You may recall this encounter between Jesus and one of Satan’s minions from Matthew chapter 17.
“When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before him and saying, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to Your disciples and they could not cure him.’ And Jesus answered and said, ‘You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.’ And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not drive it out?’ And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith’ ” (Mt 17:14-20).
“Because of the littleness of your faith.” Our primary weapon against the attacks of Satan is our faith. Now be aware that life is complicated. And I don’t believe that we can just snap our faith fingers and Satan goes running. But one thing I do understand is that I don’t want the littleness of my faith to be the reason Satan is winning a particular skirmish. I don’t want a lack of faith to be the cause of my or your downfall. Our faith matters. Our faith makes a difference in the outcome.
Yes, Satan is a defeated foe, an assured loser in the war on God. But until that final battle, Satan is working to disrupt God’s rule upon the earth. And he is quite adept at throwing accusations, reasons for discouragement, and temptations our way. We defeat Satan by our faith, that is, by believing God’s promises in the face of Satan’s accusations.
God’s promise in the unseen world: Your old nature was crucified with Christ (Rom 6:6); sin is no longer your master (Rom 6:14). Application to the seen world: Don’t believe Satan’s lies. Satan makes his living by lying, and he makes his living among believers by lying to them about God’s divine facts. He highlights our sin and minimizes our victories. He accuses us in the areas of our besetting sins and diminishes God’s promised power over sin in our lives. His lies and accusations are overcome by faith; by believing the promises of God. God says that your sin nature was nailed to a cross with Christ (Rom 6:6). God says that sin is no longer your master (Rom 6:14). God says you are His holy and beloved child (Col 3:12).
Paul comes back to the faith and Satan theme in his famous passage about the armor of God. “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph 6:16). The shield of faith – put into action by walking by faith – is our primary weapon in the fight with Satan. May you wield it often.