Article By: Sarah Koontz, Founder of Living by Design Ministries
In the past week, I’ve had a good long cry, written several apology letters, and spent countless hours on the phone trying to safely navigate the messy side of ministry life.
When I made the decision to dive into the deep end and launch this non-profit ministry, I knew there would be many obstacles to overcome along the way.
I knew the enemy would attack me. I knew he would stop at nothing to discourage, distract, and destroy.
Why? Because Satan despises the truth, he hates God’s Word, and he is ruthless.
We are hitting the enemy where it hurts. We are inspiring women to open their Bibles, and there is nothing the devil hates more than that!
The enemy doesn’t fight fair, and he’s going to attack when we are feeling injured and isolated.
He’s going to try to divide us from the rest of the herd and wear us down until we are too weak to fight back.
But there’s one thing we must never forget: Christians don’t fight for victory, they fight victoriously!
And we are stronger when we stick together.
When we fight for each other rather than against one another.
In this article, I’m sharing three things that make us susceptible to the enemy’s schemes and five simple ways to fight back.Christians don’t fight for victory, they fight victoriously! And we are stronger when we stick together. When we fight for each other rather than against one another.
My mom subscribed to National Geographic Magazine for years, and I remember our shared excitement each month when the bright yellow bundle arrived in the mail.
One issue from the early 1990’s featured some of the first photographs ever captured of lion’s nighttime activities.
The title of the article was “Lions of Darkness” and the photographs captured their grizzly attacks of baby elephants, an injured zebra, and a cape buffalo weighing more than 1,800 pounds.
The nocturnal beasts do most of their hunting under the cover of darkness, and they don’t pounce until they have separated their prey from the protection of the herd.
1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.”
When we are wounded and alone, we become especially vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks.When we are wounded and alone, we become especially vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks.
Satan is not just a prowling lion; he is also the father of lies (John 8:44).
He not only pounces on our wounds, he is determined to infect each and every one of them with a lie.
Satan’s lies pit us against one another. They cause our wounds to fester and make it impossible for us to heal. They force us into isolation and separate us from the very people God has placed in our lives to fight alongside.
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” (HCSB)
“Since he is the chief liar, he (Satan) wants to steal your heart away from all that is good, kill everything that’s honorable within you.” – Gary Smalley, Guarding your Child’s Heart
The tragedy of it all is we are caught unaware and unprepared, ambushed by an invisible enemy in our hearts and homes.
We are hurt in places we should be safe by people we should be able to trust.We are caught unaware and unprepared, ambushed by an invisible enemy in our hearts and homes. We are hurt in places we should be safe by people we should be able to trust.
It’s Time to Learn Satan’s Strategy!
Satan’s most effective strategy is to start with lies that are 99% true.
These almost-truths adhere perfectly to the tiny wounds on our heart and we barely notice.
As the years go on, the wounds and lies accumulate and our enemy gets bolder.
These little lies cause discord in our relationships and more wounds occur. Each fresh wound is a new opportunity for Satan to plant another lie.
Our enemy does not discriminate between deep gashes and tiny cuts; he does not prioritize deliberate wounds over accidental.
He spreads a blanket of lies and deception over them all, forever concentrating on quantity rather than quality.
The only way to weed lifetime of lies from our tender hearts is one painful lie at a time.The only way to weed lifetime of lies from our tender hearts is one painful lie at a time.
It’s messy work requiring persistence and determination—I’ve found it helpful to envision each lie as an unwelcome dandelion growing in my garden.
Dandelions are perennials, which means they will grow stronger and multiply year after year unless we get proactive.
Young plants are easy to remove because their roots are shallow and their flowers haven’t had time to set seeds.
In the same way, if you catch a lie early, chances are you can easily remove the weed without fear of it returning.
But the more years you allow that lie to grow in your beloved garden, the more difficult it is to eradicate.
Can you imagine what one single dandelion would do to my garden if allowed to grow and reproduce for five, ten, or even fifteen years?
One lone plant would multiply into a mass of flowers, roots, and leaves and easily take over the entire space.
Dandelions reproduce in two notable ways. First, they grow a deep taproot, often 12 or more inches into the ground. If we fail to remove the entire taproot, the resilient plant quickly regrows.
Lies are no different.
Sometimes you’ll exhaust yourself uprooting a single lie, only to discover you didn’t dig quite deep enough and it quickly regenerated.
Dandelions also reproduce through setting seeds. A gentle breeze (or eager child) dislodge the seeds from the flower-head and they float through the air in search of a receptive spot to take root.
When we allow the enemy’s lies to take root in our heart, they will eventually go to seed and multiply at an alarming rate.
In Ephesians 4, Paul exposes three reasons our hearts may be ‘fertile ground’ for the enemy’s lies:
1. Lack of Spiritual Maturity
“Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.” – Eph 4:14
In this verse, Paul likens those without spiritual maturity to a small vessel on the ocean, vulnerable and easily tossed back and forth by the waves. He goes on to say these immature believers are blown here and there by the schemes of cunning, crafty, and deceitful people.
In the original Hebrew language, the word translated “schemes” is methodia. This is the exact same word Paul uses to describe the deceitfulness of the devil later in the book (Eph 6:11). Therefore, we can conclude spiritual immaturity makes us vulnerable to deceitful scheming, whether it be human or spiritual in nature.
No matter how spiritually mature you are at this moment in your life, it’s important to recognize that this has not always been the case. At some point you were immature and this immaturity made you vulnerable.
The most difficult lies to recognize and eradicate were planted in your heart long before you were mature enough to recognize them for what they were.
It’s likely you can trace many of the most established lies back to your childhood, a season of life where you simply weren’t equipped to distinguish truth from lies.The most difficult lies to recognize and eradicate were planted in your heart long before you were mature enough to recognize them for what they were.
