Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1–11). Having withstood Satan, Jesus can help us resist him when he tempts us (Hebrews 4:15–16).
Because Christ defeated Satan at the cross, we who acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord have been delivered from Satan’s power (Colossians 1:13). Yet our encounter with him is not over; he doesn’t give up easily. He is the “accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10); the “enemy” (Matthew 13:39); the “tempter” (Matthew 4:3); and a “deceiver” (Revelation 12:9, PHILLIPS).
In the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” Martin Luther alerts us to be on our guard:
“For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.”
We are told to “stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11), and to resist him (James 4:7). Just how much power does Satan have over believers? What resources must we have in order to withstand his temptations and attacks? The Christian must learn to trust in the finished work of Christ. Satan is a defeated foe: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:11). Jesus became a human, “that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).
The Christian enjoys a privileged position of refuge and security. According to Galatians 2:20, the “old you” is dead and your life is now “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1–3). The Christian is in Christ’s constant protection and care: “The one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him” (1 John 5:18, NIV).
If a Christian feels under attack by Satan or is vulnerable to his wiles or temptations, ask him or her to tell you about it. He or she may be just succumbing to selfish, sinful desires. Satan is blamed for many things for which he is not guilty.
1. Confess all known sin (1 John 1:9) with the understanding that the sin is to be abandoned. “A conscience without offense toward God and men” (Acts 24:16) is the first step in confronting Satan.
2. Be vigilant and “on your guard”: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Alertness to Satan’s designs and intentions will help avoid encounters with him.
3. Submit to God (James 4:7–8) in two ways:
A. Resist the devil:
(1) Have a psychological mind-set against him: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about
how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Romans 13:14, NIV).
(2) Put Satan in his place. When Satan spoke to Jesus through Peter to try to divert Him from His eternal purpose, Jesus rebuked him: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23, NIV).
(3) Use Scripture. When Satan tempted Him (Matthew 4:1–11), Jesus answered devastatingly with three pertinent Scriptures: Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:16; and 6:13. A strong argument for familiarity with Scripture is to be able to resist Satan.
B. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Intimate, daily devotional time with the Lord, using His Word and seeking His presence and strength through prayer, will help us resist Satan and result in his fleeing: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).
4. Overcome Satan by the Holy Spirit: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1–3, NIV).
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7–8).
Other suggested Scriptures:
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996