Do you ever feel like your mate is your enemy—or is at least acting like one? Sadly, in the heat of conflicts in marriage, it’s easy to be confused about who the real enemy is.
In marriage, we’re often tempted to point fingers at each other, rather than keeping in mind that it might NOT be our spouses who are stirring the pot.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. —Eph. 6:12
It’s a challenge for every spouse since we can’t see the Enemy’s influence as obviously as our mate’s wrong choices.
1. When you’re withholding forgiveness.
If we don’t easily forgive our mates, the Bible says we’re more vulnerable to Satan outwitting us. Consider …
If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there is anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” —2 Cor. 2:10-11
Back in the day, this was an area of weakness in my marriage. I was naïve to how my bitterness would make me vulnerable to the Enemy’s attacks. Then I wrongly assumed it was my husband’s fault for my bitter heart.
2. When you focus primarily on your desires.
Consider this …
Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’” —Mt. 16:23
Now Jesus wasn’t confusing Peter with Satan here like we tend to do with our mates. He was keenly aware of how Satan had tempted Peter to focus on human desires rather than on the things of God.
Every single time I focus on my own desires over God’s, you can bet that I’ve taken Satan’s bait. And it’s not that “the devil made me do it.”
It just means that I’m choosing to listen to the Enemy rather than to God.
Hopefully, my husband (and I) will realize this and not give in to Satan’s temptation to play the blame game.
3. When you OR your mate live a lifestyle of rebellion against God.
King Saul was a prime example of this. God had given him so much, and yet he chose repeatedly to rebel against God’s instructions and warnings. At a certain point, an evil spirit began to torment Saul—one of the most obvious signs of a spiritual attack on a person (1 Sam. 16:14-16).
Maybe you’re living with someone who is continually rebelling against God. If so, you might be tempted to criticize and correct your mate, when you might want to pray for them instead!
Pray for your rebellious spouse instead of trying to play the role of the Holy Spirit in his/her life.
4. You’re a Christ-follower (period).
The Enemy is an equal-opportunity tormentor, often going after the believer more than he does the rebellious &/or unbeliever.
After all, Satan—compared to a prowling lion—wants more than anything to devour you and your testimony for Christ (1 Peter 5:8-9).
Keep this in mind, the next time you think your spouse is the one throwing you a fiery dart.
5. When you’re embracing one or more lies.
Remember Eve from the Garden of Eden? She fell for the very first lie ever told by Satan himself. She then ate of the fruit and the rest, well, it’s truly “human history.”
Add to that, lying is Satan’s native language. Consider …
You belong to your father, the devil, … When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. —Jn. 8:44
It’s really not fair to blame your spouse when he/she falls for a lie. The fair response is to blame the father of lies.
6. When you argue and think your opinions matter more than anyone else’s.
It seems like godly wisdom goes right out the window when we begin to argue with our mates. Even worse, our minds are constantly bombarded with Satan’s arguments as well.
Thankfully, we have the power through God and His word to stand against every single one.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” —2 Cor. 10:5
Get busy taking captive the argument, instead of trying to take captive your mate’s sins and faulty logic!
7. You’re feeling weak and/or have isolated yourself.
Ever notice how easy it is to get in a heated exchange with your mate when you’re hungry, tired, sick, or sad?
Satan tried to topple Jesus when He was fasting in the wilderness. He knew that Jesus was more vulnerable to attacks at a time of physical depletion.
When that didn’t work, we’re told …
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him [Jesus] until an opportune time. —Luke 4:13
These opportune times in our own lives are often unknown and overlooked by us. So we must remain aware of this tactic of Satan.
Okay, so what should you do to resist the temptation to focus on your mate’s bad behavior, realizing spiritual warfare is occurring instead?
Two Key Ways to Fight “Right” in Marriage
1. Hold to God’s truth.
We can experience freedom from Satan’s schemes when we study, pray, apply, and yield to God’s word.
When we do this we can then know when to …
2. Resist the Real Enemy.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” —James 5:7
This is the “Trust God Two-Step.”
Step one: resist the devil. He then runs away from the “dance.”
Step two: come near to God.
God then comes toward us in a dance that draws us closer to our spouses than ever before!
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Messy Marriage