The last few days, I’ve definitely felt the attack of spiritual warfare. So I am leaning on the Lord and trusting in His strength. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4) Today I read the following (timely for me) commentary by Dr. Harold Sala of Guidelines International, about actively resisting the devil. Maybe one of you needs to read it as well.
Contrary to media wisdom, and certainly to what a liberal press would have you think, a belief in the devil is widespread—even among the elite or well-educated men and women. Sometimes those who live closest to the earth sense his influence the most. I’m thinking of a farmhand who often went hunting with the man who owned the farm. The landowner remarked, “You know Joe, you always talk about how the devil bothers you, but he never seems to bother me. How do you explain that?” Joe thinks for a moment and then says, “You know when we go hunting, and a flight of ducks comes in over the blind. You always send the dog after the ones that are wounded because you know the dead ones won’t go anywhere. I guess I’m still wounded and fighting, and the devil knows you’re just plain dead spiritually.”
If you count yourself in the group who are still doing battle with him—whether it is in your work situation, your home, your friends who encourage you to “go along with the crowd,” or your thought life, you need to know how to fight back spiritually.
Are you simply at the mercy of Satan or is God’s strength and power sufficient to help you win over your spiritual foes? Peter described our foe as an enemy. He identifies him as “the devil” and he describes him as one who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), and he gives some advice on how to respond. He said, “Be self-controlled and alert.”
We live in an area where mountain lions have been seen on numerous occasions and have sprung upon several unsuspecting individuals, either killing them or mauling them severely. I still hike through those same areas but it’s amazing how much more alert and watchful I am, realizing that mountain lions have far better sight and smell than do humans. Danger intensifies your responses. So is it spiritually.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, having seen the whole drama of good and evil play out at the cross, wrote that we as believers are to submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). So the question is, “What does it mean to resist?” The word is a combination of two Greek words that literally mean “to stand against” something or someone. It is also translated, “oppose” or “hold your ground.” Getting the picture?.
In other words when he attempts to thwart you, to block your path, to gain territory, to invade your turf—whether is in your personal life, your home, or your community, you resist him. Be sure resistance is not passive; it is active. It means spiritual warfare when you take a stand, refuse to yield, and aggressively speak out for right. Better to lose in a battle that will eventually be won than to passively fold your hands thinking you cannot do anything, and to lose by default.
James, however, says resistance is effective. “The devil will flee from you” he adds. Time allows for just one more thought. The greater your knowledge of your enemy, the more effective will be your defense. That’s why successful military leaders study history and the strategy of warfare down through the ages. More than one battle has been won because one general knew more about his opponent than the opponent did about those on the other side of the battle line. Study what the Bible tells you about the enemy of your soul, and then make sure that your thought life, your home, and your family are as secure as you can make them. Knowing the enemy doesn’t make you paranoid; it makes you secure.