Following Jesus 149
Following Jesus: The Progress of the Pilgrim.
In our struggle with the devil, there are two extremes we must avoid: The first is to look for the devil or one of his demonic, fallen angels under every rock, for the world and our flesh can entice us to enough law-breaking without demonic assistance. The second extreme would be to ignore the devil all together and pretend he does not exist.
Still, we must know how evil spirits present themselves if we are to resist them. As the following passages indicate, we should not necessarily expect our spiritual enemies to look overtly evil. Satan is the master trickster who often disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).
- I Peter 5:8-9. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV)
- James 4:7 - Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7 ESV)
- 2 Corinthians 2:10-11. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (2 Corinthians 2:10-11 ESV)
- Acts 20:29-31. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. (Acts 20:29-31 ESV)
In many cases, evil does not look all that disgusting to us. The devil draws us in by offering things to us that look good, not by broadcasting it loud and clear that we are being tempted to do what is wrong. Wise Christians train their powers of discernment by the Word of God, seeking to know God’s thoughts that they might recognize evil when it comes in the guise of an angel of light.
Because the Son of God came to destroy the devil, we need not fear the devil. We also need not wonder too much if there is a demon behind specific temptations that confront us. What we should do is become fully grounded in God’s Word. As we grow in our knowledge of Scripture, our discernment improves, and we find it easier to identify as sinister things that might at first glance appear to be good. Let us train our minds by the Word of God.
As followers of Jesus, seeking to train our minds by the Word of God, let us examine a portion of Scripture which teaches us about standing against the Devil and not running away. The text is Ephesians 6:10-20. How do we engage in frontline fighting against the devil himself, in what John Bunyan called the Valley of Humiliation? More to follow.
Fight the good fight of faith today (I Timothy 6:12).
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