Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.
— James 4:7
Every morning, I love to get in a run no matter the conditions. I’ve learned that if I don’t do it early, it won’t happen, especially when I’m traveling. Several years ago while I was in Korea, I found a good loop down some back streets and began running in the dim light of the early morning.
Then, out of nowhere, a dog charged at me. I practically leaped out of my shoes as I jumped away from the attacking dog. Fortunately, the dog made it only to the edge of the street before he stopped. For a moment, I wondered why he hadn’t charged further; then I realized the dog was on a leash. That changed everything! I immediately calmed down and began to run again with confidence, chuckling to myself at my nervousness.
The next morning, I was ready. I approached the same spot with confidence. Sure enough, the exact same dog did the exact same thing: charged hard with lots of bark. But this time, my perspective was completely different. It was just a dog on a leash. I respected the dog, but I did not fear the dog. Seeing the dog tethered to a leash made a huge difference in my response and attitude in the following days.
It occurred to me that Satan is just like that dog. He is a dog on a leash. Unfortunately, many Christians respond to him like I did that first day with the dog. They hear a big bark and don’t notice that God has him on a leash. They are surprised by Satan, and they fear and worry how he is attacking and impacting their lives.
“When the enemy seems close, Jesus is closer. And He commands you to ‘fear not’ 365 times in the Bible—once for each new day.” — Anne Ortlun
Yes, Satan is real, just like the dog I encountered. It wasn’t a recording of a dog barking that scared me. It was a real, scary dog that wanted to maul me. If he hadn’t been on a leash, I wouldn’t be writing this article. And, just like that dog, but on a much larger scale, Satan wants to harm us and destroy us. John 10:10 reminds us that he will steal, kill and destroy!
“The thief does not come except to steal, kill and to destroy, but I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.”
— John 10:10
While we must recognize the power and evil of our spiritual opponent, we must keep him in perspective. When I ran the following days, I respected the dog, but I did not fear the dog. He had clearly indicated his boundaries, so I did not run on the side of the road that put me in his range. I ran with confidence, knowing he had limits, but I did not try to get as close as possible to provoke him. In the same way, we as Christians can’t live our lives seeing how close we can get to Satan without getting bit. Instead of asking ourselves how close we can get to the line without sinning, we must ask how close we can get to the Lord.
Do you respect Satan and realize that he wants to take you out? If you are having an impact for Christ, you have a big bull’s-eye on your chest. Satan doesn’t want you to experience joy in your life. If he can’t take you to hell because you are a disciple of Christ, he’ll do everything in his power to make sure you don’t draw others to Jesus.
That’s why FCA is on a mission to engage, equip and empower coaches and athletes in over 100 countries to know and grow in Christ. We are mobilizing thousands of volunteers to put on the full armor of God and to use their talents, gifts and skills to serve teams, schools and communities.
And then our FCA staff cheer on these volunteer warriors as they courageously assume new levels of Kingdom responsibility. And we have the blessing to see the look on their faces when they realize God has used them to touch lives. At the end of the day, every volunteer has the opportunity to say, “You know what I did today? I teamed up with God to change the world!” FCA is truly fighting the good fight of faith.
Life is a battleground, not a playground.
So, how are you doing? Do you have a good understanding of Satan and how he tries to work in your life? Do you realize that Satan is a dog on a leash? Yes, respect him, but do not fear him. If he gets you to live in fear, then you’ll become ineffective as a believer. Don’t let Satan catch you by surprise. Jesus has already won the battle. Instead, focus on doing His work, His way.
Jesus, thank You for Your victory. Give me Your eyes so I can correctly see the battle that rages in the spiritual realm. I know that, at times, I give Satan too much credit and other times not enough. Help me, Lord, to have the right perspective. Thank You, Jesus, for protecting me and already giving me victory because of what You did on the cross. In Jesus’ name. Amen.