I hesitated before putting my thoughts into words today because I know how quickly the idea of the ‘Devil’ is sensationalized, caricatured, or turned into a source of fear. Christian, we do need a reminder, from time to time, that our Adversary is real and that he actively pursues the destruction of God’s work in this world! None other than Peter, the Apostle, tells us to be “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-9, NIV)
Peter says that the suffering Church, going through intense persecution, needed to know that it was not Rome, not the Emperor, that was the source of the hatred. It was a Real Adversary. His aim was (and is!) to neutralize the work of God in us and in our world, no matter what it takes to do so. His metaphor is a vivid one – that of a hungry lion on the prowl for prey!
Peter is not a singular voice for the reality of the devil. Jesus variously describes him as “the prince of this world,” “a murderer,” and as “a liar and the father of lies.” Paul calls him “the god of this age.” John, in that eye-popping book of the New Testament called The Revelation, speaks at length of the reality of person of diabolical nature who plots to accomplish the ruin of God’s plan and people. Some disciples read those lines and cower in fear. Others invest inordinate amounts of time in prayer ‘rebuking’ and ‘binding’ the devil, instead of seeking the will of Christ Jesus. Do not fall into that trap.
Here is the baseline fact – Christ Jesus, God in flesh, defeated the power of the Devil, set us free from slavery to evil, and gave us the Holy Spirit so that we can live as ‘overcomers.’ He is the Light, the Way, the Truth, who strips our real adversary of his ability to control us, to defeat us, or to separate us from the love of our Father.
I am not counseling any of us to ignore the devil or to pretend that he is less than he is. BUT – when we live in the grace of Christ, filled with the Spirit of God we are assured that “Satan will not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:10-11, NLT) Throughout the history of the church we see how the devil has worked at hindering the work of God. So we properly recognize his schemes, but not in terror.
In dealing with the devil, with the evil people of this world, and even our own sinful nature, we live in this great assurance: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4, NIV) We prepare ourselves to deal with the reality by taking God’s gift. The Word says “Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13, NIV)
What can we do to deal with Devil?
First, we put our full confidence in Christ Jesus, our Savior, not on our skill, experience, or intelligence.
Second, we trust the Spirit and the Word to show us the Truth that sets us free!
Third, we agree with God, submitting ourselves to Him.
“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, NLT) There is a connection between humility before God and boldness in the defeat of the Devil! That humility becomes our way of life when coupled with following the lead of the Spirit. Yes, that is called obedience.
Fourth, we forgive constantly so that no bitterness finds root in our heart to produce evil fruit!
People who become self-focused will tend to offense and in the fertile soil of an offended heart, hatred can grow that gives the devil a foothold in our life. Jesus counsels radical forgiveness because of love. Is that possible? It is. “We love because HE loved us first!”
And, finally, we live prayerfully before God’s Throne, so that the Spirit fills us, anew, each day.
That sounds so churchy, but we need to make this our heart’s desire. Our best defense is our relationship with God. In praise, in thanksgiving, in cultivating a constant “God awareness” we, His children, find security from the prowling lion, the evil one.
Know that the adversary is real and give thanks that the Savior is greater.
The word from the Word says this. “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. “ (1 John 4:2-5, NIV)
(Video of this blog at this link)
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing
Our Helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe
His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate
On earth is not his equal
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He
The Lord of hosts His name, from age to age the same
And He must win the battle
And though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure
One little word shall fell him
That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also
The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still
His kingdom is forever
- Martin Luther
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