All of us need reminding of a vicious enemy who wants to tear our lives into pieces. But we can take heart in being able to resist him. God’s Word shows us how.
Recently my family visited the Denver Zoo for the first time in several years. From several exhibits away we could hear the throaty, piercing roars dominating all other sounds and commanding us to an audience with the king of beasts. Two lions looked regal even lounging and basking in the midday sun. Another, a big male with an impressive mane, strutted about his kingdom “majestic in pace . . . stately in walk . . . mighty among beasts and . . . not turn[ing] away from any” (Proverbs 30:29-30).
All three were far back from the heavy-duty fences, and they were so used to visitors staring in awe at them that they didn’t seem to notice. I remember feeling no fear. Of course, if there had been no fence separating us it would’ve been a different story! It’s not yet the age of God’s rule over the nations, when the nature of wild animals will change so that a little child holding a lamb can play safely with such a big, cuddly creature and tug at its mane (see Isaiah 11:6-9).
God speed that day, but for now lions remain dangerous, and their predatory behavior reminds us of a fierce enemy who constantly stalks us. As 1 Peter 5:8 warns: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” In the safe environs of the zoo, it didn’t cross my mind to be too worried about the lions. But on later reflection it occurred to me that I should give more regular thought to Satan as the roaring lion seeking to devour me spiritually.
I needed to step up my game—to avoid becoming his game! Satan and his demons seek to stop us from achieving our destiny as members of God’s family for all eternity. The stakes couldn’t be higher!
Instructions on the right approach
Thankfully, the Bible reveals that we can resist Satan. Here are some instructions that tell us how.
“Be sober, be vigilant,” as we just saw in 1 Peter 5:8. We must avoid becoming drunk out of our minds in a spiritual stupor. Be ever alert.
“Watch . . . and pray always.” Luke 21:36 here shows that a key part of watching involves regular effective prayer “that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
“Submit to God . . . Draw near to God.” Do this and God will draw near to you, James 4:7-8 urges, along with telling you to resist the devil so that he will flee from you. Sadly, a respected Barna study (“The American Worldview Inventory 2020”) found that only 51 percent of Americans believe God is an “all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect and just creator of the universe who still rules the world today.”
Surprisingly, 56 percent said, “Satan is not merely a symbol of evil but is a real spiritual being and influences human lives.” He is, and he does! But the shock is Barna’s conclusion that “Americans are now more confident about the existence of Satan than they are of God!” What are the odds they will get the submitting and resisting backwards?
Praying for deliverance
This brings me to the second time it dawned on me recently that I was not paying enough attention to resisting Satan. One popular technique for praying more effectively is to follow the outline of what’s called the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), with each line as a topic header to expand on.
I realized that for many days I had spent so much time on the earlier parts—hallowing God’s name, seeking His Kingdom and will, asking for daily needs (including help and healing for others) and for forgiveness and deliverance from sore trial—that I didn’t give time to an element that follows, another key to resisting:
Pray, “Deliver us from the evil one,” going into specifics. Why would I neglect this when I know evil stirred up by Satan is increasing everywhere? For one, we don’t see or consider all the problems. God has graciously blessed me and my loved ones with a peaceful, protected life. And maybe I just didn’t want to constantly be thinking about all the evil in the world to “sigh and cry” over (see Ezekiel 9:4).
As a parent I know we need to pray for protection for our children daily. And of course I want to pray for my wife and loved ones. So now I’m making sure to include this vital part. But let’s always keep it straight in our minds: We need God to deliver us from Satan and help us to resist. We can’t deliver ourselves or do it on our own. We need God the Father and Jesus Christ to live in us through the Holy Spirit and empower us “to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do” (2 Thessalonians 1:11, New Living Translation).
Trust and connectedness
“Resist him, steadfast in the faith.” Just after warning about theroaring lion, 1 Peter 5:9 said we need to do this “knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” This faith is way beyond just believing in Jesus Christ—believing that He exists. James notes that “even the demons believe—and tremble” (James 2:19).
We need the faith of Jesus Christ. A good description of this faith we need from God as an unmerited gift is relaxed trust like a little child has for his daddy. “Jump, and I’ll catch you!” We should giggle and jump! We need God to fill us with this faith along with the other qualities listed as the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Hebrews 10:22-25 echoes these thoughts: “Let us draw near [there’s drawing near to God again] with a true heart in full assurance of faith . . . Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works . . .”
And then we’re given another key: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (verse 25). This part of the passage in Hebrews 10 shows that a key part of resisting Satan is to meet on God’s holy Sabbaths with our “brotherhood” to encourage each other. A lion attacks stragglers and loners away from the herd. We must be active in the Body of Christ. It’s not “just You and me, Lord”—or we could end up being the lion’s lunch!
Protected and advancing
In a recent Sabbath service I again came to see, a third time, that I was not paying proper attention to resisting Satan. A speaker was discussing Ephesians 6:11-17, which gives us this key with its various components: “Put on the whole armor of God.”
The speaker confessed that before studying for his message, he had always just thought of these words as being only a nice intellectual metaphor. But now he was convicted that every day he needed to actually put on the spiritual items of this armor. His message inspired my wife and me to realize we need to do this too.
This passage specifically says we need to “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (verses 11-12).
We often think we’re grappling against people or politicians! But we’re really going to the spiritual mat, resisting Satan, and we need God’s help to break every hold Satan’s evil world has on us! In verse 16, Paul specifies that we must take “the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
It would make an excellent personal study to go into the six pieces of God’s armor: belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit.
Notice that God’s armor is all forward- facing, not covering the backside, because we must never retreat! It will help us “to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13; remember also Luke 21:36).
None of us is immune to underestimating our need to resist Satan. As I’ve shared, my own alertness and resistance are down at times. How have you fallen prey? Through God’s power working in us, we draw close to Him and are assured of victory over Satan!