Joy has had a love relationship with Jesus since she was 14, and has taught Christian religious classes to various ages since she was 16.
Reality vs. Myth
I'm willing to bet that many people think of the temptation of Christ as a kind of game...or perhaps they think it was easy, because He was God (and still is). Perhaps the fact of His temptation is no more real to them than this picture:
I'm willing to bet it was more like the painting below, and in fact, this portrayal is probably a good deal too rosy for the reality:
Jesus in the Desert, Worn Out
Temptation and Spiritual Harrassment According to the Bible
Temptation and spiritual harassment isn't a game. It wasn't for Christ, and we, who have less natural ability to stand against evil than He does, shouldn't disregard its seriousness.
When was the last time you chose not to eat for forty days...and nights?
Christ did - before he ever preached His first official sermon. Matthew Chapter Four tells us that He fasted for forty days, while undergoing all kinds of temptations from Satan himself. At the end of the forty days, can you guess what Satan suggested to Him? Right - turn those rocks into bread, and eat your fill.
Christ had some methods to turn tempation (and Satan) aside. I've provided you the reference; you can read about those yourself.
But there are others that He has since taught me, and I thought I'd pass them on to you.
Be careful though - if you are not in Christ, you might get beat up (Acts 19:13-17).
1) Praise God With Your Mouth
Here are some instructions and practices from the Bible:
Psalm 116:17 - "I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD."
Psalm 95:2 - "Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms."
Psalm 47: 7 - "For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding."
Why should you take up this practice?
Because praise leads to thankfulness, and thankfulness leads to true joy. Praising the living God, especially in the midst of obvious trials, is a way of giving your heart (and attitude) a chance to be in the right place...no matter what you really feel like. It is a way of manually thrusting the heart into place, and keeping it there, no matter how things turn out.
Do you have to use song?
I don't know that there are any hard and fast rules about this. After all, the Bible doesn't say that the angels who appeared to the shepherds at the time of Christ's birth were singing...though that's the way we tend to think of the event, and that's the way most of our songs record it. Luke Chapter Two says they were saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Maybe they were singing these words. But all the hubbub recorded in Revelation doesn't portray the creatures around Christ's throne singing all their praises, either.
So, I suppose you can suit yourself here...but be aware that song does something for the soul that plain words cannot.
I'm convinced God just plain likes music.
2) Give Thanks to the Living God
Thank God for what He has done, in your life and others.
There's a lot of hype going around lately about how giving thanks can increase your health, draw to yourself good ideas, people, and events, and even increase your wealth. These things may be true; but God is no more manipulated by thankfulness than He is by anything else.
Giving thanks is not a formula, or a magic wand.
However, like praising Him, it is a way of providing sustainance to your soul and heart, and a way of preparing yourself to work with the LORD on His plans and in His ways.
Giving frequent thanks to God for His works makes it hard to forget what He has done. It makes you prepared to do His will, as revealed in the Scriptures and through some of His people.
At this point, you may be wondering: What is the difference between giving praise and thanks?
Praising God is basically telling Him how wonderful He is. It is glorifying Him for who He is and for how He is. You may argue that this is a sign of a big ego on His part. Just remember that He made you, and that until you have something you can do better than He does...He deserves your praise. :-D
Giving thanks to God is verbally responding - with grateful words - for what He has done, recently and through the ages.
Sure, that's a fine line, and you can rarely have one without the other. Like Siamese twins.
3) Take the Scriptures at Face Value
Apply the Bible to your life - taking God's directions on how to do that if it's not immediately clear. This can get tricky at times - so ask God often for wisdom and discernment (James 1:5). Clearly you cannot claim promises and covenants that were not directed at you.
This may be the hardest thing in this list to master. In fact, I don't know anyone who totally has mastered the Bible. So don't let that be your goal; since God wrote it, and it is His Words, you may as well try to master Him. (Not recommended; I believe people with that mindset are what He calls fools. See the book of Proverbs.)
Still, this in no way let's you off the hook as far as studying the Bible, and allowing it to permeate you and your life. If you bother to read about Christ's temptation, as given in Matthew 4, you'll see that the Scriptures were His main line of defense. Clearly, He could not have used them without first learning and memorizing the Words of His Father.
Go thou and do likewise.
4) Make God Your Houseguest...and Master
Invite God, verbally and with actions, into every area of your life. I am in Him, and He is in me, but still, after 13 years of being in relationship with him, I still find myself keeping Him out of sections of my thought life or habits, that should be His to own. It's not a concept we as Americans tend to appreciate, but when Paul called himself a bondservant of the LORD (see most any of his books and writings), he was being quite literal. God gave you His all, give yours back.
5) Smile - It Shocks the Demons
Knowing God's Word and applying it is a bit like putting on armor. (I'm saving the armor in Ephesians 6 for another hub.) But when you're all dressed up, with sword [Bible] in hand - and in mind...then what? Do you wait for the enemy to come to you?
That depends. Sometimes, you can start out chasing them. But don't go looking for trouble. You'll get it.
However, should you be minding your own business, and suddenly get approached by a spirit, bent on mischief or destruction - just smile.
The last few times I had a Darkness Loving spirit approach from the rear, doing the usual scare tactics, I deliberately turned around and smiled at him. Immediately, I got a chance to laugh at his shocked expression, and could hardly contain myself as he skittered back to his place in the corner, with a very wounded attitude. He sulked the rest of the time we were in close proximity.
Smiling usually shocks the enemy into leaving, if they recognize your confidence as a sign of the power of God to wipe out your fear of them. :-)
Be aware that you cannot usually sham fearlessness. If you aren't fearless...it's not that hard to see. Learn to handle your sword better (Hebrews 4:12), and gain confidence in the LORD's power.
