The following is a discussion about Jerry Rankin’s book, “Spiritual Warfare: The Battle For God’s Glory.” The discussion pertains to how Satan tries to use one’s past and old nature to destroy a Christian’s walk with Christ and their testimony.
According to Jerry Rankin, our old nature is what comes natural for us. Our nature before Christ, our human and carnal nature loves satisfaction and gratification. We want what makes us happy and what feels good in the flesh. That is our old self, our old sinful nature, which is about our self. Suffering occurs because we must die to self and put on a new attitude, which is enriched in Christ. Satan loves to use our certain weaknesses to ensnare us in sin and make us feel defeated. Rankin quoted Romans 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy fleshly desires.” We are to surround ourselves with Christ-like attitudes and remove ourselves from things that would temp us to sin. An example would be if a person had a problem with sex. Before Christ, one with this problem may have been indulged in numerous affairs or potentially had many sexual partners. The person may also have been addicted to pornography. After Christ, this same person should not want to continue with his or her illicit behavior. They should concentrate on Christ and strive to live for Christ everyday by praying and reading the Bible. But Satan knows their weakness and will try to destroy their witness by attacking them with opportunities to sin. A person who was addicted to pornography should not be watching television where nudity is included in the program. That in itself is like pouring gasoline on a house fire. Because people are human and have no power to save themselves, they must put on the full armor of God to avoid the traps and the fiery darts of Satan as described in Ephesians 6. If people do not want to fall back into a sinful lifestyle, they must change their habits and not watch or look at things that can cause temptation to sin and fail.
Rankin quoted a youth evangelist he knew as a child. The youth pastor stated, “If you don’t want your passions aroused in a way that would lead to hard-to-resist temptation, don’t put yourself in a situation where that is likely to happen by parking with your date in a dark car at a drive-in or anywhere else.” “It comes down to the choices we make. If we desire to walk in the Spirit, then we have to choose to avoid situations that would cause the flesh to be tempted.” People need to avoid situations that would lead them to lustful thoughts, which in turn may excite them or lead them to seek gratification. Of course, in the old nature, it is natural to want to do these things, but doing so is against God’s Law, principles, and will. That is why Jesus Christ came to take our sins, burdens, and our filthiness, and those sins and actions were already nailed to the cross with Christ. Jesus bore our sins and when we asked Jesus to come into our hearts and forgive us of our sins, He forgave us. God has forgiven us. But once we accepted Christ and started living for God, Satan was furious and wants to destroy our testimony so that we will become ineffective in the Great Commission. Therefore, Satan uses every means to attack us because we are representatives of Christ. Rankin states, “In emphasizing the victory of which we are assured, we must not diminish the reality of the warfare. There is an ongoing battle between the flesh and the Spirit. Satan is opposed to our doing anything that glorifies and exalts Christ. He uses that self-centered nature of the flesh within us and the carnal values of the world around us to defeat us and cause us to sin.”
Rankin quoted 1 Peter 5:10, “Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Jesus Christ, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.” Peter states that we suffer a little in contrast to Christ suffering to the point that His blood was spilt which lead to His death and resurrection. Our sufferings pale compared to giving up one’s life for the sins of the world. We will suffer if we follow Christ because the world, in which Satan currently has dominion over, will see to it that we are tempted and that we will struggle for the cause of Christ. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:13-14). Living for Christ is hard because of our old sinful nature. The road traveled for Christ is narrow and few will find it. The road to the wide gate of worldly pleasures is easier to follow because one does not have to make any sacrifices and give up their old nature. But if we stand firm in our faith, Christ will deliver us. “Be sober! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your brothers in the world.” (1 Pet. 5:8-9)
I agree with Rankin that if we put to death deeds, inclinations, and desires of the flesh, then we will suffer because this is not easy. Self-denial does cause suffering because of our old nature and the wants of self-centeredness. If we concentrate on serving Christ and loving others, then the desires of the flesh are greatly diminished. Getting serious about serving God means that one sets aside time everyday to pray and seek the face of God. Then we must also study God’s Word. To fight against Satan, we must get into God’s Word and really study. We must seek a relationship with God. We must walk in the Spirit and live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to God, in public, in private, and in secret. Our lives should be the same in all three categories. God sees all, even what is done in secret. Putting on Christ means that we are living our lives for Christ everyday in all that we do. We are to show love to everyone and grant grace and forgiveness. If not, Satan will use that as a foothold to try to destroy our lives and our testimony for Christ.
From the reading, one application I can implement into my prayer and ministry is to start fasting and praying more in order to get to know God better and to seek a closeness with Him. I have fasted in the past and did see answers to prayer, but Rankin indicated that fasting can bring us closer to God and “…demonstrate our longing and need for God through the denial and sacrifice of normal fleshly desires in our battle and victory over the flesh.” This in turn could bring an outpouring of God’s blessings. I desire to be closer to God and want that intimate relationship with Him.
What about you? Do you desire a personal walk with the Savior, Jesus Christ? If so, then stop right where you are. Talk with the Father. That is called praying. Pray to Him and ask forgiveness of your sins. Ask Jesus to come into your heart and live in you. Then seek out a Bible believing church. Get involved in a church and in a Bible study so that you can be discipled in how to live a Christian life.
 Jerry Rankin, Spiritual Warfare: The Battle For God’s Glory (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2009), 140.
 Ibid., 140.
 Ibid., 141.
 Ibid., 155.
 Ibid., 164.
Joseph T. Lee, © November 14, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC.