Satan’s Primary Target: Our Joy
The enemy of our souls is crafty. He ceaselessly attacks our lives in whatever way possible through financial difficulties, sickness, mental oppression or through other people.
It seems to me, after years of experience in spiritual warfare, that Satan’s chief target is our joy.
Because it’s joy that gets us even through the worst periods. This is why James wrote the following:
“Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing”
(James 1:2-4 Amp).
Counting all joy, feeling it or not,
- Greater faith is produced
- Endurance, leading to spiritual maturity and inner peace
- Complete development so we’re not lacking
Joy causes us to overcome because it’s a fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22). People often confuse joy with happiness, which is a product of our soul, but it’s circumstantial and equivocating. Happiness is based on how we feel and our emotional state. It’s unreliable. In the body we experience pleasure. If all three are working properly in concert, blissfulness results.
To reiterate from previous blogs, we are three parts, spirit, soul and body. The spirit is formed at conception as God breathes life into us. The spirit is our life from the beginning. We are truly a living being and not just what is dubbed as a “fetus.” According to a study published in Scientific Reports, an explosion of zinc fireworks occurs when a sperm enzyme activates a human egg. The intensity of the sparks, scientists say, indicates the egg’s potential to develop into a healthy embryo.
A Flash of Light
I believe this “flash of light” is the moment the human spirit is created in each unique person. The human spirit begins communicating with God, another’s spirit, and later has the ability to understand the Word of God when we’re born again. This increases as we grow in spirit to God Almighty through the Holy Spirit. From the “spark,” this inutero experience can be positive or highly negative, depending on environmental conditions, parental attitudes, and quite possibly, generational curses.
From the beginning, God designed our spirit to lead. Soul and body were designed to follow our spirit. If the enemy is to defeat us, he has to do one of three things: 1) keep us unaware that our spirit is to lead (Romans 1:4) 2) Cause us to rely on our soul to defeat Satan and his demons in warfare (a bad choice) 3) Give up entirely. Note below the Psalmist’s understanding of this scenario:
“For the enemy has persecuted me, He has crushed my life down to the ground; He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have been long dead. Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed and weak within me [wrapped in darkness]; My heart grows numb within me” (Psa. 143:3-4 Amp).
The target here is the Psalmist’s spirit, and it is the same for us. If Satan can attack our soul (mind, emotions and will), he can cause our spirit to recoil or retreat. In effect, he wins the temporary battle. If he can remain persistent against us, he’ll cause severe depression or maybe even suicide. Incidentally, depression actually means “without spirit.” On the contrary, continuous joyfulness keeps our spirit in line with God’s conquering plan for our lives:
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7 Amp).
Strength through Joy
Every Christian is familiar with Nehemiah 8:10:
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
When we grieve, which is very understandable in loss, it replaces joy that is rendered gladness in the Hebrew language. Strength means the following:
- place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold
- place of safety, fastness, harbor, stronghold
- refuge (of God)
- human protection
According to Healthline, on a scientific level, we feel joy in our neurotransmitters, which are tiny chemical “messenger” cells that transmit signals between neurons (nerves) and other bodily cells. Those neurotransmitters are responsible for processes and feelings in almost every aspect of the body, from blood flow to digestion.
Benefits of feeling more joy:
- promotes a healthier lifestyle
- boosts immune system
- fights stress and pain
- supports longevity
The Effects of Depression
Contrarily, depression (without spirit), also according to Healthline, produces the following:
This mood disorder causes a number of emotional symptoms, including persistent feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in things once enjoyed. Depression can also cause physical symptoms.
Depression can make you feel sick and cause symptoms like exhaustion, headaches, and aches and pains. Depression is more than just a case of the blues and requires treatment.
How can depression make you physically sick?
There are a number of ways that depression can make you physically sick. Here are some of the different physical symptoms and why they happen.
Diarrhea, upset stomach, and ulcers
Your brain and gastrointestinal (GI) system are directly linked. Depression, anxiety, and stress have been shown to affect the movement and contractions of the GI tract, which can cause diarrhea, constipation, and nausea.
Your emotions also appear to impact stomach acid production, which can increase the risk of ulcers. There’s some evidence that stress may cause or worsen acid reflux.
There also appears to be a link between gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and anxiety. Depression has also been linked to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Disruption of sleep
Sleep issues are common symptoms of depression. This can include trouble falling or staying asleep, and getting sleep that isn’t productive or restful.
There’s substantial evidence linking depression and sleep issues. Depression can cause or worsen insomnia, and insomnia may increase the risk of depression.
The effects of sleep deprivation also worsen other symptoms of depression, such as stress and anxiety, headaches, and a weakened immune system.
Depression impacts your immune system in several ways.
When you sleep, your immune system produces cytokines and other substances that help your body fight infection. Sleep deprivation, which is a common symptom of depression, interferes with this process, increasing your risk of infection and illness.
There’s also evidence that depression and stress are linked to inflammation. Chronic inflammation plays a role in the development of a number of diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Increased heart rate and blood pressure
Depression and stress are closely linked and both have been shown to impact the heart and blood pressure. Unmanaged stress and depression can cause:
irregular heart rhythms
high blood pressure
damage to the arteries
A 2013 study found depression to be common in people with uncontrolled high blood pressure. It also mentioned that depression may interfere with blood pressure management.
Weight loss or weight gain
Your mood may impact your diet. For some, depression causes a loss of appetite that could lead to unnecessary weight loss.
For others with depression, feelings of hopelessness may result in poor eating choices and a loss of interest in exercise. Reaching for foods high in sugars, fats, and starchy carbohydrates is also common. Increased appetite and weight gain are also side effects of some medications for depression.
Obesity also seems to be common in people with depression, according to an older survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The survey, conducted between 2005 and 2010, found that approximately 43 percent of adults with depression are obese.
According to the National Headache Foundation, 30 to 60 percent of people with depression experience headaches.
Depression and related symptoms like stress and anxiety have been shown to cause tension headaches. Depression also appears to increase the risk of recurrent headaches of stronger intensity and longer duration. Poor sleep may also contribute to more frequent or stronger headaches.
Muscle and joint pain
There’s a confirmed link that depression can cause pain and pain can cause depression. Back pain and other joint and muscle pain are common physical symptoms of depression.
Depression and other mood disorders have been shown to alter pain perception, which can trigger or worsen pain. Fatigue and loss of interest common in depression can lead to being less active. This inactivity can cause muscle and joint pain and stiffness.
Treating the physical symptoms of depression
Finding relief from physical symptoms of depression may require more than one type of treatment. While some antidepressants may also alleviate some of your physical symptoms, such as pain, other symptoms may need to be treated separately.
The Bible is clear on facing our problems with the eternal hope we have in Jesus, who died to save us, heal us, set us free from torment and give us consistent health. Our attitude in this matter is imperative, however. Among other things, we are to:
Give thanks in everything
Pray without ceasing
Believe God works everything to our good
Repent of bitterness and a critical spirit
Walk in love
This isn’t rocket science. Joy is incomparable. Our desire to ensure this gracious gift of God is working to its fullest depends on our knowing who’s ultimately in control — our circumstances or Lord’s promises through His Word. Yes, there are trials — sometimes severe ones — but our joy through trials, as presented by James early in this blog, is mandatory.
As you can readily see, both the Bible and science agree on joy. Joyful people are sick less frequently, get well faster, have consistent peace and sleep better. Indeed, the joy of the Lord IS our strength!