6) Quote Condemnation to the Foe
Remind the destructive spirits of God's plan(s) for them. Remind them that they are already conquered by Christ's death and resurrection, that they have no chance of winning; that their time is limited, and that Hell was made with them in mind. Remind them that they deserve these consequences, because of their rebellion against God - that they already had their chance, and blew it. Cockiness isn't needed, but don't hesitate to make them squirm.
As always, you can't properly wield your Sword if you aren't used to handling it. Find out what else the Bible says about spirits, good and bad, and use it to your advantage.
7) Practice Being Unimpressed
Treat Darkness Loving spirits in an off-hand way. If you keep up the fight, with God at your side, you'll soon get to a point where you look at the spirits like, "Oh, you again," then tell them off, and go on about your business. Similar to laughing, but more pro-active.
Don't Feel Intimidated By Darkness-Loving Spirits
8) Know the Lies, and Say, "No" to Them
Say, "No," literally, to lies, interference with your thoughts or work, and to physical symptoms (not all illnesses or symptoms are caused by demons, but many seem at least to be influenced by them). Depending on the severity of the spirits' hold in any one area, they may or may not leave immediately, but if they don't, tell them again, and remind them of your position of Life and security in Christ (supposing you have one). If they still don't leave, call someone who will pray with you, and who is firm in their relationship with Christ. Be aware that not just anyone will do. Your prayer partner must be convinced that what Paul says about what type of battle we fight is true, in the most literal sense - Ephesians 6: 11-12 - "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." See if the LORD is ready to use your friend as a mouthpiece, to expose the spirits responsible for the harassment, and to expose their works.
Remember that God created us with different natural abilities, and that He teaches us different things at different times and in different ways. I have two people whom I regularly pray with (over all kinds of things, including spiritual opposition), and God does not always use us in the same ways as before. We have different levels and kinds of discernment, but even at that, no matter how discerning He makes us...sometimes He's just not ready to reveal the answers we feel we need.
So, two things belong in this bottom line: 1) Understand that God prefers to work in groups, so that we must depend on Him to lead, and, 2) Understand that He is ultimately - and always - in control, of the spirits and everything else. Any power you have over the spirits is because He allows you to have it.
9) Rely on the Power of Christ's Name
Pray in Christ's Name, and command the spirits in the Power of His Name. They have to obey Him, because He is still their Master and Creator. If God doesn't seem to be helping you in the way that you've asked Him to, ask Him what He wants you to do or ask, instead. He wants to help you more than you want to be helped. If you still don't get anywhere, and He's not showing you anyything either in Scripture or through personal revelation, refer to Point 8. Go to whoever He tells you to for help. Also, see what the Bible says in Jude, about how the arch angel Michael, while fighting Satan for possession of Moses' body, did not bring a railing accusation against him, but said, "The LORD rebuke you." After all, it doesn't matter how much you know about bombs, you're still playing with fire.
Continually study how Christ and His servants responded to people and situations, and seek to do likewise.
Jesus Versus Devil, Arm Wrestling
10) Be a Good Sheep of Christ's Pasture
Practice knowing God's voice, so you can obey it immediately (John 10). To this day, I and my family get spirits coming into our homes and lives who try to act and sound like God, but there is always something "off" about their tones of voice, or the kinds of things they say. Check what they say against Scripture, and be very aware of any flippant, mocking, too-quick, or strident voices. God most often speaks in a voice full of gentleness, and sometimes humor (He loves a good joke). He is never nasty, though occasionally He will reprimand verbally.
Remember that Christ is the Good Shepherd, who lays down His life for the sheep (us). I've gotten somewhat used to the idea of being labeled a sheep (it was God's idea, not mine), but I understand that it goes against everything in human nature to learn to think of yourself as an indecisive, pitiful, rediculously foolish creature, incompetent even to find yourself good water and food. (This being the case, why do so many of us profess to be comforted by Psalm 23?) The good news is, that after you come to a proper recognition of these facts, it puts God in a position to love you more abundantly than you thought possible, and to fend off the wolves that want to devour you.
It also puts Him in a position to teach you to be wise...to learn to be less like a sheep and more like a king, priest, or princess. More like His child.
In teaching you to be His partner in good works, He may have some hard things to say. His reproach hurts, but never lose sight of the fact that He does it for your own good, and so you and He can have a more intimate relationship. This is really what this is all about; the spirits don't want you to know Him, and He does.
They'll try to come between you like a cheap whore between lovers.
Don't be afraid of what God tells you to do, even if it goes against what society recommends, or even against seeming common sense. To see what I mean, just skim the book of Ezekiel, and picture yourself in the prophet's place. We serve a "weird": God. :-)
11) Lastly (But Not Leastly), Talk, Talk, Talk...With Both Ears
Keep up a running dialog with the LORD throughout the day - like with a good friend who has come to visit. I regularly find myself talking to Him about whatever is going on; asking Him to make things come out right; to help me deal with people in a right manner (especially my children); to make work go smoothly; anything. We sing together, talk about the Bible, or situations, or just sit quietly and enjoy each other's presence.
He tells me all kinds of things, too - like how to respect my husband better; what's going on in my son's heart; how I ought to arrange my schedule on any given day; what words to write in a story; what I've done well; what I need to do better. Ultimately, talking with Him is like chatting with a good family member, only better - because He knows my every thought, and He knows how to respond.
I Thessalonians 5:17 - "Pray without ceasing."
Intense Prayer Can Save the Day
A Prayer for You, From the Apostle Paul and I
I Thessalonians 5:16-23 - "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit [of God]. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."