“....RESIST THE DEVIL....”
James 4:7 “....RESIST THE DEVIL AND HE WILL FLEE FROM YOU.”
During the past weeks in our Sunday morning class we have been studying Satan, the devil, his origin, his ways and his mission. We learned many things, I’m going to share some of them with all of you in our lesson this morning but our primary focus is that Satan can be resisted as James tells us and how we might go about doing that. In our study we learned that:
Satan is real:
Genesis 3:1 “NOW THE SERPENT WAS MORE SUBTLE THAN ANY BEAST OF THE FIELD WHICH THE LORD GOD HAD MADE. AND HE SAID UNTO THE WOMAN, YEA, HATH GOD SAID YE SHALL NOT EAT OF EVERY TREE OF THE GARDEN?”
This was recorded by the inspiration of God as a real conversation between two real beings and Paul confirms by inspiration that:
II Corinthians 11:3 “BUT I FEAR, LEST BY ANY MEANS, AS THE SERPENT BEGUILDED EVE THROUGHT HIS SUBTLETY, SO YOUR MINDS SHOULD BE CORRUPTED FROM THE SIMPLICITY THAT IS IN CHRIST.”
We also studied that Satan is not deity; he does not have the same powers that God has. Satan is a created being, just as we are created beings, created as an angel with the same free moral agency that we have but one who rebelled against God.
II Peter 2:4 “FOR IF GOD SPARED NOT THE ANGELS THAT SINNED, BUT CAST them DOWN TO HELL, AND DELIVERED them INTO CHAINS OF DARKNESS, TO BE RESERVED UNTO JUDGEMENT;”
And we studied that the mission of the devil is to take as many of God’s crowning creation, mankind, to hell with him when he goes as he can. Satan pitted himself against God and against mankind in the Garden of Eden and the war was on; and it’s still going on today.
I Peter 5:8 “BE SOBER, BE VIGILANT; BECAUSE YOUR ADVERSARY THE DEVIL, AS A ROARING LION, WALKETH ABOUT, SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR:”
But Satan’s warfare is not that of flesh and blood as the normal kind of thing we think of when we think of war. Satan’s war is for our minds and our hearts, his tactics are to deceive, propagandize, lead us to believe something that will condemn our souls, lead us away from God. One of his ways is through temptation:
James 1:14-15 “BUT EVERY MAN IS TEMPTED, WHEN HE IS DRAWN AWAY OF HIS OWN LUST, AND ENTICED. THEN WHEN LUST HATH CONCEIVED, IT BRINGETH FORTH SIN: AND SIN, WHEN IT IS FINISHED, BRINGETH FORTH DEATH.”
Sin is the breaking of or transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4). And at times it even seems that humanity just takes one step forward to take two backward in this conflict between good and evil. The apostle Paul worried and fretted over those to whom he wrote:
Romans “FOR ALL HAVE SINNED, AND COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD.”
As a result of sin, these Roman brethren, just an any other, were in danger of permanent spiritual death:
Romans “FOR THE WAGES OF SIN is DEATH; BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.”
A more modern, uninspired writer, Henry M. Moore wrote in his book “The
Bible Has The Answer” “Even now there are millions who consciously worship
Satan and many more millions who are increasingly open in their hatred for God.”
Not a very picture pretty is it? Is our battle against God’s foe and our arch enemy one we are doomed to lose? Are Satan’s powers too great for us to overcome? Shall we simply give in, give up, and raise our white flags in ultimate surrender, knowing that we are beaten down and destroyed by an enemy whose powers are such that the entire world around us seems totally under his control? What can we do that will keep Satan from taking over our lives? What can we do that will be a resistance to him and have him fleeing from us as James says we should?
While we never should underestimate Satan’s power and ability, neither should be underestimate the power and ability of our great God and His Word. Satan has the power to ensnare, entangle or trap us and he will use anything that will achieve that end, such as money:
I Timothy 6:9 “BUT THEY THAT WILL BE RICH FALL INTO TEMPTATION AND A SNARE, AND into MANY FOOLISH AND HURTFUL LUSTS, WHICH DROWN MEN IN DESTRUCTION AND PERDICTION.”
Oh, we only need to drive a few miles to see man’s monuments to money. Or read our newspapers and see some of the troubles that befall those who win some of these big sums from gambling. The love of money corrupts us and will cause us to lose our souls.
