Whether we realise it or not, all of us are influenced by the spiritual world. That is why Paul reminds us that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. The heavenly realm here is referring to the spiritual dimension of this universe the dimension not accessible to our normal physical senses.

The advantage these forces have is that they can see us but we cannot see them. They are Satan’s secret service whose whole purpose is to destroy the work of God, most particularly his work of saving and transforming his people.

Peter, writing to Christians in the first century warns them that Satan is like a roaring lion constantly on the prowl for someone to devour. What this tells us is that being Christian and having a genuine testimony of conversion is no protection against evil unless we also take full advantage of the benefits God brings to those who call themselves Christian.

Peter says to be self-controlled and alert, he also insists that we resist temptation.

Self control and alertness are both essential to resisting temptation. The first is about power over your thoughts and actions, the second about discernment regarding the truth, knowing that confusion can make you weak and ineffective in your Christian walk.

Satan is a liar. Even when he tells the truth it’s only to draw you into his lies. He does his best work with those who have a low opinion of truth who are happy to live in dishonesty and secrecy, fearful of what others might think of them. He likes those who are content to be intellectually dishonest who are happy to misquote or agree too quickly with anyone who sides with them without really checking to see if what they are saying is true.

What’s important to God is not that we get all his truths right so much as the level of sincerity we have in subscribing to the things he teaches us. Those who are sincere will be in step with the Spirit and will eventually understand the truth much better than those who are simply agreeing to please others.

Satan also enjoys the opportunities given by those that are dishonest and secretive about their sin. Sometimes it has to do with the more obvious failings like lust and greed but he’s just as happy to live in the nourishing warmth of your irrational fears. Even a cursory study of the effects of idolatry and animism show that fear and superstition are Satan’s most powerful weapons. That is why Paul warns us that Demons are behind prohibitions against marriage and religious dietry restrictions (1 Tim 4:1-5).

You can’t be free of demonic influence in your life unless you are transparent and honest firstly with yourself, then with God and finally with others. Transparency leads to worthwhile, meaningful confession which ultimately brings worthwhile forgiveness and cleansing.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

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