by Jason Webb
I love movies, and the best movies are the ones that have great villains. How many of you have seen all the Harry Potter movies? Do you ever think about the personification of evil? It’s in Lord Voldemort. And when he kills Harry, you think evil has won. Thankfully, you and I aren’t facing Voldemort, Darth Vader, or Thanos, but we are fighting our villains.
There are a lot of spaces in our lives where we may think that evil has won. It’s not just our world or our city; it’s our lives. Our boss criticizes us. The doctor comes in and say says it’s cancer. Your dream marriage becomes a nightmare. My kids make decisions that go against everything I’ve taught them. Our financial security is no longer secure.
You think to yourself, evil has won. For those of us who have felt this, or feel this way now, Jesus offers us a lifeline in the form of a famous prayer that we’ve been studying here for the last few weeks. I want us to look at the very last line of this prayer:
“Rescue us from the evil one.” – Matthew 6:13
Know Your Enemy
If God’s ever going to rescue us from evil, there are some things we need to know. We need to know our enemy. You and I are at war, but the problem is that we need to fight the battle, and we’ve identified the wrong enemy. We think our boss or spouse is our enemy. We believe our friend who betrayed us or took advantage of us is our enemy. Some of us feel life, with all the stuff it’s throwing at us, is the enemy.
And we fight them.
Jesus says we are at war. Sometimes we win little battles occasionally, but ultimately, we lose the war because we’re fighting the wrong enemy. We need to be rescued, but not from our boss, not from our husband, not from our kids, not from our professors, and not from our life. The greatest villain of all time is Satan.
Satan is referred to as a murderer and the chief of liars. We read that he preys around like the angel of light, but he’s filled with darkness. He’s the thief who comes to rob your life of its fullness. Satan commands a massive army of demons, literally hell-bent on destroying you.
We are in a real war with a real enemy. It’s what theologians and Christians have called “spiritual warfare.” There are two dangers when it comes to this:
- The first is assuming that everything that goes wrong is Satan doing it, and
- Assuming that nothing is Satan.
Satan’s attacks are actual. There’s a war going on, sometimes dramatic, more often subtle. Paul writes:
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12
Even though we have authority, the war has been won, and we know our real enemy, Satan is not entirely out. Because while we sit with Jesus, Satan can still grab hold of us. He can still have what Scripture calls “strongholds.” When he has those strongholds, we need to know how to fight.
There’s a stronghold of sin or addiction. Maybe for you, nobody knows how bad “it” has become. Nobody knows how often you’ve promised to stop looking at this or doing that. Maybe it’s not an addiction, per se, but anger or apathy that grows and grows no matter what you try. No matter how many promises you’ve made to God, you can’t change.
Another stronghold that many of us may have is a stronghold of relational conflicts or attacks. You wake up every morning thinking about him or her, and you go to bed every night thinking about them. Maybe somebody’s coming at you. Perhaps it’s a friend, a spouse, or a colleague, and what they’re saying about you is not valid. They have their arms wrapped around your life. There is a stronghold there.
One final stronghold that some of us are in is the stronghold of despair. This stronghold is this overwhelming sense; whether it is because of internal feelings, external circumstances, or both, life isn’t improving. There’s no end in sight. The enemy wants you to think that this will never change. You’ll always be defeated, but Jesus is shouting to you today: It’s not the end of the story.
I know life is hard, relationships are complicated, and the struggle is real. But you have authority. The best is yet to come. You are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.