Whatever is good for mankind has been clearly revealed by God and since we need to live in a close relationship with the Creator, He expects us to open our hearts to Him. But we wish to create different types of walls or protective hedges around us and many a time these separate us or rather keep us away from God and our loved ones also. It is in such a state that we get isolated from our own selves as well. We have to decide which hedge we want to be protected by.
What are the types of protection available to us? God’s warning to Adam about the tree of knowledge of good and evil was the first protection for mankind by God (Genesis 2:17). After sin entered mankind, God posted the Cherub with a flaming sword to save them from eternal life of sin and separation from God by eating from the Tree of Life and this was another wall of protection (Genesis 3:22-24). Adam and Eve were tricked into sin by the serpent, the devil, and with this he created a wall around them to lead them away from God (Genesis 3:1-8 & 21). Then they tried the protective cover of leaves of a tree and hid themselves in the trees from God. Before they were expelled from the Garden of Eden, ‘the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them’. They received the covering as a protection from the vagaries of the fallen nature as also for hiding their emotions from others and demonic elements to escape exploitation. The first wall was by God for them and the second was the wall of jealousy and anger created by the devil first between Adam and Eve and then between Cain and Abel. When Cain allowed sin to rule over him, rejecting the command of God, he accepted the control of the devil (Genesis 4:7).
Thus there are three walls operating in the life of a believer. As per Scripture, we ‘beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 3:18). And God wants to ensure the continuation and completion of this process and our protection through the power of the Holy Spirit in us. The devil keeps on trying to break this wall as well as strengthen the wall of the old nature of sin in us by luring us into sin.
But why do we erect our own wall? ‘The Shema command’ to the Israelites was to hear, understand and obey and ‘to love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength’ (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). In this, heart is about not having any desire that leads us out of His will while the soul is about mind, thoughts, emotions and has three parts; first, the logos or mind and reason; second, thymos which is about emotions and is masculine and finally the eros, or appetite and desire and is feminine.
Apostle Paul cautions all believers to strive in faith that ‘your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Apostle Paul advises all to be circumcised in the heart, in the Holy Spirit and not in letter only (Romans 2:29). We are supposed to open our hearts to the Lord in prayer to confess to the All-knowing God all that we are facing, but most of the time we try to hide the actual facts. This is when we pray without stating the real purpose of our prayer and we try to block God’s access to our own selves. Lord Jesus keeps on knocking at the door to be with us and share our concerns but we do not welcome Him into the depth of our hearts (Revelation 3:20). Also God desires to be part of our everyday lives and not be called in, only in times of crisis. We are taught by the Lord to seek our daily bread (Matthew 6:11) just like the Israelites were commanded to do in the wilderness to collect Manna everyday (Exodus 16:15-16).
We receive our spiritual food everyday through worship, reading and meditating on the Word of God and prayer, just like Adam and Eve did in the Garden, everyday in the evening. Any attempt to shirk this is creating a wall between God and us. When we are baptized, we enter into God’s protection but since our old nature is changed daily, we still sin but continue to receive forgiveness. On one side the old nature pulls while on the other the Holy Spirit leads us to holy living. Thus we are placed between two walls, one that protects us from the devil and the other keeps us from God. Lord Jesus commanded us ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ and then explained that any person we meet is our neighbor and needs to be treated in love, like the Good Samaritan (Matthew 22:39). Each ‘mitzvah’ or good deed helps us move deeper into God’s protection while every evil act moves us closer into the devil’s clutches. So first we have to remove our wall separating us from God by being totally open with Him and second to obey His Word to remain in His shelter.
How does Satan separate a believer from God? Apostle John identifies two types of people, ‘children of God and children of the devil’ (1 John 3:10). Like God as a Father protects His children and leads them in His power through the indwelling Holy Spirit, the devil controls his followers through a tight leash of fear and pride. The devil’s is a wall of imprisonment and division while the fence of God protects, provides shelter and a sense of belonging. The two are opposite to each other and every act of rebellion against God is just like adding a brick to the height of the wall separating us from God. Every relationship is like a triangle with God at the top and other relationships at the base. The closer we get to God, the shorter the base becomes and the closer we get to each other. And one cannot happen together with the other and the devil is always active to keep us away from God. The same woman who was ‘bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’ (Genesis 3:12;13), after sin became ‘the woman You gave me’ and the woman in turn blamed the serpent (Genesis 2:23). This is the way of the devil’s fence in our lives.
Rahab’s case is the best illustration of any person who knows the LORD for ‘she dwelt on the wall’ of Jericho, which wall was so thick that a chariot could move on it (Joshua 2:15). Rahab was the chosen prostitute of the god of Jericho and only nobles could come to her, for she was the anointed one. Being on the wall and her position, she was aware of all the news in the region. The two spies sent by Joshua to spy out Jericho were not only sheltered by her but also sent out through the window. Rahab chose to step into the protection of the LORD and discard the god of Jericho and she and her family were saved and she is listed in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus. The devil wants us to look at his great wall that can protect without letting us realize that we are prisoners.
Apostle Paul has warned us not to ‘give place to the devil’ (Ephesians 4:27). The conversation of Eve with the serpent in the Garden illustrates this (Genesis 3:1-2). The command of God to eat or not eat the fruit was sacred communication between the Creator and Adam and the serpent was neither affected by this nor needed to know this. After Lord Jesus’ baptism the declaration from God was heard clearly, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:17). The devil preceded his temptation with the words, ‘If You are the Son of God’ and the Son of God, who was sure of His personal relationship with the Father in heaven, did not consider it necessary to prove that, by answering the devil on this (Matthew 4:3-6).
Prophet Isaiah prophesied to the peoples’ surrender saying, ‘LORD, You are my God. I will exalt you, I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth’ (Isaiah 25:1&7-9). Then the LORD God sets in motion His part of destroying the devil’s ‘surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all the nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the LORD God will wipe away tears from all the faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth’. All the people then acknowledged, saying, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him and He will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation’. Rahab and Ruth decided to place their trust in the LORD by declaring, ‘wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God’ (Ruth 1:16-17).
Until such time as we are sitting on the fence looking towards both sides and trying to enjoy the fruits of both, enjoy the sinful life as also try and seek forgiveness for sins and seek the ‘life in Christ Jesus’, we are greatly vulnerable. In such a situation though the Lord Jesus) has promised to come looking for the one lost sheep, ((Luke 15:1-7), a time may finally come when the lion may ‘devour’ as warned by Apostle Peter (1 Peter 5:8).
Remaining in the fence of God – The devil ‘walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). This warning clarifies three important points about the devil; first, he is always searching for his victims; second, his roar acts two ways, to put fear in the victims’ heart and paralyze him while also warning to escape quickly and finally, he has to select the weak persons and cannot ensnare everyone. Apostle Paul has taught us the battle strategy that we have to adopt in our spiritual battles (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). First, our fight is not in the body, but spiritual, though some effects will be in the body and on our households; second, the weapons are not ours but given by God; second, these are mighty weapons and finally, these weapons affect our thought patterns bringing ‘thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ’.
All efforts of the devil to lead us out of the protective shield of the LORD, is based on creating doubts in our mind. The only way we can overcome this is by putting on the ‘whole armor of God’ and fighting ‘in the power of His might’ (Ephesians 6:10-18). Adam and Eve were clothed with ‘garments of skin’ before being sent out of the Garden of Eden and in our new birth in the Son of God we are to ‘put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts’ (Romans 13:14). The devil gets an open door in our defenses through our sinful acts and putting on the Lord is to live in His protection, strength and guidance. Putting on the Lord is to live as per His words and commands. Lord Jesus seeks our obedience to His Word, for he who loves Him will do so and then He promises, that ‘My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him’ (John 14:23). In this we are assured, that, ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:3). This is the way to be in His protection and escape the snares of the devil.
God repeatedly cautioned us through His prophets and also through His own Son to get near to Him and He will then care for and protect each one as the ‘apple of His eye’. The closer we get to the LORD God, the stronger is our protection and farther is the devil from us. This is the only mantra of a successful life of a believer.