Resisting the Devil
Last night in our Leadership Development and Training session, I had the opportunity to discuss the issue of resisting Satan and the nature of spiritual warfare.
There is a wide variety of perspectives from personally confronting Satan in order to bind him, rebuke him, and/or thwart him. There are those who believe that demons are involved in every difficulty we face and our God-given authority is to cast them out. Interestingly, there are no instructions on how to deal with such matters. Most of these techniques come from either the attempt to replicate Apostolic events in the New Testament or from anecdotes of people who have had encounters with exorcism.
The only prescription with clear instruction that we possess on how to deal with Satan is provided in James 4:1-10. In these verse, we are told that sustained selfishness in our hearts will make us more interested in gratifying ourselves than honoring God. When such a heart exists, we gravitate toward friendship with the world. God declares that friendship with the world makes ourselves enemies of God. Once an enemy of God, we quench the Holy Spirit who, when so quenched, becomes passive. God “jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us” - that is, He desires that the Holy Spirit’s presence be evident. When the Spirit is quenched, we become arrogant and proud - a state that induces God’s opposition as He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Together with the desire to gratify ourselves, friendship with the world, quenching the Holy Spirit’s influence, and opposition by God, we become vulnerable to the influences and schemes of Satan. Hence, we are admonished to “submit to God” as the principle means of resisting the Devil. The consequence of humbling ourselves before the Lord is that Satan will flee.
The entire emphasis on resisting Satan is to turn our focus and attention to God. It is not the rebuke, binding, casting out, or any of the other popular “spiritual warfare” techniques that appear so spiritually glamorous. It is simply to humble ourselves before the Lord, drawing near to God and having Him draw near to us. When we do so, Satan “high-tails it” away.
Satan’s entire modus operandi from the beginning has been to attempt to lure men and women away from a humility before God. He attempts to drive wedges between us and God. He’ll use pleasures of various seductions, guilt, shame, accusations and whatever means exists to convince us that God cannot care about us anymore. The resistance to Satan that God instructs us to use is to submit to God, draw near to Him, cleansing our hands and purifying our hearts so that our fellowship with God can be restored.
May we be “warriors” in the struggle against spiritual forces that are constantly harassing us. May we continuously be submitting to God, resisting the devil, and humbling ourselves before God through the glorious and faithful fellowship afforded us through the work of Christ Jesus!