Do you ever feel alone? I’m talking about that awful feeling, even when you’re surrounded by people, that you are completely ‘on your own’?
Here’s some good news and some … well, some more good news about that feeling.
1. You are not the only one who feels that way. We all feel it at times and there’s a reason behind it.
I’m blessed to be part of a thriving, friendly, warm church that has a reputation for being decidedly un-cliquey. Yet still, in this loving environment I hear people say from time to time that they feel lonely. Why is that?
If you are feeling that way today, or it’s something you experience regularly, you need to know that what you are feeling is an age-old battle tactic used by the enemy of your soul – Satan, to try to discourage and break you down.
Divide and Conquer – ‘Divide et impera’ – was a battle tactic widely used by armies and politicians throughout history – The tactic worked by causing opponents to:
a) feel isolated and helpless.
B) fight among themselves.
John 10:10 NLT
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
God has an agenda for every man woman and child on this planet. He has an agenda for nations. It’s an agenda of unstoppable grace, compassion, love, and restoration.
Satan also has an agenda though. He has an agenda for nations and for communities, for every man, woman and child. His agenda is to kill, to steal and destroy. And he hates Christians. You and I, as the beloved bride of Jesus Christ, are top of his hit list list. Why? Because he hates who we are in Jesus Christ. Jesus said ”I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)
Your enemy does not want you to be that victorious Bible believing Christian who remembers who you are in Christ. So he wages war against you. Constantly.
Ephesians 6:12 NLT
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
There’s more good news:
In war, the battle tactics of the enemy are top secret – for as long as wars and battle plans have existed, so has espionage and military intelligence, who often try to obtain enemy battle strategies at huge personal risk and injury.
But we, as God’s beloved children have a ‘heads -up’ on Satan’s battle plans. We are told in 2 Corinthians 2:11 (NLT) that Satan will try to outwit us, but that ‘we are familiar with his evil schemes”
The the devil does have schemes, and yes they’re clever schemes; they must be because we all fall for them, time and again. But we don’t have to! We have a choice.
We have Almighty God, Lord of the angel armies by our side, who has equipped us for battle. “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. (2 Peter 1:3)
We are in a war that has already been won. Romans 16:20 “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
God is the one who does the crushing, but Satan ends up under the feet of believers. This will ultimately happen when Satan is bound and cast into the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-3) but every victory God wins for us right now is a preview of that event!
Our enemy has been defeated, his power is limited and we have been equipped for battle, we are not alone and never will be.
God has promised that he would never leave us or forsake us.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1: 9
He also put us in the church, The Body of Christ. We are not built to ‘go it alone’.
Among his schemes and tactics, there is one, that our enemy uses again and again in various ways but with the same goal – He seeks to ‘Divide and Conquer.’
In history, Military Leaders who used a divide and conquer strategy encouraged or fostered feuds between smaller powers.
The strategy included:
* breaking up power alliances into smaller groups that were easier to subdue and manage
* preventing small power groups from linking up with their neighbours and becoming more powerful
That’s exactly how your enemy the devil works – or at least, attempts to. Remember, the Bible describes him as ‘the father of lies’ (John 8:44) Lies are his ‘native language’. So he will constantly drop his lies into your thoughts. Thoughts that can, if you let them, take root and start to slowly separate you off from your church family.
For example, there’s a phrase I hear quite regularly, in listening to people talking and it’s this – “if I left this church no one would even notice.” I have to be honest and say I have actually muttered that to myself sometimes in the car, driving to church.
That self pitying, ‘poor me’ phrase is so often the first step in the Divide and Conquer strategy! And it’s a lie straight from the pit of hell!
We need to nip that thought in the bud straight away – counter the thought with what God says, which is ‘I belong to God, I am part of the body, planted, rooted and established in Him’ And, perhaps most importantly, ‘it’s not all about me’.
If we don’t stop that first destructive thought, then we usually find someone or several people, to voice it to. Before we know it we become caught in a viscous circle of complaining and fault finding. We all know someone like that and most of us, if we’re honest, have been that person at some time or other.
We see people we thought were solid, stalwarts in our churches ‘put down their tools’ and leave, and it breaks the hearts of those left behind.
It nearly always starts with those thoughts; ‘I’m not loved’. ‘I’m not appreciated’. ‘I’m lonely’ – downward spiralling very quickly to that most selfish of thoughts, ‘my needs are not being met in this church, maybe it’s time to move on’.
Some of these people bounce from church to church, spending a couple of years here, a couple there, causing heartache to themselves and others every time they repeat that cycle.
Some get caught in that way of thinking – ‘I’m ok in my relationship with God, it’s just church I have a problem with.’ But nothing could be further than the truth. You cannot have one without the other. Maturity in God only takes place when we are in fellowship and relationship with others.
Ephesians 4:11-16 gives a good model for church life and how the body should function and the role we all need to play. How, I have to ask myself, does one put Ephesians 4 into practice if one is sitting at home on the sofa watching ‘The God channel’?
And… even more good news
Remember, Satan is the ‘father of lies’. So even his ‘divide and conquer’ strategy is actually a lie!
The ‘Divide’ part of it is a clever strategy and can work if we allow it to by giving it ‘head space’. But we do not have to!
The enemy will look for every way to cause division and separation within the body of Christ, and to try to cause you to feel isolated. But we can counter his attack by
a) believing who we are in Christ. Just quoting scriptures about it doesn’t do anything- Satan knows the scriptures. You need to believe it. We need to be like the man described in Psalm 1, who is so rooted and grounded in God’s Word that when the day of trouble comes he is not shaken. Psalm 1:2-3 ‘“but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”
b) doing everything to promote and foster unity and a spirit of genuine love, in the church. 1 Corinthians 1:10 “I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.”
As for the ‘conquer’ part – it is just an outright lie. A deception. The enemy may make you feel defeated sometimes, but you are not. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”
Also Romans 8:35, 37-38
Far from ‘conquered’, you are, in fact, the Bible says ‘more than a conqueror’!
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jill McIlreavy 💜