This week we wrap up our study of Satan by discussing how we can overcome his attempts to drag us down into the pit with him. As can be gathered from our previous lessons the devil often deceives people by appearing to them as a trustworthy person (an angel of light), who only wants them get the most out of life. Once he has gained our trust he tries to subvert the truth in our minds, appealing to our own desires and dreams and hopes, to persuade us that up is down and down is up, that right is wrong and wrong is right. If he can get us to miss the mark, believing we are on the right path, he continues to pat us on the back convincing us we are doing the right thing. It is only if we turn from his deception that he may get ugly. Often as a person realizes the truth about his life and begins to seek for spiritual answers the old serpent will seek to convince him that his failures, his sins are too great— he is not worthy of salvation.
The best lie, it is said, has a kernel of truth to it. We are not worthy, not if the basis of worthiness is our own actions. Fortunately, our salvation does not depend on our personal merits— it is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:5, 8). We can achieve righteousness, and salvation, only through the blood of Jesus (Matthew 26:28; Acts 20:28; Romans 5:9; I John 1:7). To defeat Satan we need only turn to Christ— and He will accept us no matter how unworthy we may feel. If we put our faith in Him He will set us free from the burdens of our sins—from the guilt, the shame, the pain, the despair, all the crippling effects of sin. However, we can not expect to defeat Satan without a fight.
He will try to choke the word out of our lives (Matthew 13:19). And, if that fails he will try to divide our loyalties. To persuade us we can 'live it up' in the world and have heaven, too. He'll try to convince us that weekly attendance at church isn't necessary (at least not all the time), besides Sundays are the days we always go golfing with our buddies (Luke 14:18). He'll try to convince us that our dreams should take precedence over God, at least for now. We can devote more time to God’s work after the next promotion. But for those people Paul offered this example: “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward" (Hebrews 11:24-26). Or, as Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also"(Matthew 6:21).
Another of the devil’s favorite ploys is to manipulate our emotional life. Do you have a hard time letting go of grudges? I have met a lot of people over the years who like nothing more than to get a little payback for every slight in life— real or perceived. In fact, some of them would go our of their way to “get even” with the object of their wrath. However, Paul counseled against such behavior: “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord" (Romans 12:17-19). We all stumble on occasion (James 3:2), and need a little forgiveness from our fellow man, and in turn we owe it to others to let go of wrongs done by them (Ephesians 4:31).
We could go on and on with the ways the devil might try to trip us up, including those Paul encouraged the Ephesians to overcome: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:26-30). In the end perhaps the best advice that can be given is to encourage one another to stay focused on the Lord, and trust in His guidance, as James wrote, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
In his first letter John wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:15-17). What the world offers is not worth sacrificing our spiritual well-being for. Nonetheless, it calls to each of us, and it would be a mistake to underestimate the power of that call, which is why Paul gave this warning: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (I Corinthians 10:12-13).
Along with Paul’s admonition, Peter’s words, quoted in an earlier lesson, bear repeating: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (I Peter 5:8-10).
Satan is a cunning and formidable enemy, but he is no match for God. To defeat him we must put our hope in the Lord, understanding, however, that it cannot be a passive hope. Our success will depend on the level of our faith, trust and preparation in the Lord, as Paul implored: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:11-18). I pray that each of us has prepared for the battle before us, having taken up the armor the Lord has provided us to stand against the evil one.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.