Carey Nieuwhof writes about signs that the Evil One is winning in your life. He says the key to overcoming the activity and influence of evil in your life and the world is to recognize it. When you expose it to the light of Christ, evil loses its power.
Here are some signs that show evil is alive and well in individual lives and in churches:
1. You’re Being Divisive
If there’s one strategy Satan comes back to again and again, it’s creating division. Strangely, in our culture, some Christians wear their divisiveness as a badge of honor. It’s not.
How do we know division is a sign of the activity and presence of evil?
Paul defines which human behavior is motivated by God and which is motivated by the Enemy in Galatians 5.
Paul begins by listing characteristics of people whose lives are under the influence of evil.
Impurity and debauchery
Fits of rage
Sadly, too much of that takes place in our human lives and in the church.
Contrast that with what the Holy Spirit generates. When the Holy Spirit is active in a person, a church, a culture, the Spirit produces:
2. You’re Growing Arrogant
There are two primary ways Christians succumb to arrogance: success, and by using a common but false definition of “maturity”.
The most difficult test of character is not failure. It’s success. It’s pretty easy to be humble when you’re failing. It’s easy to take all the credit when things go well. If the battle against pride isn’t daily, pride will win.
A second way arrogance creeps in is when Christians falsely characterize Christian maturity as knowledge. The more you know, the more mature you are. Scripture suggests that’s a false test. After all, as Paul points out, knowledge puffs up; love builds up.
3. You’re Starting to Blur Moral Lines
How do moral breaches happen? Not overnight. As C.S. Lewis writes in The Screwtape Letters: “the safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
It happens when you start to compromise on the small things. The first moral lapse is the hardest. Then it gets easier from there.
If you refuse to compromise now, it becomes much easier to resist compromise in the future.
4. You’re Full of Self-Pity
Self-pity is dangerous because it moves you to the sidelines. Living in a state of self-pity means you don’t need anyone to take you out of the game because you’ve taken yourself out. It’s an incredibly effective strategy and completely counter to the gospel.
Self-pity robs us of joy. Satan delights in stealing our joy. Don’t let him.
If you’re stuck in self-pity, how do you get out?
Self-pity is basically confession without repentance and forgiveness. Self-pity leaves you acknowledging that there’s a big problem, but not fully owning it (confession) and moving forward (claiming forgiveness). It’s acknowledging sin without claiming hope.
The gospel never leads to self-pity. It leads to transformation.
Based on how you are living your life, at this time who is winning out? Christ or the Evil One?