Before we get into more about devil spirits, we are going to look at how scriptures speak about resisting the devil and overcoming temptation. And we are going to be talking about sin which is far less exciting than manifesting the power of God, and in fact, a subject that some avoid. However, as Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and one of the devil’s objectives is to get people to sin, it is important that we learn about it.
The humble truth is that we are born with sin in us. And that sin will not fully go away until the final redemption of our sinful bodies after Christ’s return.
Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body. (Rom 8:23 WEB)
The above verse talks about how even after we are born again, we are still waiting for our bodies to be redeemed. The next verses talk about what we’re waiting for our body to be redeemed from:
For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. For desire is present with me, but I don’t find it doing that which is good. For the good which I desire, I don’t do; but the evil which I don’t desire, that I practice. But if what I don’t desire, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the law, that, to me, while I desire to do good, evil is present. For I delight in God’s law after the inward man, but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. (Rom 7:18-23 WEB)
Paul calls it the law of sin in our members (parts of our body). We were born with sin in us. When you receive Christ, we have the power to overcome sin, but as we say above it isn’t just vanquished. As the verses above describe there is a constant battle within us between the sin that is in our bodies and the truth of God’s word which is in our minds and hearts. Thank God that will finally be gone after the final redemption, but in the meantime, we have to deal with it and its consequences.
Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Don’t they come from your pleasures that war in your members? You lust, and don’t have. You murder and covet, and can’t obtain. You fight and make war. You don’t have, because you don’t ask. You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (Jas 4:1-6 WEB)
These words in James tell us that there are pleasures, things that we desire, within us. We want things. And because we want things we go after them, that is how we are made. And it’s not that everything we desire is evil. People need clothes, food, transportation, and shelter among other things. It’s normal to want those things, and that’s not what James is saying here in “you lust, and don’t have.” These words refer to desires we have that are excessive. We need clothes, but we don’t need the most expensive clothes, unless, perhaps, we’re in a job that demands it, but for most of us, that is not true. Likewise, with food, we need good food, and it should be healthy food, but it doesn’t have to be the most expensive, exquisite gourmet dining. Or with housing, we need shelter, a roof over our heads, with room for everybody in it to live adequately, but it doesn’t need to be a mansion or even anything near a mansion. Having to have lots of money, the nicest things, the nicest houses, the nicest clothes, and/or the best foods all the time becomes excessive, and that is what defines lust. That is over-desire. That is sin working in us. The verses above in James also talk about these over-desires causing all kinds of sin including adultery and even wars.
James ties these lusts to being friends with the world which makes you an enemy of God! You can’t serve God and Mammon. You either serve God or you serve the world. And tied into all of this is pride. When we fulfill these lusts, we are demonstrating unhealthy pride. And James warns us that’s a bad thing. God resists the proud. The proud aren’t likely to get their prayers answered. But the humble will. People who are humble put away their pride and look to God for how to live in every situation.
So how does the devil play in this temptation if it really just comes from the sin in our bodies? The devil runs the world. And when the devil runs the world, he exploits every avenue he can to push more people into being prideful and indulging their lusts. The devil is the force behind the influencers of the world influencing people to do worldly (evil) things.
Scripture says that people without the Spirit of God become workers for the devil’s schemes. That’s what it says at the beginning of Ephesians chapter 2:
… you were dead in transgressions and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience; among whom we also all once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Eph 2:1-3 WEB)
Sin is simply practicing anything that is not godly. There are actually scriptures with lists of sinner types and some of them may surprise you:
But know this, that in the last days, grievous times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, not lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form of godliness, but having denied its power. Turn away from these, also. (2Ti 3:1-5 WEB)
So many sinners listed here and remember that Christians sin but they live a life resisting sin instead of being a slave to it. These verses talk about people who live their lives practicing sin and being okay with it or even reveling in it. It’s not that every sinner is doing all of these evil lifestyles, maybe just one or two of them, but they are caught up in it nonetheless. All of these sinners are the children of disobedience talked about in Eph 2:1-3 above. Scripture says to avoid people who live this way. That doesn’t mean you will never have contact with them, but they are not the people you want to be friends with more than you need to be.
