Satan. Lucifer. Beelzebub. The devil. Whatever you want to call him, most of us treat the adversary as though he is a biblical fairy tale. Historically, it seems as though Satan gets too much play or none at all. We either blame everything (including burnt toast) on him, or nothing. Rarely have we dealt with him in the middle, knowing he’s against us, but understanding our Father is greater.

For my life, I’ve mainly dealt with the devil as an afterthought. I have believed in Satan because as the song goes … the Bible tells me so, but I have never believed that he influences my everyday life.  He’s there, but don’t mention him.

Here is what I have found out, practically, about the devil as I have tried to live out the mission of making disciples in my suburban neighborhood:

  1. Satan attacks disciple making.
  2. Don’t be surprised when he attacks.
  3. God is glorious, so we don’t have to fear others, including the devil.

Satan attacks disciple making

What I have found out is that Satan is present among disciple makers who are actually doing the enemy’s will masked in God’s favor. What do I mean by this?

For years, I never made disciples of Jesus. Did I make disciples? Yes. Everyone makes disciples, it’s either of yourself or of Jesus. This is one way Satan attacks discipleship. Although I believed I was making good little moralist people whom God would be so glad to have on his team, I was actually drafting soldiers that were fighting well against the gospel–making the gospel seem unnecessary. I was doing Satan’s work for him.

A little over three years ago, the tides changed. Stripped of my moralism, the good news was finally … good news.  Although I grew up in the church my whole life, not until the law was shown to be subject to the Savior instead of the savior itself, did I see how beautiful the news truly was. When this happened, everything changed.

I stopped making disciples of  myself (or at least did my best to stop that kind of self glorifying work). I started to do whatever I could to show others Jesus and what he was like. Instead of expecting sinners to come to me, I started to go to them. Instead of expecting sinners to clean themselves up so they could come to the church, I realized I was as filthy as anyone, and that I am the church only because of grace. And because of that grace, I could go to people where they were and show them and tell them the good news in a way that would really be good news to them. To bring the gospel in a way that made an impact on them where they were in that moment.

As my family started to live this out, everything seemed to be going well. Very well. Neighborhood events, dinners, people seeing and hearing the good news in many different ways. Within this picture of gospel community, Satan made a vicious attack on us–spiritually. He attacked us with the very people we were reaching out to.

We have lived in the same neighborhood for eight years. For the first five years, we never did anything to make disciples of Jesus. For the past three, we have done everything we could to self-sacrifice for the sake of making disciples of Jesus.  Have we done this perfectly? By no means. It’s interesting that we were left alone for the first five years, but now during the last three, Satan has been on the prowl like a roaring lion.

Instead of attacking us by physical illness, something Job-like, it came as a knock at the door. It was a neighbor we had been tirelessly reaching out to, trying to show Jesus to his whole family. He came on a Friday, when he knew I wouldn’t be home. For twenty minutes, he cussed at my wife, saying he had put up with her for eight years, but in reality had hated her the entire time. He then listed off ways in which he found her to be disgusting. These things he listed–these charges that weren’t grounded in reality–though they hadn’t really happened, they were the four things my wife had been trying deeply to rid herself of since leaving our previous church where we were once the good little moralists. The only people who knew the depth of these four struggles were myself and my wife. Our MC (missional community) knew most of them, but not the depth of the hurt these four things had caused our souls. God knew everything, and we came to find out, so did Satan.

Shortly after, my wife called to let me know what happened. As a husband, I was furious. I had to decide if I’d go to jail, or respond to my enemy in love. Would I disciple my family and the neighborhood to Jesus, or to myself?

I gave him a call, we spoke, and I called out his lies where they needed to be called out. In the end, I told him we’d respect his wishes for our families not to interact further. I did my best to show him love, all the while wanting to take him to the wood shed. We live literally ten feet apart.

Don’t Be Surprised When Satan Attacks

We are told many times that we’ll be hated, attacked, and despised for living a life of hope and peace. We need to be ready to be attacked. Peter even says don’t be surprised by the fiery ordeal amongst you. Jesus says to know that we’ll be hated because they first hated him.

When my wife was attacked by our neighbor, our first thought was, “Why?”  If I listed all the ways we’d loved this family, you’d think I was making it up. Again, a reminder that we should never be loving others for what we’ll get from them, but only because of how much our Father has loved us.

On the question of why Satan attacks, he attacked us because of what was happening in the neighborhood. We have had so many people see Jesus and hear about Jesus in the last three years in our neighborhood that Satan could not take us being on his turf any more. If he is like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, who is a lion going to attack? A lion attacks for food or for protection of the herd. I believe he was attacking here because he was trying to protect his herd against his enemy: Jesus.

When you are on the mission field, doing the work of Jesus, Satan will attack to keep the eyes of his herd closed to the glories of Jesus. Instead of merely attacking the work, he attacks those that are doing the work to nip the work in the bud.  If he can rid the neighborhood of us, then he can rid the light from the darkness. Not because we are special, but because we are the workmen of Jesus being used by the Spirit to show off who he is.

