n most superhero movies, the screenwriters and producers make the villains as ugly and scary as possible. Many bad guys seem to look like death incarnate. Why do film companies make their villains so scary and obvious? Because fear sells movie tickets! They want the sensationalism to reel viewers in by the millions. In real life, however, our enemies are not so obvious.
Instead of letting the vile nature of his minions be exposed, the hijacker [Satan] often clothes his demons in mantles that look and feel safe—even friendly. Only when we dig into the truths of the Word of God can we see the difference between truth and error, between our enemies and our friends, between safety and danger, and between the holy and the profane. Let’s look at some of the villains exposed by God’s Word, and how the Holy Spirit will defeat each one when we flow in His anointing.
The Villain of Religion
Religion blinds people. It makes them think they are in perfect shape and don’t need to change. A religious person points the finger at everyone else and refuses to admit they have any problems themselves. Religious people also thrive on keeping man-made rules and regulations so they can make themselves look good in the eyes of others.
Second Timothy 3:4-5 describes religious people as “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”. Religious people have all the external trappings that make them look spiritual. Inside, however, they are dead—and they want everybody else to be as dead as they are.
The Villain of the Flesh
“The flesh” is a term the Bible uses to describe your physical body, including your thoughts. The flesh tells you it would be fun to cheat on your spouse, punch someone who insults you, watch TV all day instead of taking time to spend with God, stab your coworker in the back, get drunk, do drugs, rob, murder, or hate people who have hurt you.
The flesh wants instant gratification. It doesn’t want you to think about how your decisions will impact your life or your relationship with God. It doesn’t care about the sanctity of your marriage or about preserving your friendships for the long haul. The flesh says “Me, me, me; now, now, now.”
Fortunately, when you follow the Holy Spirit [your Hero Within] instead of your flesh, the cry of your heart ceases to be “Me, me, me” and instead becomes “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!”
The Villains of Human Intellect and Ability
Our Creator God has given each of us a mind that can think and reason, along with some measure of human strength and skill. These are good and holy things when submitted to the Holy Spirit’s leadership. However, our human intellect and natural abilities become villains when we allow them to have preeminence over the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul excelled in natural ability. He was brilliant and accomplished, and had kept all the Jewish religious laws since his childhood. He had even climbed the religious ladder to become a Pharisee (an elite religious leader in his society). However, when Paul gave his life to Jesus, he learned none of his human power or accomplishments mattered. He wrote, “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Philippians 3:7).
Paul learned by experience that the wonder of knowing Christ, operating in His power, keeping company with Him through suffering, and receiving His ultimate promise of eternal life were the only things worth his energy and labor. And from the day God interrupted his life with this truth until the day Paul died, he poured out his life for the cause of Christ.
You too have a God-given set of abilities. However, your mind and abilities must be submitted to the Holy Spirit if you don’t want to throw your life away on things that don’t matter. First Corinthians 2:14 says, “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Your intellect and abilities, when not subordinate to the Holy Spirit, are villains who will keep you from intimacy with God.
The Villain of Pride
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). The Hebrew word for pride used here means “arrogance, excellency, majesty, pomp, swelling.” Pride makes you cocky and unwilling to listen. When pride sets in, the Lord’s work in your life slows down.
The villain of pride is extremely offensive to God. When He searches our hearts and finds we have a puffed-up attitude or haughty thoughts, He will deal with us until we learn we are totally dependent on Him and that we need the fellowship of other believers.
The Villain of Envy
An envious person turns angry eyes on someone else’s possessions, opportunities, talents, and even personality, and becomes bitter because they don’t have the same things. Envy is a slap in the Holy Spirit’s face. At its core, it is a lack of honor for the Holy Spirit’s call on your life—for what He has gifted you and given you the opportunity to do.
Envy was one of the primary sins committed by King Saul. It started early in his reign when Saul became jealous of his young armor-bearer, David, who had defeated Goliath. Saul became “very angry” when he heard the women of Israel singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7-8).
