Resist the Devil
Topic: Spiritual Warfare Passage: 1 Peter 5:8–5:9
If it sometimes feels like someone is working against you, it’s because someone IS against you. Peter calls him “YOUR enemy the devil”. He is not just somewhere “out there”, doing damage to other people. He is after YOU! (And me!) It’s personal! He is YOUR adversary. The amplified reads, “that enemy of YOURS”.
The devil wants to totally destroy you. He seeks to ruin you. He is filled with fury and hatred toward you. He has no kind thought towards you, no pity for you, no sympathy for you. He would rejoice over your downfall. William Gurnall in The Christian in Complete Armor said, Satan “sits in the corner and laughs” when he has pulled a saint into some sin, or oppression. When you are at your lowest low, he is most gleeful.
Not only is he against you, he is powerful. The devil is a fallen angel, likely the most beautiful and powerful angel God created. He is not God’s equal, nevertheless he is a formidable foe. We are not to regard him or his schemes lightly. Peter describes him as a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. He is not merely a trouble maker, or an irritant. He is not merely a voice whispering in your ear to do or say something you know you shouldn’t. It is more serious than that. He can damage you severely like a lion with a fierce appetite.
When Jimmy Swaggart was picked up for prostitution years ago, Leonard Ravenhill, said, “The devil got him! The devil got him!” He does get people! I’ve seen people fall who I never thought would fall!
Luther wrote: “For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe. His craft and power are great and armed with cruel hate. On earth is not his equal.”
Of course, in Christ, we possess the means of complete and total victory over him, every time. But Peter says we need to know the constant danger we are in so that we live with the proper spirit and attitude, in order to escape from his grasp.
**The first key Peter gives us to deal with any attack from the devil, is to be sober and alert. He begins verse 8 “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert” NASB.
Because we know that we HAVE an enemy, and because we know WHO he is, and because we know THE DAMAGE he can do, THEREFORE we are to be of sober spirit, be on the alert, be vigilant. It is when we are spiritually careless, or flippant, or unguarded that we can experience our worst defeats. We also must be on guard because….
The Bible presents the devil as being very clever and deceptive. Peter says he prowls about like a lion. Lions sneak up on their prey. They watch from a distance, under cover, then pounce on their prey with great speed and fury. Paul wrote, “But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ”. The NASB says, “deceived by his craftiness”. Paul talks about the schemes of the devil. He disguises himself as an angel of light.
Satan and his schemes are not always easily recognized UNLESS we are on the alert. I am amazed how in my own mind I can at times be led away from the joy and glorious blessing of being a Christian, and pulled into the worst kinds of spiritual oppression. And I didn’t see it coming. I got pulled into a cycle of thoughts that I did not recognize as being from the pit, and I allowed myself to follow those thoughts to a point of complete despair.
Some of his favorite traps for believers are: sexual sin, anger, bitterness, excessive sorrow, spiritual pride, causing believers to rise up against one another (I think there is a reason this warning follows Peter saying “You younger men be subject to your elders and all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another”.) He accuses our consciences, getting us to focus our attention on ourselves instead of Christ and others. He will tell you lies, like “God is sick of you, disappointed in you, or doesn’t like you”. Or he will condemn you as a complete failure.
We all need to learn where and how he attacks us and be ready for it. You will probably see a pattern in your life, where your thoughts tend to go in a certain direction, and those thoughts take you into a dark place. They take you into spiritual oppression or depression, or sexual sin, or slavery to an old habit, or lead you into anxieties and fears. You can be sure that is the work of the devil. And you must learn to be alert and watchful against these lies of the devil.
Here is something else that may help you clarify when and where you are being attacked. God wants you to live in righteousness, peace and joy, in the Holy Spirit. He says that is living in the kingdom of God. To any degree that you are NOT living in righteousness, peace and joy, the devil has made a foothold. Become alert, to those ways of thinking, that are keeping you from living in hope, peace and joy and love and harmony. Be alert to those things going on in your mind that pull you away from righteousness. Be on guard against passively allowing the devil to take you into those mental and spiritual prisons.
