The first question recorded in the Bible is the serpent’s query to Eve regarding God’s word, leading her to doubt God’s provision (Genesis 3:1). The next question asked is God seeking man after sin has resulted in a drastic change in man’s relationship with his Creator. When God called, “Where are you?”(Genesis 3:9), of course He knew where Adam was, but Adam needed to assess not just his physical location and status – hiding from God – but also his mental, emotional, and spiritual conditions – of fear, shame, and death (that is, separation from God’s fellowship – v.10). If Satan’s attacks ever leave you wondering about God’s intentions and provision in your life, perhaps the Lord would have you take a look at where you are with Him right now.
In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul talks about our relationship by faith in Christ: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk IN HIM, having been firmly rooted and now being built up IN HIM and established in your faith…and IN HIM you have been made complete…and IN HIM you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands…” (vv.6,7,10,11, emphasis added). There seem to be four stages in our relationship with Jesus, which, although most certainly overlapping one another, are also built upon each other. First, we have been made complete in Him (v.10) when we accepted His finished work on the cross on our behalf. We are SAVED, forgiven, justified, and declared righteous – THANK YOU, JESUS!!! How did this happen? Paul states in Ephesians 2:8 that “by grace you have been saved through faith”. Of course, Satan does everything he can to keep sinners from that saving knowledge of Christ’s atoning work on Calvary. In his excellent little book, “The Strategy of Satan”, Warren Wiersbe alerts us to various identities and tactics of our enemy. For example, failing to prevent conversion, the Deceiver then attempts to keep believers ignorant of God’s will through his lies and deceptions. Our defense, of course, is to know God’s truth: to read, study, memorize, meditate on, and use Scripture.
Then, having that foundation, Colossians 2:7 tells us that we are “built up in Him and established in (our) faith”; in other words, SANCTIFIED. We are saved by faith, and we grow by faith; but of course, Satan’s not going to sit idly by while that happens either. Another of the devil’s identities is as the Destroyer who attacks believers with suffering in an attempt to make us impatient with God’s will. But as the apostle Paul testified, God’s grace is sufficient, and His power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). This occurs when we submit to God and thank Him even in our trials, and feed on the “word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
As we mature in our relationship with Jesus, we grow in our desire to SERVE Him. In Colossians 2:6, this is what is meant by the admonition to “walk in Him”. Another translation of this is to “live your life in Him”. How? “We walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7) At this stage of our relationship we seem particularly prone to temptations of pride; pursuing our own “good works” independent of God’s will. The antidote to this malady is an awareness of God’s presence (which will make us humble) and obedience to the Spirit’s leading.
This brings us to the spiritual circumcision mentioned in Colossians 2:11, which pictures our SEPARATION from this world and our fleshly desires in order to live totally for God. But as the Accuser of the brethren, the devil would have us buried under guilt to prevent, or at least minimize, our spiritual fruitfulness. As revealed in Romans 8:33,34: “God is the one who justifies; Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” PRAISE GOD!!! “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) This “shield of faith” in Christ’s intercession for us will quench the enemy’s fiery darts (Ephesians 6:16).
We realize, then, that we have been saved by faith in Christ’s completed work FOR us; that the Holy Spirit may continually do His work of sanctification IN us; that God’s life may concretely work THROUGH us as we are separated to Him in service. So the next time the enemy starts badgering you, take a moment to assess where you are in your relationship to Christ. Then remember the encouragement of James 1:2-4: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.”