Resist the Devil

by Harvey Porter

Two small boys were talking and one said, "Who is the devil anyway?" The other replied. "Oh, he's just like Santa Claus; he's really your 'Ole Man!'"

We are now in an age when many do not believe in the concept of sin, there are no absolutes, no right and wrong. It is natural to dismiss the devil as unreal if we do not believe in sin. Biblical faith which recognizes the existence of God must, of necessity, recognize the notion of evil which is against God and everything good. Unless we see the depth of personal evil in our world, we cannot fully appreciate the extent of God's saving love.

The Scriptures teach that the devil is a real being. His name is Satan. More than likely he is a fallen angel who led astray one third of the heavenly hosts (Milton's interpretation of John's Revelation). We are introduced to him in the Bible's account of the garden of Eden. His work was to introduce sin and its devastating effect upon God's beautiful and pure creation. He wanted to separate mankind from his Creator and knew that a sinless God could not abide with those in sin. This is the dilemma of the whole creation. Satan introduced suffering and death into God's perfect creation. He tempted man who had the power to obey whomever he would. Man chose the wrong master and devastation followed. It is still true for all mortals. We are obeying one of two masters--God or Satan. One brings life and the other brings death. The sinful desire to undo God's good creation comes not only from man's iniquity but also from the evil forces of the devil. He is the enemy of God and the accuser of man.

Jesus taught the reality of the existence of the devil. After His baptism He was alone in the wilderness and tempted of the devil for forty days. Luke indicated that the three formal temptations were followed by more temptations all during the life of Jesus. We are comforted to know that "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin" ( Hebrews 4:15).

James wrote, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" ( James 4:7). Here are the two forces and directions of life; one for good and the other for evil. When we "submit" we trust and obey. When we "resist" we turn away and have nothing in common. Jesus said that we could not "serve two masters;" that we would hate one and love the other. It is not "both and;" it is "either or!"

The ancient Christians realized that we all live between God and Satan. Our actions in life are never neutral, but are always either rebellious or obedient. That is why we must believe that the devil is real just as God is real. He certainly helps the devil's cause when he has convinced us that he is not real.

Paul admonished the Ephesian Christians to "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" ( 2 Corinthians 2:11). "Schemes" would indicate subtle planning--plans that are not easily detected since they are cunningly made or contrived.

It is probable that many present-day Christians never think about the devil, never recognize that he is tempting us. This leads to our defeat. Battles have often been lost because we did not recognize the power of the enemy. We need to know his power, that he "goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." Those are the words of Peter, and to those he added, "Resist him!"

It may not be fashionable today to believe in sin and the devil, but it is certainly biblical. We ought to constantly take account of our lives and see where we are really going and what we really believe about God and life and reality. We must not live in a fantasy world, but face up to what God says is real. Both God and Satan ought to be very real to us. No day should be lived without being cognizant of the presence of both God and Satan in our world.

Remember! Resist him and he will flee!

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, May/Jun97.