God offers His protection from the devil to all who will submit to Him.
How it must grieve the Holy Spirit, to watch us flailing around frantically trying to gain control of our lives. We cannot do it. And one of our biggest obstacles is unseen: the devil.
Jesus has given us the perfect “how-to” strategy for gaining victory over the temptations, lies, and attacks of the devil. In Matthew 4:1-11, Satan tried to tempt Jesus three times. But Jesus deflected each temptation by speaking the Truth of Scripture. In each response Jesus said, “It is written…” followed by a statement of Truth from the Word of God. Example:
But He answered, “It is written, ”˜Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4)
That’s how we must “submit ourselves therefore to God” and in the process “resist the devil.” The Word of God is our weapon against demonic beings who would otherwise easily devour us.
God reaffirmed this strategy when He inspired Paul to write:
And take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)
You have to put first things first: submit to God first. In this case, that’s Scripture memory. But don’t just take them in as “head knowledge”. Allow the Word of God to penetrate into the “soil of your heart”. (That’s simply a discipline of saying the passages over and over, and as you say them, visualizing yourself as already living according to the principles contained in those passages.)
Then, as the Word takes root and begins to grow and bear fruit–and recall: one of the Fruits of your relationship with the Holy Spirit is self-control–now you have the power of the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ active in your life, and you can easily resist the devil.
A Personal Anecdote
This illustrates the difference between doing something in my own strength vs. the power of the Holy Spirit working through me.
As one of my sons and I were stopping for a red light in the left-turn lane of a busy street, the engine in my minivan suddenly quit and refused to start. Although the street was “nearly” level, we had to really strain to push the van around the corner and into an area where it was out of the way. That effort left us exhausted.
I thought of that a year or so later, when I again found myself waiting at a red light in another left-turn lane. This lane had a substantial incline. Nevertheless, when the green arrow came on, with just the slightest pressure of my foot upon the gas pedal, the same minivan moved easily up the incline, around the corner, and quickly accelerated to highway speed.
It’s a lot like that with spiritual matters. Just as it was all my son and I could do to move the heavy vehicle just a few feet under our own strength — without power from the engine, you and I are nearly powerless in the spiritual battles we face — without the power of the Holy Spirit to help us.
There usually a part that we have to do first. In the last half of my anecdote, my part was to press my foot against the gas pedal. Once I did that, the power of gasoline being burned in the cylinders of the car’s engine caused the car to move forward without me having to do anything else.
In the same way, when it comes to areas of obedience to God, there’s always a part I have to do first. Once I’ve done my part, God does the part I cannot possibly do.
I’ve started a list of areas in which I want to be obedient to God. This is not a comprehensive list, and I do not claim to be doing them perfectly either:
God Wants Our Obedience
I made a list of areas in which I want to be obedient to God. This is probably not a comprehensive list, and I am definitely not doing them perfectly:
- clothing choices
- entertainment choices
- excuses - vs. taking ownership
- food choices
- haughty vs. humble heart
- physical fitness
- relationship based on performance vs. acceptance
- Scripture memory
- stewardship (financial, time, talent etc.)
- ungodly or lustful thoughts and actions
- unbelief - vs.trusting God
What He is really watching for is steady progress in the right direction. He wants us to voluntarily come under His authority. In other words, He wants us to submit ourselves to God
An Example From Scripture Of Submitting To God: Tithing
When you are a faithful steward of what God has given you, He shields you from the devil:
10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 3:10-11)
And let us have no doubt as to who the “devourer” is:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8)
Getting God’s protection from the devil is a HUGE deal!
The devil has incredible power over us, but God has him on a leash. When you walk in obedience to God, He promises He will not allow the devil to destroy your finances.
How To Apply The Principle:
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
- The key to all of this is submission to God. That’s why the “submission” part of the verse comes first. It’s like: “Step #1: submit to God in all your ways”, “Step #2: Now that you’ve done that, you have the power to resist the devil.”
- We don’t have to be perfect. God is well aware that we cannot be perfect. He just wants to see us making steady progress in the right direction.
- If you do slide back a bit, don’t let the devil tell you that you are a loser, and that you might as well give up! No, just like learning to play the piano, submitting to God takes determination and daily practice.
- God is patient. He’s on your side. He soooo wants you to succeed. He created you. He loves you. The Father sent His only Son to die on a cross to pay for your sins. He hasn’t given up on you, so don’t you give up on yourself!
- In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 God’s Word reminds you that you are not your own and have been bought with a price. (A very high price!)
- What To Do: memorize this verse: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 1:7) You can do it. Just write it on a recipe card and read it over several times a day until you can say it “by heart”. THEN — VERY IMPORTANT: Recite it silently to yourself frequently throughout the day. You will be astonished at how it helps you!
- One more thing: if the devil tries to guilt you by reminding you of your past, just REMIND HIM OF HIS FUTURE!
As we become more and more obedient — submitting to God — He strengthens the protective shield He has put around us.