This is something of a spin-off of that infamous saying, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer“, but this writing is for a much deeper and life changing reason. See… keeping your enemies close is actually a fear tactic some will apply so they know where their enemies are, what their enemies are doing or thinking, and just who their enemies actually are.
Instead, this writing is about tapping into the observations of Satan, gleaning from his efforts to derail your life, and even taking advantage of his wily strategy for tearing you down and separating you from the Lord your God. I mean, think about it this way, Satan is something of a “mirror of your faults in life”, right? He’s quick to point out your physical flaws (like you aren’t your worst enemy, already huh!)… he’s a ‘tattler’ and always at the ready to incriminate you for any failings, or short-comings. Almost like a kid-sibling who goes running off to your parents with some twisted version of the truth so-as to get you in trouble.
We know from history that he likes to twist the facts, to dish out half-truth concepts that are convincing, to even put a selfish spin on the very words from God Himself! See… way back in the Garden, ‘the serpent’ convinced Eve that God didn’t mean “don’t eat that fruit” for the reasons Eve believed (we’d die). It’s easy to get caught up reasoning and working through the logic of complicated topics… too often, we get most of a story or most of an explanation… most of the facts… but, it is the ‘fill in the blank’ part that always bites us. We just can’t seem to leave a “mostly complete” story alone. So, we fill in the missing pieces with what we think belongs in those blanks, and all too often that story is quite different than the actual story, the facts, the correct truth.
This is NOT to say we shouldn’t engage in discussions, reasoning, or even just taking time to ‘work through the logic and facts” of things going on in your life. We must always be doing that, always checking with the Lord over the missing pieces… the blanked-out parts of a story. Too many of us shun evil doers, naysayers, or just critical people… but, you really can benefit from their input… from their observations. The key component to remember is that these observations ‘may’ actually have merit… there may be an element of truth in them… there may be some fragment of value you can glean from this information.
Keep Satan Close; he’s quick to point out your flaws/failings. Thank him for it, then turn to Jesus for cleansing, forgiveness and healing.
— G.W. Bill Elliott Jr (@vocalbillity)
I know… I’ve thought the same thing… “Wait.. we should listen to Satan?” Sure.. listen to anyone and everyone… just… be careful and selective about applying their criticism… their observations… their guidance. See… if and when someone criticizes us, we tend to do one of two things;
- Be defensive and deflective and not even attempt to consider the information (you are protective and closed off)
- Give consideration (vulnerably) to this information and see if it does have a place in your life. Be willing to at least consider the matter.
Keep in mind…. the key trick is ‘how’ we take the criticism… how we deal with someone spewing feedback at us for our lives. Satan is one nasty, sly, devil who wants to be sure you feel rejected, hopeless and distant from God. He wants to be sure you don’t feel included in life. He is relentless with his efforts to tear us down… to thwart our joy… to derail our hope in life, let alone in the Lord. We are encouraged in 2 Corinthians 2:11 to be diligent, aware, and conscious of his efforts to trip us up. It actually tells us, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.“
See… although he is sly, subtle, and devious, he is also going about “…like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Which sounds scary and ominous at face value… but, picture yourself out in the wild (his territory) and hearing that roaring in the distance. Sure… initially, it will get your attention and strike fear in your life. But, you DO hear it… it IS far off… and you are now aware and can prepare!
Jesus NEVER told Satan to get away… never told him ‘depart from me’… shooo… go away… and never did Jesus run away screaming in utter fear! Jesus always told him ‘get thee behind me’, which demonstrates His authority, His place of seniority, and His place of superiority. We MUST have the same attitude and answer when Satan challenges us. When Jesus was being tempted by Satan and had taken Jesus up to a high mountain that overlooked all the kingdoms and offered Him all the world if He would worship Satan, “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Luke 4:8)
Impressive composure, right? Sure… facing Satan straight-up might seem easier, but way too often even those around us give us advice and promises that are just not God’s will for us. These ‘well meaning’ souls are still giving us worldly directions and in so many ways actually expressing their own fear and uncertainty! I mean, so very often their intentions are good, but their guidance… their encouragement… even their demands on our lives can be contrary to the leading of the Lord. Their very own fear comes through clearly… if you take some time to recognize the subtle ways Satan can and does work through them (us).
