In this article we are going to show you how to resist the devil by understanding his main strategy toward you. This article is a series of articles about the three battle fronts every Christian has: the world, the flesh and the devil.
There are two underlying assumptions that we have in this series that I want to remind you of as we begin this article today. The first assumption is that GOD WANTS US TO LIVE FREE FROM SIN. The Word of God means what it says about not choosing to sin. It is my firm belief, that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ provided for us more than just the ability to be forgiven. When Jesus died on the cross, he took our place and He paid the penalty for our sin and because of that we have forgiveness. But I assure you today on the authority of a multitude of scriptures from God’s word, that once we accept that forgiveness, once we find the Savior, once we accept his atoning grace and love. Our lives are supposed to change. We are supposed to live differently. Jesus death provides more than forgiveness, He provides freedom. God has said, “Be Holy as I am Holy.” John declared Jesus words that “Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.” To believe anything else is to deny the authority of God’s word and to doubt the full effects of God’s redeeming grace. Yet a lot of people today are not concerned with how they live.
Now the second assumption that we have in this series is that WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY IN THIS AREA. The path to living right is a joint process between God and us and in order for us to experience personal transformation, we put forth effort and God puts forth effort. We are in a process of becoming like Jesus. God’s word calls this process sanctification, it is the process of being “set apart”.
You see, God is concerned with how you live. Because of that concern God is involved in your life. However, it is not just all God’s responsibility to change us. We also have a responsibility to put forth effort and energy toward our sanctification. I hope you have come to realize through this series the various battle fronts that you face you are a participant in the battle. If you are just joining us, let me identify those battle fronts.
Your flesh is the sinful part of you. Your flesh will automatically blame the devil for your problems. Flip Wilson said, “The Devil made me do it.” That excuse doesn’t line up with Gods word. We are personally responsible. We have a free will. We have to deal with our flesh. Our flesh is our sinful nature, that inner propensity that we have to do evil. We have given you strategies to assist you in crucifying the flesh with its desires and affections.
You live in a world system that is operated by and under the control of the evil one. The world plays a powerful influence in the lives not only of those who do not know Jesus, but also in the lives of Christians. If we allow ourselves to be dominated by a love for the world- we will lose the battle for holiness. You are destined to overcome the world.
Then there is another battle front that we have not yet dealt with in our series.
The rest of this article is about how to resist the devil so that you can defeat his main strategy in your life. Here is what you need to do.
- BELIEVE HE EXISTS AND RECOGNIZE HIM AS YOUR ENEMY
Scoffers claim that the devil is merely the invention of the mind of man, fabricated by men in an attempt to account for the sinfulness and malevolent behavior of the human race. Even some churches will tell you that devil does not really exist. They want you to believe he is a symbol of evil, not a real being. Some will tell you that people cannot be demon possessed. That devil is nothing more than a spiritual metaphor.
A lady was cutting my hair a couple of years ago, I engaged her in conversation. She had some problems in her life. She had been involved in some occult activity. She was concerned about the devil. She found out that I was a pastor and she was telling me how that her pastor had told her that there was no real devil, that the devil was just a metaphor for the negative energy created by her lack of being positive in her life. I did my best to share with her what Gods word says, that the devil is real and that he was once the highest angel in heaven. She did not receive it. She laughed at what she thought to be outdated thinking in regards to the devil. How could I in this day and age really believe in the devil?
But the inspired Word of God clearly sets forth the existence of a fallen angel that is known as Satan. Just because you cannot see into that spiritual world does not mean it doesn’t exist. The scripture reveals him to be a created being who is totally evil and opposed to God and His plan. You can find out about him by reading in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 of his creation and his fall. Many References to Satan are found both in the Old and New Testament. These references cannot be taken figuratively or treated as myth or metaphor without doing serious violence to the fabric of scripture.
I tell you today that he exists. I will tell you that he is your adversary. He is your enemy. Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”I am telling you that the devil exists. How can you fight against a foe if you don’t even believe in him?
Now I don’t want to make the mistake that some Christians make. They see the devil in everything. I read this week of a man who was drinking his coffee and he slurped some of it. It ran down his chin, dripped on his shirt. In kind of a panic, he began to bind the devil. His friend said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I am under Satanic attack right now. Didn’t you see that drip of coffee fall off the cup?” That had nothing to do with the devil. Don’t see the devil hiding underneath every bush. Every negative or bad thing that happens is not necessarily the devil. I got a flat tire the other day. It wasn’t the devil. It was a nail. It is a huge mistake to see the devil in a coffee drip.
