“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). Believers are in a war, a spiritual war. There are evil demonic forces that are dedicated to destroying our testimonies, crippling our ministries, and taking our “physical” lives. These demonic entities watch us, and they attack us when they feel that we are vulnerable. This should not frighten us because we know that God’s Holy Spirit is not only inside of us, but he is a part of us. “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in spirit” (NIV 1 Corinthians 6:17). We also understand that we have angelic protectors. “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psalm 91:11). However, we are in a war, and we will be attacked. But when will the enemy attack us?
Demonic forces attack us at various times. But demons often launch their attacks when we are vulnerable. These attacks could be through people or circumstances. But the enemies main target is the mind. Demons will attack us when our flesh is stirred up because that is when we are most susceptible to demonic influence. When we are hungry, lonely, angry, afraid, tired, prideful, or sexually aroused, the enemy has an opportunity to attack us. This attack is designed not only to cause us to sin, but the ultimate goal is to bring death to a part of our lives. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:13-15). Knowing the enemy’s habits is a big part of spiritual warfare, and since we know when attacks are likely to occur, we must have strategies in place to deal with these attacks. We need to learn how to S.P.A.R.R. with the enemy.
S.P.A.R.R. means to stop, pray, affirm, replace, and reflect. We must stop the flesh from gaining momentum, pray to God for help, affirm the truth of God’s word, replace thoughts of sinning with thoughts of submission to God’s Spirit, and reflect on God’s word as it relates to the temptation. What we do not want to do is struggle in the flesh against the temptation, this is like fighting fire with fire because it is an attempt to fight the flesh with the flesh. The first thing that we must do is to stop.
Stopping or taking a mental pause is the first step in dealing with the enemy’s attempt to agitate our flesh to sin. Newton’s first law of motion states that an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an external force. This is not exactly applicable to this situation, but when the flesh is prompted towards sin, it will continue in this direction until it is stopped. Mentally thinking of the name of our Lord will help you to stop the flesh in its tracks. Once the desire of the flesh is stopped or paused, it is time to pray.
Prayer is the second step in our defense. During an attack you do not have to pray out loud. This could be awkward if people are around. If the attack is severe, you may have to pray out loud. But you must turn to the Holy Spirit and ask for his help. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you?” (James 4:7). Turning to God and submitting to him is a critical part in defeating the enemy. We resist a minor spirit by turning and yielding to the Ultimate Spirit. Prayer or turning to God invites the Holy Spirit into our spiritual fights. The next thing that we must do is to turn to God’s word.
Affirming God’s word is the third step. Jesus battled Satan using God’s word. “And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:3-4). You should read this entire account, but when Satan tempted our Lord, Jesus countered with God’s word. Christians must spend time in God’s word so that they will be equipped to address the enemy’s lies with the truth, power, and authority of God’s word. God’s word is not stagnant, it is alive and powerful. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (NIV Hebrews 4:12). The word of God is also an offensive weapon that will cut the enemy. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” (Ephesians 6:17). God’s word will drive the enemy away, destroy the temptation to sin, and renew the mind of the Christian. God’s word replaces the thought of the temptation.
Many Christians make a crucial mistake when attacked by the enemy. They focus on the temptation, and this actually makes it stronger. Focusing on the temptation is to embrace and nurture it. Believers must focus on God and his word. The thought of the temptation must be replaced not rehearsed. The last thing that believers must do is to reflect on God’s word.
The final step in our defense against a spiritual attack is to reflect on God and his word. This solidifies our victory and helps to transform our minds. When our minds are transformed, we are better able to resist temptation. This step flows naturally from replacing the thought of the temptation because taking a thought away can leave a void. We fill this void with scripture. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). S.P.A.R.R. also takes preparation.
The word of God is an essential part of our defensive tactic. Believers must spend time in God’s word every day. It is recommended that every believer should be engaged in a “read through the Bible” plan. This could be a 6-month, 9-month, or 1 year plan, but the goal is to immerse yourself in God’s word. The word of God should be approached in four main ways. It should be meditated on, studied, read through, and memorized. To meditate on God’s word is to select small portions of scripture and focus on that portion. To study God’s word is to attempt to understand it, and to read God’s word is to obtain an overview of it. Each of these approached has its own value, and none of these approached should be neglected. Scripture meditation helps us with ministry, but it also enables us to have our “sword” sharp and ready for battle.
Christians are in a spiritual war. This war is continuous and unavoidable. However, we can be victorious if we allow God to teach us about warfare. Having a strategy to repel the attacks of the enemy is a must. And with God’s help we will not only fight effectively, but we will also be victorious in the battles that we face.