The big three enemies of every Christian are: a sinful world system (1 John 2:15-16); the inherent sinful nature (Ephesians 4:22); and, the devil, who seeks to exploit the world and the sinful nature to tempt and move us into rebellion against God (1 Peter 5:8-9). The good news is that Jesus Christ has obtained deliverance and freedom for His people from each of those enemies. However, for this deliverance and freedom to be a practical reality in daily experience, each believer in Jesus must know and practice the truth.
In the original Fall of humanity there was a passive response to the temptation of the serpent, an acceptance of doubt concerning God’s Word, the acceptance of insinuations concerning God’s goodness and wisdom, and a deliberate choice to follow the suggestions of Satan and disobey the only true and living God. The seriousness of that Fall into disobedience cannot be overemphasized. The Fall introduced the dimensions of sin, lust, depravity, slavery, ignorance, death and every form of evil into the human race. In short, people became alienated from God and enslaved to the devil. The final effects of this sinful bondage will not be completely severed until the final judgment. The hold of the devil is so profound that it took the death of Jesus Christ and his resurrection to break that hold and make it possible for humanity to be redeemed.
The descriptive titles given to Satan indicate his activity and what he is up to: Tempter (Matthew 4:3); Deceiver (Revelation 12:9); Accuser (Revelation 12:10); Adversary (1 Peter 5:8); Murderer and Liar (John 8:44); the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4); and, the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Holy Scripture indicates that a Christian can be significantly influenced by the machinations of Satan through: giving the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27); lying (Acts 5:3); physical and spiritual attacks (Job 1-2; 2 Corinthians 12:7); deception (Revelation 12:9-10; 2 Corinthians 11:3); temptation (1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:5); pride (1 Timothy 3:6); corruption (2 Corinthians 11:3); accusations (Revelation 12:10); hypocrisy (Acts 5:1-11); and, “fiery darts” (Ephesians 6:16). In other words, the Christian ignores the activity of Satan at his/her peril.
Satan’s purpose and aim is to keep each and every believer in Jesus from spiritual progress and maturity, and from the daily experience of living in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, the evidence of Satan’s success is all around us, and even in the church. All Christians are under the attack of the enemy of our souls in some way, shape, or form. When well-meaning Christians experience difficulty in prayer, in reading Scripture, in witnessing to the truth of Christ, in overcoming sins, and in maintaining right fellowship with other believers, then this is a tangible reminder of the subtle and powerful effect that Satan has in the church, not to mention the world. Such a situation requires that we know and understand the provision we possess in overcoming the evil one.
The most basic truth to know and practice is that in the crucifixion and resurrection the Lord Jesus Christ defeated Satan (Colossians 2:15). Jesus has through his death and rising from death destroyed the power of death and delivered those held in bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15). In fact, Jesus, the Son of God, came to this earth so that he might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). What is more, through the Ascension Jesus was seated in triumph over Satan and this tremendous victory has been given to each and every believer in Christ (Ephesians 1:19-21; 2:5-6).
In order for this incredible access to become a reality there must be a complete and honest confession, repentance and renunciation of past and present sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). There must be a complete and honest practice of the truth in the obedience of faith and love through standing with the truth (Ephesians 6:10-18). There must be a complete and honest as well as aggressive resistance of the work of Satan through constant vigilance and standing firm (1 Peter 5:8-9).
When you are made to feel guilty but do not know what you have done or why you should feel this way – then be aggressive about rejecting it. When you are accused (i.e. “If you were really a Christian you would not be thinking a thought like that…”) – then be aggressive about refusing the guilt. When your thoughts, emotions, and desires threaten to get out of hand – then take charge of them and bring them into subjection to Jesus. You have all the authority of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension behind you to reject and refuse error and satanic whispers.
Know the enemy’s lies and deceptions and be aggressive about dealing with them according to the truth of the gospel. Always attempting this alone is somewhat like trying to be an army of one – it would go much better with the help of the church as we share, pray, and practice the truth together in the context of community. May the kingdom of God come in all its fullness as Christians learn to know and practice the truth. Soli Deo Gloria.