Temptation is warfare; the enemy’s always looking for a way to distract, preoccupy and devour. (1Pe 5:8) We need to be on guard 24 x 7; we can’t afford to give him any more ground (Ep 4:27) to steal our joy, kill our witness and destroy our fellowship with God. (Jn 10:10)
When Satan tempts us, we’re drawn away by our own lusts and enticed. (Ja 1:14) When we yield to our desires and pursue them we sin, which alienates us from God and brings us into spiritual bondage (Jn 8:34): it’s a kind of death. (15) This is how Satan defeats us, and he’s a master of war. How do we resist and overcome him? (Ja 4:7)
When Jesus Christ was tempted of the Devil (Mt 4:1), what did Jesus do? He quoted scripture, verses He memorized from the Bible, but not random verses — He selected them surgically, tactically, the perfect text to counteract each dimension of Satan’s attack. (4, 7, 10) Jesus was defending Himself with the sword of the Spirit: the living Word of God. (He 4:12)
The attack on Christ itself was deliberate, thoughtful, calculated, probing, searching out any area of potential weakness Satan suspected might be present within the Son of God. Jesus was in a veritable sword fight with Satan; He could have engaged Satan in any way He liked and been victorious, but He skillfully wielded the Word of God as an example for us to follow. We do well to study and learn from Him. (1Pe 2:21)
It takes practice, lots of practice to become a master swordsman, and it can be a life-and-death matter: in real sword fighting we only lose once … then game over. If we must fight, and our only weapon is the sword, it’s wise to master it, to be as skilled as we can be. Yet we we’ll never be a match for Satan, so what do we do?
First, we should acknowledge that Scripture is the sword of the Spirit (Ep 6:17): the Holy Spirit owns this sword: it belongs to Him and He knows best how to use it. Yet we must also realize that we are supposed to take up this holy sword: the Holy Spirit doesn’t fight with it all on His own, He expects us to pick it up and defend ourselves; there’s a synergistic dimension to this warfare.
Bottom line is we must become deeply familiar with His Word (Co 3:16), listen as God teaches us how to defend ourselves with it (Ps 119:19), and continually abide in Him as we’re doing battle. The scripture must become an extension of our minds and hearts, engrafted into our very being, much like the Holy Spirit. (Ja 1:21) We fight along with God, Who fights within and through us (Php 2:13), so we engage the enemy as a single, triune being: soul, Spirit and Sword. (2Co 10:4)
We should be consuming the Word constantly (Ps 1:2), in a consistent pattern of prayerful memorization and meditation, throughout the day, every day. (Ps 119:97) We should be exploring it both on our own and in community, challenging ourselves and others with the goal of learning how to better defend ourselves from lies, to firmly ground and strengthen ourselves in the truth, so we understand the divine way. (Ep 3:16-18)
It’s a discipline of building patterns of instinctive self-defense into ourselves with the Word, developing spiritual muscle-memory, learning how to wield His Sword in conflict. The more scripture we ingest, the more of it we internalize, so it becomes more a part of us, and the more the Spirit has to work with in defending us.
Then, we should be observant, alert, sober, vigilant (1Pe 5:8-9); as Satan is tempting us, we should notice what he is leveraging within us: what lies are we still holding on to, that he is able to exploit within us to lure us into pursuing an ungodly path? (2Co 2:11) We ask the Spirit to reveal this body of lies to us, and then guide us into those passages of scripture perfectly suited to shed light on our particular darkness. (Jn 8:31-32) Then we memorize these texts and meditate on them, asking Him to give us repentance, a deep change in our thinking so we believe Him and His Word, transforming and renewing us way down into our subconscious minds. (Ro 12:2)
Then, the next time Satan comes at us, we look for the lies (Jn 8:44) and quote the relevant scriptures like Yeshua did, reminding ourselves and reinforcing the truth within our spirits so the lies won’t be available for Satan to exploit. This is how we resist him, how we deliver ourselves from bondage and overcome the world. (2Ti 2:25-26)
And when we fail, as we all do, when we get ourselves into a spiritual rut, unable to deliver ourselves, we confess our faults, our patterns of iniquity and defeat, to those in spiritual community we trust, so they can pray for us and with us, shedding light on our darkness with the Word (Ac 26:17-18), that we may be healed. (Ja 5:16)