The Devil's Holidays

William Gurnall wrote a masterful work on the armor of God that has been in print for hundreds of years. One of the things that he addresses in the book are the seasons in which the devil tempts us. He writes about the different circumstances of a life that the devil uses as an opportune time to make us trip, fall and sin. The six seasons are: new christians, when we have a great affliction, when we are doing something great for God, when there is an object he can use, after experiencing God’s love and at the hour of death. All of these seasons that the devil uses are evident in scripture. The scripture is giving us a blueprint to be aware of when he may attack. The Bible also warns us to be watchful and ready for when the devil attacks. Let's look at these different seasons to better prepare and fortify ourselves.
1. New Christians
This would make perfect sense for the enemy to take advantage of new recruits. Get them before they have experience and have cut their teeth in battle. Attack them right away before they know what they are doing. Get them good and scared. Have them question their decision to volunteer for the King's army. Think of the amount of persecution that the early church faced. It wasn’t long after Peter and John’s conversion that they were pressured, arrested, tortured and imprisoned. Why wait for an enemy to be at its strongest to attack them? If you were to embark on a battlefield, would you sound the charge as soon as the army is trying to assemble and not yet prepared? Or would you wait till the army is fortified, well trained, equipped, strong in numbers, well supplied and well prepared? This is war! And the devil does not play fair. Just as Pharaoh was threatened by every newborn Israelite, so the devil is eager to kill away any newborn follower of God. He is hoping that every new child that initiates their faith in God is the seed that fell on rocky ground and can be snuffed out before it takes root.

2. When We Have Great Affliction
When we are afflicted we tend to be weary and troubled. Our heavy hearts just want comfort. We aren’t up to fighting. If anything we just want ease and appeasement. The clever serpent will slither its way into your thinking and just simply suggest something ever so subtle. He’ll point to the nice warm, familiar and comforting sin that you have indulged in before. He’ll remind you of how good it felt. Of how it made you feel better at that moment. He’ll suggest how it's only right that you dabble in this sin since you have been so stressed by your affliction. Like the comfort of a pair of slippers after standing all day is how this crafty one will tempt you with sin. Whether it be gluttony, lust, slander, anger, bitterness, anxiety, laziness, indifference, fear or gossip. We all have our pet sins. We all have that thing that makes us weak in our hearts and brittle in the hands of its tempting power. The devil waited till he had the power to destroy Job’s life before tempting him. He also waited till Jesus was fasting for forty days and nights before tempting him with changing stones to bread. So too will he wait till you are weak, meager and exhausted. When the enemy is weak and tired is when you move to finish them off. And this is exactly what the devil will do to you.

3. When We Are Doing Something Great
For GodWe can think that we will be safe when we do great things for God. We are on fire, doing all that He asks, being faithful and holy. We’ve been reading, praying, going to church, evangelizing, serving etc. And we think “What could go wrong?!” And because things are going so well, we let our guard down. We aren’t as aware. We have been on holiday and forget the smell of battle. Think of the many pastors that have fallen into great sin even though they were doing great things for God. We see in Acts 15 that Paul and Barnabas have a great argument and ultimately a division. Both men on fire for God and set out to do more in spreading His kingdom around the world. The devil obviously did not want the enemy’s kingdom to expand and attacked! Causing anger and division amongst two brothers in hopes to stifle the gospel campaign. Pastors, missionaries, teachers and church leaders are on special notice with the devil. What damage will it do to the enemy to kill a meager private when you may be able to make an officer fall! Gurnall on this one says, “The more public thy place, Christian, and the more eminent thy service for God, the more you must look that the devil [will have] some more dangerous design or other against you; and therefore if every private soldier needs armour against Satan’s bullets of temptation, then the commanders and officers, who stand in the front of the battle, much more.”

4. When There Is An Object To Enforce The Temptation
While our imaginations are strong, it is even more tempting when the thing is right there in front of us. You may have a sweet tooth, but it will be easier to give in and eat if the sweet is right there in the kitchen as opposed to the store. The devil waited till Eve was able to see the tree before suggesting she eat the fruit. He waited till David saw Bathsheba bathing before suggesting he give into his desires. He used Potipher’s wife to tempt Joseph. Having her face to face with him, grabbing at his garment, making it all the more difficult to resist. The devil will use whatever is at his disposal to make us fall. This will include having the object of desire right in front of us. It was when Goliath came out and yelled at the Israelites that they gave into fear. When they could see with their own eyes how big and vicious he was. Know your weaknesses and know when you may be exposed to things that will arouse your desires to sin and disobey God. Because I can guarantee you the devil will know when those things will become visible. And he will lie and wait till you can see it and touch it and then pounce on the opportunity to make you fall.

5. After Great Manifestations Of God’s Love
Think of the confidence you feel when you are given glowing affirmation from someone you admire. How good does it feel to be loved, embraced and accepted! The good feelings put you in such a good place. And just when you think you can do no wrong, the devil has snuck by and is tempting you when you are not looking. Look at the Apostle Peter. He was told by Christ Himself, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17–19) Whoa! What a compliment! Then on top of that Jesus goes on to tell Peter that He is going to build His church on him! Peter probably thought that he had “arrived”! What more does he need to do or prove?! Then what happens? Just four verses later the devil corrupts Peter’s thinking and Jesus says to him, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (v23) Be careful of the pride that gravitates to the heart that was just loved by the Father.

6. At The Hour Of The Death
This is the last chance the enemy has of getting us. After years of battle, this is the final moment to strike before you are safe in the Fathers arms. The devil knows that you can’t tempt a dead man and will try all he can to get you while you still have breath. You are in a physical weak condition, your last moments on earth are here. It will take so much more to put up a fight. This will be an opportune time for the enemy to attack. Gurnall says, “The saint is even stepping into eternity, and now he treads upon his heel, which if he cannot trip up so as to hinder his arrival in heaven yet at least to bruise it, that he may go with more pain there.”

Be ever ready for when our enemy may attack! He goes around like a lion on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8). He lies in wait for the most opportune time (Luke 4:13).

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