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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Submit to God, Resist the Devil and He Will Run Away

Submit to God, Resist the Devil and He Will Run Away
The devil will never flee (run away) from you if you resist him by yourself. 
And you will never be strong enough to turn from evil on your own.  The Scripture that tells us to resist the devil first tells us to submit ourselves to God.  It reads: “Submit yourself to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  (James 4:7)  With Gods’ power and authority are we able to resist the devil.
Jesus sent out the disciples with these words: “I have given you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy,   (Luke 10:19)  Serpents and scorpions are symbols of spiritual enemies and demonic power, over which Jesus has given His followers (that’s us) authority to put down.   
 We have the spiritual power to resist evil because of our position in Christ.  Scripture reads:  “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)  The Spirit of Christ is in us believers. And we are in Him.  The Bible says: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them (evil spirits) because He (Jesus) who is in you is greater than he (the devil) that is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4)   That means we never have to be kicked around by the devil since Jesus has us covered.
 Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.”  (Matthew 28:18-19)   The Bible tells us that Jesus has ALL authority and He sends His servants (that means you and me) out carrying His badge of authority.  And we are reminded: “Finally be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.”  (Ephesians 6:10)
  Paul prayed that the new believers in his church in Ephesus would not be blind to the power and authority that they had in Jesus Christ.  He writes: “I pray that the eyes of your hearts may be opened so that you may know the hope of His calling, and the riches of the glory of His (Jesus) inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His (Jesus) power toward us who believe.”  (Ephesians 1:18)  
Like the early Christians in Ephesus, we too need to have our eyes opened to the “surpassing greatness of the power” and authority we have in Christ Jesus.
The Bible also says: “Be sober, be vigilant: because your enemy the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may eat up.”  (1 Peter 5:8)  Jesus has set us free from death and has given us freedom in Himself.  But the devil tries to drag us back into the prison house of sin. (Isa.42:7) And without Christ we are not strong enough to resist becoming enslaved.  There are so many ways that the devil can steal our freedom if we don’t “submit to God and resist the devil.”  We must stay close to God and keep our guard up. 
The devil will try to make us a prisoner of perhaps an addiction- heroin, marijuana, or too many pain pills.  Or maybe he will try to enslave us to a bad habit, huge debt, over eating, anxiety, gossip or hate. There are so many traps and deceptions that the enemy of our soul will try to use against us.  But Christ has given us the power to stand up to all of these snares. We who are in Christ never have to be afraid of being taken over by one of these sins. Let’s not forget that James 4:7 tells us that if we submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee from us.
 I had a friend who for years was afraid that she was losing her mind.  Even though she loved God and confessed her belief in Christ and was a member of a Christian church, terrible doubts and fears were constantly flooding her mind.  Had Christ really saved her?  When she died would she really go to hell?  Questions and confusion tormented her day and night and there was little joy or peace in her life.
 My friend had always tried to be broad minded so she visited other religious groups –cults that openly rejected Christ. And she read books by psychics and astrologers and made friends with folks who ridiculed Jesus as being the Savior.  To be accepted by this crowd, she stopped mentioning her faith in Christ.  And she continued doubting her Christian faith more and more. 
Gradually my friend became more fearful and more depressed.  Anxiety and dread were becoming her constant companions and she felt herself slipping into the darkness. Her doctors prescribed medications for her depression and her psychiatrists scheduled endless therapy sessions.  But all to no avail.  The years passed by and she only seemed to be losing more control and sinking deeper into the darkness and the depression.  Often she could not function on her own, hold a job or go about her life.
But finally – several of her Christian friends intervened.  They put their arms around her and surrounded her with their prayers and their love.  They challenged her to submit herself to God.  She needed to put away all the other “gods” in order to submit to the one true God, they told her.  The cult religious groups, the psychic books, the astrology, and anything and everything that got in the way of Jesus Christ, Son of God, only Savior.   (Exodus 20:3-6)  
My friend was desperate to be free from her depressions and so with her praying friends circling around she rejected all of those things in her life that she had allowed to slip in between herself and her Lord.  She repented of all of her wanderings away from God and asked His forgiveness for all of her unfaithfulness.  She rejected all other “gods” and rededicated herself to the one true God.  Scripture says that our faith is built up when we read the Bible: “Faith comes by hearing, hearing the Word of God…” so she decided to make Bible study and prayer an important part of each day, hoping that her shaky faith would become stronger.   
And after submitting herself to God, my friend threw herself into helping others.  She worked at the local food bank and took care of several foster children.  She taught Sunday school and volunteered at the humane society.  God became her strength and she counseled others who were suffering with depression like she had. And this time she stayed close to God – never getting out there where she could be picked off by temptations. 
When she would feel the depression closing in again she would call her Christian friends together and they would come and stand with her and pray and read Scripture. And when fearful thoughts would try to return and control her mind she would “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor.10:5)  She would stand up to her fears quoting Scripture or singing praises to God to keep the darkness away.  
Today my friend has taken back her life.  She holds down a responsible job and is active in her church and her community.  She is friendly and outgoing with a smile for everyone.  Her face radiates with the love she has for God and the joy she finds in her Christian faith.  She has changed so dramatically that it is hard to remember that this is the same woman whose life was once so negative and so out of control.  And I wonder what her secret was.
But if you ask her she will tell you that her secret is very simple.  The secret is staying close to God.  Everyday she tells us that she “Submits herself to God, resists the devil and he flees from her.”  (James 4:7)

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