RESIST THE DEVIL—AND HE WILL FLEE?

roaring-mouse 
Photographer unknown

In the battle for our souls, mice have a real advantage—we’re small and weak, we are aware that we are simply vermin, and as a result we’re humble… and we’re not known for worrying. All that works in our favour.

Satan tries to convince Jesus’ disciples that if they just try hard enough to ‘be good’ or ‘resist sin’ or ‘resist the devil’ then they will succeed in living the victorious Christian life. Of course they fail repeatedly, which was the enemy’s intention all along. The trouble is, the Bible seems to tell us to do exactly that. So what is going on?

What we need to understand is how our faith works—and how it fails. The enemy hates God and Jesus. He also hates humanity, because God loves us. He particularly hates Christians because we have escaped the grand trap that he devised to offend and hurt God, where we are caught in sin and rebellion against God, and God has to condemn us. But the enemy knows that, even saved, we can still be ruined if we are careless, so he keeps up his attacks on us.

These attacks are mostly to get us to try to be good in our own strength, or to resist temptation in the flesh, or to resist him in our flesh. Are you beginning to see a pattern here? He also tries to deceive us or intimidate us, he accuses us and persecutes us, and so on. If any of these attacks succeed, he has managed to lure us out from Christ’s protective covering and we can be devoured or lost: we are two or three steps closer to sinning, if we haven’t already slipped.

God’s plan for our salvation was for Jesus to pay the price for our sins with His death, buy us out of bondage to sinning with His blood, crucify our old sin nature in co-crucifixion with Jesus, and put Christ within us so He can live His victorious resurrection life through us on our behalf. If Jesus is within me and I’m crucified, there’s only Jesus in me to live!

Our part is to choose His way: humility, perfect obedience, unwavering faith in His abilities, absolute certainty of our own corruption, and total trust in His love. We have to be certain of our own corruption, in order to equip us to “resist the devil” because once we really ‘get it’ we will never try to resist him in our own strength. Rather, we will hide in Christ and let Him do all the resisting as we choose to obey Him.

So let’s look at 1 Peter 5:6-9…

1 Peter 5:6-9Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. 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 the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

humble yourselves – this is simple acceptance that we can do nothing and contribute nothing: all has to be Christ – only Jesus saves us, we cannot save ourselves, at any level, so we humbly accept His provision, protection and lordship.

God’s mighty hand – His absolute sovereignty in our lives, and His perfect right to discipline us too.

lift you up in due time – our ultimate reward for our trusting obedience.

all your anxiety – He wants to shoulder all our worries as He cares for us and He knows we need Him to. If we do, thus expressing our loving trust in Him, His peace and joy will be ours.

be alert and of sober mind – this is battle preparation: we are to keep a firm grip on reality—God’s truth, His reality, real reality—knowing that our enemy could attack at any time, so we are to watch (and pray) and be actively alert to promptings and warnings by the Holy Spirit.

prowls around – the enemy is looking for easy prey, just like lions which pick the smallest and least protected from the herd. Lions may be utterly merciless because they are hungry, but his roaring will give him away if we stay alert.

resist him – this involves a number of things, but not our own strength: abiding in Christ, and refusing to come out; faith in Christ’s complete control of every skirmish, and therefore courage when required; knowledge of scripture so it can be used as Jesus did under direction of the Holy Spirit; habitual holiness; clinging to the truth; etc.

standing firm in the faith – it’s always about faith—the shield of faith will extinguish the burning arrows of the enemy: faith that Christ within us will faithfully keep us from falling;

undergoing the same kind of sufferings – our condition is universal among Jesus’ true followers: we know we are called to suffer persecution. God allows the enemy to bring sufferings into our lives, so we accept them graciously as from God’s hand. The sufferings we experience are as much an honour as our calling.

And James 4:7…

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

This is the same really. We resist the devil here by submitting ourselves to God, trusting absolutely in the victory of Christ and choosing to believe God’s word regardless of what our experience is telling us.

In the ongoing war with the enemy, we can have every faith in becoming mice that roar!

Bless you folks, Geoff  >ᴥ<

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