Whether we face up to facts and acknowledge our situation or whether we deny what is happening all around us is of no relevance, it really does not matter, because the truth stands regardless of our awareness or beliefs. All of us are on a journey, not the same journey but one that is of our own choosing. Believers have chosen a journey, a precarious, precious journey, mapped out by the Bible, travelled by every saint that has ever lived and leads unerringly to a city whose builder and maker is God.
Every step of the way of this journey is fraught with challenges of one kind or another and the believer needs to be on high alert to complete the journey successfully.
Journeys are common in the Bible and the predators who prey on the vulnerable, that waylay them and try to do them grievous harm are numerous, but the predators most dangerous are not the four-legged, carnivorous kind but our fellow man.
The truth is that Satan uses every trick possible, every device he can get hold of, every person he can manipulate to stop believers journeying successfully.
In the case of Job, Satan tried to use Job's wife but she was unsuccessful because Job was a determined, committed believer who was well grounded in the faith. Her advice, "...curse God, and die." (Job 2:9) would, if followed, have stopped Job's journey there and then.
In the case of Samson, Satan used Delilah successfully. Samson was a young judge of great potential and he was to lead Israel through a difficult period and on to a better future but he was a philanderer and was waylaid and diverted by Delilah as recorded in Judges 16:1-31. When he died he managed to kill many of the Lord's enemies but his own journey came to an abrupt, and some would argue, untimely end.
The devil's purpose always is to stop your journey and he is persistent and without scruples and would go to any length to scupper your journey. See what extraordinary length he went to in order to stop the true prophet after the true prophet delivered his message to King Jeroboam, as recorded in 1 Kings 13:1-29. Satan used a renegade ex-prophet, who had all the skills and knowledge of prophecy, to bamboozle the true prophet into disobeying God and as a consequence he lost his life.
It is without question that the Christian pathway is strewn with all kinds of deadly obstacles, and whoever venture on this journey needs to be fully prepared for the worst. Here is how the Apostle Paul described his own situation:
"In my constant travelling I have been in danger from rivers, from thieves, from my own people, and from people who are not Jews. I have been in danger in cities, in places where no one lives, and on the sea. And I have been in danger from people who pretend to be believers but are not. I have done hard and tiring work, and many times I did not sleep. I have been hungry and thirsty. Many times I have been without food. I have been cold and without clothes. (2 Corinthians 11: 26-27 Easy-to-Read version)
As believers we embark on a glorious journey that never ends until death. It begins with our submission to God with the new birth in Christ, of baptism of the Holy Spirit, and water baptism, and a life consecrated to God. From thenceforth it is a continuous walk with God aided by the Holy Spirit, it is spiritual growth and development and maturing to conform to the image of Jesus Christ and persevering right through to the end.
So you are on the journey and you are determined, as Paul puts it, "to finish the course with joy" (Acts 20:24), but are you prepared, and can you handle what the enemy will throw at you?
It matters not where you are on the journey, whether you are near the beginning, or somewhere in the middle or approaching the end; it matters not whether you are tested and mature or a babe in Christ; it matters not how much you know about God or your qualities of patience, grace and humility; it matters not that you have fought and won many battles along the way, although these are all to your credit. What matters is that you need to be on your guard since it is the chosen, ghastly self-appointed duty of Satan and a host of his malicious, vile, misbegotten followers, a coterie of lost souls, to try to stop your journey.
Do not let them stop you from going forward, and be fully aware that attacks and threats can come from anywhere, and be abundantly prepared for their most potent journey-stoppers.
Here are 6 Deadly Journey-stoppers.
Journey-stopper number 1: Discouragement and sarcasm. The enemy is bold in trying to break your will to continue and often they throw at you discouragement and sarcasm because if they succeed here your journey is over, sometimes before it gets a proper start. It is worth remembering how Sanballat and Tobias mocked Nehemiah when he set out building the wall to safeguard the temple and people of Jerusalem; they resorted to scorching sarcasm. They said, "...Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall." (Nehemiah 4:3). Even Jesus Christ at the commencement of his earthly ministry faced withering sarcasm from the devil who prefaced his enticement to Jesus to do wrong with his remarks, "If thou be the Son of God" (Matthew 4:3) The enemy uses discouragement and sarcasm because they know how some believers fall victim to them.
