How Can We Resist the Devil?
1 Peter, Day 27
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
- 1 Peter 5:6-9, ESV
"You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile." With these words, the Borg on Star Trek would subdue their enemies and assimilate them into the collective. At times, living as Christian in a fallen and rebellious world, our hearts can begin to believe that resistance to the world, our flesh, and the devil is perhaps even more futile than resistance to the Borg.
That can't be true, though, can it? Not if we believe the Bible and trust in Christ. So, how can we resist the devil effectively? How can our resistance be more than futile?
Step one is humble submission to God. Too often we don't see the connection between verse nine's call to resist the devil and verse six's call to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. But here's the truth: Only God's hand is mighty enough to give us the strength to resist the devil.
However, some Christians have mistaken humble submission to God with complete passivity. "Let go and let God" might sound nice and pious, but it's unbiblical and unhelpful advice. When we humble ourselves before the Lord and He strengthens us by His grace, He calls us to action. We are to be sober-minded and watchful. This means we are to be in a constant state of prayer and alertness.
Only when we watch and pray will we be strengthened against entering into temptation (Matt 26:41). We don't just need to humbly submit to God's mighty hand, but we also need to actively depend on God for wisdom to discern righteousness and strength to obey Him.
When we are watching and praying, we need to take our enemy seriously, knowing he is actively seeking to harm, disarm, sideline, or destroy us. However, we do not need to be paralyzed by fear. We need to be walking in the freedom and confidence that comes from walking closely with the Lord and in His strength, not our own. We are told that if we are walking with the Lord, we can resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7). So, be watchful and prayerful, but not anxious and fearful. How? Only by God's grace!
Finally, we need to resist our enemy knowing we are not alone. We find great strength in solidarity, knowing that we stand with our brothers and sisters around the world engaged in the same battle. Don't give into the thinking that you are standing alone or that no one understands what you face. You are not alone. We are all in this together. One of the best ways to stand strong is to be actively praying for one another.
So, resistance is not futile. In fact, resistance is a key to being fruitful as a Christian. Resist the devil, the world and your flesh - by humbling yourself before God, being watchful and prayerful in His strength, resisting the lies and enticements of our enemy, and praying for your brothers and sisters who suffer and resist with you.