Friday, January 05, 2007

Resist the Devil

Have you ever done something that went against what you believed? Perhaps you had a frustrating day and you yelled at your children, even though they did nothing wrong. Maybe you were a little strapped for money and you figured out a way to get a few extra dollars from work. Or perhaps you are on a business trip and the loneliness creeps in and you decide to get a X-rated movie for you room to take you mind off the situation.

Here is one that happened to me recently. My birthday is December 30th and the next day my sister called to wish me a happy birthday. The problem was that she called while the Denver Broncos were fighting for a spot in the playoffs. So instead of trying to engage her in a conversation I was short with her to make it clear that her call was an inconvenience to me. The rest of the evening I was miserable because of the way I treated her. In moments of clarity I know that it is more important to have a conversation with my sister than it is to watch the Denver Broncos play football, but at that moment things got twisted and I forgot what was important.

Why does this happen? Let me offer you an explanation. It happens because there is an unseen world which affects our lives. There is more going on than what we can see and touch. We are under attack and we don’t even know it.

Read how John Eldredge describes this conflict that we are in.
The world in which we live is a combat zone, a violent clash of kingdoms, a bitter struggle unto the death. I’m sorry if I’m the one to break this news to you: you were born into a world at war, and you will live all your days in the midst of a great battle, involving all the forces of heaven and hell and played out here on earth (Waking the Dead; pg. 13).

If there is a war that means that we have allies and enemies. Through the invasion of Jesus Christ into the world to free humankind we can trust that the forces of God are the forces of righteousness and thus our allies. It was Jesus who pointed out who the enemy is:

"For you are the children of your father the Devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning and has always hated the truth. There is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character, for her is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44; NLT).

The Devil is the enemy, the prince of this world, and his agenda is to kill, lie, destroy, and twist every good thing God has given us. The reason why we do things that seem so out of character or against our fundamental beliefs is because Satan is there lying to us to make us see wrong as right. He wants us to put more value on football game than our relationship with family. He wants us to twist the pleasures God has given to us and make them addictions. He wants to do whatever He can to steal our lives away and keep us finding the life that is available to us in Jesus.

How do we become active combatants in this unseen war? The Apostle Paul gives us some suggestions:

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11 Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness.15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:10-17, NLT).

If we are honest with ourselves there is a mystery to what Paul is saying here. We are not exactly sure what the Apostle is trying say, but lets not worry about what we don’t understand for the moment. Let’s focus on what we can understand. If we are going to resist the Devil and his attempts to twist what we believe and the truth we know then we have to rest in the power of God. The way I know how to do this is to become people of the Text, of God’s Word. It is extremely important that we spend time reading, studying, and listening to God’s Word. Whether it is reading from the Bible, reading a book, listing to a sermon, or attending a class the Bible must be a part of our lives.

Not only do we need to be people of the Book, but we need to be people of prayer. One of the examples Jesus gave to us through the way He lives His life was that prayer is essential in keeping a connection with God. If we are going to resist the Devil’s advances we must be connected to the One who has power to resist him.

We all do things that are inconsistent with the life we want to live. Remember that part of the reason is because there is one who opposes that life and will do anything in his power to destroy the life God wants you to enjoy. But he can be resisted:

8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world (1 Peter 5:8-9; NASB).

Resist the Devil as he makes attempts to destroy your life. Be people of the Book and pray so that our lives can be examples of God’s mighty power.

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