There is an enemy in the spiritual realm. Some Christians deny his existence, but he’s there. This enemy, the devil, wants nothing more than to prevent you from accessing God’s will in your life. He wants to lead you astray away from the path God has set for you into a life of self-destruction and sin. Before Jesus’s victory on the cross, the devil held Adam’s authority over the earth, but our Savior conquered death and restored us to our original place and relationship with God.
Even though the devil no longer has any power over us, he still uses every opportunity to deceive us and lead us into sin. He knows our weaknesses and targets us with custom-made baits designed to trip us up. However, we don’t have to fall for these baits. Thanks to Jesus, we can recognize and thwart his efforts.
Submit to God and Resist the Devil
God’s Word contains a clear formula for accessing God’s will and walking in His best. James 4:7 says,
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
In order to walk in God’s will and receive the blessings He has for us, we must first submit to Him. This is step one and should guide every decision you make in life. Does God want you to take that job offer? Does God want you and your spouse to have another child? Does God want you to spend those savings on a new car?
Now, this is not in our earthly nature. Our flesh is constantly crying out for “more, more, more!” but we can’t let it lead us in life. By giving our spirit the reins, we are actually living according to our true selves. The real us wants to submit to God and live according to His will. Only that lifestyle of submission will provide true fulfillment and contentment. Romans 12:1-2 says,
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
This verse reveals that by submitting to Him, we are actually worshipping God! The devil hates when we are submitted to God, because it puts us in our best position to resist his lies and send him packing. He wants us to be conformed to the world, to “go with the flow” of the people around us, but we are called to a higher lifestyle.
The Devil Wants Us Enslaved
When we accept salvation, we become a new creation who no longer wants to go with the flow. We get adopted into the family of God, as Romans 8:14-15 says,
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’
When we skip step one, outlined in James 4:7, we cannot accomplish step two and the devil can entrap us in fear. However, when we operate out of our renewed adoptive spirit and submit to God and His will for us, we can speak from a place of authority and strength. The devil is always trying to get us to relinquish that authority in our lives and let him in, but thanks to Jesus we can resist him!
Keep an eye out for thoughts that are not God-honoring and emotions other than peace and joy. These can signal that the devil is trying to worm his way in. This is where step two comes in. Once you identify the signs, go to the Word! Stand on scripture in faith and reaffirm your submission to God’s will over your will. According to James, the devil has to leave when you do that! He doesn’t have a choice.
Identifying The Devil In Your Circumstances
We all go through challenging circumstances in our lives. They can be taxing on our strength and painful to our hearts. Sometimes God uses them to refine us and grow us to be more like Him, but other times they are merely an attack sent by the devil. So how do we tell the difference?
We shouldn’t resist when God is trying to draw un-Godly traits out of us, so it’s important to be able to tell when He is leading us through a season of spiritual development. We should be constantly renewing and washing our minds with the Word of God, as we read earlier in Romans 12, so we can keep our finger on His pulse. By knowing His Word, we know His will in life’s situations. We should always trust His wisdom over the wisdom of the world, especially as the world’s wisdom constantly changes with culture and fads.
Trust God Above all Else
Even when He is leading us through a difficult season, we should never doubt the goodness of His character and His boundless love for us. James 1:17 says,
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
Every good thing comes from God. They may not always seem like good things in the moment, but they will prepare us for what God has for us in the future. When we reach the place He was leading us to, we can look back and see how He prepared us and be thankful.
Let’s also consider Hebrews 13:8:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Because Jesus and God are the two parts of the same Godhead, this verse applies to God as well. He never changes, which means that we can always trust Him and His will for us.
How The Devil Deceives
The devil hates when we trust God. He will always try to deceive you about God’s character. He will say things like, “Is God really good? Is He really doing this to help you? Does He really love you?” If you find yourself questioning, think about how Jesus lived during His time on the earth. John 5:19 says,
Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.’
Jesus always went out of His way to help others out of pure love for them. He healed the sick, cured the blind and infirm, and preached to thousands, ignoring His own exhaustion and hunger. As we see in this verse, His character and desires are the same as His Father. God does everything out of love for His children, and that is the case today, tomorrow, and forever. If you need more evidence, let’s check out two more passages. Hebrews 1:3-4 says,
And He [Jesus] is the radiance of His [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
and Acts 10:38 says,
You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
Jesus and God were united in power and purpose during Jesus’s ministry on the earth, and their desire to bless God’s children hasn’t changed. Don’t let the devil shake your faith in God’s character – remember Who our Father is!
Identifying An Attack By The Devil
If God is not leading you through a challenging season in order to refine you and you believe you are experiencing an attack by the devil, here is something to consider. Is what you’re dealing with something that Jesus died to free us from? Isaiah 53: 4-5 says,
However, it was our sicknesses that He Himself bore,
And our pains that He carried;
Yet we ourselves assumed that He had been afflicted,
Struck down by God, and humiliated.
But He was pierced for our offenses,
He was crushed for our wrongdoings;
The punishment for our well-being was laid upon Him,
And by His wounds we are healed.
Jesus didn’t just die to free us from the chains of death and open the way to heaven, He also freed us from a number of earthly afflictions. If you are experiencing one of these, know that Jesus died so you no longer have to suffer helplessly. He can set you free today!
- Lack of finances/provision
- Broken fellowship with God
- Spiritual death/deadness
- Lack of peace in any area
- Demonic attacks (physical or mental), including oppression and possession
These things have no place in the life of the faith-filled believer. The devil will try to make you believe that you are merely a victim and there is nothing you can do to escape these afflictions, but that isn’t true! Bring your affliction to Jesus in prayer and search in the Word for scriptures that address your situation. Stand on them in faith and watch God come through for you.
Practical Ways To Resist The Devil
The practices we’ve gone over should be your go-to defenses whenever the devil tries to attack you. Stand confidently on God’s Word, exercise your faith! God is good and His will for you is good – never let our enemy pluck that belief from your heart. Any time you feel stressed, fearful, angry, or any other negative emotion and you don’t know why, take it to God. Find an encouraging scripture and meditate on that instead of how you feel. Let God and His Word determine the truths you use as your life’s foundation.
These are simple things you can do anywhere. Maybe you take a moment after having a difficult conversation at work to remind yourself that God blesses the works of your hands and He surrounds you with His favor. Maybe if you sense some strife between you and your spouse, you release your anger to God before speaking to them about it. Don’t give the devil a foothold in your life. Ephesians 4:25-27 says,
Therefore, ridding yourselves of falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, because we are parts of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
The devil tries to erode our relationships with God and other people, but we don’t have to let him in! Combat the lies he spews with the truth of God’s Word and watch him scurry away in defeat. You can do it!