Continuing in our series of how we can prepare for persecution, today we want to look at how we can resist the Devil and stand firm in the faith. As we discovered in “Prepare for Persecution,” the way to prepare for the physical and mental persecution awaiting each of us is to first prepare spiritually.
We can never stand up to the trials of this world unless we see beyond the physical world into what is happening in the spiritual realm. If you are spiritually weak, you will never stand up to physical abuse. Without the proper spiritual foundation, you will crack under the mental manipulation you will face.
To be strong in your faith, you must learn to resist the Devil. James tells us if we will resist the Devil, he will run away from us (James 4:7). Satan has the advantage of not being confined to a physical body. He is more clever and resourceful than we can imagine or will ever be. While the power of God flowing through us will defeat Satan every time, this does not mean we should assume God will bail us out and run haphazardly run into the Devil’s temptations and tricks. We’ve got to be smarter than that. Few of us are spiritually disciplined enough to always be so alert that we are never taken captive by the wiles of the Devil.
We resist the Devil by refusing to love the things of this world, putting the needs of others above our own, and refusing to live a selfish and self-glorifying life. I’m sure you know by now how subtle Satan is. Often we sin before realizing what we’re doing. But the more mature we become in Christ, the less often that is true. We are fully aware of sin before ever giving in. Such acts of rebellion are what Satan uses to prime us for persecution. He seeks to destroy the defenses built by a consistent life of prayer and studying God’s Word. If the Devil can distract us, then he has won the battle.
You must recognize how losing a series of battles undermines your ability to prepare for persecution. A defeated Christian will not stand in the face of trials. If you are not in the habit of choosing Jesus over Satan, what makes you think you will choose Jesus over a less terrifying human being? Someday soon, you may be asked to choose between Jesus and your job, marriage, or freedom. But right now, every day, you are being asked to choose between Jesus’s or Satan’s plan for your life. Too often we are choosing the wide path of the Devil over the narrow path of Christ (Matthew 7:13-14).
To resist the Devil, make certain you are putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). No one goes into physical battle unequipped. How much more so should we prepare for spiritual battles? While the persecution we face in this world may appear to be of the physical and mental variety, there are demonic forces behind it all. Paul reminds us we do not fight the trials of this world with physical weapons, but with spiritual disciplines of putting Christ first in all things (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). We resist the Devil by being obedient to Christ.
Finally, as we resist the Devil, always remember the One who dwells in us is greater than the evil one (1 John 4:4). God is greater than anything this world can throw at us. Satan will try to make you think it’s okay to choose the easy way out, that God will understand why we didn’t take a stand for Him. Remember, Jesus tells us if we will confess Him before men, He will confess us before the Father (Matthew 10:32). But if we fail to declare His name, He will deny us before the Father (Matthew 10:33). If we hold fast and boldly speak the name of Jesus in the face of persecution, He promises our eternity is secure. Resist the Devil; choose Christ. Say the name of Jesus, whatever the cost.