We Have an Enemy!  His Name is Satan!

We continue along now on our book study of “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel.”  We are going to look at chapter five this month, “Step Over the Dead and Keep Going.”  This may sound a bit gruesome, but in this chapter we need to come to grips with the reality that as Christians, we are engaged in spiritual warfare over the destiny of human souls.

We are in a battle, and that being the case, there will always be some casualties.  Unfortunately, there are also going to be some fatalities as those who had once considered themselves the people of God, who once had faith in Him, for one reason or another they lose heart, turn their back on God and die a spiritual death in addition to their natural physical death.

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Throughout this book, Mark Atteberry retells some of the history of the 40 years that the Israelite people spent wandering around the wilderness.  They were the inheritors of the promises made by God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They had witnessed firsthand the awesome power of their redeeming God as He brought them out of Egypt.  They were formed into the people of God at Mount Sinai, and had been sanctified by the blood of that first covenant.

In spite of all this, the people rebelled and would not put their trust in God, for they feared what they considered to be the hard road to victory to obtain the blessings of the promised land.  And because they had turned their backs on God, He in turn removed His hand of blessing and protection and condemned a whole generation to die in the desert.

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Atteberry uses this story as a backdrop to drive home an important spiritual truth in this chapter.  Satan is constantly watching for these critical moments when our faith is challenged by a hard road experience and he comes in for the kill to snatch us away from God.  It is quite sobering to read what he writes on page 57:

Just as surely as those Israelites died in the wilderness, many believers will die spiritually on the hard roads of our modern world.  Yes, many will make it through and end up stronger and better people.  That’s the whole point of this book.  But along every hard road you’ll see the spiritual graves of those who fell along the way.

You’ll see the grave of the man in extreme financial bondage who decided to compromise his integrity to make some fast money.

You’ll see the grave of the unhappily married woman who decided to go home with a man who was not her husband.

You’ll see the grave of the cancer patient who decided that God was the culprit rather than the answer.

Simply put, whenever despair swallows up the last vestige of hope, causing a hurting soul to surrender to the devil, a new spiritual grave will be dug.

Satan’s Realm of Hell Fire

I am certain that everyone who reads this can think of people who used to be so passionate about knowing, loving and serving God, but then some crisis hits them which overwhelms them to the point that they give up on faith and hope and turn their backs against God.  The danger that lurks here for us who still believe in Christ is that we can see these people who have died spiritually and we let this discourage us in our own faith.

We don’t realize just how susceptible we are to the influences of negative people and events around us.  We’ve seen people get divorced whom we thought were solid Christians and we wonder if our marriage is secure.  We hear of a church being split apart by dissension, and then when we see problems creeping up in our church, we start predicting what disaster is looming on the horizon for our congregation.

But Atteberry anticipated these negative thoughts near the end of chapter five and he gives us two profound pieces of advice.  He says on pages 65-68 that we must not let the “graves” of others who have spiritually died deceive us or demoralize us into thinking that none of us can survive the many challenges that our faith will encounter in this life.  We should be looking at those who are victorious, and not those who have been defeated.

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Two outstanding examples of people who have overcome in this world by their faith is Corrie ten Boom, and Joni Eareckson Tada.  Corrie survived the horrors of a German concentration camp where thousands of others were slaughtered.  The faith of her sister Betsie (who died in the camp) helped to fuel Corrie’s faith as she adopter her sister’s famous words, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Joni on the other hand fought an inner battle, not an external enemy like Corrie, as she tried to come to grips with a diving accident at the age of 17 which left her paralyzed from the neck down.  It was a difficult journey for Joni, but her anger against God was re-molded into a deep appreciation for the love and grace of God to all who give their lives over to Him.  She has traveled around the globe to speak of God’s love, and she has not let her physical handicap restrict her from impacting thousands of people for Christ by her love for people and her faith in God.

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There is so much more I could say about these giants of the faith, but there is not enough room here.  I would encourage you to read their life stories like “The Hiding Place” which is about Corrie, and then for the other, “Joni: An Unforgettable Story“.  If these or other great Christian books interest you, you can check out my ideas of how I can help you obtain them in my article “Great Christian Resources“.

The secret, I believe, is to keep our eyes lifted up to Jesus, and not cast down on to our difficulties and hard road experiences.  And also to engage in battle against our true enemy – Satan.  We will talk much more about that in two weeks.

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