How to Resist the Devil
The bible teaches that prayer, submission to God, and the application of faith and spiritual authority, can enable the believer to rise in victory against the various assaults, temptations or harassments of the Devil. Jesus demonstrated this with His victory over Satan during His earthly ministry. And through the triumph of His death and resurrection, He extended His authority over the Devil to all believers who have His Indwelling Spirit.
However, even though the Lord intends for you to be victorious over Satan, this doesn’t necessarily mean that he will ever completely “leave you alone.” Even though Jesus always walked in victory over the devil and his temptations, Satan continued to pose many trials, hindrances and challenges... and left Jesus alone only for temporary “seasons,” returning to pester Him frequently. “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13).
What Jesus experienced will not be unlike the scenario that you and I will face. Though every believer can remain strong and overcome whatever mischief Satan may bring, we must be prepared to contend with him daily, and never let our guard down... as he never withdraws his influence permanently. Satan will always be nearby, looking for any opportunity, foothold, or even the slightest prospect of weakness, that he can use to tempt or exploit against you. One of his favorite tactics, in fact, is to pull back a while to give believers the “illusion” that they have no need to pray... so to lull them into apathy, or to occupy them with careless living or the pleasures of this world. Don’t be fooled!
When you find yourself harassed by the devil, the first thing you should do is to seek the Lord and His strength to rise against the enemy’s challenge (James 4:7-8), and utilize the spiritual weapons and authority He provides to use against the enemy (Ephesians 6:10-18). Regardless of the circumstances, or people that might be involved, always be aware that your conflict is not with “human beings” (Ephesians 6:12), but with wicked spiritual entities which must be resisted and overcome by spiritual means. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).
Resisting the devil always involves drawing closer to God, and by submitting yourself to Him. As scripture says, “Submit yourself to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8). Please note that James describes this as something a believer must take the initiative to do. Obviously, the Holy Spirit is always at work, drawing you toward the Lord (John 6:44), but no one can submit yourself to God, except you. And when you reach out to pull yourself toward Him, He will draw near to you.
(1) If you are aware of unconfessed sin in your life, it needs to be submitted to God through repentance.The devil will always make a claim against anyone who walks in sin, immorality or disobedience to God(James 4:4, 1 John 2:15). Confessing and forsaking sin withdraws such vulnerabilities that Satan can use against you. When you receive God’s forgiveness by faith, and turn away from sin, Satan is disabled from using that as a means to pull you down. This applies what Paul described as the “breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14), which protects your vital resources from the Devil’s assaults.
(2) Submit yourself to God though prayer, worship, feeding on His Word, and fellowshiping with believers.If you neglect these spiritual resources, you will grow weak spiritually... something that Satan keeps a close eye on, hoping he can trip you up during such times. This submission is a part of taking on the “armor of God,” to strengthen yourself against your enemy. Paul wrote, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).
(3) Finally, by faith, exercise your right as a follower of Christ to use the authority of Jesus’ name, to repel or rebuff the assaults of the Devil.This means that if or when you experience Satan’s oppressions, pray and verbally “rebuke” or command the devil to depart from you, by using the name and authority of your Lord Jesus (Mark 16:17, Luke 10:17). If you recall, this push-back, along with quoting from the written Word of God, is how Jesus responded when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus wielded the authority of God’s Word against the Devil, by proclaiming scripture. Each time that He countered Satan’s temptations, He quoted from the Torah, saying “It is written.” Notice the references from Deuteronomy in brackets, that indicate what Jesus was quoting from below.
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” [Deuteronomy 8:3].
“Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He shall give His angels charge over you, and, In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God” [Deuteronomy 6:16].
“Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me. Then Jesus said to him, Away with you, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” [Deuteronomy 6:13].
“Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” (Matthew 4:1-11).
One other thing. As I’ve shared in other writings, the focus of your attention must never become centered on the Devil or his activities. Believers engaged in spiritual conflict sometimes mistakenly give too much attention to Satan, which only feeds a trap of diverting your attention away from power and presence of Christ. Order the devil to skedaddle, but redirect your focus back toward the Lord and keep it there. Satan hates the presence of Christ-centered worship, spirit-filled prayer and the reading or proclaiming of God’s word.