As you read the paragraph above – I’m willing to bet that you immediately thought of something(s) in your life that holds some degree of control over you. Ever wonder why it is so difficult? Just when you think you are free – something (a person, a situation, an object, an image, etc.) shows up at just the wrong time – to tempt you back into bondage.
The reason it is so difficult for us is because we are battling a very powerful, very evil spiritual being who looks at our lives and knows our weaknesses. Most of us have very little, if any, knowledge of the spiritual realm – so we think that we are only battling ourselves. If we can somehow find a way in this world to stop thinking about our weakness, stop doing evil things, stop thinking about our sins – we can get free. Meanwhile, the devil laughs at our feeble attempts to resist his temptations.
So – how do we overcome such a powerful, evil being? If you think it’s easy – the Bible is full of stories of men of God who were, at some point in their lives, overcome by our enemy. Samson, David, Solomon, many kings of Israel – all were seduced and corrupted by Satan. This doesn’t mean that God will not forgive us if we fail (albeit with consequences), but our goal should be to resist our enemy at all times.
So – how do we do this?
As always – let’s look to the words of Jesus Christ to find the answer. Matthew 20:22 begins with the Pharisees accusing Jesus of driving out demons by the power of Satan. Notice carefully how Jesus responds.
‘Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"
But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons."
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
"Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.”’ (Matthew 20:22-29)
Who is the strong man in the verses above? Satan. What we’re told here is this – if you are living according to your flesh (your sin nature) – then Satan has free reign over your life. Regardless of what you try to do in this life to get free of the world’s hold on you – eventually you will fail because you are not living by the Spirit of God – your focus is on the world. Without seeking the Lord’s guidance – you are trying to take on someone who is much more powerful than yourself. Our enemy will pressure you, lean on you – until you eventually fall. If you think it’s hard now – just wait until you become a servant of God. As I’ve said before – Satan is a real spiritual being. If he sees you focusing on God and His plan for you – our enemy will not simply leave you alone – you become a target. The reason is because your focus is no longer on the world – your focus is on God. Satan knows that once you are born again – you are going to do what God calls you to do – which will involve destroying the devil’s works. Jesus came to us to destroy the works of Satan – and He will ask you to do the same.
“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:7-9)
You can’t do God’s will if you are not born again by God – because you will be constantly tossed around by the world and its ruler. If you will not allow God to change your character into the image of His own – then you will not resist our enemy’s schemes against you. You will eventually chase after money, alcohol, drugs, sexual immorality – any of the things that you are susceptible to – that will cause your downfall.
The only way to overcome our enemy and find God’s plan for you is by the power of God. If you want to overcome the evil, powerful spiritual being ruling over this fallen world – then you must seek the One spiritual being more powerful than your enemy. It begins with humility. Tired of being tossed around by the world? Tired of having your world crash around you time and again? You must ask God for forgiveness through His Son. You must be born again by God’s Spirit. This is the only way to overcome the world’s grip on you. You must allow God to change your character to match His own. You must allow God to arm you with the spiritual weapons required to stand against our enemy.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)”
This is how you tie up the strong man who opposes you. Do you want to understand how the Devil is scheming against you? Do you want the ability to see and understand the spiritual world around you? Do you want to be able to resist our enemy? Do you truly want to be free of the world? It starts with repentance and truly wanting to know your Creator. You must get free of the world if you want to follow our Lord Jesus Christ and tear down the works of Satan. Once you tie him up – you are free to rob his house.
“This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:3-5)
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)
I received the following email this week (God’s Daily Promise).
jg – July 5, 2009
This week's promise: God will guard you from the evil one
Do I need to fear the devil's intrusion?
"But if I am casting out demons by the power of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. For when Satan, who is completely armed, guards his palace, it is safe—until someone who is stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings."
Luke 11:20-22 NLT
The Stronger Man
Do not be misled: Satan is strong in power and cunning. He has laid low some of God's choicest servants because they underestimated him and overestimated themselves. Even Samson with all his strength was no match for Satan. Nor was Solomon with all his wisdom.
So how can you keep the devil and his buddies out of your "house"? A man stronger than the one who controls you must deliver you. Only one qualifies as stronger than Satan: Jesus Christ.
I want to make it clear that genuine Christians need not fear being possessed or controlled by demons; Jesus is not into a time-sharing program with Satan. The Bible tells us, "He who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him." (1 John 5:18)
Oh, Satan may knock on the doors and rattle the windows. He may threaten to "huff and puff and blow the house down." But he cannot enter because someone stronger has taken up residence. "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1 John 4:4 KJV)