Some days are ugly: Our attitude is in the pits, the boss is all over us, we can’t keep our minds on our work, the customers are rude. At home, the kids are out of control, and we snap at our spouses. In other words, it’s a bad—yet pretty ordinary—day. They happen.
Other times we’re confronted with what may be more than just a bad day. We may be under spiritual attack or oppression. How do we tell the difference? The following clues can help us to discern if spiritual forces may be at work in our circumstances.
Powerlessness. If you are suddenly unable to accomplish things you would normally be able to do easily, either in the natural world or the spiritual realm, this might indicate the presence of spiritual forces of evil.
Inner turmoil. Emotional turmoil or depression can also signal an attack. A key indicator that something might be spiritual oppression is hearing yourself saying, “This is just not like me.” Maybe your normal disposition leans toward optimistic and hopeful. But now you can’t seem to shake this sudden case of depression or these ongoing, nagging fears. Or perhaps you experience unusual jealousy so intense that you go into a rage about it. Sometimes you might start having horrible dreams and wake up every morning unsettled and troubled.
A time to be especially alert to your emotional state is just after intense ministry to others. When you’ve given yourself fully in something for the Lord, you will often be vulnerable to emotional attack or even intense temptation. Remember Elijah’s depression after facing off the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 19). Satan loves to steal or tarnish any victory.
Accusation. Spiritual attack may take the form of lies that others tell about you that have no basis in fact. You are completely innocent, yet a story of your complicity in something has sprung up, seemingly out of nowhere.
Doubt. If you become overwhelmed with doubts in areas where you’ve previously had certainty and assurance, this too could be an attack of the enemy. This is not healthy doubt, but dark stuff that threatens your faith. Don’t hesitate to gather believing friends to pray.
Another ploy of Satan is to attack your spiritual self-concept. You can live a life sold out for Christ, have discerning friends encouraging you because of the godly characteristics they see in you, and still wake up one morning believing that nothing you have ever done has amounted to anything.
Evil. At times you may sense evil in something or somebody. I have sensed the presence of evil in certain men and women and in certain places I’ve visited. In our polite society, we tend to disregard such intuitions. But I believe that we should pay special attention to those times when we sense the powers of darkness. These are times when we need to be very careful and very prayerful.