Just as you don’t want the devil to be your focus, you also shouldn’t ignore him. He is trying to use everything in your life to pull you away from God. He hates God, and you are the only thing he can touch to try to get back with Him. The battle is very real, therefore we need to know how to resist the devil.
Traditional Theory on How to Resist the Devil
Most discussions on how to resist the devil look at how Jesus overcame temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). One of the main takeaways from these articles or sermons is how Jesus used Scripture to fight off temptations. However these same expositions usually leave out how the devil used true statements to tempt Jesus. The Son of God could have turned stone into bread. Angels would come to His rescue. And, satan did have the authority over the kingdoms of the world. What Jesus did was interpret those statements on the basis of what God said was true. While satan did have authority over the kingdoms of the world, God didn’t want satan to hand it over to Jesus, the plan was to raid the gates of hell and take them back.
The Devil Can Use Scripture to Lead Us Astray
We can also see from Jesus’ temptation that the devil will try to use Scripture to lead us astray. For some this statement verges on heretical. I’m not trying to create a stir, but I do think this truth will help set many people free. On the second temptation, the devil used Scripture to tempt Jesus using Psalm 91:11-12. The point of how to resist the devil is not just knowing more Scripture but having the wisdom to know how to apply Scripture for each situation.
How Can Scripture Lead Us Astray?
It is easy for us to get so filled up with Scripture that we no longer listen to God’s leading. Peter gets in a trance and is offered to eat a blanket full of traditionally unclean meat. Peter knows Scripture and utterly refuses what God wanted Him to eat. His knowledge of Scripture almost kept the Gospel from going to the Gentiles (Acts 10:9-22 & 11:1-18). Jesus knew His mission on earth was to the Jews, and yet He violated that mission to heal a Canaanite woman’s daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). Scripture is very helpful to keep us close to God, but if it becomes a substitute to time with God, we are vulnerable to being led astray.
How Do You Resist the Devil?
If we can be led astray even knowing the Bible, how then can you resist the devil? The Bible is very clear on the way to resist the devil: submit yourself to God (James 4:7). It is a very simple statement, but in practice it will take a lifetime to learn. We have to know the voice of the Lord (John 10:4-5). We have to know His heart and His ways (Exodus 33:13). Live as those made alive in Christ (Colossians 3:1-17). Set your hearts and minds on things above. Put to death earthly desires that do not honor God. Forgive, love, and bear the fruit of the Spirit. Love God with entire being and love others (Matthew 22:36-40). In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The devil is crafty and will try to get you to use your mind to make sense of his temptations. Remember God’s ways are not like ours. What God has for us will often not make intellectual sense (1 Corinthians 1:25, 27, & 2:14). He is calling us to a life of faith (Hebrews 11:6). Let us keep our eyes on Jesus and choose to follow Him wherever He may lead (Hebrews 12:1-3). God is stronger than the enemy’s ability to pull you away from Him (Romans 8:35-39). Take heart. God has given you everything you need to resist the devil. God is for you (Romans 8:31).