Power can corrupt, or position and prestige, or pleasures of this world, or most often; simply the attitude “God I really don’t care what you want I want it may way!” And how many times do we find that with us today, even among our own brethren? But Jehovah our God has the power to remove us from this predicament:
II Timothy 2:24-26 “AND THE SERVANT OF THE LORD MUST NOT STRIVE; BUT BE GENTLE UNTO ALL men, APT TO TEACH, PATIENT, IN MEEKNESS INSTRUCTING THOSE THAT OPPOSE THEMSELVES, IF GOD PERADVENTURE WILL GIVE THEM REPENTANCE TO THE ACKNOWLEDGING OF THE TRUTH; AND that THEY MAY RECOVER THEMSELVES OUT OF THE SNARE OF THE DEVIL, WHO ARE TAKEN
CAPTIVE BY HIM AT HIS WILL.”
“THE LORD KNOWETH HOW TO DELIVER THE GODLY OUT OF TEMPTATIONS, AND TO RESERVE THE UNJUST UNTO THE DAY OF JUDGMENT TO BE PUNISHED:” II Peter 2:9
But we have a part to play in that deliverance. Steadfast, unmovable faith is the key because in the next verse after Peter tells us about this adversary that is stalking about like a roaring lion to devour us he tells us this:
“WHOM RESIST STEDFAST IN THE FAITH, KNOWING THAT THE SAME AFFLICTIONS ARE ACCOMPLISHED IN YOUR BRETHREN THAT ARE IN THE WORLD.” I Peter 5:9
Or as Paul tells us:
I Corinthians 15:58 “THEREFORE, MY BELOVED BRETHREN, BE YE STEDFAST, UNMOVEABLE, ALWAYS ABOUNDING IN THE WORK OF THE LORD, FORASMUCH AS YE KNOW THAT YOUR LABOUR IS NOT IN VAIN IN THE LORD.”
John tells us that it’s the strength of our faith that helps us overcome the world; a strength of faith that we cannot have if we are half-hearted, cavalier about our hearing or study of God’s word:
I John 5:4 “FOR WHATSOEVER IS BORN OF GOD OVERCOMETH THE WORLD: AND THIS IS THE VICTORY THAT OVERCOMETH THE WORLD, even OUR FAITH.”
We must not, we cannot be ignorant of his devices; because as we studied in the Bible Study hour; Satan does not war a physical warfare but conducts his war to overcome us through our hearts and minds; and we have to be ever vigilant;
II Corinthians “LEST SATAN SHOULD GET AN ADVANTAGE OF US: FOR WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OF HIS DEVICES.”
Neither can we be double minded because:
“A DOUBLE MINDED MAN Is UNSTABLE IN ALL HIS WAYS.” James 1:8
Because if we’re double minded, our mind is trying to go in two directions, we’re unstable, unpredictable, unsettled in our thoughts and our ways.
Nor can we be lukewarm; because
Jesus told the church at
Revelation 3:15-16 “I KNOW THY WORKS; THAT THOU ARE NEITHER COLD NOR HOT: I WOULD THOU WERT COLD OR HOT. SO THEN BECAUSE THOU ART LUKEWARM, AND NEITHER COLD NOR HOT, I WILL SPUE THEE OUT OF MY MOUTH.”
Instead we must be alert to the ever-present danger and
watch like the ground hog that we had in our backyard in
Romans 4:20-21 “HE STAGGERED NOT AT THE PROMISE OF GOD THROUGH UNBELIEF; BUT WAS STRONG IN FAITH, GIVING GLORY TO GOD; AND BEING FULLY PERSUADED THAT, WHAT HE HAD PROMISED, HE WAS ABLE ALSO TO PERFORM.”
But how do we accomplish this? What weapons do we have in our arsenal to wage this war with Satan? And how can they be used against this powerful, deceitful, constantly vigilant enemy who seeks to do us harm?
The first thing that we need is
battle armor, this is why Paul, as he closed out his
letter to his beloved brethren in
Ephesians 6:10-13 “FINALLY, MY BRETHREN, BE STRONG IN THE LORD, AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT. PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOUR OF GOD THAT YE MAY BE ABLE TO STAND AGAINST THE WILES OF THE DEVIL. FOR WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD, BUT AGAINST PRINCIPALITIES, AGAINST POWERS, AGAINST THE RULERS OF THIS DARKNESS OF THIS WORLD, AGAINST SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH places.”
Those spiritually wicked in high places, by destroying what little Biblical basis there was in our civil laws, work to give the people what they seem to want; homosexuality and sodomy as a right; even making homosexual marriage legal; virtually unrestricted access to alcohol; unlimited opportunity to gamble; abortion on demand; I could go on almost endlessly with this list but you understand.
