Character / Growth / Mercy / Mindset / Obedience / Spiritual warfare / Warfare

Are you ignorant?

There is a saying that ignorance is bliss. While this may be true in some settings, it’s demonstrably untrue for anyone who chooses to follow Jesus. The Bible tells us repeatedly that we have an adversary whose primary preoccupation is to plot and execute our demise. He wants us to disobey God and lose out on all God has for us. He achieved this with Adam and Eve, and he seeks the same for us. So, he meticulously stalks us, studying all our weaknesses, ready to pounce whenever there’s an opportunity. This is true even if we don’t believe or accept it. Actually, the devil would prefer us to ignore his existence or underestimate him because he works best in the shadows. Therefore, we’re warned not to be ignorant of his methods lest he gains an advantage over us [2 Corinthians 2:11].

Consequently, Christians are in a constant battle. However, we aren’t battling against flesh and blood, that is, an enemy we can see.  Instead, we’re battling against an invisible allied army led by the devil. They are the rulers, authorities, the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places [Ephesians 6:10-12]. So, if we’re in a battle against an enemy relentlessly plotting our demise, it makes perfect sense that we’re told to stay alert and sober [1 Peter 5:8]. If we aren’t, we become easy pickings for our adversary.

Are there any areas of your life where you’re ignorant? The devil will take any wins he can get because he knows how destructive a little disobedience can be [Galatians 5:9]. He’ll happily allow you to thrive at work if it adversely affects your relationship with God and your family. He’s happy for you to gain fame without the requisite character to withstand the trappings of fame because your downfall will be very public, and you may even drag others down with you. He’s happy for you to excel in any area of life if he can trap you in the snare of pride. As such, it’s important to frequently review our lives because victory in one or more areas doesn’t mean we aren’t giving the devil an advantage in another.

The Bible has a lot to say about how we defeat our enemy. Peter commands us to resist him [1 Peter 5:9], and Paul tells us that we’ve been endowed with divine power to destroy his fortresses [2 Corinthians 10:4]. Jesus showed us exactly how to resist and overcome the devil during His temptation in the wilderness [Matthew 4:1-11]. Each time Jesus responded to the adversary with the truth from Scripture, He added the refrain: “…it is written…” This tells us that Jesus knew what was written, do you? If Jesus, who could have banished the devil with just one command, opted for the word of God as His weapon of choice against the devil, how much more us? If you’re ignorant of the Scriptures, how will you refute the lies and temptations of your adversary? Have you done all you can do to stand firm [Ephesians 6:13]?

In addition to plotting our demise, the devil also stands ready to accuse us of unrighteousness before God [Zechariah 3:1, Job 1:6]. God is just and shows no partiality. Therefore, He won’t just side with a Christian living in disobedience because his accuser is the devil. God doesn’t renege on His word. As an example, if a Christian, either through ignorance or disobedience, treat his wife disrespectfully, the accuser will point out to God what His word says about such a man, and his prayers will be hindered [see 1 Peter 3:7]. Consequently, that man will continue to experience defeat in his prayer life until he repents. If he doesn’t repent, that defeat will eventually wreck his life.

It’s worth always remembering that Christians are soldiers. Since soldiers require armour, God has equipped us with ours [Ephesians 6:13-18]. If our enemy is constantly stalking us, it stands to reason that our armour must be on constantly. Furthermore, we must be adept at using our armour. Imagine a soldier in a gunfight who doesn’t know how to use his weapons, and you begin to see just how vulnerable an ignorant Christian is to the devil’s schemes. Interestingly, the Christian’s armour is mostly defensive. As such, without our armour, we’re essentially unable to defend ourselves when we’re under attack. Therefore, the Bible reminds us that our ignorance is deadly [Hosea 4:6].

The world is hostile territory to anyone who seeks to faithfully follow Jesus. I think of my life, unlike Job whom the devil couldn’t accuse of unrighteousness [Job 1:1], I’ve given the devil much ammunition. I didn’t start studying the word of God seriously until my 30s. I certainly didn’t strife to live righteously before then. While I’ve suffered, and continue to suffer the consequences of my actions, I can also attest that God has been merciful to me because those consequences could have been a lot worse. Ignorance is twofold; there are things you know you don’t know, and there are things you’re not even aware that you don’t know. As I reflect on both, I’m ever grateful for the mercies of God because I’m convinced that if the devil had his way, my life would look very different.

That said, I know the time for ignorance has passed in my life [Acts 17:29-30]. I can no longer be wilfully ignorant. While I’m still utterly dependent on the mercies of God, I must do everything in my power to stand firm and avoid giving the devil an advantage. I choose not to remain ignorant of his schemes and methods of attack in my life and more importantly, not to remain ignorant of my weapons of warfare. I plead with you to do the same.

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Self-assessment

28/12/2020

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