“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
James 4:7 communicates this powerful promise from God! But, have you ever wondered exactly what resisting the devil looks like and sounds like in practical terms? Is it merely a thought process or reliance on our own will power? “Resistance” should conjure up images of active, aggressive combat, not passivity or simple wishful thinking that, if we just close our eyes and cower in a corner, perhaps he will go away. Could the frequency of our failure when assaulted by Satan’s flaming arrows of temptation have something to do with the rarity or non-existence of a proactive plan of resistance against him?
In urging intimacy with God over friendship with the world, James provides us with several rapid-fire imperatives, i.e., some practical actions that we can take to deepen our relationship with our Father and further distance ourselves from our Adversary (James 4:7-10). In addition to humbly submitting to God and intentionally drawing near to Him, James instructs, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Similar pushback against Satan is urged in I Peter 5:9. After the sobering reminder that our Adversary stalks us like a roaring, ravaging, prowling lion, Peter challenges us to “resist him, firm in your faith.”
God gives us this incredible assurance that resistance against Satan will put him in retreat mode. This truth should embolden our spirits and transform our mindset from helpless “victims” to that of “victors” in our battle against Satan’s enticement and entrapment. This is not due to any fear that the Evil One has of us, but rather his dread of the One whose Spirit indwells and empowers us. “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world,” (I John 4:4).
Resistance is active. It is more than just passively praying, “Lead us not into temptation,” then hoping for the best and expecting the worst It requires engagement of our mind, heart, words, and actions. So, what does “resisting the devil” look like? What practical means of resistance can we use against him?
In recent years, especially since enduring what I consider to have been an all-out, no holds barred, full frontal assault from the Evil One in the summer of 2008, my efforts to resist the devil have come to include verbally rebuking him. Jesus spoke directly and defiantly to Satan when being tempted (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13), confidently quoting the truth of Scripture against Satan’s lies. When He felt that Peter wasn’t seeking the Divine will regarding His impending death, Jesus said, “Get behind Me, Satan,” (Matthew 16:23). In the enigmatic verse that describes a mysterious, other-worldly dispute over the body of Moses (Jude 9), Michael the archangel invoked the name and power of God by saying, “The Lord rebuke you!”
It angers me when I sense that Satan is seeking (yet again) to draw my heart, mind, and life away from God, to buy into worldly ways of thinking, and to act in pride and self-interest rather than in service and agape love to others. So, I’ve gotten much more confident and comfortable in telling him (audibly) to get lost. My language toward him is extremely pointed and somewhat coarse. Love for my enemies does not extend to “the” Enemy. In the name of Jesus Christ who defeated and disarmed him, I tell him to go “home.” Since I know his permanent mailing address, I’m not bashful about telling him to go to hell and leave me alone.
I understand that many interpret Jude 9 to mean that we should never be so bold as to directly rebuke Satan in such a way. However, in light of translational variations, the sheer uniqueness of the verse, and its relation to material in an apocryphal, non-canonical book called The Assumption of Moses, until further notice I intend to keep right on actively resisting, pushing back, and getting in the devil’s face in the name of Jesus Christ. I don’t think I can make him any angrier at me than he already is.
Hell is the custom-built home for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). I don’t feel the least bit timid about wanting him to move in as soon as possible. When Christ’s victory is fully claimed, the great dragon, the serpent of old, will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation 20:10). The return of Jesus Christ will not only result in the vindication and eternal salvation of His people, it will also execute the sentence and seal the doom of Satan. Just one more reason to pray daily, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Is hell for real? I hope so. For Satan’s sake, I truly hope so.
In our spiritual warfare against the devil, resistance is far from futile. It is incredibly fruitful and effective, backed by the power, promises, and provisions of our God. Just like the completely out-gunned David who took a stand against Goliath, we run to the battle line to meet the Enemy in the name of the Lord of Hosts. Without God, David would have been the next notch on Goliath’s sizable belt, a forgotten footnote in the Philistine’s domination of Israel. It is the Lord of Hosts who is the game changer, the outcome adjuster, and the re-writer of history.
In the name of Jesus Christ, resist the devil!