Saul became paranoid and spent many years from that day forward plotting to kill David. He wasted his nation’s resources by leading his whole army around the wilderness chasing this man who remained loyal even then. Why did he do it? It all happened because Saul could not be satisfied with what God had given him. The nation and the kingship were not enough for him. He wanted everything David had as well.
The spirit of envy will poison your soul. It will keep you from stewarding your resources and opportunities well. It turns your friends into enemies and makes you act foolishly.
Let’s Defeat These Villains
Every villain listed above (as well as every other enemy you may encounter) can be conquered when you walk in the anointing. If you use the battle plans that Father God teaches in the Bible, you can escape Satan’s traps. Let’s examine our Father’s seven primary warfare strategies.
- Abide in Jesus. “I am the vine, you are the branches,” Jesus said. “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Focus your thoughts and desires on Jesus. As you get to know Him, the beauty of Jesus will eclipse every other thing. The Holy Spirit will slowly mold your character into Christ’s image, and villains like envy, pride, and religion will be crowded out of your life.
- Cherish the Holy Spirit. To enjoy the Spirit’s company and preserve His anointing, we must honor Him by our actions. We can do this by staying conscious of His presence, avoiding things that grieve Him, and filling our lives with things He loves—like prayer, praise, and worship. If we move throughout all of our daily tasks with the Holy Spirit in mind, the enemy won’t be able to gain entry into our lives.
- Live carefully. Decide to manage your time as is pleasing to the Lord, rather than letting your time run over you. Decide to allow only healthy relationships into your life. Decide to be honest, gentle, and encouraging with your words.
You must not “give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27), who uses the lure of seemingly insignificant choices when he tries to get you to sin. However, if you live carefully and intentionally, your life will become a beautiful tapestry of fruitfulness. The devil’s attacks will be thwarted before they can take root in your soul.
- Live compassionately. Deciding to adopt a lifestyle of compassion will make you humble before God and other people. Compassionate people move through life with a kind of spiritual radar. When they see someone who is hurting, they will go to that person with a hug, an encouraging word, a prayer of healing, or physical provision. When you focus on loving other people, you won’t have time to stare proudly at yourself.
- Live with the goal in mind. The Apostle Paul lived with his ultimate destiny in mind: “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Just like Paul, you and I have a limited amount of time remaining in this world. The question is: Will you fulfill God’s call on your life during the days you have left? Chase Jesus with your whole heart the rest of your days. When you go after God with ferocity, you will rout every one of the hijacker’s attacks.
- Overcome “by the blood of Lamb and by the word of [your] testimony” (Revelation 12:11). Because we are legal heirs of God through Jesus’ blood, our Father will help us when we ask Him for help. When we ask Him to strengthen us, He will pour strength, courage, and hope into our hearts.
We will overcome the devil by our “testimony” also. When our mouths are busy talking about Jesus, the hijacker cannot work his way in edgewise. Jesus will take center stage in our conversation, our thoughts, and ultimately our actions. Every testimony we speak will help us defeat the forces of evil.
- Live transparently. If you are going through a hard time and don’t talk about it, you will go downhill fast. Your attitude sours quickly. You find it difficult to resist temptation. You tend to get depressed and discouraged, and you might even lose your will and courage to fight.
However, if you are in those same difficult circumstances but you do open up and discuss it with carefully chosen people, the opposite happens. As you talk to your spiritual leaders or other brothers and sisters in Christ, you will be strengthened. Your spiritual family will encourage and pray for you. You can receive the ministry and wise counsel you need. James 5:16 says, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Through this process of confession and fervent prayer, God can bring healing into the dark and wounded places in your heart.
No Weapon Shall Prosper
Trying times and temptations are sure to come in this life. However, when we abide in Jesus and let the Holy Spirit do His work in our lives without hindrance, none of the villains Satan sends against us will succeed. God’s Word promises us:
No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me (Isaiah 54:17).
God will not allow His people to be defeated. Our Hero Within is greater than any enemy that could ever assail us. Our Father’s power is stronger than the most terrifying foe, and we will be safe if we rest in His arms.
Ronnie Phillips Jr. is lead pastor of Abba’s House in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This article is adapted from his book The Hero Within (2019, Pathway Press). All Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version.