Journey-stopper number 2: Strategic distraction. Essentially this causes a loss of focus and attention to what is necessary. "And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction." (1 Corinthians 7:35) Booby traps are laid and they want you to fall prey by setting up these distractions so that you are not paying attention to where you should and thereby fall in to the pit. Sudden distraction has caused lethal accidents, for example such as trying to pick up a cellular phone while you are driving. Satan is clever at creating distractions, he knows how some will go out of their way, out of sheer curiosity or morbid nosiness, and at times in defiance of good advice and the clear teaching of the Bible, and in so doing get trapped.
Journey-stopper number 3: Persuasive falsehoods. Satan is a liar, always has been and always will be and Jesus described him as "the father of lies" (John 8:44). Lies masquerading as truth that seems ever so reasonable is one of the enemy's favourite weapon. Paul knew that falsehoods were lethal, "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" (Galatians 5:7) Most false doctrine taught in churches or assemblies sound reasonable, but they lead to perdition and not eternal life. Human logic and philosophy are no substitutes for the inerrant Word of God and it is vital to be grounded in and be knowledgeable in the Bible in order to repulse these persuasive falsehoods; as taught, for example, by Jehovah Witnesses.
Journey-stopper number 4: Lethal friendships. Look out for people masquerading as genuine friends with your ultimate destruction their aim. A recent case occurred in London where it was discovered that an undercover police officer had befriended a group of people who were protesting against the police. He became a friend of one woman protester and even fathered her child, he helped the group ferment trouble for the police, he took a hand in harassing the police and was at the same time feeding all the information to the police so that they could make arrests. His deadly conduct was only discovered when he was forced to appear in court and it all came out into the open. Satan has been pulling down believers with so-called friends for centuries.
Journey-stopper number 5: Terminal weakness. Every believer has an Achilles heel, a weakness that if not corrected will, at an inopportune moment, result in spiritual death. The writer of Hebrews addressed this when he wrote, "...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," (Hebrews 12:1) Whatever is thrown at the believer to cause debilitating weakness comes under this category.
An example of this journey-stopper happened when Israel was journeying towards the Promised Land, and Balak asked Balaam for advice how to defeat the Israelites. Balaam's advice was deadly (Revelation 2:14) for he recommended thus, "Come, and I will counsel thee, (speaking to Balak,) go and set up inns, and place in them whorish women, to sell food and drink at a low price: and this people will come and eat and drink, and be drunken, and will lie with them, and deny their God; and they will be quickly delivered into thine hands, and many of them shall fall." (an excerpt from John Gill Bible Commentary)
It is said that Balak sent 24,000 women to fornicate with the Israelis. Because of this abominable behaviour of the Israelites God sent a plague among them and the Bible says this, "And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand." (Numbers 25:9)
Journey-stopper number 6: Growing disillusionment. Sowing seeds of doubt in the mind and working constantly to reinforce them and make them grow are devilish activities known to all believers. Believers may have some doubts from time to time but to dwell on them, be obsessed with them will make them fester, rancid and ultimately produce your downfall. There is need to remember the solid teaching of the Bible and not be fooled by scepticism and conjecture, "You people in Galatia are so foolish! Why do I say this? Because... it seems as though you have let someone use their magical powers to make you forget." (Galatians 3:1 Easy-to-Read Version)
God may not remove all your doubts, you may have to live with them, and doubt do not always lead to disillusionment. However in all cases doubts have to be buried under the mountain of trust for; God who knows best tells us, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
There are other journey-stoppers along the way like complacency, lack of compassion, deviousness, and the like but these are self-inflicted injury rather than as a result of assaults by the enemy. Believers should always be optimistic, always be pressing forward relentlessly, all the while knowing that victory is theirs because, "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1 John 4:4)
In the name of God who loves you, and in the name of Jesus Christ who died to save you and in the name of the Holy Spirit that assist and keeps you, and in memory of all the saints that have gone before and are waiting for you, take fresh courage and do not let them stop your journey.
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013
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