“No good deed goes unpunished.” – Clare Booth Luce
She coined this phrase…and she’s been quoted ever since whenever our good actions seem to blow up on us. She was born in 1903, so that quote has been around a long time. But here’s one even older: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – God (1 Peter 5:8).
Make no mistake about it. If you want to do something good in the service of God, Satan will attempt to make you feel as though you are being punished. But you haven’t done anything wrong and you’re not being punished. You’ve done something right and it’s made the Devil mad. So he comes after you with an attack.
If you’ve decided to do something new for God, along comes Satan to discourage you. If you vow to prioritize your time…less tv or work and more family, he will try to sidetrack you. If you are exhausted then expect him to hit you hard. If you’ve just had a “mountain top” experience or spiritual victory, he will try to push you down the hill. If you are physically ill then you are on his list. He will come after your kids causing doubt and fear in them. Rebellion in a child will unsettle you in a hurry. Nothing is off limits and he takes great pleasure in rattling us. In stealing our joy.
I know all this to be true, but still, the enemy sneaks up on me sometimes and starts spewing his lies. When I begin to believe them, then I soon lose track of who the enemy actually is.
When he says, “nobody appreciates you” then you see your family or church as the enemy. When he says, “you deserve better than this” you might get angry at God for your trial. When he says, “you need to stand up for your rights” then you might make your co-workers or boss your enemy. When things don’t go your way at church you get mad at the preacher or the choir director. But they are not the problem.
Ephesians 5 tells us where the problem lies: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
Our circumstances are not the problem and the people in our world are not always the problem either. The problem is when we fall for the devil’s schemes. Our struggle is a spiritual one and we can’t fight spiritual problems with earthly means. And our earthly means usually manifests itself in hurtful or angry words, mean actions or unkindness. And these words and actions are not toward Satan but toward someone we love or someone who crosses our path. A real person with feelings.
- So yes, your boss IS a jerk. But he’s not the enemy.
- Your kids may be on your very last nerve. But they are not the enemy.
- The cashier at Wal-mart absolutely needs to get a clue and it would help if she could actually count. But she is not the enemy.
- The man you love probably DOES deserve to be clobbered as you’ve threatened. But don’t do it! He is not the enemy.
- That grouchy old lady at church, that never has anything nice to say…yes, she can be a pain in the neck. But she’s not the enemy.
- And your extended family probably is certifiable as you’ve long suspected. But they are not the enemy either.
Recognize who the real enemy is. Satan. And stop fighting everyone around you. You’re only wearing yourself out. Getting nowhere fast. Accomplishing nothing. Making matters worse. This is a spiritual war. It can only be won on your knees and with God’s sharp sword, not your sharp tongue.
Isaiah 59:19 – “19 So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.”
Ephesians 5 reminds us: “14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
I fell prey to his plan this morning. I let him steal my joy for a little while. But then I took it back. It doesn’t belong to him. My joy comes from the Lord and Him alone. Not my circumstances or my situation. The joy of the Lord comes from my salvation which is totally dependent on God’s amazing grace. The joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) And that strength helps us stand against the devil and his wiley ways. We can win against him. He does attack, but he doesn’t have to win. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Can I get an “AMEN”? Amen.
We don’t have to believe Satan’s lies. We can be wise to his tricks and we can denounce his condemnation that causes guilt, fear and depression. God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7) and we are victors in Christ. Now we need to live like it!
Let these verses below remind you of your place with God and who you are as his child. The enemy has no power over you!
Cheering you on!
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.