There are a thousand ways the devil pull you away from simple and joy-filled devotion to Christ. But it seems Peter had one particular tactic in mind in this passage. Verse 9 says, “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood, throughout the world”. I take from that, that Peter is especially concerned here with the way the devil attacks people who are suffering. And how he seeks to undermine their faith.
When you are in hard or painful circumstances, when other people are hurting you, when you have experienced grief, and disappointment and loss, THAT IS WHEN Satan comes along and seeks to undermine your faith. Why does he go after your faith?
You are only victorious when you are full of faith. Or perhaps we could say, we only enjoy the victory and the riches won for us at the cross of Christ, when we are full of faith. It takes a firm and robust faith to rejoice in the Lord. We walk in peace and righteousness and joy when we believe. We are filled with hope and looking forward to heaven when our faith is alive! Anxieties and fears flee when you believe God.
So we must make every effort to protect our faith against the devil. Which brings us to our second key in dealing with the devil…..
Second key: Resist him. Resist means to say no, to push back, to refuse entrance. If a bad person came to your door and tried to push your door open, you would resist with all your might. The idea is to withstand an attack. When Satan tempts you to doubt or to disobey, or when he seeks to discourage or depress, when you notice those old dark thoughts coming upon you, aggressively push back or resist.
Thomas Constable said, “It is amazing that God has given believers the power to resist the greatest creature ever made”. God has given you the right, the authority in Christ, to stand against any and every onslaught of the Enemy. Though we understand the devil is a roaring lion, it is wrong to think he is invincible. You can withstand any deception, any temptation, any oppression he might come at you with.
John tells the young men, “You are strong and the word of God abides in you and you have overcome the evil one”. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God! And that Word of God is in you! Jesus Christ himself is in you! “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world”.
You are to think like a victor through Christ. Jeremiah said, “The Lord is with me like a dread champion”. In that confidence, RESIST THE DEVIL. How do we do that? As one practical example, I will often say in my mind or often out loud, “I repudiate that thought. I renounce that idea. I love God and that is NOT who I am now in the Lord”.
So...when weird and ungodly and sinful thoughts come into your mind, do not spend lots of time wallowing in “how could I think that, what a terrible person I am”. View them as attempts of the devil to devour you and reject them as quickly as you are aware of them. Remind yourself that you are a temple of the Holy Spirit, you are a saint who belongs to Jesus Christ, that you died to sin and are alive to God!
You do not HAVE to accept all the thoughts that the devil plants in your mind. You have the right to resist. James said, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you”. If you are NOT resisting SOME of the thoughts and feelings that rise up in your mind and heart, then you will find yourself living in spiritual defeat much of the time!
Then also, you not only push back, you push back with better thoughts! You resist the dark and damaging thoughts the devil by bringing in the light and healing of the gospel. Quote Ephesians chapter one! Or Romans chapter 8. Ask God to give you a word for the moment.
Third key to dealing with the devil: Stand firm in faith. Stand firm in what you believe! The devil’s point of attack is your faith. If he can strike at your faith, your enthusiasm, your excitement for the things God has done for you, then you are in spiritual danger. His goal is to drag you into a state of unbelief. You may recall that time in Peter’s life when Satan was after him. And Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, that YOUR FAITH may not fail”.
When you are suffering, your faith MAY be more vulnerable. It doesn’t have to be. You do not have to sink down in unbelief in suffering. But the devil will take advantage of your pain and suffering to lead you astray from an attitude of faith. He will lead your thoughts to things like, “Is God there? Did he forget about me? Doesn’t he answer prayer any more?” “Did he abandon me altogether?”
So when you are suffering, it is a time to ESPECIALLY stand firm in your faith”. This is something you actively do to protect yourself.
