When facing the attacks of satan, it’s necessary for us to respond with prayer, since it’s only with Gods help that we can withstand him. At the same time, we must also be vigilant (watchful) and prepare ourselves for those coming attacks so that we aren’t taken by surprise.
John Owen in his book “Overcoming Sin and Temptation” explains our need to be prepared this way.
“When we realize a constant enemy of the soul abides within us, what diligence and watchfulness we should have! How woeful is the sloth and negligence then of so many who live blind and asleep to this reality of sin. There is an exceeding efficacy nad power in the indwelling sin of believers, for it constantly inclines itself towards evil. We need to be awake, then, if our hearts would know the ways of God. Our enemy is not only upon us, as it was with Samson, but it is also in us.”John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation
Elsewhere in his book Owen explains that we as Christians should know our temptations or the trials of Satan very well, and watch for them. This way we can recognize the attack before it is directly upon us.
Nehemiah in 4:9 displayed this balance of relying upon God and preparing himself clearly. On the one hand he responded in prayer to the Lord for help, but he also put guards in place so the wall could be protected when the attack actually came.
This verse teaches us two very important lessons about dealing with attacks:
- We should use common sense
- And there is a work for us to do
For the sake of this post I will emphasize number two since it seems to be the main focus of our passage. However, it is important to notice Nehemiah used common sense when dealing with the attacks of Sanballat and Tobiah. He thought things through, and made the wisest choice possible in that situation. To do something ignorant or foolish like not having armed guards when an attack was coming would not glorify God.
This is linked to the principle of our second idea…
Laziness isn’t the same thing as Faith
By this I mean there is always a work for us to do when facing a challenge from satan. Sometimes the devil likes to give us the idea that any kind of action is a lack of faith in God. So in order to keep from dishonoring the Lord, we must step back and do nothing.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth because as Christians we are called to “bear fruit” (do good works) for the cause of Christ. These good works obviously aren’t the source of our Salvation, but as the Holy Spirit transforms our lives through the Word of God, we prove (display) our Salvation through a Godly testimony. This is why James tells us that “faith without works is dead”, there is no fruit or working of the Spirit to display a transformed life.
Just to be clear, those who are waiting for God to do a work but won’t take a step of faith themselves aren’t displaying faith. They are displaying laziness
Of course that doesn’t mean we relegate God to the side and start doing all of the work ourselves! Instead there must be a balance.
Seek the Will of God in prayer
Ask Him to give you strength
And then accomplish the work of God the way He wants it done
in this way we aren’t displaying selfish good-works, but a humble submission.
Like Nehemiah we must seek Gods leading humbly. But once He begins with lead, we then must obey with a passion. Asking God to work when He has already revealed His will, and equipped us to do the work is nothing less than laziness.