Resist the Devil: this is the third “R” in The 5 R’s of Sanctification. You may be thinking this is a weird topic to write about. The devil? Really? Little guy with pointy ears in a red suit with a pitchfork? Well, the Bible makes it clear that we do have an enemy in this world and that the devil is real. Even so, there are two great errors made in relation to the enemy. First, some give the devil too much focus or credit. Second, others make a caricature of him, as if he doesn’t exist. In light of this, it is critical to maintain a Biblical perspective of the enemy so we will not be hindered in our growth. Here we will lay the groundwork for resisting the devil. In Part 2 of this article, we will focus on how to actually resist the devil.
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.C. S. Lewis
- Part 1: Preparing for the Battle
- Part 2: Engaging in the Battle
- Part 3: Fight like Jesus: Speak the Word
Preparing For The Battle
The Bible makes a very plain statement in James 4:7: “resist the devil and he will flee from you.” First, let’s look at some truths we need to understand in order to actively resist the devil.
1. Know You Have An Enemy
Knowing that you have an enemy is where we need to start. The Bible teaches that the devil is real and has intentions for harm. John 10:10 says “the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.” In Luke 22:31, Jesus told Peter that Satan has asked to “sift you like wheat.” Living in this physical world can lull us into a spiritual slumber that this world is all there is. Nothing could be further from the truth! God is spirit and he seeks worshipers that will worship in spirit and in truth. This world is not only natural and to gain victory in becoming more like Jesus, we must be cognizant of the spiritual reality in which we live.
2. Be On Guard As You “Build”
During Israel’s captivity, Nehemiah found favor with God and the king of Persia and received permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls. During the building project, he found resistance to his efforts and threats against the safety of the workers. Because the enemy could attack at any moment, Nehemiah instructed the workers to be on guard at all times. Nehemiah 4:17 states, “Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other.” This is a picture of our spiritual battle. As we labor for the Lord, we remain alert for the attack. Work with one hand while the other is equipped for battle. Pursuing the things of God requires us to also be alert to fend off the attacks of the enemy.
3. How Does the Devil Attack?
Did you know that the devil has access to your mind? I don’t mean to say that he can read your mind (he can’t). I am saying that he can suggest thoughts to your mind. In 2 Corinthians 2:11, the Bible says “for we are not ignorant of his schemes”. The word “scheme” comes from the Greek work “noema” meaning “a mental perception or thought. An evil purpose”. Interestingly, this same root word is used for “mind” in 2 Corinthians 4:4 “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving” and for “thought” in 2 Corinthians 10:5 when the Bible says, “we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Resisting the devil takes place on the battleground of the mind.
The schemes of the enemy come to us in our thought life – this can be direct thoughts that tempt us to doubt God’s word. In addition, the schemes can also come in a more subtle approach through “hollow and deceptive philosophies” that wage war against our soul. These two spiritual attacks can be likened the military tactics of a full frontal assault from without or subterfuge seeping in.
Each attack comes with a twisting of the truth.
Direct Attacks of the Enemy
First, the direct attack often attempts to hit you where you are already weak or wounded. For example, as mentioned earlier, in Luke 22 Jesus prayed for Peter “that your faith may not fail.” Jesus knew the enemy would launch a direct attack against Peter after his failure to acknowledge Christ before men. The enemy’s intention was to destroy Peter’s faith.
Subtle Attacks of the Enemy
Second, the subtle approach is the devil’s long game of infiltrating the culture and the church by introducing anti-biblical ways of thinking, or hollow philosophies. An example of this in our culture is the redefining of marriage or the gender confusion that has arisen. The devil is attacking the institution of marriage to discredit the Bible and the Christian faith.
Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.Colossians 2:8
In conclusion, we have established the existence of our enemy, our need to be on guard, and some tactics used by the enemy.
Going Deeper on Resisting the Devil
Read Part 2 on how to Engage in the Battle to Actively RESIST the Devil – and he will flee!