This is a different kind of post. It’s a story of spiritual warfare and my understanding of what happened. Before reading it, I encourage you to read or review my previous post on the role of God’s Word in battling depression: “Spiritual Bromide or Fuel for Faith?” If the link does not work, you can find it in the “Depression & Faith” tab along the top of my home page.
A sudden, pervasive sense of evil enveloped me, an inner horror difficult to describe. A disturbing yet inaudible voice conveyed this threatening message. I don’t claim to understand how, but this inaudible message came in a harsh, caustic tone of voice:
Stop speaking and writing about how faith and God’s Word helps battle depression! If you don’t, I’ll send darkness your way that will cause all past depressive episodes to pale in comparison. Your mood is mine. Your future will only get bleaker and darker and more hopeless.
That paragraph doesn’t record the precise words I “heard,” but it captures in abbreviated form the threatening message from Satan.
That morning (January 28, 2018), I filled in for a sick pastor, preaching on 2 Corinthians 4, “Don’t Lose Heart.” I illustrated the reasons not to lose heart by explaining how each truth sustained me and served as a weapon to wield versus my depression.
Moments before the episode of spiritual oppression I described, I received an email from a church member who had entered the sanctuary that morning extremely despondent, but who left with a more hopeful spirit. God’s truth had massaged her hurting heart.
I know this sounds sensational. I’ve had other, more intense “spiritual panic attacks” when warfare ramped up, but never have I heard such a clear inside voice of the enemy.
Is my interpretation of such encounters infallible? Of course not. But I believe I heard the enemy speak just as surely as if he were embodied, sitting beside me, speaking man to man.
Such experiences are rare for me. Yet from my perspective, the timing of this attack increases the likelihood it was genuine warfare instead of an untrustworthy, subjective hallucination.
Why am I risking this disclosure, knowing full well that some readers may question my interpretation of the event, or even my sanity?
Because I titled my previous blog at penetratingthedarkness.com “Spiritual Bromide or Fuel for Faith? The Role of God’s Word in Battling Depression.” The encounter I described provided a rich opportunity to “practice what I preached” in that post: to apply Bible truths and verses in the fight against symptoms of depression and other threats to faith.
I “talked back” to the threatening inside voice:
You don’t own me or control me. God does. He adopted me as His child. (I meditated on Romans 8:15.) Because Jesus paid a high price for me on the cross, I’m God’s property. (I mentally recited 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.) You can’t touch me without His permission. If I experience worse depression, it will be filtered through His hands, and He will employ the pain for a redemptive purpose. Your will doesn’t reign, for God “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11).
And you lie about my future: God says, “I know the plans I have for you…plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Then I quoted to myself verses that unveil the Lord’s dominion over Satan or His promises to sustain me.
“Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3).
“But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the one who lifts my head” (Psalm 3:3).
“Behold, God is my helper. The Lord is the sustainer of my soul” (Psalm 54:4).
I also reviewed in my mind narratives where demons who encountered Jesus cowered before Him and fell at His feet (Mark 1:23-26; 3:11; 5:1-7).
Verses I had memorized fueled my faith. Within an hour, the oppressive spirit dissipated, the inside voice waned. What I had advocated in the previous post worked: preaching truth to myself helps combat the false or negative thinking that depression typically spawns.
When a Christian communicates God’s truth, whether the venue is formal teaching or an informal conversation, God wants to “build the message into the messenger” by giving a test of the material we conveyed. For me, it’s an occupational hazard.
Be encouraged. Indeed, “the Lord is faithful and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3).
When has memorization of God’s Word enabled your defense during a time of spiritual warfare?
In this post, I am not suggesting that most depression stems from satanic or demonic attacks. I’m merely saying that my ministry to encourage the depressed and their loved ones was the focal point of this particular battle.