However, the opposite and I think even more serious mistake is to ignore him- just pretend that he doesn’t exist. I assure you – he exists – and he will fight you if you are a believer. He is a real being that has to be dealt with. The devil manifests the following abilities, traits and characteristics in his personality. We know that he is a being with personality because of the following:
- He has volition
- He has a will
- He has intelligence
- He has sight
- He has speech
- He has emotion
- He travels.
- He has a plan
- He is well organized
- He is a formidable foe
But let me tell you really good news. He is not God. Do not get confused on who Satan is. He is a mere created being. Some would want to elevate him to become the antithesis of God. They try to adapt Eastern philosophy to the Word of God. God and Satan are not Ying and Yang. It is not positive and negative. It is not God and his equal Satan. There are not two equal forces like in the movie Star Wars, the good side and the dark side. No sir! Not even for a minute. While Satan is the enemy of God…he is not his equal! He has limitations.
God has no limitations except those he places on himself.
Although Satan is organized enough that he has an army of fallen angels in his service who rapidly gather information from around the globe, and although he can monitor current developments through his demon army, we need to understand the following. Satan is not omnipresent. He cannot be everywhere all at once. Otherwise, how could he be bound and thrown in a bottomless pit?
While he does possess great power. He is not omnipotent. He cannot overthrow God or he would be sitting on the throne of heaven even now. If fact, If you read the book of Revelation, you will see that just one angel will bind him and throw into the bottomless pit. He is not omnipotent.
God’s Word definitely tells us that the kingdom that Satan rules and reigns over has a beginning and an end – his operation of evil is consistently viewed as existing for only a time under the permissive will of God. He is not like God who reigns eternally throughout the ages.
There will come a day, when Satan will be cast forever into the Lake of Fire. He will no longer be the prince of the power of the air. He is not God. But until that day, you and I are going to have to deal with him.
2. STUDY AND KNOW HIS STRATEGIES
The best way to deal with any enemy, any adversary is to know as much as you can about them. As a believer, you need to be aware of how your enemy fights and functions. You must know his strategies and devices. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth that they were to understand the realm in which he operates. Not that he gets any praise or glory as we study him, but simply to understand how he works. 2 Corinthians 2:11 “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” Maybe Paul could say in that day that they were not ignorant of his devices. But I think in this day and age, there are a lot of believers who are ignorant of how Satan works.
That lack of knowledge puts them at a disadvantage in the battle. Generals spend time knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the armies they face. Even in the world of professional sports…coaches spend hours watching videos of the other teams so that they might know their weaknesses. We must also study Satan from time to time. Why? Because Hosea 4:6a says, “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” I don’t want to be destroyed by not knowing his devices. I would rather educate myself as to his workings. Paul was saying that we can understand the devices, the tricks, the workings, the strategies of the enemy. Everything you need to know about Satan and how to overcome him, defeat him, and win the battle is found in God’s Word.
God has been revealing Satan’s tactics, his strategies and his plan of attack for a long time. This article is about understanding what his main tactic is. Now He has a lot of strategies. I just think this strategy works so well that he uses it all the time.
SATAN’S MASTER STRATEGY: ENCOURAGING YOU TO DOUBT GOD’S WORD
It is amazing to me that Satan uses the same strategy today that he did all the way back in the book of Genesis. Satan encouraged Adam and Eve to doubt what God says. He is doing that today. Satan doesn’t really need to change his strategies, because they are still working. He hasn’t changed. He is still doing this today. Satan does not want any human to believe God. Let’s read the biblical account.
Genesis 3:1-4 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
I want you to notice the part of scripture, The first recorded words of Satan in the Bible text reveal his most potent plan … “Did God really say.” When those four little yet powerful words come into your mind-understand that Satan’s strategy is at work in your mind. Those four words begin the weaving of a very subtle web of doubt. Satan, Like a master spider, wants to begin placing doubts in your head that God really didn’t say the things he said. He places doubt alongside of lies. He uses arguments that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. And so, line upon line, deception upon deception, lie upon lie he will build his web trying to undermine who God is and what he has said. That was his strategy with Eve. That has been his strategy down through the centuries.