2. Failure to Embrace New Identity
“Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts.” – Ephesians 4:17-18
Paul describes the lost people of the world as darkened in their understanding and separated from God because of their hard hearts and ignorance. He then reminds his readers of who they are in Christ and urges them to embrace their new identity.
His admonitions remind me of the words of one of my favorite hymns, “I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.” (Amazing Grace, John Newton, 1779)
The reality is we were all lost at one time, and lost people do lost people things.
People without the Holy Spirit have no way to discern lies from the truth because they have no truth outside of themselves.
But that’s not us anymore!
If your garden is full of dandelions, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by how much work it’s going to take to uproot each and every one by hand. It’s tempting to throw your hands up in the air and claim defeat.
This is exactly what the enemy wants you to do!
He wants you to continue to live like a lost person, oblivious to the destruction those dandelions are causing and disconnected from the truth.
3. An Angry, Unforgiving Spirit
“Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, and don’t give the Devil an opportunity.” – Ephesians 4:25-27
Anger isn’t a sin; it is a God-given emotion. God doesn’t condemn our anger, but He does want us to deal with it in a biblical manner.
If we allow anger to take up residence in our heart, it will quickly turn into bitterness, resentment, and many other hurtful emotions and behaviors.
Failure to properly deal with anger can lead to many problems including stress, restriction of love, and a false sense of self-righteousness.
Only when we recognize the extent of God’s forgiveness can we truly find the courage to release our anger and forgive the “unforgivable.” Forgiveness is truly one of those things you can’t really give away until you’ve received it.
God’s Word is Our Most Powerful Weapon!
God’s Word has the power to expose and eradicate enemy’s lies, but we must faithfully apply it.God’s Word has the power to expose and eradicate enemy’s lies, but we must faithfully apply it.
God’sTruth softens the soil and loosens the lies. It helps us discover who we are and gives us courage to embrace the hard work of eradicating the enemy’s lies.
It gives us strength to declare those dandelions no longer define us.
Now that we understand the three things that make us vulnerable to the enemy’s lies, let’s get to the 5-point strategy that will help us fight back!
Not too long ago, the enemy hurled some pretty vicious lies at my daughter. Of course, I was enraged. How dare he attack my precious little girl!!
Satan is the thief who “comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy (John 10:10),” and our children are easy targets.
God broke the mold when He made my daughter, and I just know He has huge plans for her life.
But if I don’t step up and start equipping her for the battle, the enemy’s arrows will pierce her through and utterly destroy her.
I am so grateful for my background in Biblical Counseling and the fact that I knew how to help my daughter fight back.
After hugging her and telling her how much I loved her, I said something like this…
“You know who Satan is right? Well he is evil. And he wants to destroy you (Jn. 10:10). One of his favorite ways to do this is to shoot arrows into your brain. Each arrow carries a lie (Jn 8:44), and every single one of those bad thoughts you shared are one of Satan’s lies. They aren’t your thoughts at all. And you don’t have to believe them.
Would Jesus say any of those things to you? (She shakes her head and says, “No, mom. Jesus loves me. He’d never say any of that mean stuff to me.”) If Jesus wouldn’t say it to you, then you don’t have to believe it. And because you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you (1 Jn 4:4). And Satan has absolutely no right to be shooting his lie-arrows into your brain.
Do you remember when we talked about the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18)? Well, that armor is meant to protect you from Satan’s arrows. But you’ve got to know when you are under attack so you can put on the armor and fight back (Eph 6:11). And the only way to know the difference between truth and lies is to study your Bible (2 Tim 3:16).”
After I laid the foundation for her, she had some questions and I did my best to answer them.
I could tell the bad thoughts scared her and she just didn’t know what to do about them.
5 Truths to Help You Fight Back
In hindsight, I think these five truths were responsible for changing her perspective and easing her fear:
1. The enemy is attacking you because he’s scared of you. He wouldn’t bother otherwise. Take it as a compliment.
2. Those thoughts aren’t you. They are him. They shouldn’t make you feel bad about yourself, they should make you feel mad at him.
3. Jesus is your standard. If he wouldn’t say it to you, then you don’t have to believe it.
4. Satan is going to attack you when you are tired, be ready for it. And he’ll never play fair, so you don’t have to either.
5. The only piece of armor that is offensive is the sword of the Spirit (God’s Word). So find a Bible verse that tells you how God sees you and every time a bad thought comes into your mind, fight it off with the verse.
My precious baby girl left my bedroom with a smile on her face, a bounce in her step, and a weapon in her hand.
The weapon was a notecard with these words written upon it: I am God’s workmanship. His Creation. His prized possession. He created me for good works, and he has a plan for me. His truth is the only weapon I need to stand strong against the enemy. (Eph. 2:10)
A few months have passed since our conversation, and the biggest change I’ve noticed is this: she doesn’t take ownership of the thoughts anymore.
When I ask how she’s doing, she’ll say, “He tried to tell me another lie, but I didn’t listen to him.”
Praise the Lord!!!The enemy is attacking you because he's scared of you. He wouldn't bother otherwise. Take it as a compliment.
The enemy doesn’t fight fair, and he’s going to attack when we are feeling injured and isolated.
So, if you are feeling hurt or offended by the actions of another Christian. FORGIVE.
If you are feeling beat down and defeated by your circumstances. PRAY.
And if you are confused about where to go from here. ASK FOR WISDOM.
Our God is faithful to provide!
He will give you the courage you need to close ranks, the wisdom you need to train the troops, and the strength you need to fight back.The enemy doesn’t fight fair, and he’s going to attack when we are feeling injured and isolated. So close ranks. Train the troops. And fight back!
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” -Jesus Christ, from John 16:33