The best way to take down an opponent swiftly and decisively is to “go for the jugular.” This common idiom means to attack an enemy at his most vulnerable point and is derived from the fact that animals typically kill their prey by biting the jugular vein in the neck, causing the prey to bleed to death rather quickly. Like a roaring lion, Satan prowls around seeking to devour Christians (1 Peter 5:8). So where do you think Satan will try to attack them so that they will bleed to death?
Faith: The Christian’s Jugular?
The answer is faith. The Christian’s lifeblood is faith. He lives by faith. Puncture it and he will be in dire straits. John Ball in his excellent treatise on faith points out that Satan does all he can to keep the Christian from growing in faith because he knows that “faith is the band whereby we are knit unto Christ; the shield whereby we quench the fiery darts of the Devil, the ground-work of a godly life, and the safe castle of a Christian soul" (Treatise of Faith, 164-165).
The Love of God: Satan's Main Attack
Since saving faith believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word of God (WCF 14.2), there are many places where Satan may attack. But one place that he seems to zero in on is the love of God. This tactical move makes good sense. If we start believing that God is harsh and mean then we will begin to distrust him. If we think that God is waiting to pounce on us for the smallest infraction then we will begin to hate him. If we are convinced that God is out to get us then we will run from him instead of to him. Thomas Manton observed:
It is the grand design of Satan to lessen our opinion of God’s goodness…He seeketh to hide God’s goodness, and to represent him as a God that delighteth in our destruction and damnation, rather than in our salvation; as if he were inexorable, and hardly entreated to do us good. And why? That we may stand aloof from God, and apprehend him as unlovely. Or if he cannot prevail so far, he tempteth us to poor, unworthy, mean thoughts of his goodness and mercy.
Adam & Eve
Satan employed this strategy in the Garden of Eden to great success. He persuaded Adam and Eve that God did not have their best interest in mind and that he was holding them back from reaching their full potential. Despite the abundant evidence of God’s goodness, they believed the lie and rebelled against God by eating the forbidden fruit.
If such a plan could work in a perfect world, you can be sure that it will work in a fallen sin-cursed world where our trials, difficulties and hardships can be used by Satan to make us think that God does not truly love us. Israel is a case in point. The hardships they faced in leaving Egypt, in traveling through the wilderness, and in conquering the inhabitants of the land of Canaan led them to believe that God hated them and wanted to kill them (e.g. Deut. 1:27). And so they rebelled against him by deciding to elect a new leader and return to Egypt (Num. 14:4).
Faith, especially faith in the love and mercy of God, is your spiritual jugular vein. Satan will, therefore, go after it. He will try and convince you that God is after you or that he is fed up with you and that he wants nothing more to do with you. Do not believe his lies! Counteract them by feeding your faith with passages on God’s love for us in Christ Jesus such as Romans 8 or John 3:16. Manton rightly stated that one use of John 3:16 is to confute misapprehensions about the goodness of God “by due reflections on his love in giving his Son for the world.” That God gave his Son for sinners “showeth that he is fuller of mercy and goodness than the sun is of light or the sea of water.” Although there may be many reasons to doubt that God loves us in this sin-cursed world, Jesus overrules them all. He proves that God is full of mercy and goodness. He demonstrates that God is love.
Believe and you will quench the fiery darts of the wicked one (Eph. 6:16).