Eve’s sin began when she substituted natural reasoning for divine revelation knowledge. Satan came to her and he put the smallest doubt in Eves mind. Eve knew what God had said. Here in Genesis, she repeated what God said back to the serpent. Eve said, “God did say if we eat of that tree we will die.” Then Satan introduced a lie. He said you will not surely die. He changed one little word. You will not die. God knows that you will become like God, your eyes will be opened. The intent of the lie was to get Eve to doubt God. The intent of the lies was to get Eve to doubt the very goodness of the nature of God.
God is good. The rules he makes are good. The law is good. He is a good God. God did not want Adam and Eve to eat of that fruit. God enjoyed being with them in the garden. God knew the best thing for them was not to eat of the tree. His hearts’ desire was to have fellowship with Adam and Eve because God loved Adam and Eve. He created a perfect world for them. God had said, Don’t eat of this tree!
Satan began to say…no, no, no, that is not the way it is. Did God really say that? I tell you that Satan has been using this strategy for 6000 years on the human race. He wants you to doubt what God has said.
God has told us what sin is. But today people question God, Did God really say it was wrong to have sex before marriage? Did God really say that we shouldn’t move in together? Think of the great debate going on in our culture over the issue of homosexuality. Even in the church world there is debate and it centers around those four words. Did God really say that homosexuality was an abomination. Did he really say that it was sin? Did God really mean that in Romans chapter 1 when he spoke very plainly about homosexuality? Or did he mean something else?
I am telling you this is Satan’s strategy. Look at the havoc that it is causing. We have redefined marriage. If marriage is redefined, then why not marry, your cousin, your daughter. Why marry at all? God created marriage as an institution. When you leave the word of God, there is no end to the wickedness.
Satan has cast doubt on everything God’s word has said. I think this is one of his most effective strategies. Here in America, in particular where we think we are so educated and knowledgeable and intellectual, there are many people even though they can read it in the bible say “Come on man, speaking in tongues, that can’t be right, that can’t be God.” In their mind are those four words, Did God really say? Did God really say those who believe will speak in new tongues? Did God really say that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today? Did God really say that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is for today? He wants you to doubt it.
God’s word tells us we can be salt, we can be light, we can be effective in winning our world to Jesus. Satan comes along with his lies. Did God really say you could be effective? Some people yes, but not you. Satan uses this strategy everywhere. So many people who are Christians don’t really believe that prayer works. How do you know that? Because they don’t pray. You only believe the parts of the bible that you act on. Faith is not intellectual assent to something. But rather, faith is an act.
All the rest you do not really believe. Ask any Christian? Does God answer prayer? They will parrot back to you…oh yes. But there are many Christians if you ask them how much they pray?
You will find out they don’t. They may say, I pray over my food before I eat it. But if you really get down into their life – you will find Satan strategy. They doubt.
Do they have a devotional life where they really seek God and pray every day?
Do they come to prayer meeting? Never. They don’t like to pray!
Do they seek God at the altar? Never.
When they come to church do they pray? Not really. They may listen to a prayer.
Do they pray consistently for their family? No.
It is not because they have never heard the word preached. Most Christians have heard John 15:7 “If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” What happened? Why don’t they believe the verse? Satan has come along and he has used his strategy very effectively. God didn’t really say that. You can’t get prayers answered today.
Satan is slick. Okay he said that…but what he really meant…only a certain few are supposed to really pray…but not you. When you pray you are just talking to air. He is a liar and deceiver. Will you believe his lies and deceit? He wants you to doubt Gods word. Eve set aside what she knew to be the revelation of God and used her own thinking. That is what we do. We choose to believe our own wisdom rather than Gods word. Our own wisdom says…I can’t sit here praying about it. This doesn’t make any difference in my life. I should be out doing something. Doing something must be better than just praying. Satan’s strategy works, people stop praying because Satan is casting doubt on God’s word.
I was watching a movie the other day. They were poking fun at prayer. In the movie, some people were under attack. Most fought. Many died. One Friar, a monk was under the wagon praying. When he got done, he was still praying. The brave warrior said, “Do you think that works…blablabla.” I was thinking ..He is alive isn’t he? Satan wants you to believe God doesn’t answer prayer.
