11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.The principalities and powers that Paul talks about in this verse belong to Satan, the prince and ruler of darkness.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:11-12)
I’m beginning to learn the difference between how Heavenly Father talks to me about my past sins I’ve repented of and how Satan talks to me about my past sins I’ve repented of. Heavenly Father reminds me of the past only to gently warn me from future mistakes, and He’s very mild about it so I’m not pained. Satan knocks me down with past mistakes and beats me with a nail-spiked board until the guilt pools like blood.
It’s Sunday and you’d think I’d be able to rest right? Wrong.
3:30pm and I have been brought to tears by some gritty thoughts that I have no worth. (Even after those fabulous Ensign articles about the worth of souls!) I cry in my husband’s arms for a few minutes.
6:55pm. I am finishing my dinner and thinking about the lesson I taught the CTR 8 class and I find myself worrying that I was not talking enough to people in church. Soon I am feeling that I am too selfish. Then thoughts begin to come to my mind about a difficult stage I went through a year and a half ago. My past mistakes (already repented of) start replaying in my mind and I am beginning to feel like a terrible person. (Resistance is futile…) Then somehow it comes to me that I don’t deserve the torture since I’ve already repented, and I think to pray. Heavenly Father, PLEASE help me resist the bad thoughts! Peace comes immediately.
7:00pm. I am sitting on the couch thinking about how nice it was to be in primary today. The children were so happy and innocent. Then some bitter thoughts creep in and I find myself wishing I could be back at that age again, before I ruined my life. (Resistance is futile….) WHAT?! I haven’t ruined my life! This is Satan again, trying to make me think I have done something wrong when I haven’t. I pray again for Heavenly Father to help me resist the bad thoughts and I immediately feel peace again.
I’m sure it sounds very much like I have done something terrible, that I’m suffering guilt that is deserved, and that I’m denying that I deserve it. I want to tell you that it is possible to be buffeted by Satan even when you are guiltless. I think Paul knew about this, which is why he wrote about wrestling with Satan and about putting on the armor of God. (If you want to see read about someone else in the scriptures who had to deal with "thought ambushes" from Satan, check out Nephi in 2 Nephi 4 with his "oh wretched man that I am" ruminations.)
In particular, I want to call attention to one of the items Paul listed—the helmet of salvation. (teacher voice) Class, where does a helmet go? (On the head!) Very good! Class, where do thoughts happen? (In the head!) Very good! So when Satan directs vicious fear-choked thoughts at our mind that tell us that we are lost forever (when we have repented), we must remember that we have repented and that Christ has already covered our sins. We’ve been saved! * pa-TING! * Hear that? That’s the sound of a fiery dart bouncing off the helmet of “I’ve-already-repented-so-I’m-safe”, which is commonly known as the helmet of salvation.
How can I be sure that I don’t deserve suffering from these nasty deprecating thoughts? This is why I need the rest of the armor.
Loins girt about with truth. Knowing correct principles and following them takes care of a lot of doubt that I am in the wrong. Also, being honest and telling the truth to myself and to others “covers my butt”.
The breastplate of righteousness. Living the correct principles I know to be true gives even more conviction and firmness to my living. Further, since it is impossible to commit a bad act and a good act at the same time, living righteously all the time means there is no room in the inn for wickedness.
Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. There are principles that I am imperfect at living, but I am preparing to do better, and I know Heavenly Father will help me, so I can have peace knowing that I will become a better person by following the gospel.
The shield of faith. Heavenly Father won’t give me more than I can handle. It may be more than I think I can handle, but it won’t be beyond my capability. For every doubt, there is a shield of faith that can meet it.
The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. As it has been pointed out in the Doctrine and Covenants so many times, the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow. But this isn’t a sword that you commit hari kari on. It’s for cutting to the heart of a problem. It’s for morally dissecting temptations as if they were a fetal pig in biology class.
To conclude, we must be aware of the source of the opposition we face and realize that Satan is behind it. It takes time for awareness to come, and we don’t know from what quarter we’ll be hit next. So, we must be sure we are..
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:18)Image from Children of Narcisus, http://www.arachnoid.com/ChildrenOfNarcissus/media_portrayals.html