Why my wife? Peter tells us to love our wives like a weaker vessel, put in our vernacular, like a prized vase that you take great care of and keep from breaking. Satan figured that if he could take out my wife, she’d crumble and our disciple making would be over. Satan has not only attacked my wife through our neighbor, but he has also shown up in visions and dreams of demons surrounding her, trying to show her his strength against her. I’ll add something to this a little further down.

So, why did this neighbor attack my wife, or really us as a family? This neighbor knows us pretty well, as our family is very open and honest about our struggles and our lives in general. He knows who we trust and the hope and peace we have in Jesus. When you live in such a way where you have an honest hope and trust in something greater than yourself, and there is no explaining it away, you end up showing others that they actually don’t live in true peace and hope. We believe in the end, this neighbor started to see that his life was being threatened by us. He had a view of what Christians were, namely hypocrites that don’t look like Jesus in any way. Now he had people living ten feet away from him, loving him without restrictions, without any strings attached, and I believe it crushed his view of not only Jesus, but of his whole life, which he thought was peaceful and hopeful. When that crashed around him, he attacked because he didn’t know what else to do.

This isn’t some “look how great we’ve been to our neighbor” act, but it is the reality of the Scriptures. Think through this.  Why was Jesus hated? Because he showed the people that their deeds were evil (John 7:7; John 15:18-23). Why will we be persecuted? Because we live godly in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 3:12). When we do these things, we are discipling people to Jesus, and this kicks against not only the individualistic American Dream but against Satan himself.

So, as you prepare to live a life on mission to show off Jesus … be ready. Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. That someone is you.

God is glorious, so I don’t have to fear others, including Satan

The beautiful thing about all this is that God is glorious; he is greater than all things and beings and is in complete control. Therefore, we fear nothing or no one, including the devil.

After this happened to my wife, I told her that it was time for us to rest and allow God to defend himself in this matter, and that we didn’t need to defend ourselves. We told no one, besides our MC, as we didn’t desire to spread rumors or slander against our neighbor. During this time, many emotions bubbled up. This was not a time where we were perfect, nor handled it like stoics. There were times of fierce anger, lots of screaming about the situation and asking God why he was allowing this to happen. After the incident on the porch, another time the family attacked my nine-year-old’s character. They were persistent. We didn’t know if we’d ever reach out to our community again because the hurt to our family ran so deep.

We didn’t hide these emotions from each other, God, or our missional community. One beautiful thing about this was the wisdom and insight we received from God through our people. Two women had visions and dreams about our neighborhood and the attack that was happening. One described it as demon possession and that much prayer needed to happen for the family. Not only that, but this woman and her husband offered us up a place to stay if we desired to flee from the devil and his schemes. It was a beautiful time for our MC family. Another woman said that God gave her a vision of not only the army of darkness that surrounded our house, but that God confirmed for her and us that the army of God was protecting us and would one day send us to proclaim the good news again.

One of my elders spoke to us telling us that Jesus had many people that hated him, and he still partied in their midst. Jesus literally was at parties where his enemies were and they would scorn him in front of others. This elder reminded us of the good news of who God is and our calling to love others for the sake of the glory of God.

As we prayed, my wife was given a vision. It was in the middle of the night and she woke in terror. She saw demonic beings up and down our walls seeking to attack her. I was leaving to speak at a conference, and Satan was telling her that when I left, he was going to attack her. That was when another beautiful thing happened: my wife felt comfort. Terror left her. Fear was gone. Peace and joy filled her as she told Satan:

“My husband is not my protector. He is not my savior. He is not the one who ensures my safety. The only one who can protect me, save me, and ensure my safety is the God of the universe. And I call him Daddy.

Through all of this attack, although our emotions were up and down, Satan failed. Jesus won. Our Jesus allowed this to happen to bring us closer to him and to understand why we are on the mission field. It is not about ourselves or what we’ll get from it. It’s not so we can grab attention or get anything from those we serve. There is only one reason we are on the mission field–to show off who Jesus is.

As we show off who Jesus is, the God who is all glorious brings us along in his power and protection so that we’ll press more into him and the understanding of his glory and might and not our own. Satan thought that by trying to break my wife, he’d win. What he did instead was to press my wife even further into the loving arms of her true Savior, her true Protector, her true Salvation. And by doing this, he strengthened my understanding of what it means to love my wife and trust that my Heavenly Dad loves her far more than I do.

When we begin to understand this, we can press even further into the mission of making disciples who make disciples, knowing that Satan is ready to attack, but that our Protector is there and ready at our defense for the sake of his glory.

It’s his mission. It’s his power. It’s for his glory.

Seth McBee is the adopted son of God, husband of one wife, and father of three. He’s a graduate of Seattle Pacific University with a finance degree. By trade Seth is an Investment Portfolio Manager, serving as president of McBee Advisors, Inc as well as a missional community leader, preaching elder with Soma Communities in Renton, Washington, and executive team member of the GCM Collective. Twitter @sdmcbee

To go more in depth into the gospel centered life, read Unbelievable Gospel by Jonathan Dodson.

For more free articles about spiritual warfare, read Spiritual Warfare Prayer by Winfield Bevins.