The year was 1939 and it took place just before the outbreak of World War II.
Germany and Russia signed a treaty that promised neither nation would attack the other. It laid out a plan for how they would divide the nations of Eastern Europe. However, in 1941, Adolf Hitler sent his tanks across the Russian border in an unprovoked sneak attack. Hitler had no interest in keeping his word. The treaty was a temporary measure until he could do what he wanted.
Likewise, the devil breaks every promise and never delivers what he promises. He’ll tell you anything you want to hear to get you to do what he wants you to do. Too many Christians follow the path of least resistance and fall prey to his tactics. Jesus says the devil “was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (Jo. 8:44). So, the Christian’s victory requires active resistance to the desires of the flesh and the devil’s lies. It’s not hard to see that Satan is on the offensive. He needs no advocates! Jesus clarifies that the devil only comes “to steal, to kill, and to destroy” (Jo. 10:10). His agenda is to devour, destroy, and keep you from the victorious life Jesus wants for you.
Considering the enemy’s hostility, let’s take a reading from 1st Peter 5:5-9 and hear what the Holy Spirit has to say to us today. We must learn how to resist the devil actively and practically! Then our resistance will not look like some unstable militia in a third-world country that is unsure of victory. We resist the devil by faith because Jesus Christ has already secured our victory. And “this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (1 Jo. 5:4). Since Jesus has already secured our victory, let’s learn the 4 most efficient methods to actively resist the devil.
1) Don’t stray from the Word.
Sometimes, Christians think they’re too busy to interact with God’s Word. And I’m not here to condemn you. But what if you take proactive steps to stay in God’s written Word. Let one of our staff help you with that today.
Job said, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (23:12). Jeremiah said, “Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (15:16). And Jesus says to you today, it is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Ma. 4:4).
When you stray from the Bible for a prolonged period, your life begins to show it. How? When you stray from the written Word, it’s only a matter of time before you stray from the Living Word, Jesus Himself. Such straying leads to shame and weak confidence before the Throne Room of Grace. Ever so subtly, you’ve become a victim of Satan’s snares.
The solution is both simple and powerful. Guard your Bible reading life like a bulldog and draw near to God daily. Take a stand for God early in the morning and throughout the day. Look for ways to include the Word of God in your daily routine. Find a nook, grab ahold of God’s Book, and take a long look. The Holy Spirit will help you with this victorious behavior.
2) Don’t strut about your gifts.
Some Christians get overwhelmed with their gifts and don’t know how to behave. It’s so great to be appointed and anointed by God. However, if you begin to desire the applause and honor of people, you become ugly.
In our media-rich age, some celebrity-like Christians strut around like peacocks walking in and out among God’s people with a posse. The truth is that each member of the Body of Christ has specific gifts, but we didn’t give them to ourselves. We can work hard with them and grow in them, but we’d better check ourselves and give God the glory. He alone is the “giver of every good and every perfect gift” (Ja. 1:17).
It’s not an accident that the Holy Spirit addresses this devilish pitfall in our text. He says, “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (5). The wisdom of Proverbs says, “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor” (18:12, ESV). Hear that again. Humility always comes before honor. Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Ma. 5:3). Let me paraphrase it like this; blessed are those who are not spiritually arrogant, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
The solution is quite clear. Give God the glory for every good thing you do. Recognize that without Him, you are nothing. Genuine humility is attractive to God. Jesus wants to anoint you to help others walk in victory.
3) Don’t stoop to worldliness.
Occasionally, Christians can take on worldly attitudes. Such attitudes bring you down to a devilish level. Worldly attitudes lead to unethical decisions, relaxed morals, and willful sin. Such living is participating in a system that opposes Christ’s abundant, victorious life for you.
A balanced lifestyle of holiness maintains victory. Satan dislikes the life that gets this right. Even though the Church is an occupying force, living and witnessing in this world, we are NOT of this world. In 1st John, we’re urged to “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (2:15-16). Worldliness is a condition of the inner person that eventually manifests itself in the outer person.
Consecration to Christ is the biblical call to separation from the world. It’s not about avoiding people. But we need to separate ourselves from the attitudes that cause us to reject God’s love, law, and leadership in our lives. The solution is to repent of any worldly attitudes you’re currently petting before they lead you into willful sin. Turn away from thinking that cooperates with worldliness and forsake your participation in any sinful behavior. Pray for the mind of Christ to reshape your attitudes. God delights in restoring His wayward children to their rightful place of victory.
4) Don’t stop believing.
Many Christians have made a great start in their journey of faith. However, you must realize this race is a lifetime marathon, not a three-week sprint. Regardless of life’s difficulties, don’t doubt God’s will! Doubting leads to trying to straighten out every problem on your own. Before long, you’re doubly burdened as though it’s your job to be the king of your world. But, you’ve been called to continuously believe on Jesus Christ as your King!
What does believing mean? Christian, faith comes from hearing the Word of God (see Ro. 10:17). And Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it” (Lu. 11:28). Hear, keep, and obey this word from God for you.
You will not have a prosperous journey from here to there if you pause to entertain every doubt. Surrender your doubts and cast your lot with the faith-filled assembly of God’s people. Keep walking by faith and not by sight because you are “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (7). If you have stopped believing, the solution is easier than you imagined. Trust in God and relax in His presence. Don’t stop boldly believing God will take care of you. There is a rest for the children of God that comes from childlike dependency upon His care. Understand that no mess in your life is greater than His sufficient grace. He is your burden bearer. His promises are true. Faithful is He Who called you Who also will keep you.
Here’s the reality we must come back to.
The Kingdom of God is not of this world. We resist the devil by faith because Jesus Christ has already secured our victory. King Jesus has “disarmed” all principalities and powers through His Cross and subsequent resurrection. “He made a public spectacle of them” in His triumph (see Co. 2:11-15). “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Co. 15:57). He might be “seeking whom he may devour,” but throughout our lives, we’re resisting him and depending on King Jesus.
Two men were walking through an art gallery and paused to admire a famous painting (Friedrich Moritz August Retzsch) called Checkmate. In the painting, a man is playing chess with the devil. The devil is grinning ear-to-ear because he has the man cornered. The title of the painting indicates the game is over. The devil has won. His opponent has no more moves.
The first man looking at the painting wants to move on to other paintings in the gallery. But the second man is an international chess champion who wants to look longer at the painting. So he tells his friend that he’ll catch up later.
The chess champion stares at the chessboard, then suddenly steps back in awe. He yelled, “It’s wrong! There’s one more move.” He ran to get his friend, and they stared at the painting.
The chess champion says, “We have to contact the painter. It’s not checkmate. The King has one more move!”
Somebody better hear this pastor today. The devil might have convinced you that it’s game over, but the King has one more move! Maybe the devil convinced you it’s game over for your marriage, child, or health. But the devil is a liar! King Jesus always has one more move!
NOTE: These are the notes that went with me to the pulpit. If you’re more interested in how the spoken ministry actually went forth, you can watch and listen to that version by clicking here.