Each of us who has answered Jesus’ call to help bring His truth and salvation to others is engaged in a war of the worlds. It’s a spiritual battle of good against evil. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) God, His heavenly forces, and His children on earth are fighting the Devil, his demons, and earthlings who are wittingly or unwittingly his followers and agents on earth. And what is the objective of the fight? What is each side trying to do?–Win the hearts and minds and souls of us mortals. The Devil tries to win people to his cause and ways, or to at least keep them captive by keeping them from hearing or receiving the truth. When we witness, we try to set the captives free.
The Devil will fight both you and the person you’re witnessing to. He’ll try to defeat you before you even get started by giving you lots of “good” reasons for not witnessing. He’ll remind you of other things you could be doing instead. He’ll try to cause you to feel shy or embarrassed about your faith, or worried about how people will react. He’ll try to get you thinking about yourself and your own problems. It’s similar to what most soldiers experience before going into battle, what they call the before-battle blues. But if you’re going to accomplish what God wants you to do, you can’t let the Devil scare you out before you begin.
Once you get started and begin to see the Lord working on your behalf, engineering situations and putting His words in your mouth, and when you see Him working in people’s hearts, it gets easier. The Devil will probably continue to try to cause you trouble by getting you sidetracked by sending time wasters your way, and so on, but you’re bound to win if you don’t give in! The Enemy always fights when you’re accomplishing something for the Lord, or about to. His opposition is proof that you’re hitting him where it hurts. That’s not the time to retreat; that’s the time to witness all the more boldly.
The Devil will also fight those to whom you are witnessing-usually by putting all sorts of doubts or opposing or distracting thoughts in their minds, or trying to interfere in other ways. He’ll belittle you to them, and find fault with you and your message and your presentation. Or he’ll try to cause them to feel embarrassed, or to think in terms of what this change you’re offering them is going to cost them-things they’ve been indulging in and enjoying, which they imagine would be taboo if they were to “become religious.” The Devil has been at this game for a long time, and he’s gotten quite good at painting a black picture! This is why it’s important to give people the benefit of the doubt when they ask a lot of questions or seem skeptical. This is also why it’s so important to silently pray for the person you’re witnessing to throughout your witness. Or if you’re witnessing with a partner, one of you can pray silently while the other talks.
It’s a spiritual battle, but you’re on the winning side. You can’t win every skirmish, but if you’ll stay close to your Commander in Chief and follow His instructions, you’ll have many more victories than losses.
I was in Singapore, with an hour to kill before catching a bus to the airport. Around the corner, sitting on the pavement, was a young Westerner who looked quite distressed.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” I asked.
“Yes,” came the reply. “You can listen to me. My mind is going crazy! I don’t know how to find peace!”
So I sat there and listened. He had come from Indonesia, he explained, and he was an American who was afraid that he had gotten AIDS from a girl he met there. He didn’t know where to go next-back to the States, or on to Thailand to try to find a place to meditate.
When he was all talked out, I told him what had happened to me–how I had also been desperately looking for peace, love, truth, and happiness, and how I had found everything I needed in Jesus. He prayed with me to receive Jesus, and then we prayed together for his complete healing of body and mind.
Was I ever glad I hadn’t wasted that hour that the Lord wanted me to use to reach this young man with His love!