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“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!

Are you quite ready for spring to get here?  Not that I’m complaining about winter!  One of the things that I have really enjoyed since moving to Tulsa five years ago is that there is a much more well-defined season of cold weather than we experienced during our previous twelve years of living in the Dallas area.  250 miles further north does make a noticeable difference in average low temperatures, the duration of cold snaps, and the amount of snowfall each winter.  As some of you know, I much prefer to grill out in cold weather as opposed to standing over burning charcoal when the outside air temperature is already 105° F.  Whose idea was that?

But, enough is enough, right?  While spring does not officially begin until March 20, the transition back to Daylight Saving Time this Sunday and the local forecast for daytime temps in the low 70s on Monday and Tuesday have me itching for consistently warmer weather.  There are signs that it is on its way.  Daffodils have had their heads poked up out of the ground for a while now.  They looked as if they were having serious second thoughts last week when they were up to their necks in sleet and snow, but I have a feeling that the next couple of weeks are going to see them rocketing up out of the ground.  Ditto for the hyacinth in the landscaping behind our house.  I noticed some greening of the grass (slight, but still significant) when I took a bag of trash out to the wheelie bin this morning.  The same was true for the patch of grass outside my office window, and close inspection of the rose bushes in front of the main church office evidenced similar signs of new life.  Bring it on!

For those of us who are fortunate enough to live in a temperate zone and to experience the blessing of seasonal variety, spring always follows winter.  Winter’s long nights are succeeded by extended hours of daylight in the summer.  Warmth follows cold.  God gave His word that it would always be this way until the end of time (Genesis 9:22).

This promise of God not only relates to the changing of the earth’s seasons, but also serves as a powerful metaphor for the sustaining hope that can help us endure our spiritual “winters,” the seasons of emotional darkness that periodically shroud our hearts and minds, and the “long nights” of physical pain inflicted by chronic illness and disease.  It’s real, and it hurts and disappoints, but it’s not forever!

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us,”  (Romans 8:18).

“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,” (II Corinthians 4:17).

“Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning,” (Psalms 30:5).

Whatever kind of “long winter’s night” you are experiencing right now, keep trusting and holding on to your faith in Jesus Christ “until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts,” (II Peter 1:19)!

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March 2014