Signs of the Enemy’s Attacks on Individuals

Earlier this week, I wrote on ways the enemy attacks the church. In this post, I want to suggest some anecdotal signs of attack I’ve seen on individuals– particularly, if not primarily, on those Christian leaders who are taking steps of faith to get the gospel to a lost world:

  1. Unusual marital and family conflict. I’ve seen some of the healthiest homes face surprising strife when they take strong steps of obedience. Marriages are particularly a target.
  2. Recurring and uninvited temptations. We’re ultimately responsible for our wrong choices, but the tempter delights in setting traps for us. For example, the man who has lived in purity for decades is shocked by past images that suddenly erupt in his head.
  3. Returning, controlling sin. The enemy particularly wants us to return to actions of our “old self” (Eph. 4:22) so we begin to question the power of the gospel to transform. Battles won long ago now become sites of defeat.
  4. Strong discouragement and defeat. One day, hope and faith resound; the next day, disbelief and struggle reign, at least temporarily. Nothing has changed, except the enemy is attacking. 
  5. Crippling doubt. You may have been moving in faith for some time, but you begin to hear messages like, “God is not going to use you. You’re not going to make much difference.” The enemy’s goal is to get you to quit.
  6. Evangelistic apathy. This happens when we focus more on ourselves and our situation than on others and their spiritual condition. If the enemy entices us toward personal recognition and hardens our hearts toward lostness, he’s gained some ground.  
  7. Team disunity. From the Garden of Eden, Satan has sought to turn people against each other. A divided team doesn’t pose much threat to the enemy. 
  8. Personal isolation. Under attack, even extroverts will sometimes withdraw in the battle. The problem is that leaders who fight battles alone most often lose. 
  9. Inward focus. Satan has a way of turning faithful believers away from the blessings of obedience to the potential loss because of obedience. “Look at what you’re giving up,” he says.
  10. Prayer struggles. Sometimes, the leader who has always prayed diligently finds prayer unexpectedly difficult as he moves into the front lines. Prayerlessness equals powerlessness, and the enemy knows that fact.
  11. Physical persecution. It happens around the world, even if you don’t face this reality today. Our enemy, who is bent on destruction (see Rev. 9:11), wants to destroy the work of God by destroying the people of God.  
  12. Reading distractions. The Word of God is the sword we use in the battle (Eph. 6:17). Distractions that keep us from reading—including the “good” work of ministry at times—can be a tool of the enemy.
  13. Demon hunting. This one might be a surprise to you, especially given the topic of this post. But, if you come out of this reading and find a demon behind every rock – a demon that’s causing every issue you face – you’re likely under attack. Satan often distracts us by claiming more power and influence than he really has. 

Based on this list, let us know how we can best pray for you. 

12 Comments

  • Chris & Kathy Myers says:

    Dr. Lawless, I have a recurring battle that involves 2 of our adult children. Long story short, they haven’t had a relationship with us for almost 3 years. Out of 5 children they are the only ones who are currently leaders in a church, our son and his wife are worship leaders and our daughter and her husband are youth /pastors. I seem to be getting better but have days like today where I can’t quit crying. I feel worthless and useless. I know these are lies but the pain is very real. They refuse to reconcile even though I have offered to have a mediator, not speak just listen, etc…I really need intercessory prayer, not just for me but for them as well.

  • Amy says:

    Excellent post. A big one for me is doubt, evangelistic apathy and the return of sins I once was freed from.

    Please pray as I search for a church home to be in community

  • Charles says:

    Praise God Almighty. Number 1&2 is what I face and by the help of the Holy Spirt I have overcome them. Hallelujah

  • Lydia says:

    Please pray for me there has been unusual strife in my family and the enemy has really been trying to confuse and distract me I’ve been experiencing physical ailments too such as ringing in the ears. Please pray that my heart may not be hardened and that I will know who God really when I go through mistreatment.

  • Random says:

    Checked every one. Thanks

  • Rob says:

    Hi Chuck, I’m on the board of a Christian school and the head of school and founder has felt that he is under attack by the enemy since he started the school. His marriage is in shambles and his job performance is suffering, he has lost the trust of staff due to his treatment of his wife and emotional outbursts on the job. We are struggling with is this an attack or discipline?

  • reconcil3 says:

    Some of this stuff I’m dealing with like uninvited temptations. Please pray for me and my family. Thank You

  • Luc says:

    I am dealing with incredible attacks from the enemy as I try to do my schoolwork and fulltime job. I have been having increasing eye pains, neurological symptoms, and arm pain as I have been trying to keep in obedience with God. I know he will heal me. I am just exhausted and can’t do it anymore. I really need prayer.

  • James Wardle says:

    Have you come across Have you come across abuse/sexual trauma survivors and inability to wear a cross, read the bible or pray because as soon as I do I am flooded with profane images involving Jesus, Mary, God, and whilst I have to admit psychiatric problems in the past, I feel rational and articulate enough to say, this was never normal imagery for me. Fire. I am safe and not going to do this but there’s intermittent incandescent rage at night imagining and dreaming of dousing myself with an accelerent and setting myself on fire. This is not me at all. This is external to me it feels§. I cannot get past it to ead or prsy. This started 3 years ago intermittently but now I’m scared as I blaspheme against God. I feel like I’m losing this battle and in time, I feel that I’ll exhaust my mental, physical and spititual reserves.

    At 10 I came across a future child murderer and who had alteady strangled a 7 yr old boy when Imet him, and thst is the one time when I felt someone under the influence of the other place. Put it this way I vomited until i retched ran to a catholic church and had a grown up conversation about light and darkness. Revolting and sulphur is how I’d describe him, with black eyes without a spark of light. Because I called him bh name and asked to pet his dog, he seemed to be afraid of me.

    I have dread, utter dread as every waking thought. I feel like I am going to die and I don’t think it’s my head working against me. It feels like soul murder. I am alone in the world and Churches around here are not the true word. I appreciate you are not here to tend to my spiritual needs and you can suggest other avenues. I feel like the outckmd will be death if ‘i don’g work this out. Everything says that this is not psychiatric. People say pray but I cannot.

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