Success and Spiritual Warfare

"Christ in Gethsemane" by Michael O'Brien

Today, Good Friday, we remember the great cost paid for our lives.

And [Jesus] said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
~ Mark 14:36 (NKJV)

When our Savior pleads with His Father in Gethsemane, exactly what does “the cup” contain? Jesus has already given His word that He will accept the contempt and degradation, scourging and crucifixion, and the death required by bearing sin, horrific as these all are. The cup evidently contains something far worse, so terrible that Jesus Himself wishes to avoid it.

I believe “the cup” contains sin’s monstrous, consummate penalty—isolation from God as He turns away from the one bearing sin (Matthew 27:46).

We who are Christ’s will never taste of that cup. The veil is torn asunder, and we have sweet fellowship with God, to our everlasting gratitude and praise.

I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the LORD.
~ Psalms 118:17 (NKJV)

Christian authors declare faith in penning everything from theological resources to respectable entertainment, inspirational devotion to suspenseful adventure, history to romance. Our works usually combine such elements, for we use all possible means to connect with readers and build up their faith.

Would we expect success to go unnoticed by our enemy?

Whatever else is shared and learned about writing, publishing, marketing, etc., the substantial spiritual warfare that many authors experience should also be noted. The wider our sphere of influence becomes, the more important it is to prepare ourselves for spiritual attack.

The devil will use anything he can to diminish our spiritual vitality and fruit. Among his weapons are:
• deceit or distortion of truth
• distractions
• conflicts or division / separation among believers
• strong temptation to fall into immorality
• inflated feelings of success and pride
• discouragement or overwhelming feeling of failure
• depression, confusion, or other mental impairment
• contempt from impersonal critics
• betrayal by personal friends
• attacks on reputation or unfounded accusations
• unusual stress in health, finances, and relationships
• terrifying demonic presence, perhaps via nightmares

I unhappily confess that although I’d waged and won smaller spiritual battles, my strength faltered when the fight became fierce. I had lost top fitness, gradually spending more time serving the Lord and less time in simple fellowship with Him. I was then blind sided by the intensity of an all out spiritual attack, which occurred on the heels of publishing successes.

Just as we acquaint and train ourselves with the publishing resources made available to us in order to succeed, we do well to acquaint and train ourselves with the spiritual armor made available to us through the price paid at Calvary.

I write to you, young people, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have victory over the evil one.
~ 1 John 2:14

Today we remember the great cost paid for our lives—and we may think of our lives as the goal for which Christ died.

Our lives, rather, are the means for a greater end—fellowship with God. And fellowship with God is what drives our spiritual fervor, empowers our spiritual gifts, and wins our spiritual battles.

Q4U: Have you experienced spiritual attack, concurrent to your successes? How have you overcome?

© 2012, Anne Lang Bundy

22 Replies to “Success and Spiritual Warfare”

  1. Since the death of my son four years ago, I’ve been vulnerable and open to attacks. For therapy, I started writing classes and looking for writing links on the web. This was like God was giving me a present to aid and abet my depression and keep my eyes focused on God.As a church organist, I was able to put more effort in planning the services.

    1. God is good to provide just the right gifts for us. Writing is a wonderful way to solidify the truths we need to counter enemy attacks.

      Please accept my condolences for the loss of your son. I thank God that He gave you the treasure you had, for however long you had him. I ask our Lord to give you, even now, an extra measure of comfort, and an increasing awareness of His love for you, to fill the void in your life.

  2. Interestingly, when I posted an article on my blog about dealing with family members who are addicts, I was overcome with the feeling I should take it down. I almost logged into my website and did just that. But then I began to pray, asking God if this was from Him or the enemy. It was from the enemy.
    This post had one of the highest comments and hits of any of my articles. I’m so thankful I listened to God and left it alone.
    I think it’s important to learn how to pray against spiritual attacks and to go on the offense against the devil. God promises that we are victorious in His name. So take up your sword and slay that dragon!

