term, to defeat me.  Whenever I have neglected that on guard position, he has been able to "devour" some aspect of my life or ministry.  Has he been able to do so with you?  Is he doing so now?
     When the enemy looks at our lives, our marriages, our homes, and families, our ministries and our churches, what does he see?  Does he see an opponent who is ready for him, clothed in the saving, resurrection power of Christ, living the Spirit filled life, on guard, and ready to put him to flight upon his first move against us?  I love the story of Martin Luther, who was awoken one night to the sound of a stirring in his room.  He looked and saw it was the devil himself at the foot of his bed.  "Oh, it's only you," he said, and went back to sleep.  Such is the life of the one who lives in the on guard position.  The enemy of our soul is real.  The power of our God through Christ is infinitely more real.  Which is more real to you and I today?

Blessings,
Pastor O
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