But what exactly is this “whole armor of God”? The apostle goes on to tell us:
Ephesians 6:14-18 “STAND THEREFORE, HAVING YOUR LOINS GIRT ABOUT WITH TRUTH, AND HAVING ON THE BRESTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS; AND YOUR FEET SHOD WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOPSEL OF PEACE; ABOVE ALL, TAKING THE SHIELD OF FAITH, WHEREWITH YE SHALL BE ABLE TO QUENCH ALL THE FIERY DARTS OF THE WICKED. AND TAKE THE HELMET OF SALVATION, AND THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD: PRAYING ALWAYS WITH ALL PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION IN THE SPIRIT, AND WATCHING HEREUNTO WITH ALL PERSEVERANCE AND SUPPLICATION FOR ALL SAINTS.”
We girt our loins with truth, the absolute truth available only from God
We put on the breastplate of righteousness
We put on our feet the gospel of peace
We take up the shield of faith
We put on the helmet of salvation
We take the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God
And we pray always, another translation says “at all seasons” with supplication to God.
Are these not the same exact weapons that Jesus used to defeat Satan in the wilderness? Jesus had been in fasting, meditation and prayer for 40 days. Each occasion that the devil approached him he was rebuffed, turned away:
1.) Prove that you’re the Son of God end your hunger- turn these stones into bread and Jesus says as we find in Matthew 4:4 “IT IS WRITTEN...”
2.) Prove again that you’re the Son of God - throw yourself off a pinnacle of the temple, allow God to show his power and protect you and Jesus says as we find in Matthew 4:7 “IT IS WRITTEN....”
3.) I’ll give you all of the kingdoms on earth - just worship me and Jesus says as we find in Matthew “GET THEE HENCE (go away), SATAN: FOR IT IS WRITTEN....”
And what happened:
Matthew “THEN THE DEVIL LEAVETH HIM, AND, BEHOLD, ANGELS GAME AND MINISTERED UNTO HIM.”
Using Christ in this situation as our example, years later James would write by God’s inspiration:
James 4:7 “SUBMIT YOURSELVES THEREFORE TO GOD. RESIST THE DEVIL, AND HE WILL FLEE FROM YOU.”
If we steep ourselves in a working knowledge of God’s Word, if we take courage and press on, if we adamantly refuse to give in or give up, we will then be able to say as Paul did:
Romans 8:35-39 “WHO SHALL SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF CHRIST? Shall TRIBULATION, OR DISTRESS, OR PERSECUTION, OR FAMINE, OR NAKEDNESS, OR PERIL OR SWORD? AS IT IS WRITTEN, FOR THY SAKE WE ARE KILLED ALL THE DAY LONG; WE ARE ACCOUNTED AS SHEEP FOR THE SLAUGHTER. NAY, IN ALL THESE THINGS WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH HIM THAT LOVED US. FOR I AM PERSUADED, THAT NEITHER DEATH, NOR LIFE, NOR ANGELS, NOR
PRINCIPALITIES, NOR POWERS, NOR THINGS PRESENT, NOR THINGS TO COME, NOR HEIGHT, NOR DEPTH, NOR ANY OTHER CREATURE, SHALL BE ABLE TO SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD, WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD.”
Second, we must realize that while God does not intervene directly in our lives today as he has in centuries past; Satan is not allowed to do so either. God will not prevent our temptation by Satan but neither will he allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure. That doesn’t mean that He doesn’t expect us to work at it but Paul reassures us:
“THERE HATH NO TEMPTATION TAKEN YOU BUT SUCH AS IS COMMON TO MAN: FOR GOD is FAITHFUL, WHO WILL NOT SUFFER YOU TO BE TEMPTED ABOVE THAT YE ARE ABLE; BUT WILL WITH THE TEMPTATION ALSO MAKE A WAY TO ESCAPE, THAT YE MAY BE ABLE TO BEAR it”
I Corinthians 10:13
Third, we should remember that while Satan may indeed be our accuser:
Revelation 12:10 “AND I HEARD A LOUD VOICE SAYING IN HEAVEN, NOW IS COME SALVATION, AND STRENGTH, AND THE KINGDOM OF OUR GOD, AND THE POWER OF HIS CHRIST: FOR THE ACCUSER OF OUR BRETHREN IS CAST DOWN, WHICH ACCUSED THEM BEFORE OUR GOD DAY AND NIGHT.”
This same apostle that tells us about our accuser also writes:
I John 2:1 “MY LITTLE CHILDREN, THESE THINGS WRITE I UNTO YOU, THAT YE SIN NOT. AND IF ANY MAN SIN, WE HAVE AN ADVOCATE WITH THE FATHER, JESUS CHRIST THE RIGHTEOUS.”