Do not be deceived; evil companionships corrupt good habits. (1Co 15:33 MKJV)
This verse is making a major point. To not be friends with the world means to not be friends with people that promote the world, the children of disobedience because those friendships will work against your relationship with Yahweh, our Father. That doesn’t mean that you hate them because we know that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers of this world. And the mark of the Christian is to love God and all people. Living in this world means that you are going to regularly engage with people that are children of disobedience. Unless you live in a family that is full of believers, live in a community where everyone goes to the same church, and work with a group that is all believers, and only shop at stores run by believers, and only go to schools of believers, and I’ve never heard of anyone that absolutely has found that scenario, then you are going to engage with the world with unbelievers. On the other hand, the more that you can make the above impossible-sounding scenario a reality the better off you will be in terms of being influenced away from godly living. But the rest of us, are going to live, work, and send our kids to school in communities with lots of the children of disobedience around. And so we are going to love those people with the love of God to the best of our ability whether it is where we live, where we work, where we go to school, and even on the playground. We are going to be good neighbors, good sports, help people where we can no matter whether they are Christian or not. But loving God, and making him first means the relationship with God is more important than any friendship, and so when children of disobedience try to influence people to follow the ways of the world, the Christian response is to obey God rather than go along with whatever the world is promoting. No one is saying that’s easy. That is part of what makes the battle so challenging.
The opposite of sinful companionships corrupt good habits is “Iron sharpens iron”.
Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend’s countenance. (Pro 27:17 WEB)
The use of iron to sharpen iron is part of metalworking going back ages. Even today you can buy a honing rod to sharpen your knife although todays’ metal of choice is steel. Just like you use iron to sharpen iron one believer can sharpen another, the opposite of the dulling effect of having unbeliever friends as described in 1Cor 15:33 above. So make believer friends.
Some of the sin types in the verse above are obvious, others not so much. Money-loving is kind of obvious but it’s more than just having a big bank account, it includes loving the ability to buy things and experiences. Arrogance is an attitude of superiority. Here’s a key to recognizing arrogance, arrogant people have a hard time accepting that they may be wrong. A continual attitude of un-thankfulness is an ungodly way to live that is pretty common. Without natural affection is being hard-hearted with people like your family whom you should feel some natural affection. Even if you don’t get along with family members you should still love them. Slander is spreading false information about someone. Fierce means getting violently enraged. Not lovers of good refers to people who don’t treasure what is holy, just, and of good report. Traitors refers to betraying trust with another person, not keeping your end of the bargain, not keeping things in confidence that you have been told by someone else. Headstrong refers to being overly stubborn and obstinate.
“Holding a form of godliness, but having denied its power” is about being religious. It’s about going to a church that says believers don’t really have power like the manifestations of the spirit. It’s about believing not only that God doesn’t answer prayer today, He stopped manifesting a long time ago. And it’s not just struggling with unbelief like many of us might do, it’s denying the power of God. It’s also about being part of a tradition that makes the word of God void.
Here is another list:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them… For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For their women changed the natural function into that which is against nature. Likewise, also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error. Even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, malice; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil habits, secret slanderers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them. (Rom 1: 18-19, 26-32 WEB)
The first line says that everything that happens afterward is the result of people not accepting God’s revelation of the truth. The first result is that people turned to shameful lusts. These lusts include lesbianism and homosexuality, but later we read that all sexual morality is included in this turning away from God. The process of rejecting God’s ways builds a reprobate (worthless) mind and leads to all manner of sinning. That is the lifestyle Satan wants from his followers and leads to not having eternal life with Jesus.
So, Satan’s plan is to turn people away from the order of living godly into the chaos of doing whatever selfish desire one wants to do. The first thing mentioned after all unrighteousness is sexual immorality so let’s talk about that. In the beginning of the book of Genesis, we read that a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife in marriage as the avenue for godly sexual intercourse. Sex between people other than that is immoral because it works to undermine God’s standard. So that includes “hooking up”, “shacking up”, “friends with benefits”, not to mention things like random sex, prostitution, orgies, or whatever else.
