by Michael Williams
While contemplating the whole of the human experience, ancient Abigail spoke of the “bundle of life” (I Samuel 25:29), and indeed it is just that. There is laughter, and there are tears; seasons of pleasure, and seasons of pain; some gaiety, and some grief; times of triumph, and times of trauma; some hopes
realized, others lost. It is always a mixed bag-for everyone, everywhere.
But because life is marked by both incredible highs and indescribable lows, we can ill afford to allow circumstances to define us. To allow something so fickle to become the barometer of one’s life, spiritually at least, is to guarantee disappointment. Jesus acknowledged that trouble would come, but added hope of a better day: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Spirit, Soul, and Body
Our adversary, the devil, is keenly aware of the human condition: he is privy to the unique blend of parts-spirit, soul, and body-that make up the whole of who
we are (I Thessalonians 5:23). Certainly he knows that to attack us in anyone of these arenas-to disturb the peace or disrupt our lives-is tantamount to assaulting them all. Paul wisely warned the Corinthian Christians not to be ignorant of the devil’s devices (II Corinthians 2:11). We must exercise the dominion that Scripture promises to believers so as to thwart the adversary’s evil schemes.
“Behold, I Give You Power”
In Luke 10:19, we find a signature promise concerning this effort of the enemy of our soul to sabotage our lives. Jesus said, “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.”
In the original language of the New Testament, that first “power”-the power given to Christ’s followers-is exousia, signaling an authority given them. The second “power”- that power given to the devil-is dynamis, suggesting an ability. Thus Satan may have the ability to oppress, depress, torment, or assail our lives circumstantially, but thankfully, in Christ we have authority over his ability. We have dominion over our adversary’s attack.
Wasted at Noonday
Made wise by millennia of deceit, the devil sometimes chooses to undermine our lives with success. In Psalm 91, the psalmist graphically describes the blessed state of the godly. He writes of the secret place of the Most High and presents God as a refuge, a fortress, a hiding place for the righteous, and our source of deliverance.
However, in the process of offering this praise, he introduces us to four unique threats: the terror by night, the arrow that flieth by day, the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and perhaps most ominous of all, the destruction that wasteth at noonday (Psalm 91:5-6).
Both sacred and secular histories tell the same story: one of the most vulnerable seasons of any life is when one walks in the wake of victory-noonday-when the sun of accomplishment is at its zenith and we are flush with success. Whether professionally, financially, relationally, or spiritually, noonday can be dangerous. One would think the soul is safe in success, but the record of man proves otherwise.
For example, after a wonderful, if unlikely, victory over Midian (Judges 7), Israel’s courageous champion, Gideon, made a monumental mistake. But for one line, this narrative of supernatural conquest would have been perfect: “Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city: … which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house (Judges 8:27). He made an image with the spoils of a battle his God had supernaturally won. His victory became his snare.
Abounding or Abased
Having failed to conquer a man with success, however, the antagonist of our soul will at times bring trouble and trial. Peter warned us, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you” (I Peter 4:12).
Paul wrote powerfully regarding the problems and perils that plagued his life. He chronicled labors more abundant, stripes above measure, prisons more frequent, and deaths oft. He was “thrice beaten with rods, once stoned, thrice shipwrecked, and had been a night and a day in the deep.” He wrote of perils from robbers and countrymen, in water, wilderness, city, and sea (II Corinthians 11 :23-27).
In that same letter to the Corinthian Christians, he conceded that his life was under attack and wrote of being “troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, and even cast down.”
But we quickly see that his circumstances did not have dominion over Paul when we read the rest of the story: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed;
we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken: cast down, but not destroyed” (II Corinthians 4:8-9). Whether abounding or abased, the apostle had learned to take dominion over his circumstances and give thanks to God, “which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” (II Corinthians 2:14). Proudly, he could proclaim, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).