This same apostle who wrote the book of Revelation to comfort the saints of the early church who were loosing their very lives daily because of their love for God tells us that we have an advocate, an intercessor, a lawyer pleading for us before the court of God and underlines and confirms the words of the Hebrew writer:
Hebrews 7:25 “WHEREFORE HE IS ABLE ALSO TO SAVE THEM TO THE UTTERMOST THAT COME UNTO GOD BY HIM, SEEING HE EVER LIVETH TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR THEM.”
What a comfort that should be! We have the Son of the living God standing before the eternal Judge of all the earth; pleading our case.
Fourth, let us never forget that victory is within our grasp. The outcome of the battle for the souls of men has already been decided. As Paul tells us:
Romans “AND THE GOD OF PEACE SHALL BRUISE SATAN UNDER YOUR FEET SHORTLY. THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST be WITH YOU. AMEN.”
Oh, we may defect from God’s army, if we want to do that. We can go AWOL just like any soldier. Down through the 100’s of years many have done just exactly that. They got tired of the battle, and gave up. To paraphrase Paul’s writing in Ephesians 6:14-18;
We can set aside the “whole armor of God” that we once took with so much zeal.
We can strip away the girdle of truth from around our loins.
We can discard the breastplate of righteousness.
We can kick off the shoes of the gospel of peace.
We can lay down the shield of faith.
We can remove the helmet of salvation and throw away the sword of the spirit.
But we do so at our own risk.
Judas, for example, became so filled with the essence of Satan that Jesus actually referred to him as a devil:
John 6:70 “JESUS ANSWERED THEM, HAVE NOT I CHOSEN YOU TWELVE, AND ONE OF YOU IS A DEVIL?”
When Paul wrote the Ephesians Christians he warned:
Ephesians “NEITHER GIVE PLACE TO THE DEVIL.”
Don’t give the devil an opportunity; don’t let your pride, your desires, or your weakness place you in jeopardy. But some did. Two early Christians, Hymenaeus and Alexander, were so overcome by the devil that Paul told Timothy:
I Timothy “OF WHOM IS HYMENAEUS AND ALEXANDER; WHOM I HAVE DELIVERED UNTO SATAN, THAT THEY MAY LEARN NOT TO BLASPHEME.”
The church at Thyatira was suffering from the same problem in that they harbored a woman named Jezebel, one who called herself a prophetess who was teaching and seducing members of that congregation to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Obviously problems with elderships applying church discipline are not new, but as old as the church itself. Jesus warned them:
Revelation 2:24-25 “BUT UNTO YOU I SAY AND UNTO THE REST IN THYATIRA, AS MANYAS HAVE NOT THIS DOCTRINE, AND WHICH HAVE NOT KNOWN THE DEPTHS OF SATAN, AS THEY SPEAK; I WILL PUT UPON YOU NONE OTHER BURDEN. But that which ye have already; hold fast till i come.”
These Christians had ignored the Lord’s warning. They allowed sin to exist in their midst, they washed their hands as Pilate did of their responsibility to do rightly, they harbored that would canker their souls and destroy their relationship with God. But he in his compassion tells them that if they will rid themselves of these problems he will place no greater burden on them. They needed to go to God for strength, they needed to:
“WATCH AND PRAY, THAT YE ENTER NOT INTO TEMPTATION: THE SPIRIT INDEED is WILLING, BUT THE FLESH is WEAK.” Matthew 26:41
So what about you my friends? Since the outcome of this battle has already been decided and those who serve God will prevail; are you one that will be able to say as Paul did, death is swallowed up in victory, death no longer has a sting because it is not an end; it need not be a beginning of an eternity of punishment, it can be a victory.
“BUT THANKS be TO GOD, WHICH GIVETH US THE VICTORY THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.” I Corinthians 15:57
But if you’re not a child of God you can’t claim that victory, you are lost in sin and without a single hope, but you can correct that:
Hearing the Word of God as we’re told in Romans 10:14
Believing as we’re told in John 3:16
Repent as we’re told in Luke 13:3
Confess him as we’re told in Matthew 10:32
Be baptized as we’re told in Mark 15:16
But perhaps you have already done that and then gone AWOL from the Lord’s army. You can be restored again as Peter told Simon who wanted to buy the apostles power with money:
“REPENT THEREFORE OF THIS THY WICKEDNESS, AND PRAY I GOD, IF PERHAPS THE THOUGHT OF THINE HEART MAY BE FORGIVEN THEE.” Acts 8:22