Romans chapter 1, verses 18 and 19 list how Satan wants people to live. Covetousness is wanting things you shouldn’t have. Malice is having evil intentions towards others. Envy is feeling hurt that other people have things that you want. Murder is ending the lives of people. Strife is angry conflict with people, working against them. Deceit is misrepresenting the truth to people. Secret slandering and backbiting both involve talking about people badly behind their backs. God made parents to help raise children to have the greatest success certainly in the world, but also to have rewards in eternal life. Satan doesn’t want children to either obey now or even honor their parents later because he doesn’t want them to have an abundant life now or returns for eternity. A common theme in popular media for kids and even adults is how dumb, out-of-date, and even ridiculous, their parents are. Satan doesn’t want you to obey your parents, love your family, or show mercy, and he doesn’t want you to forgive. All of these make up the course of this world, all of these are different tracks in the lifestyle of disobedience that Satan pushes every moment of every day.
These verses describe Satan’s end game, what he desires to achieve over the long haul. But he just doesn’t come out and say his end game. In reality, he tries to blind everyone he can as to what his purposes are at all. And he knows he can’t turn a person from meek and compliant into a raging sinaholic at once so he is constantly working to push the envelope.
Remember, this is God’s standard and his way of looking at life. It’s not that everything in an unbeliever’s life is evil. Unbelievers may love their family, give to charity, work hard, and a bunch of other “good” things. But no matter how many of those things an unbeliever has going on, he is not good enough to stand before God.
As it is written, “There is no one righteous; no, not one. (Rom 3:10 WEB)
None of us are by ourselves, only Christ can grant anyone the righteousness, justification, sanctification that we receive because of Christ’s gift to us and is what gains us eternal life. And then there is the problem of all these sinful lifestyles that unbelievers are led to.
The devil works to incrementally increase sin both in a person and in society. There were times ago when a large portion of people were accepting of marriage as the acceptable means of sexual engagement so Satan pushed the extramarital affair as the exciting alternative. And he pushed adultery in the form of having a mistress as the release from struggling marriages. Next, he might push the idea that marriage is just a piece of paper and not really necessary until it that idea became more accepted. And then he might push the idea of free love where men and women should embrace having sex without obligations. And then he might push that free love should include sex in any form; homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality. And then he might push that people should be free to be whatever gender they desire. And that they should cross-dress and, basically live to fulfill whatever sexual fantasy they want. Wherever people are in relationship to God’s standards Satan’s push is to get them to go a little further away step by step.
Or don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s Kingdom? Don’t be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortionists, will inherit God’s Kingdom. Such were some of you, but you were washed. But you were sanctified. But you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God. (1Co 6:9-11 WEB)
This verse is contrasting the unrighteous, that children of disobedience, with believers. Again it’s not that believers don’t sin, but they strive against sin whereas the unrighteous accept that sin as their lifestyle. We may falter but we fight the good fight, we confess our sin and resist the devil and by grace the blood Jesus washes us from all sin. He makes us holy, and worthy to be with him eternally.
Resist the Devil
Here is the work we are called to do. This work is not what saves us but it is part of the walk of a believer. We are charged to resist the devil:
Be subject therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (Jas 4:7 WEB)
God may never allow Satan to tempt us above which we are able, but he is allowed to tempt us. The above verse says we need to resist. Here are some scriptures on how to do that.
Watch and pray:
Watch and pray, that you don’t enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mat 26:41 WEB)
In order to resist the devil, you really need to put on the whole armor of God:
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having the utility belt of truth buckled around your waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of peace; above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; (Eph 6:11-17 WEB)
These verses use the analogy of arming for war in ancient times to explain what all is required to resist the wiles of the devil. You need the truths of God’s word which are your tools. Your movings around this world as an ambassador for Christ are your footwear in this armor. Righteousness protects your heart. Your faith shields you from all the false accusations the adversary throws at you. And your sword is the word of God, speaking its truth pushes the devil away.
A great place to learn about resisting temptations is in the record of the temptations of Jesus in the desert after he had fasted 40 days in the desert. There he was tempted three times. Let’s look at the third temptation in Luke.
He led him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will put his angels in charge of you, to guard you;’ and, ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest perhaps you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answering, said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” When the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until another time. (Luk 4:9-13 WEB)
Jesus was first tempted with food. Then he was tempted with authority over all the kingdoms of the world. This third temptation was to prove who he was. In each case, Jesus used the rightly divided word of God to resist the devil. But in the temptation above notice that the devil quoted scripture to entice him to prove who he was! But the devil deliberately misapplied the scripture. Jesus answered with scripture that showed where the devil’s use of scripture was misapplied. It is true that it was prophesied that the angels would protect him but the word of God is that we are not to test God (Deut 6:16 refers to testing God at Massah): This example shows that it is not enough to know scripture, you have to rightly divide it to be able to wield it with power.
