I have heard many sermons and Bible studies over the years that focused on spiritual warfare. I have taught many of them myself. It’s easy to get caught up in over-spiritualizing our spiritual battle. Some teaching seems to produce more fear about spiritual warfare than it does faith. Other teachings create far more phobias than freedom. And still others shift our focus away from the Light and put it squarely on the darkness.
I’m afraid that sometimes we simply make it harder than it has to be.
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:6-7)
The Bible tells us that when we resist the devil he will retreat and flee from our presence. The problem is there are times when we simply do not want to resist him!
- We choose being right over being loving.
- We choose making a point instead of ministering to another.
- We choose being winners regardless of the costs.
- We choose being served rather than serving others.
These are just a few of the countless ways we refuse to resist the devil and instead give him a foothold on our faithfulness. James gives us the key to resisting the devil and watching him flee: submission to God. We are to submit to God’s purpose in our lives. We are to submit to God’s plan for our lives. We are to submit to God’s power through our lives. When we focus on submitting to God, we are strengthened to resist the devil . . . even when we would rather not!
We need the Gospel as much now as we did when we first believed. The Gospel is the power of God and it is only God’s power that renders the devil powerless. Because of the cross work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the devil is a lion without teeth . . . a bear without claws . . . a snake without a slithering tongue. We have victory because Jesus had victory. We need only tap into the power that is available to us moment by moment in the Gospel and watch the devil flee from our presence!
What a wonderful picture of the power of the Gospel: to see a fleeing devil on the run from the people of God! The devil’s schemes are nothing to be laughed at. They are real and they are relentless. But our God is on the throne of the universe and nothing happens to us that doesn’t first pass through His nail-scarred hands. And that, beloved, is the comfort we have in knowing that our God never gives to us more than we can handle. And He always provides us with a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).
We need only submit to God and resist the devil. God has promised to send Satan into retreat!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!