    1. Melissa, I am encouraged to hear this. I have a secondary blog which I use as a prayer journal of sorts. Over and over, I wanted to take it down, fearing it exposed me too much, and sounded non-credible. God kept assuring me to keep it up. Another time, I felt I needed to hold my ground on how I was constructing a MS, but the Lord gave me direction to change it. Going back to Him to check, before backing off, is critical! He knows how He intends to use our words, and His answers can be trusted. As you’ve pointed out, our part is to ask.

  3. Sometimes the smaller attacks are the most insideous. The enemy chips away a piece at a time, until will look and find we’re changed. It’s important to watch out for those as well.

    1. I agree, Connie, that spiritual attack can come as both gradual erosion and forceful wrecking ball. That is exactly why I was more vulnerable when the big attack came, because I hadn’t noticed that I had slipped in the time I spent in close fellowship with God. Quality time IS quantity time! The solution for both kinds of attack is the same: stay close to the Shepherd, appropriating all components of spiritual armor.

  4. Since beginning to write again after a very long homeschooling hiatus, I’ve been attacked pretty much continually. Everything on your list has occurred. Satan has used success (See, you’ve got this! You’re really something! Rely on yourself.), rejection (Look, I told you that you can’t write. Why are you even trying?), and waiting (You’ll never succeed. Just give up.). The enemy is very resourceful.

    The intensity of this experience has been surprising. At the beginning, I got whipped around frequently, because I wasn’t even cognizant that I was being attacked. I hadn’t paused to consider that I was marching into the enemy’s camp. Now I’m learning to cling ever more tightly to the Savior, remembering that he is sovereign over all, that he has planned and prepared the good works I am to do, and that he wants me to walk in them, trusting in him, no matter where he takes me or how long the journey.

    In a time of frustration, when I was coming face to face with the fact that I couldn’t make things happen, that I really had no control, he actually spoke to me in a dream, his words soft and gentle: “Your responsibility is to use the gifts I’ve given you. My responsibility is the outcome.” That was it. But the fact that he’s the one responsible for the results has been exactly what I’ve needed to remember over and over again. It also assures me of his desire to use me and that he has gifted me accordingly. It’s true of every one of his servants, no matter their calling.

    He also turned around a terrifying nightmare that awakened me with palpitating heart and cold sweat. I dreamt that I hurtled to my death from the top of a skyscraper and went splat before the eyes of the writing world. As I pondered it later, he used that dream to remind me that he will always catch me. I won’t go splat. His arms are strong.

    Surprisingly, even with everything on that spiritual warfare list, I am more thrilled to be writing than I’ve been to do any other type of work. I know I’m doing what he made me to do, and I know he’ll open the doors he wants opened. I’m a bondslave. The Master is kind and loving, and he knows exactly how he wants to use me as his tool. I’ll hold on to him, returning the grasp he has on me.

    1. Melinda, you make some important points. I revised the list of weapons in this post to include pride, temptation, and the feelings of failure. I think a certain amount of discouragement and impatience is simply our flesh. God has also taken me through the process of fully yielding results to Him, and simply being obedient to His leading—pretty basic spiritual growth when you think about it.

      But those all out attacks? Overwhelming temptations, overwhelming feelings of failure? I do put those in the category of spiritual warfare when they are too dishonest to come from within ourselves and can truly be attributed to attack from without. When we’re discussing (as I have with several people now) the demonic presence that terrifies a person with unmitigated evil and darkness, often (but not always) in nightmares, there is no question of spiritual warfare.

      It’s not that we need to spend a lot of time analyzing whether we’re succumbing to human weakness or being attacked from without, nor does our response need to be significantly different. Close fellowship with the Lord is the answer to both, as is prayer support from select and trusted friends. If there is a reason to define spiritual warfare for what it is, I think it is the sense of urgency to obtain such support, and the recognition that we cannot successfully fight alone; it is the need to see spiritual armor as all the more critical, the more we put ourselves out for the Lord; it is the recognition that the stakes have become higher, as has the potential for falling.

      I praise God for His protection as we run to Him! He is loving and faithful. I am deeply grateful to you for sharing from your heart. I pray that the Lord keeps you sensitive to your need for Him, so that you will hear those precious words of His sustenance.

