In preparation for this coming Friday evening’s Discipleship Live D.V, on Facebook and our church YouYube channel – ‘How to resist the devil,’ I wrote part of what follows as the basis for my part of the Live. I thought it was worth developing Friday’s material into this week’s blog.
The first thing I want to say is that the best defence against Satan – and each of the other three opponents we face as believers: sin, the power of self, and the world – is to walk closely with Christ filled with His word and Spirit.
Some get overly preoccupied with the enemy, and his ways, see Satan behind every bad thing, and every difficult thing we face. Although wise to recognise Satan’s presence and his hatred of us when we are in Christ, and to prepare our spiritual defences against each of the four opponent’s attacks – it is best to keep our eyes on Jesus, not on Satan nor anything else. As Christians, He that is in us is greater than He that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
The four opponents we face: sin, the power of self, Satan and the world – two are within: sin and self, and two without: Satan and the world. Each one carries a threat to our personal and corporate spiritual well being. However, once understood, we can recognise that they are interlinked, but also limited foes; Christ has conquered all four. Because of Christ, and the finished work of the Cross, there is the provision for victory over each as we walk with and follow the Lord.
Sin: Ephesians 2:1-3, ‘Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.’
Un-renewed Self: Ephesians 4:22-24, ‘…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.’
The devil: 1 Peter 5:8-11, ‘Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.
10In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11All power to him forever! Amen.’
The world: 1 John 2:15-17, ‘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. 16For 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. 17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.’
Let us consider the four opponents:
Sin is the outworking of our Adamic nature. Human beings are fallen beings, sin, rebellion against God, disobedience of His will, word and ways are all part of the life of the one not yet saved in Christ.
The Bible has many words for sin. These cover the vast range of the different inflections of sin; and remember, all sin is sin no matter whether a slight indiscretion right up to murder. These words include the following:
Ra – sin is bad or evil. It carries the idea that sin breaks people, and breaks communion with God
Rá – a slight variation on ra, sin causes a mark or blemish that ruins the perfection of something
Hamartanw – sin causes us to miss the mark like a faulty arrow misses the target because of a fault, or to miss the right road because we fail to take it. Sin causes us to do that which we do not want to do Romans 7
Rasha – means to wander away from the right path – a wicked or criminal things to do in the eyes of God’s word
Havon – sin is depraved and causes people to act in depraved ways depraving our very human nature
Pasha – the compulsion to rebel against authority, particularly God’s authority
Parabaino – to overstep God’s word, to transgress His ways
Opheilema – indebtedness – being unable to pay that which you owe to God or another
Shagah – an intoxication with something that is destructive for our souls
Poneros – the nature of sin – it is evil and sinners are oppressed by years of hardship and toil
Asebeia – a lack of reverence or fear for God
Anomos – sin is lawlessness – it causes people to break all God’s rules
Adikos – an unjust person who does not act justly
Kakos – Sin is evil – it is evil in the human heart and causes people to then act with evil intent
Enochos – sin makes us guilty before God and subject to punishment
Sin separates us from God – only Jesus, the Perfect sinless One can unite us to God…
The Power of Self
In the life of the non-Christian, sin’s presence means that ‘self’ is dominant. Depending on the nature of the person, self can either manifest as selfishness or self-interest, or as need to help others and express self’s goodness or love.
Self is antichrist in nature enthroning something other than Christ on the throne of our soul: emotions/heart, mind, choices/will, relationships. Self expresses its worship – every human being is designed to worship – in idolatry, religious observance, cultic practices, devotion to a philosophy, cause or movement, and in the pursuit of its passions.
The world is generally opposed to the true life of righteousness and obedience to Christ, God’s word, and His Spirit. It seeks to establish the Kingdom of self, driven by the passions and inclinations of the sinful human heart, and reflects the nature and reign of Satan.
The world is both our abode, the place we live in, and a controlling mindset, it seeks to control our thoughts in an anti-Christ way.
There are still pale reflections of the Creator in the world’s societies, cultures and governance, but these are disjointed and fragmented reflections.
He is our arch opponent. The name Satan literally means the opponent or hater. The devil is very crafty, he muddies the water about his existence and seeks to convince people that he, and his demonic forces, aren’t real, or are only a part of the horror movie genre.
He is real, and he seeks to rob people of peace of mind, kill the desire for Jesus, and destroy the hope of living a life that will glorify Jesus.
I want to suggest six steps in overcoming these four opponents:
- The first one is linked to James 4:7 – learn how to truly submit to God, His Son, His word, His Spirit, and His will in every area of our lives. As we do so, it equips us to be wise able to resist sin, Satan and his temptations, the passions of self, and the power of the world.
- Satan is not an innovator – he mimics or copies God’s ways, he is a master counterfeiter; he works in unrighteous, devious ways instead of God’s righteous, truthful ways. They say that the best way to guard against a counterfeit, say: a fake painting, is to learn everything you can about the real thing. We need to fill our lives with God’s word and His Spirit – then we will begin to spot Satan’s counterfeit attempts
- Some say the four great human weaknesses are: Money, Sex, Power and Pride. That each of us is particularly susceptible in at least one of these areas. Learn where you are susceptible and are prone to the temptations that arise from our four opponents.
Then focus on so filling your life with the godly, opposite of whichever one – so you become stronger and more able to guard your heart in that area. For example – if the love of money is your weakness, work really hard at developing a godly, generous spirit living with open hands and an open heart.
We also need to stay away from that which will inflame our weaknesses recognising that no matter how mature we are in the faith, we become what we feed our minds and fantasies with.
- The Roman Catholic Church teaches the following three human weaknesses:
- Pride – you don’t need others to say how great you are, you already know how good you are in that area of thing. The issue – an overinflated view of your own self-worth or importance
- Vanity – you get your self-worth from how others view you or speak about you. Therefore, you will go to great lengths to get other people to like you, or to speak well of you. The issue – a desperate need for others to value or affirm you
- Sensuality – you get your self-worth from what you own or possess, or the from the beauty or sexiness of the person you are in relationship with. Therefore, you will be driven to own or possess marquee goods, have beautiful people or things around you, or to indulge in sensual activities that feed this need. The issue – you devalue people and over-value the importance of beauty, things or possessions
- The best defence is to be lay down one’s life as a living sacrifice on the altar before the Lord. This is the place where it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
- Pray with others, be accountable to God and others, and recognise your need of God’s spiritual armour.
- We still sin, and self still exerts its influence, but these are now unnatural thoughts, acts and ways for a Christian, not our spiritual ones. The spiritual person fills his or her life with God’s word, follows Christ each day, and seeks to live in the Spirit’s fullness and by His guidance.
- When a person gives his or her heart and life to Christ – self is dethroned and sin loses its natural control. Sin and self can still affect the Christian, but now our inclination is to practice righteousness and enthrone Christ.
- Walking hand in hand with the Lord Jesus is the only hope of living a life of true victory over Satan, the hater of our soul and lives!
- Only in Christ, can the world’s societies, cultures and governance be redeemed and begin to truly reflect the goodness, righteousness, love and justice of the Creator.
Father, we give You thanks, praise and all the glory that in Christ, and because of the finished work of His Cross, You have made provision of that which we need to live a life of righteousness, dethroning the power of self, resisting the devil, and faith that overcomes the world. We pray that we will rise and live out His victory each and every day.
We pray for any struggling against these opponents – grant them the grace, wisdom and biblical insight and understanding to step into the true freedom Christ promised and Your Spirit delivers. May Telford Elim, and each church represented by those praying this prayer, preach, teach and minister so many men, women, young people and children are led into this victorious life. In Jesus’ name. Amen