I can think of so many areas that this is true in. The statisticians tell me that only about 8% of Christians in America tithe. Stop and consider that for a minute. Have you ever considered, why is that? They want God’s blessing on their businesses. They want Gods blessing on their homes.
They want health. They want peace. They want their finances blessed. I will tell you as well that most believers have heard the tithing message taught many, many, times. They know that Jesus said, “Give to God what is Gods.” They know the promises. They know they should do it. What they don’t believe is that it will not do any good to tithe. Satan wants you to doubt this verse: Malachi 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
God wants you to be blessed. He says the key to activate that blessing of God is tithing. I firmly believe that any family that tithes will have more money at the end of their lifetime than the family that lives next door who doesn’t tithe. God said to test him. What would happen if every Christian in America started tithing? Do you think God could turn the economy around? Do you think the churches would have money for ministry, and helping people and building buildings, and hiring staff? America would have a revival.
No…Satan wants you to doubt Gods word. Already right now, I can guarantee you that Satan is just casting doubt on the word. The enemy is telling some people right now. Did God really say that we should do that? No those preachers, they just want your money. All pastors have to talk that way.
I hope you are seeing the process here. Here is what happens. We substitute natural thinking for divine revelation. Natural thinking says that the way to a blessed in life is NOT to give. The way to be blessed is to keep the money I make. How can it be true? “Give and it will be given?” How does that work? It doesn’t make sense. There are so many natural arguments of man that the enemy substitutes in for Malachi 3:10. You see, Satan is wanting you to doubt him
This is in every area of life.
- HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THIS STRATEGY OF THE ENEMY?
a. DETERMINE TO RESIST THE DEVIL
One of the key tactics God’s word gives us when it comes to the enemy is that we are to Resist him. 1 Peter 5:9a “Resist him (Satan), standing firm in the faith…”
How do we resist him? Does that mean we stand up and say, Satan, I resist you. Sometimes that’s okay. That’s one way. But there are many ways to resist him. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, he used the Word of God to resist him. That is a better way. The Bible calls the Word of God the sword of the Spirit. It is a weapon. It is truth. It is okay to use your authority against your enemy. You do have authority over Satan. But it is entering another realm of authority to resist him by using the Word.
When Satan comes to you and encourages you to doubt. You need to be equipped With Gods Word to defeat him. Everything you need to defeat Satan is right in the pages of the Bible. So Resist the devil!
b. CONVINCE YOURSELF GOD IS A PERSON OF HIS WORD
This book from front to back from cover to cover is the inspired infallible Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
The Bible is absolutely true 100 percent of the time. God does not lie. He is a person of his word. Romans 3:4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar.” God doesn’t lie, men lie! Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Don’t let the enemy cast doubt on Gods Word. When the enemy says, Did God say? Answer with, Yes, he did. If God said it, he will do it. That is faith. I saw a guy with a T shirt on the other day that says, God said it. I believe it. That settles it.
You overcome the enemy, you resist him, when you determine to put your feet down and say I believe God. I am not going to doubt or waver in my thinking.
c. KEEP STANDING YOUR GROUND NO MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES SAY
I love the story in the book of Acts that talks about Paul. You may have read the story many times. Paul is a prisoner. He is being taken to Rome to testify. Paul hears from God. He tells them, we should not leave now, we should wait. This is not the time to travel.
You may recall that a storm comes. It is a huge storm. They are tying ropes around the ship to keep it together. They are casting items over the side to make the boat lighter. Men who were sailors are afraid. Paul is down in the hold of the ship and he is praying. God tells him, that every life in that ship is going to be spared. God tells him, the ship will perish. But every life will be saved. One of my favorite verses.
Acts 27:25 NKJV “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.”
I want you to see the picture today. Every circumstance Paul is looking at is against what Paul is saying. The waves are crashing over the ship. The wind is blowing The storm is pounding him. Satan wants his lie to be believed. The lie Satan was telling was that all men on this boat will perish. The boat is going down. Everyone is drowning.
Yet he stands on the bow of that ship and declares, “I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.” I believe God. That is how to deal with the devil. You resist him. You develop a conviction that God means what he says. You stand in faith…in spite of the circumstances.
His strategy is in place. He will try to get you to doubt. What are you going through today as you read this article. Satan is saying…Did God really say? I encourage you to come against Satan and his doubts and lies and you will be strong in the Lord!