I had a friend who was recently in kidney failure. He was in need of a new kidney at the age of 29, and while he waited for this new kidney, he had to undergo dialysis to keep his blood filtered. He went to dialysis 3-4 times a week and although he could function this way for a while, he was not going to be cured of his ailment until he received a new kidney. Dialysis could treat the symptoms that were causing his body to not function properly, but it could not cure the problem.
It got me thinking about how often we do this in life. You and your significant other aren’t getting along, so you complain to a friend about them. This might cure the problem of your anger for a moment, but it won’t fix your relationship. You’re unhappy at your job, so you find a different one. This might cure the problems with your current boss, but what happens when problems with your new one arise? Your teenager is being disrespectful, so you take away their Internet privileges. This might help them see consequences of their actions, but what happens the next time they make a sarcastic remark?
These solutions solve the problem for the moment, but in the long run, it is like trying to heal a bullet wound with a Band-Aid. It might work for a second, but eventually that wound, which is much deeper, much more intricate, and much more dangerous, is going to come spewing out and make a mess all over the place.
THE REAL PROBLEM
What is the real problem in your marriage? What is the real problem with your teen and why are they lashing out at you all the time? The answer is really simple: because we have an enemy. We all have an enemy who is sneaking around behind the scenes wreaking as much havoc in our lives as possible – and I bet you know who he is. Satan, the Devil, Lucifer, the Snake – whichever name you choose to use, it is all the same. Satan is in constant battle against God and trying to make our lives miserable. He “comes only to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10).
Our enemy wants us distracted. He wants us hurting – whether it is physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (2 Pet. 5:8). He is actively looking for any opportunity to hurt us and keep us away from God. If we are focusing on our hurts, then we aren’t focusing on God. The enemy does a good job of masking himself and making it seem like we are powerless against our problems.
Whether it is a health problem like depression or cancer; a relationship problem like jealousy between friends or unforgiveness between family members; an identity problem that has you thinking that you don’t belong anywhere or you’re not “good enough” to be a part of that group; or a time problem, like you are too busy to make time for prayer or feel overwhelmed with the amount of things on your “to-do” list, these are all different masks that our enemy wears to try to trick us into focusing on anything other than God. The Devil wants us to feel like we can never get out of the hole that we are in, like no matter what we do we are just going to have to live like this forever. If the Devil can keep us so busy with focusing on how to “fix” the things that are wrong in our life by seeking “worldly” remedies, then he has won.
And honestly, in my life, I am tired of losing. I’m tired of people in my life suffering. I am tired of seeing people downcast and feeling like there is nothing they can do about it. I am tired of feeling defeated. Because we don’t have to be!
Don’t listen to the lies of the Devil for one second. He wants to make it seem like there is no cure for our problems. He wants to make us think that our problems are untreatable, our hearts are inoperable, our souls are a lost cause. Those are all lies. When Christ died for us, he gave us the right and the authority to fight back. We are no longer powerless and weak.
1 Corinthians 15:57
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”
FINDING THE CURE
God tells us over and over throughout His word that we have power, we are victorious, He is with us. So why do we have such a hard time believing it and living it out? One powerful verse is Psalm 60:11-12 “Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. With God we will gain the victory and He will trample down our enemies.” The key component to this victory is right at the beginning of the verse…WITH GOD.
Verse 11 tells us plain and simple that the help of man is worthless. God is telling us pretty straightforwardly that we aren’t going to solve our issues with “worldly” remedies. I am guilty of trying to do it without Him ALL the time! In this culture, we are trained to try to fix it ourselves first, and then if that doesn’t work, maybe we ask God for help. Do you see what is wrong with that picture? We have to do it with God. He is the one who will help us gain the victory over the problems we are facing.
We are told to “seek his face always” (Psalm 105:4) and “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt 6:33). When we seek God first and take Him with us wherever we go, He will help us trample down our enemies. He is right there beside us, wanting us to win, but we have to remember to seek Him. Otherwise, we are the ones who end up getting trampled by the enemy.
USING THE CURE
The Bible makes it very clear that we are at war. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells us about the spiritual battle:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
The things that we struggle with so much with in this life are not things that we are going to be able to “cure” on our own—not truly. We might be able to hold things at bay for a while, but we aren’t going to be really victorious unless we take the power of God with us. If we are fighting against spiritual powers, than we need to fight back with spiritual powers. Paul continues in his letter and tells us HOW to fight back with spiritual power.
Ephesians 6:10, 13-18
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power…13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
God gives us ways to defend ourselves against the schemes of the Devil. We do not have to go into the battle blindfolded and with our hands tied. Instead of going after the surface of our problems, let’s go after the true attacker. Let’s use the things listed above and defend ourselves and keep our focus on God. Let’s keep the truth about God and who we are buckled around us. Let’s guard our hearts with the knowledge that we are made righteous in Christ. Let’s keep our feet ready to move and work for God. Let’s keep our faith in God as a shield against the lies and hurtful words of the Devil. Let’s keep the truth of our eternal salvation in mind, knowing that the devil cannot take that away from us. Let’s keep the word of God in our minds and make sure it’s coming out of our mouths to injure the Devil and his schemes. And let’s be diligent in prayer and making our requests known to God.
Instead of thinking your teen is “just going through a rough patch” or your boss is “just a jerk” or your marriage is “just at a low spot right now,” look a little deeper. Ask God to help you see with spiritual eyes and hear with spiritual ears, because there is often much more beneath the surface of our situations. Rip off that mask that the Devil has put on your problems and expose him! Once we understand who the true enemy is, we can fight appropriately. God can show you what is really going on and He can help you to conquer it.
With God we have the victory already laid out before us! With God we can cure so many of our problems! With God we have the power to trample down our enemies! Don’t forget to use it!