The Bible is full of exhortations to keep our faith firm. The writer of Hebrews says, “Do not throw away your confidence!” “Let us draw near to God with full assurance of faith”. Do not “grow weary and loose heart”. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Jude 20 says, “But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit”
The way to keep the devil from harming you is to live in a firm and robust faith! And when you have experienced defeat, the way back is to get your faith back to a vibrant, strong and firm place. Ephesians 6:16 says the shield of faith is able to extinguish ALL the flaming arrows of the evil one!
Now I am not always saying this is easy. But it is simple! The path to victory is not digging up your past. It is not figuring out a way to get even with those who have hurt you. It is not looking for someone else to fix you. It’s getting your faith firm once again. When I feel that Satan has discouraged my faith, I read Psalms...or I read a devotional, something that will stimulate and strengthen faith.
And we must always go back to the cross and look at what Jesus did for us there. For there we see his love for us, there we see not someone who condemns us but one died for our justification. There we see our sins removed from us and borne by Christ. There we see that God is for us.
EM Bounds said, “Satan cannot stand an exposition of the blood of Christ! He turns pale at every view of Calvary. The flowing wounds are the signal of his defeat…….A clear ringing testimony to the power of that blood he fears more than the attack of a legion of angels.”
Here are other beliefs to stand firm in: We believe God is there, we believe he is good, he cares for us and loves us. We believe Christ washed away our sins, we believe there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, we believe Christ lives in us by his Spirit. We believe we have died to sin and are alive to God. We believe we are free from the bondage to sin. We believe Christ set the prisoners free, that our past with it’s darkness and patterns of thinking, NO LONGER can hold us captive.
We believe the Holy Spirit is real, that he is speaking and working in us and leading us. We believe that we are a NEW CREATION in Christ! Old things passed away, new things have come. We believe all things are possible with God. We believe all things are working for our good because we love God. We believe the best is ahead of us. We believe Christ is coming and that we have a massive weight of Glory waiting for us in heaven!
And while our faith is firm and robust and rejoicing in these things we are kept safe from the devil.
One more perspective that Peter says will help protect us from the devil. “Stand firm...KNOWING that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings”. He is about to say something that will help you stand firm against the devil. You are in a brotherhood, a close-knit family of people, who suffer pain and trials just like you do. Of course their circumstances are different. But MANY other godly people are suffering too! Many others are standing firm in their faith through incredible suffering! Let that truth encourage you. Let that truth protect you from self pity, from self focus, from the urge to quit.
Yes you have unique trials with a mother or father or son or daughter, or some unjust situation at work, or some other major stress on your life, but many of God’s dear and precious and beloved children suffer too!
Satan wants you to think that your trial is unique, that you are alone in your struggle, that you are the only one going through things like this. Satan will get you obsessed with thinking “no one understands what I am going through”. Or he will get you focused on trying to get other people to understand YOUR problems and YOUR feelings. If your focus becomes wishing other people understood YOU, and YOUR problems, and YOUR pain, you are already defeated
Why? Because that kind of thinking is self focused and it is based on a lie! It’s a scheme of the devil! It is a trap! It keeps you from being aware that you do NOT stand alone! It keeps you from going to another in the body of Christ and asking them, “What are YOU going through?” It keeps you from fellowship with others in their sufferings, from bearing one another’s burdens. It keeps you from being encouraged from knowing that your brothers and sisters suffer too and from seeing how many of them are standing firm through even worse things than you and I are undergoing.
Here is what we should be thinking, “ALONG WITH many brothers and sisters in the Lord I too am suffering. My experiences of suffering are common to many in the body of Christ. I may be in great pain, but so are many others! And God cares for them and he cares for me. That’s what Peter just told us. “God cares for you!”
So how do you deal with the devil?
- Alert that he is after you. Daily be on guard.
- Shut the door on him, as quick as you can.
- Keep your faith living and strong and firm. Be doing those things that build up your faith!!
- Never listen to the lie that you are the only one. Consider that you are part of a brotherhood who suffer.