The temptations of Jesus are an illustration of putting on the whole armor of God. The key of using rightly divided scripture as a sword capped off the resistance. But Jesus had the whole armor working. And not only that, but as the devil knew the scriptures, Jesus knew them to the point he knew that the way the devil was presenting them was wrong. That is another reason why all these disagreements over doctrine work against believers, Being really knowledgeable in the whole counsel of God is part of being a mature believer. It’s not enough to know there is something about that in the bible, it’s not enough to agree just on some basics, you have to know what Scripture says and what the real meaning is.
Another point is resisting the devil is who you decide to have relationships with. The body of Christ is what is designed to nourish you.
from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love. (Eph 4:16 WEB)
If you have accepted Christ, then you are a member of the body of Christ. That body, as the above verse says, nourishes itself to its own building up. In other words, if you want to be strengthened as a believer, then you need contact with other parts of the body.
Of course, that includes people that you worship with. But, it is much more than that. Even if you get together to worship with believers once or twice a week, that still leaves all the rest of the week where if you’re not careful, your contact is limited to being influenced by unbelievers. For the unmarried, that means having a believing spouse, and hopefully raising children they grow up to be believers. And in choosing friends, I mean real friends that you’re going to share deeper things with, that means choosing friends who have qualities that are going to strengthen your walk with Christ. Of course, perfect believer friends are impossible just as you being a perfect believer is impossible. But having family and friends that are believers means that not just at worship times, but a larger portion of your time is in contact with believers. And that iron will sharpen your iron.
If you are a believer but your friends are not believers, then I have a question. Are having a hard time growing in your faith? Are you stuck in sinful patterns and don’t see why. At some point, people that really want to grow with the Lord give up the things of the world including friendships that work against their faith.
Here’s a specific example of knowing what the word says precisely. In the world I have heard the saying that the bible says that money is the root of all evil. But it doesn’t say that. The following is instruction where the rightly divided word gives an answer to the temptation to go after riches or that it is money itself that is evil.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly can’t carry anything out.
But having food and clothing, we will be content with that.
But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1Ti 6:7-10 WEB)
First of all, here is another example where believers, not just unbelievers, are led astray as it says “Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed.”
It says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, not just having money. We all need some money for the necessities of life. We just warned against loving it.
The rightly divided answer to why not go after riches is that we didn’t bring anything into this world and we are going to leave everything that we have here. We’re fed and clothed, and that is enough. Going after riches brings on all kinds of problems. In fact, it is the root of all kinds of evil.
Another example shows a strange place to watch out for temptation. We are called to help those around us who get caught up in sin. But Paul warns us that temptation can come in a place where you are just trying to help someone else and the temptation can come back to bite you. Amazingly, instead of helping the other person, you may get tempted into their sin or some other sin!
Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted. (Gal 6:1 WEB)
This verse is saying that when you try to be helpful to someone who is caught in sin, you are exposing yourself to sin and its attractiveness so be wary. You might talk to the one who is caught in a sin, and in the process, you’re going to hear all of their good reasons for doing that sin. Maybe they have been a good friend. It’s easy to be sympathetic, and open to hearing the other person. The attractiveness of that sin or even some other sin may come out and even start to lure you. The advice is simple. If you find that happening, then you’re not the one for this job. Take care of yourself and get out of there.
We are born with sinful bodies and even when we receive Christ into our lives we are not totally free of the sinful influence. The devil is crafty and has engineered the world to attract us to sin whenever and wherever we are. The devil has crafty schemes to try and lure us away from God.
But God has promised us that we will never be tempted more than our ability to resist so we need to be always watchful for a way out. We need to keep our minds and hearts centered on God’s word. The devil is crafty but he is less powerful than Christ. We need to keep feeding our minds with God’s word as led by the spirit. Just as the devil is constant, we must be constantly vigilant to resist.
Thank God for forgiveness and the grace that abounds to us in Christ Jesus. Resist the devil and he will flee.