Sunday, June 26, 2011


June 27, 2011
James 4:7 "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

Resist the devil and he will flee from you! That is so much easier said than done. In fact, we want to be tempted by him; we like it. Somehow it gives us permission and an excuse to engage in sin. Satan tempts us and we give in to it; it is a familiar cycle. He tempts us to do things we want to do anyway. Without Satan tempting us, we probably wouldn't do half the things we know are wrong. It is far easier to give in to temptation than it is to resist it. Resisting takes fortitude, will-power. Resistance to temptation takes a strong person who can stand up to the blowing forces of a hurricane-like devil. Or so we think. I would submit to you that resistance does NOT take will-power or a strong person, but simply a smart person with only a little bit of effort. In fact, if you rely on will-power alone to resist the devil, you will eventually fail and feel miserable about it.

Recall Adam and Eve in the garden. When they were tempted by the serpent, he twisted the truth to convince them to sin by eating the forbidden fruit. He told them that the fruit would make them god-like. The fruit was the "knowledge of good and evil," which IS a quality the Lord possesses. But Adam and Eve thought they would have far more god-like powers by the way the devil made it sound. They caved in to his temptation, not because they weren't strong enough, but because they did not combat him with the right argument, nor did they even try.

Fast forward a few thousand years and you find Jesus alone in the wilderness, where He had fasted for 40 days. (He was fasting and praying because He was stressed about His coming trials and pending crucifixion on the cross, something He wasn't super excited about going through.) The devil came to tempt Him, to see if He would give in to sin. The devil declared that Jesus could have all the riches and power in the world if only He would bow down and worship Satan. Jesus did not give in to temptation that day, but He didn't resist by will-power alone. He wasn't even able to resist simply because He was a strong person (He was weakened from not eating for 40 days AND He was anxious about His coming death). Jesus resisted the devil by Truth and the Knowledge of the one true Lord. This was not a super-spiritual act that we have to emulate in order to resist temptation. Jesus refuted the devil's temptation with His head, not His fortitude.

Jesus resisted Satan by speaking the words, "Man shall not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Jesus wasn't using some crazy trickery to refute the devil; He was quoting scripture found in Deut 8:3. He was quoting scripture that talks about being humbled and submitted to the Lord. Jesus' denial to engage in Satan's temptation was a logical action of rationale, not a nervous and trepidatious wringing of the hands to escape it by the skin of His teeth. Jesus had armed Himself with the Word of the Lord and stuck to it because He believed it as the Truth. Adam and Eve, on the other hand, did not stand on the Word of the Lord, which they didn't believe anyway. Had Adam and Eve actually believed the Lord's words as truth, they would NOT have given in to temptation. They would have argued against Satan's words, refuting them with the Word of the Lord! The fight then against temptation is a knowledge of the Lord's truth and using it to resist the devil's schemes. It doesn't take fortitude, only knowledge and a bit of effort.

If you find yourself giving in to temptation, you haven't armed yourself with enough of the Lord's truth OR you don't actually believe what you already know. Either way, you're doing yourself a dis-service and only trying to deny temptation by will-power or staying strong. The Bible says to humble yourself to the Lord's ways then resist the devil; Satan will flee from you. Resist him with the Word of the Lord, which you learned in the times you truly submitted to Him. If it worked for Jesus, it will work for you and me.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 3, Deut 8, Matt 4, Luke 4

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