All of us are dealing with internet fraud in some way. It may be limited for some to the theft of our information from a store that we have used. It gets worse for those that have clicked on an email, like or opened a document, or allowed our computer to be held hostage for a ransom. I have to confess that even being aware of the scammer schemes I to have fallen for their deception. Now, I caught my mistake before it became an issue. I am reminded regularly of how deceptive they are. The Bible reminds us that followers of Jesus deal with the master schemer all the time, Satan.
The Bible reminds us several times to be aware of this master schemer’s schemes. One passage puts it this way, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11) The Bible reminds us that we need to be on our toes when it comes to Satan’s tactics. I need to also add here that these references are not limited to Satan only but apply to all the fallen angels in his service. So the question becomes how does Satan and his masses trip us up? Well, the Bible does provide insight into one of his primary methods of using God’s people to do his work and in the process to destroy them and others.
God provided the insight that we need just a few verses later in our passage in Ephesians. We read, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;” (Ephesians 6:16) There is a lot here but let’s focus on two truths. The first is how the Devil trips you up. It is by putting thoughts into your mind. The “flaming arrows” are one of Satan’s primary weapons. I was talking to two different people this week that shared how they were having the weirdest thought. This is the way that Satan works. Just like with Eve in the Garden, he injects those thoughts that will take us away from God. The best way to test the source of your thoughts is to ask, “Is this something that God would want me to do?” If it is not, it could be a “flaming arrow.” This is how Satan trips us up each and every day. He leads us astray thought by thought until he brings us to the place he wants us to be.
So what is the solution? The second insight reminds us to use the “shield of faith.” The Biblical shield of faith is a description for those times when we put God’s truth into action. An example might help here. Let’s say you have a thought that you are a failure. Well, let’s ask ourselves, “Is that something God would say to you?” The obvious answer is no. It is more than likely a flaming dart. The other potential source could be your own mind based on past experiences. But this is where the shield of faith comes in. If you grasp the truth that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Your shield against Satan’s schemes is when you respond like Jesus did when being tempted to turn the stones into bread. You need to hold onto the truth of Romans 8:1. It even helps to even speak the truth out loud like Jesus.
Let me encourage you to think about what you are thinking about. We need to be on our guard and not just accept what pops into our minds. It may be the master schemer attempting to deceive us!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson