I have struggled and failed for years with consistently resisting old desires [sins] in my life. I know the bible says if I resist the Devil he will leave, but how does that play out practically in real life? I am going to tell you.
James 4:7b; Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Resisting isn’t as easy, or straight forward as it sounds if you don’t understand the context of the verse. More often then not, I would cave to my old way of doing things. Then I realized that I am not only fighting the devil, but also my own desires.
Temptation comes from both the Devil and our own flesh. In Genesis the Devil took Eve’s desires and turned them against her.
Genesis 3:4-6; But the [Devil] said to the woman, “You will not surely die… So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Sometimes we are like a person standing frozen as the fire licks our feet, desperately hoping the fire extinguisher beside us will jump off the wall and put the fire. God has not left us helpless. The Devil only has as much power as we as believers give him. Remember, God created the Devil and God lives in us. Who do you believe has more power and influence over your behaviour?
James 1:14-15; Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
The enemy takes fires that are smouldering deep within us, and effectively pours gasoline on them, causing us to burn out of control if we do nothing to extinguish them.
The Devil wants our minds set on our sin. We don’t fight temptation by focusing on trying not to sin, we fight it by setting our minds on God and His provision to deal with it. Don’t focus on not doing something, focus on God doing something, and act.
Galatians 5:16; But I say, walk by [set your mind on] the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Romans 8:5; Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
Best Defence is a Good Offence
Most of us are familiar with the idiom the best defence is a good offence. The question is, how do I apply it to my situation? I have been told my entire Christian life to “resist the Devil and he will flee” without understanding its context. The verse preceding and directly following that verse [7a, 8] are very important to understanding the context in which we cause Satan to flee us.
James 7, 8; Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
“Submit”[gk; hypotagete] is a military term to be subordinate, or to render obedience
Submitting myself in obedience before God, drawing close to him and addressing my double mindedness is the foundation upon which we have the authority to shut the Devil’s mouth and quit our own flesh, bringing it into submission to God.
The Devil has no respect for you or me. He doesn’t take orders from us. The devil flees because of the presence and authority of God, the Holy Spirit in us. If we are not submitted and under God’s authority, we won’t have the authority to do anything.
The word translated “resist” [gk; antistete] in vs 7 means to “stand against”. In Ephesians chapter 6, Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God so we can “stand against” the Devil.
Ephesians 6:11; Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Again in vs 13 Paul says to stand against “resist” the Devil, we must not be passive but act, and act aggressively by gearing up for battle.
Ephesians 6:13; Therefore 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.
We resist by attacking. We attack using the Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. As Jesus modelled, we defeat the lies and temptations with the truth of scripture.
Ephesians 6:10-17; Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. … For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
When Jesus was tempted in the desert, He didn’t debate, argue or challenge the Devil. Jesus quoted scripture, and we must do the same. Speak the truth into the air where the Devil and all the heavenly hosts can hear, and the power and authority of God almighty will protect you.
And when the Devil comes back to see if you were serious, call out in a loud voice again and bear witness to all the unseen realm that your allegiance is to God almighty alone.
When we understand the power to change available to us, and that it only comes after submission and humility before God, our lives will dramatically change.
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