Three Main Avenues of Spiritual Attack

Dr. J.I. Packer is one of my favorite theologians and writers. On many occasions he has brought clarity and insight to the Word of God for me. One article that has been particularly enriching is called “Self-Care for Pastors: Riches from the Anglican Devotional Tradition.”

In this article, he emphasizes that there are three main avenues of attack against leaders of Christ’s church.

He asserts:

“We are all engaged in a constant, inescapable battle against spiritual degeneracy in three forms:

  • Our unbelief of God’s word,
  • our lack of forgiveness of others,
  • and our unhumbled pride in what we are and have done.

In these days of liberal Christianity in our churches and post-Christianity in the culture outside, unbelief of God’s affirmations in the Bible and the gospel is rife. Justification by faith (being accepted by God while yet a sinner) is not understood and divine promises are not received and trusted.

Unforgiveness, which is a form of unlove, is regularly an expression of hurt pride and resentment, disguised as self-respect. As Jesus often warned (Matthew 6:14-15, 18:21-35; Mk. 11:25; Lk. 6:37), unforgiveness is a total block to the blessing of God.

Unhumbled pride, as is often said, takes four forms: Pride of face, when you think you are most handsome; pride of race, when you think your skin is the best color; pride of place, when you think you are better positioned than others; and pride of grace, when you think you are one of God’s top people and pride of grace is the worst of the lot. All these forms of spiritual degeneration banish true spiritual joy, which for healthy believers is constant, and create pitfalls for pastors in abundance.”

– (Crux, December 2003/Vol. 34, No. 4, pp.2-13)

In light of this, let us pray with renewed resolve that the Lord would make us:

  • people who have a greater capacity to trust God and His promises,
  • people who forgive others the way that we have been forgiven,
  • people who are marked by humility, free from the cancer of pride.

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