Don’t take it slightingly, the devil is not “dense”. The devil will not come to you advertising that he is the devil, he wouldn’t come to you with an apparent lie and he doesn’t come looking so monstrous, vicious, negative and ‘wicked’ as often portrayed in the media. He rides on those false narratives of him to take advantage of believers.
Yes, the devil has been defeated but he is not dead, he is not inactive and he has not given up! He is like that defeated child who keeps coming around for the second time to know if he has got any chance! The defeated child can hit you and run away, hide at a corner to see your reaction. He is like that defeated man who keeps threatening you to know if you’ll shiver in fear. But how the devil comes around to try you isn’t the way we expect it.
The devil often comes as a friend, as an angel of light, as a motivational speaker. He doesn’t come in his full manifestation because it will be easy to point him out. He comes in false regalia, he comes in the mask of an Angel, he comes smiling at you and telling you “it’s alright.
I am here to help you.” He is that young fine man who comes every time to tell you why you should leave your ‘less caring’ husband and come to him. He is that young woman who is always there giving you reasons why you have to move on from your wife and cling to her. He is that friend who is so caring but also distracting you from your life goals. He is that very caring person who is discouraging you from taking that step because it is “risky”.
Yes, the devil hides in the genuine concerns of those who love you, he makes it harder for you to figure him out. He comes in the voice of those you seem to listen to but one thing is sure; no matter how much he fakes it, a discerning man or woman knows the voice of Jesus and follows Jesus always. Devil was hiding behind Peter’s concerns and love for Jesus. Let’s see what happened as recorded by Matthew in Matthew 16:21-23,
“…Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Far be it from You, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to You!” But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
On the surface, it was easy to excuse what Peter said as “positive confession” and we would say that Jesus was the one being negative. This is common in the Pentecostal community where we often tend to confess positive, dismissing the reality and shutting down all ‘negative confessions’. Yet, despite the logic, Jesus had to shut off the devil! This is the power of discernment! Without discernment, we would always mistake the devil as the angel. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:14
“But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
Satan is in that habit! He doesn’t present himself as Satan. Imagine if he came to Even and said “Hi, I am Satan, the arch-enemy of God and I am here to deceive you”, Even wouldn’t listen to him. But he came as a friend, as someone who cares, as someone who wanted to empower Eve and liberate her from ignorance! He came as a champion of enlightenment and Eve fell for it because she thought that she was dealing with someone who cared about her.
Being ignorant of the schemes of the devil is the easiest way to fall prey to him. So, he doesn’t make his schemes obvious, he tries to give us a false impression so that we are distracted. The enemy can present you with truth with some touch of lies so that the truth can distract you from the lies. Paul gave us a hint in 2 Corinthians 2:11
“…In order that Satan might not outwit us… we are not unaware of his schemes”
All the time, the enemy doesn’t come sounding like the enemy, he doesn’t come sounding like an unbeliever. He comes like a church folk, a member of the choir, a member of the ushering department. Haven’t you seen believers in Church who are only in Church to discourage believers from being committed? Who discourage believers from being responsible in Church? They come with what looks like sound advice, they sound like ‘word folks’ or ‘grace folks’ but deep down, they are shallow and that is why they are being used by the devil.
There are ways to stand against the schemes of the enemy and I am going to give a quick outline.
1. Stay alert at all times
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8
The devil doesn’t go on a break, you shouldn’t go on a break either! Whether you are in the office, on a date, on a project or just having time out with friends; don’t be carried away by activities. Stay alert! The devil may decide to leave all the obvious things and hide behind those tiny details.
Peter tells us to watch out for him, this means we shouldn’t expect a devil who is giving up any time soon. Don’t feign ignorance! He is still very much alive, very much active and very much busy. He is on that DM, on that phone, on that movie, on the next channel that you are about to switch to, in that friendly conversation… Be alert.
2. Stand firm against him
“Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.” 1 Peter 5:9
Being aware of the enemy and his tricks don’t mean we are living in “devil consciousness”, it doesn’t mean that we are being negative. It means that we are on our guard, that we are not ignorant of his tricks. One of the things that happen when we are aware and on the lookout is that we know how to stand. Most times, the enemy tries to hurt us by using the challenges around us to make us question our convictions.
To stand firm against the devil simply means to stick to our convictions no matter what, this is the only way we can resist the devil. Some translation says “resist him”. There are times our faith is very loud and vocal. When Peter was trying to sound nice and caring, the devil wanted to use him to appeal to the emotions of Jesus and Jesus had to vocally resist the devil!
3. Submit to God’s will
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7
I talked about vocally rebuking or resisting the devil when he is trying to appeal to our emotions through our loved ones, our DMs, our colleagues in the office and those people whom we have soft spot for. However, the ultimate way to resist the enemy is to submit to God’s will, to be subject to God’s instructions.
All the activities of the enemy to get at us is only for one purpose, to get us to disobey and rebel against God. There is nothing else he wants from us but to live in disobedience to God’s will or to live in ignorance of who we are in Christ Jesus. When despite all the activities of the devil, you remain resolute in your submission to God, the devil will have no option than to flee!
But make no mistake about it, he flees only for a while and he comes back to confirm if you are still standing firm.
4. Be Conscious of your victory in Christ
“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” – Romans 8:37
So many believers are ignorant of who they are in Christ Jesus, they pray a lot but they pray in ignorance, they do many religious activities but they do so in ignorance. They are always afraid of what the devil is about to do next, they are afraid of charms and spells, they sleep with one eye closed and one eye open. They know that there is a battle between light and darkness but they do not know that the battle has been won, that the devil is just a “cry cry baby” who needs to be constantly reminded of his state.
Against all odds, we do not just have victory but overwhelming victory through Christ who loved us! Jesus defeated the enemy and handed over the trophy to us! Jesus handed over a defeated devil. The enemy might want to get at you through guilt but you must remind him that you have been forgiven and set free forever! He may want to remind you how feeble you are but you must remind him that the immeasurable power of God is at work in you.
5. Be Conscious of God’s presence
“…And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
God didn’t leave us without himself. Through Jesus, he keeps assuring us that he is with us at all times. There are times our faith may be shaken, there are times we may have made mistakes and the voice of the enemy is loud through our conscience of guilt, telling us how God has turned his back on us. The more it seems to us that God isn’t anywhere close, the more we should be conscious of God’s presence.
God loves us so much that he can never let go, he doesn’t let go, he promised never to let go and faithfulness is consistent with God’s character.
6. Pray at all times
“Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints” – Ephesians 6:18
As believers, we weren’t given any alternative to prayer. Prayer is the way we keep the communication flow with our father in heaven open. We are left with no other option than to pray. Prayer is just about those short times we close our eyes and mumble some religious words that we learnt from our parents during morning devotion.
We can pray always by being conscious of God’s presence, talking to him at all times and expecting an answer from him. When we have God always in our consciousness and have the communication lines open, the devil can never get at us with his schemes.