There was a moment between Peter and Jesus that was pretty intense… conflict arose between the two… and Jesus had to put Peter in his place! See… Jesus had just revealed to the disciples that He (Jesus) “must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” And Peter actually ‘rebuked’ Him for speaking that way! And Matthew 16:23 tells us, “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.“
Resist the Devil
The Bible never tells us to run from the devil… never tells us to hide from the devil… never ever tells us to keep a low profile and fly under the radar of the devil! Nope! In fact, James 4:7 actually tells us, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.“
FLEE from you! Not just leave you alone… not just pass you over next time he needs to be amused… not just ignore you… FLEE from you!
We are NOT to be afraid of Satan, the devil, or evil ‘anything’! Sure… respecting the power… the sly and devious ways… the destruction that can be delivered… just not afraid! Keeping Satan Close may seem contrary to your knee-jerk thoughts about him, but keep in mind that that IS what he wants… if you are afraid, he can capitalize on that emotion.
Luke 10:19 reminds us, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.“
WHAT? WE have the power (and the right) to stomp on Satan? To trample all over evil? To ‘tread on serpents heads’? Now… THAT is a new perspective, right! And, as the end of that passage reminds us, “…and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Death has no dominion over you.
No…. do NOT start looking to ‘keep company’ with evil… do NOT starting inviting sin, Satan, and any evil presence into your life. Just… do NOT be afraid of it, either. See… keeping that wily devil around means you have an enemy who ‘will’ point out your flaws… ‘will’ point out your failings… ‘will’ exploit your weakness! Friends and family may sugar-coat your flaws.. may dismiss them as part of your quirky personality.
Ask for Guidance
As noted in my Twitter tweet earlier, we merely need to turn to the Lord and ask Him to clarify the criticism being leveled on us. If the Lord confirms that in your life, then ask Him for the strength and patience to apply His guidance for recovery… for improvement… for His will. Too often, we have those dumb knee-jerk reactions when someone is railing on us… when someone points out flaws or inadequacies. It is an ugly defense mechanism we can rarely tame, right! But, if you can resist the knee-jerk reaction… if you can refrain from ‘having a witty comeback’… patiently accept the information being passed to you, then you can apply these next two mechanisms to help ensure success; Obtain Validation, and Apply Patience.
Always, always, ALWAYS take time to ask the Lord for guidance. Always!
See… the Bible even tells us that in this life we walk and stumble along looking “through a glass darkly” (like we have dark, dark sunglasses on) and cannot always see things all so clearly… so vividly… with such clarity as to ‘know’ where our next step should be planted. Jesus wants to guide you… wants to lead you… yearns to be in such close fellowship with you and assist you with each step. When someone declares a personality flaw or a quirk in your character, take some time to ask the Lord if that is really true! Take some time to hand it to Him and watch for His answer and leading!
Now… you may find that the ‘waiting for an answer’ part is hard. It may take time. I mean… it is not always as simple as the answer to, “Do I have some mustard on my cheek?” type question. Waiting can be tough, and Satan knows that… we lack patience, and he takes advantage of that… nagging at you, taunting you, reminding you that you STILL have that flaw… that quirk… that failing.
Remember, we are encouraged to ask Jesus for cleansing in our lives… to ask Him for forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 reminds us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So, we have His promise to clear our lives… not continue ridiculing us (like so many others do)… not continue holding these flaws over us and taunting us with them… No!
Apply with Patience
Not many of us like patience. I mean, sure… we like WHEN we are patient. We just don’t seem to like when we need MORE patience! When is enough patience, enough, right! Our world is subtly teaching us that instant gratification is the norm, so being in a place where we need to wait on the Lord IS one tough trait to have in our lives.
Nonetheless, applying His guidance with patience is key to success. Expecting an instant solution can lead you to discouragement, despair, and ultimately just lead you back to the oppression of the flaws, failings, and taunting of those around you again. We are reminded in James 1:3-4 that “…the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” This merely means that as you let your faith be applied in your life (put your trust in Jesus to work), patience will get it’s exercise and it will be stronger and stronger in your life.
The ‘self help’ LIE (half-truth) in this world is yet another deception tactic. See… Psalms 19:12 let’s us know, “Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.” This is to say that we cannot ‘on our own’ understand our own errors. It IS good that someone else is pointing out our flaws… that someone else is criticizing us… that someone else is ‘throwing mud’ at us, as it were. If we can simply be careful to not let this trigger our defenses… to subconsciously deflect the taunting… to dismiss it as trivial or flippant… but, willingly turn to the Lord and ask Him for the clarity and validation… waiting for His leading… we have a fighting chance to improve our own lives, then the lives of those around us, too!
Turning to the Lord for guidance in your life will never be received lightly by Him! Jesus has promised to lead you… to nurture you… to hold you close and encourage your life. 2 Corinthians 7:1 states. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”