Overcoming the Devil

You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.

The Devil is always on the job, tempting us to disobey God. And though nobody can keep temptation from coming, we don’t have to yield to temptation. God gives us enough sense by His Spirit to know the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s good and what’s bad, then He lets us choose. The Devil cannot prevent us from choosing. That’s the one thing we can do no matter what the Devil does. We each have a will, and we can choose to ignore the Devil and resist his temptations. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

It is impossible for the Devil to win over you unless you give in to him, for “He who is in you [Jesus] is greater than he who is in the world [Satan]” (1 John 4:4). The only way the Devil can win is if you quit, give up, give in, surrender, or stop fighting. As long as you keep fighting, you keep winning! So when the Devil tempts you to get down and discouraged—fight back! Put on the armor of God, that you may be able to withstand the Devil’s attacks (Ephesians 6:10-17). Don’t even listen to him, much less surrender!

We don’t need to fear the Devil or his demons. Jesus is with us!

Just as the fear of God leads to life (Proverbs 19:23), fear of Satan leads to death. Fearing God is a form of worshiping God. It’s giving Him the reverence He deserves. But to fear the Enemy, to fear Satan, is giving him just the kind of worship he wants. It’s really worshiping the Devil, so don’t do it—not for a fraction of a second!

Satan’s powers are not to be feared, much less worshiped. They are to be resisted and rebuked and gotten rid of! You have to fight fear like you have to fight the Devil. Resist it with faith and the Word of God. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Give God due respect by putting your faith in Him, and all fear will disappear.

Although this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed,
His truth to triumph through us!
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him!
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure!
One little word [Jesus] shall fell him!
—Martin Luther (1483-1546)

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against … the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).

We are fighting in a war, not against carnal man, but against spiritual forces. That war is going on all the time in the unseen realm of the spirit that is all around us and even in us. It is a war between God and the Devil, between the forces of good and the forces of evil, between the angels of Heaven and the demons of Hell, between the people of God and the Devil’s agents on earth.

“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). We need a lot more than mere physical weapons to fight and win this war. To tear down the spiritual strongholds of the evil forces that oppose God and His people and His purposes, we need to wield the powerful spiritual weapons of God’s love and Word.

It’s serious business fighting the Devil, but it’s a fight that we’re destined to win. As long as we stay on guard spiritually, as long as we stay close to Jesus and His Word, we can’t be beaten. How can we be so sure?—Because He who is in us—Jesus—is greater than he who is in the world—the Devil (1 John 4:4).

If you want to drive away the Devil and his doubts, start praising the Lord no matter what’s happening.

The Devil can tell you a lot of truth about yourself that’s horrible, not to speak of the lies he tells you. One of his favorite tactics is to try to persuade you to quit by hitting you with a barrage of doubt, discouragement, and self-pity. If you don’t keep your eyes on the Lord and your mind on His Word when that happens, you’re doomed to defeat, doubt, discouragement, and final failure.

When you’re discouraged, the Devil tries to make you mad at the truth because he’s afraid of being defeated by it. If you listen to the Devil’s lies, you’ll forget the words of God. If you spend your time listening to the Devil’s doubts and singing his dirges, you’ll forget God’s praises.

So rebuke the Enemy in Jesus’ name when he tempts you with negative thoughts. Start praising the Lord and you’ll often praise your way right out of the pit into which the Devil is trying to cast you. When he comes around with his doubts, lies, and fears, don’t just stand there—do something! Sing, shout, praise the Lord, quote Scriptures! Sock it to him with the Word! The Devil can’t take the Word. He’ll turn tail and run every time!

We need to understand the difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the condemnation of the Devil.

Not everything that goes wrong is necessarily your own fault or a result of your mistakes and sins, and not all trials are because God is punishing you. Sometimes these things are attacks of the Devil, who is trying to defeat you, trying to belittle, trying to accuse, trying to get you down and discouraged. He tries to convince you that you’ve made too many mistakes and failed too many times, so you might as well quit.

But God always has hope for you. Even when He has to correct you, He does so in love. His dealings are a proof of His love (Hebrews 12:5-6). He sometimes scolds and applies the rod, but He always adds love’s healing balm afterwards to soothe, encourage, comfort, and give you hope of recovery and redemption. His encouragement after His correction is like the sun after a storm.

So don’t give up the fight, especially when the Enemy of your soul is doing his best to discourage you and depress you. God will forgive you for past errors, and He can still mightily use you. Simply acknowledge and confess your sin, accept God’s forgiveness, and get on with living for His honor and glory.

The Devil can’t win for losing!

It is impossible for the Devil to defeat you unless you give in to him. “Jesus who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Jesus has already defeated the Devil (1 John 3:8). If you keep fighting, the Devil cannot win.

The Bible says, “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). As long as you keep resisting, he’ll keep fleeing, but if you stop resisting, he’ll use his lies and doubts to try to persuade you to quit. He’ll try to persuade you that you’re a hopeless case, so you might as well surrender and leave the field to him. “It’s no use,” he says.

Don’t listen to him! Get tough and fight back with the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Don’t let the Devil say “boo” and scare you out of doing what God wants you to do. Stand up and fight, and he will flee from you!

Put your faith in the Lord and His Word, and you’re bound to win. Put on the whole armor of God and go on the attack with the truth of God’s Word (Ephesians 6:10-18). The victory is already yours. With Jesus on your side, you can’t lose for winning as long as you keep fighting!

“When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19).

Sometimes living for the Lord is a real fight, but the Devil can’t prevail against you if you resist him with the Word of God. The Bible is God’s standard, like a banner or flag that we can wave in front of the Devil’s sharp pointed nose to make him flee (James 4:7). He can’t take the Word.

When the Devil tempts you, what’s the first thing you should do?—Ask the Lord for a Scripture to answer the Devil’s lie. That’s what Jesus did. He just quoted the Scriptures. Of course, the Devil also tried quoting Scripture to Jesus, but he twisted them and took them out of context. So Jesus just fired Scriptures back at him the way they should have been applied: “It is written” (Luke 4:1-13). And the Devil fled!

The best way to stop an attack is to counterattack. The best defense is an offense. Wage a militant warfare against the Devil. Pray. Memorize and quote God’s promises to the Devil, as well as to yourself, to bolster your faith. Put the Devil out of action with the Word. Bury him in a flood of the truth!

Don’t let the Devil get you down.

Discouragement is one of the Devil’s favorite weapons. He tries to get us looking at our own mistakes, sins, weaknesses, and failures. The Devil, the accuser of the saints, picks on all the little things, all our tiny faults. If he can’t discourage us any other way, he tries to belittle us and belittle what we’re doing. He whispers the lies that are the most easily believed, either about us or about other people.

But the Bible doesn’t say to look at yourself or others. It doesn’t say to look at all the problems and troubles either. It says, “Look to Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2).

What does it mean to be discouraged?—It means to not be encouraged, to be without courage, or when courage is at a low ebb. Discouragement is really a loss of faith.

“Faith comes by hearing the Word of God” (Romans 10:17), so when you get discouraged, the quickest remedy is to start praying and reading the Word and quoting Scriptures and telling the Devil he’s a liar. That’s how your faith will grow, and as it does, the doubts will flee and you’ll be on the road to victory again. So when things look darkest, don’t look down, look up! Start praising the Lord and you’ll often praise your way right out of the pit into which the Devil is trying to cast you!

* * *

When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.
–Isaiah 59:19b

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
–2 Corinthians 2:11

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
–2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Neither give place to the devil.
–Ephesians 4:27

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
–Ephesians 6:11,12,16

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
–James 4:7b

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith.
–1 Peter 5:8,9a

The Word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
–1 John 2:14b

Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.
–1 John 4:4b


Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.


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