      1. Thanks for your lengthy reply. As always, he’s the answer, whether temptations of pride or dark dreams in the night. You’re right–these are really the principles of Christianity 101; but it seems that beginning to write again is teaching them to me in brand-new ways. I had to learn this while raising my six children as I trod the wearying/stretching/joyous path of homeschooling for twenty-eight years. So much yielding to the Lord and trusting my precious children into his hands had to be learned and had to occur. Now it feels more personal, more about me, myself, and I. It’s about yielding dreams and my usefulness in his hands. It’s about how tightly I hold onto him while entrusting him with yet another significant part of my heart.

      2. Wow! Melinda, I hadn’t seen it that way yet, at least not as completely. I’m still in the homeschooling trenches with my five (though the oldest has graduated, at least officially). I often question, “NOW, Lord? Really? Shouldn’t I be waiting until they’re older?” He keeps prodding, and I keep following. But your remarks about it getting more personal now really resonate with me. Thanks again.

  5. Thanks for your timely message. I’ve been experiencing “distractions,” “discouragement and overwhelming feeling of failure,” “depression, confusion, or other mental impairment,” and “contempt from impersonal critics” over the past few weeks. You reminded me WHY and WHAT to do about it! Thank you for your faithfulness to His word!

    1. You are most welcome, Clarice. I knew that writing this post, and the accompanying series on my blog about spiritual armor, was like an invitation for spiritual attack. It has, indeed, been an unusual week, for injuries, illness, insomnia—and for unexpected prayer support, encouragement, and blessing.

      I am praying, even now, that the Lord will direct to these posts the people who are most in need of them. Thanks for being an answer to prayer. 😀

  6. Great post! Oh yes, I have experienced spiritual warfare…in 2009 I was preparing to go on a mission trip and the Lord allowed Satan to attack me and my family. It was awful! I was blindsided. I thought I was prepared, but I wasn’t. When I boarded that plane to go on the trip, I felt like I have been through a battle.

    But the trip was successful and the Lord blessed all of us who went and those who attended the camp we led. It was FANTASTIC! On the flight home I realized why Satan wanted to keep me from going. But God knew I would prevail. I was the one who had forgotten.

    I am heading back to Slovakia this year. Now I know how to prepare for the attacks…and they will come…and this time I won’t be blindsided!

    As a writer of Christian YA Fiction, I have noticed the distractions and attacks and even discouragements have come more than during any other writing project. But as it says in 1 John 2:14 that you posted, I already have victory over the evil one if I abide in God’s word.


    1. Lord, I thank You for the protection over Ruth in her ministry. I thank You for her awareness of Your presence, and her joy in your victory. Please be our rear guard, even as You go before us and lead us in paths of service. Please draw us continually to the blessings of fellowship with You, of availing ourselves of the armor You provide, of shared victory over evil. Thank You for counting us worthy to share in Your sufferings. Please keep our perspective pure and eternal. In Jesus name and for His glory I pray.

  7. Great post, Anne!

    You asked if we’ve experienced spiritual attack in conjunction with our successes. Great question, and absolutely! The same week my comfort gift book, “A Friend in the Storm” hit shelves in the Fall of 2010, I was hit with severe pain in my shoulder so I couldn’t even move my arm. Jump ahead to a few weeks ago. Right after sending my agent my latest proposal (for my second book), I got a phone call saying my son was in a sports-related accident at school. (He got a concussion and fractured his skull.) Back-to-back with that, I experienced that same pain and immobility in my right arm (I hadn’t experienced this since it happened the first time, so I still didn’t know what it was – other than strange and painful.)

    I also like the second part of your question: How have you overcome? In both cases, I overcame with the love of others. They loved in word, prayer, and deed – revealing the Body of Christ at its best. Evidently, my problem was tendinitis, and it’s doing much better right now, praise God.

    I believe God is the gateway to everything He allows our way. He has to first give it the royal ok; and He causes all things to work together for good to those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

    We learn a ton through trials; but most of all, we learn to trust the Lord as He makes us more into His image.

    He sure had a huge attack in conjunction with His big victory!

    Happy Easter!

    1. Cheryl, we can count on this: the bigger the fight, the greater the victory; we do not fight alone! To God be ALL glory for your victories!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: