“Oppose the Devil” as Jesus Did
“Oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.”—JAS. 4:7.
JESUS CHRIST knew that he would face opposition from the Devil. This fact was apparent from what God said to the serpent and thus to the wicked spirit rebel speaking through it: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman [the heavenly part of Jehovah’s organization] and between your seed and her seed. He [Jesus Christ] will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Gen. 3:14, 15; Rev. 12:9) Jesus’ being bruised in the heel meant that he would suffer only a temporary blow by being killed while on earth, for Jehovah would resurrect him to heavenly glory. But the bruising of the serpent in the head would mean that the Devil would receive a death blow from which he would never recover.—Read Acts 2:31, 32; Hebrews 2:14.
2 Jehovah was confident that Jesus would successfully fulfill his assignment and oppose the Devil while on the earth. Why could Jehovah be so sure of this? Because he had created Jesus in heaven ages earlier, had observed him, and knew that this “master worker” and “firstborn of all creation” was obedient and faithful. (Prov. 8:22-31; Col. 1:15) So when Jesus was sent to the earth and the Devil was allowed to test him to the point of death, God was confident that His only-begotten Son would come off victorious.—John 3:16.
Jehovah Preserves His Servants
3 Jesus referred to the Devil as “the ruler of this world” and warned His disciples that they would be persecuted, even as he had been. (John 12:31; 15:20) The world, lying in the power of Satan the Devil, hates true Christians because they serve Jehovah and are preachers of righteousness. (Matt. 24:9; 1 John 5:19) The Devil particularly targets the remnant of anointed ones who will eventually rule with Christ in his heavenly Kingdom. Satan also targets the many Witnesses of Jehovah who have the hope of living forever on a paradise earth. God’s Word warns us: “Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.”—1 Pet. 5:8.
4 As an organization enjoying the support of Jehovah God, we successfully oppose the Devil. Consider these facts: In the past 100 years, some of the most ferocious dictatorships in history have tried to stamp Jehovah’s Witnesses out of existence. But the number of Witnesses continues to grow and has now reached nearly 7,000,000 in over 100,000 congregations throughout the world. The cruel dictatorships that persecuted Jehovah’s people are the ones that have been stamped out of existence!
5 Speaking to the congregation of ancient Israel as his “woman,” God promised: “Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success, and any tongue at all that will rise up against you in the judgment you will condemn. This is the hereditary possession of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness is from me.” (Isa. 54:11, 17) That promise has proved reliable in the case of Jehovah’s people throughout the earth during these “last days.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13) We continue to oppose the Devil, and no weapon that he tries to use to wipe out God’s people is successful, for Jehovah is on our side.—Ps. 118:6, 7.
6 At the rapidly approaching end of this entire wicked system of things, all aspects of Satan’s rule will be crushed out of existence. Writing under divine inspiration, the prophet Daniel foretold: “In the days of those kings [existing in our day] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom [in heaven] that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms [now existing], and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Dan. 2:44) When that happens, both satanic rule and rule by imperfect humans will disappear. Every aspect of the Devil’s system of things will be gone forever, and God’s Kingdom will rule unopposed over all the earth.—Read 2 Peter 3:7, 13.
7 There is no doubt that Jehovah’s organization will be preserved and will prosper spiritually. (Read Psalm 125:1, 2.) How about us? The Bible tells us that we can succeed in opposing the Devil, even as Jesus did. Indeed, the prophecy that Christ gave through the apostle John shows that despite satanic opposition, “a great crowd” of those having an earthly hope will survive this system’s end. According to the Scriptures, they cry out: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb [Jesus Christ].” (Rev. 7:9-14) Anointed ones are spoken of as conquering Satan, and their companions, the “other sheep,” also successfully oppose him. (John 10:16; Rev. 12:10, 11) But this requires diligent effort and earnest prayer for ‘deliverance from the wicked one.’—Matt. 6:13.
The Perfect Example in Opposing the Devil
8 The Devil tried to break the integrity of Jesus. In the wilderness, Satan used temptations in an effort to get Jesus to compromise His obedience to Jehovah. However, Jesus set a perfect example in opposing Satan. After fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus likely had a strong desire to eat. “If you are a son of God,” said Satan, “tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus refused to make use of his God-given power for personal benefit. Instead, Jesus said: “It is written, ‘Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.’”—Matt. 4:1-4; Deut. 8:3.
9 Today, the Devil seeks to exploit the natural physical desires of Jehovah’s servants. We must therefore be resolute in resisting illicit sexual temptations, which are especially common in this immoral world. God’s Word emphatically states: “What! Do you not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men . . . will inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) Clearly, then, people who live immoral lives and refuse to change will not be allowed to live in God’s new world.
10 Concerning one of the temptations Jesus experienced in the wilderness, the Scriptures state: “The Devil took him along into the holy city, and he stationed him upon the battlement of the temple and said to him: ‘If you are a son of God, hurl yourself down; for it is written, “He will give his angels a charge concerning you, and they will carry you on their hands, that you may at no time strike your foot against a stone.”’” (Matt. 4:5, 6) Supposedly, this would result in a spectacular display of Jesus’ Messiahship. In reality, though, it would have been an improper, arrogant act that would not have had God’s approval and support. Once more, Jesus maintained his integrity to Jehovah and responded by quoting a scripture. He said: “Again it is written, ‘You must not put Jehovah your God to the test.’”—Matt. 4:7; Deut. 6:16.
11 Satan may tempt us to seek glory in various ways. He may try to induce us to imitate worldly fads in dress and grooming or to engage in questionable entertainment. But if we were to ignore Bible counsel and imitate the world, could we expect the angels to shield us from the bad effects of such a course? Although King David repented of his sins involving Bath-sheba, he was not shielded from the consequences of his actions. (2 Sam. 12:9-12) Let us not put Jehovah to the test in improper ways, perhaps by cultivating friendship with the world.—Read James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17.
12 Still another temptation that the Devil used in the wilderness involved an offer to give Jesus political power. Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and said: “All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.” (Matt. 4:8, 9) What an unscrupulous attempt to get the worship belonging to Jehovah and to induce Jesus to prove unfaithful to God! By meditating on the desire to be worshipped, that once loyal angel had become the sinful, covetous, and grossly evil tempter Satan the Devil. (Jas. 1:14, 15) In stark contrast, however, Jesus was determined to remain faithful to his heavenly Father and therefore declared: “Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’” Thus Jesus again opposed the Devil in clear and definite terms. God’s Son wanted no part of Satan’s world and would never worship that wicked one!—Matt. 4:10; Deut. 6:13; 10:20.
“Oppose the Devil, and He Will Flee From You”
13 By showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, the Devil was offering him unprecedented human power. Satan hoped that what Jesus saw would appeal to him and convince him that he could become the earth’s most powerful political leader. Today, the Devil does not offer us kingdoms, but he does attempt to corrupt our hearts through our eyes, ears, and minds.
14 The Devil is in control of this world. Hence, he controls its media. It is not surprising, therefore, that the world’s viewing, listening, and reading material is saturated with immorality and violence. This world’s advertising elements try to build in us a desire for a flood of consumer goods that we do not need. By such means, the Devil constantly tempts us with materialistic attractions that can appeal to our eyes, ears, and minds. But when we refuse to view, listen to, and read Scripturally unacceptable material, we are in effect saying: “Go away, Satan!” We thus imitate Jesus in being firm and decisive in our rejection of Satan’s unclean world. The fact that we are no part of Satan’s world is also seen in how we courageously identify ourselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christ’s followers at work, at school, in the neighborhood, and among our relatives.—Read Mark 8:38.
15 After the Devil’s third unsuccessful attempt to get Jesus to compromise His integrity to God, “the Devil left him.” (Matt. 4:11) However, Satan did not intend to stop tempting Jesus, for we are told: “So the Devil, having concluded all the temptation [in the wilderness], retired from him until another convenient time.” (Luke 4:13) When we succeed in opposing the Devil, we should thank Jehovah. But we should also seek God’s continued help, for the Devil will return to tempt us at another time convenient for him—and not necessarily when we may be expecting a temptation. Hence, we must remain alert at all times, ready to persevere in rendering sacred service to Jehovah regardless of the tests we must face.
16 To help us in our efforts to oppose the Devil, we should pray for and will receive the most powerful force in the universe—God’s holy spirit. It will enable us to do things that would be impossible for us to do in our own strength. Jesus assured his followers of the availability of God’s spirit by saying: “If you, although being [imperfect and thus comparatively] wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!” (Luke 11:13) Let us continue praying to Jehovah for his holy spirit. With this most powerful force backing us up in our determination to oppose the Devil, we will be able to come off victorious. In addition to regular and fervent prayer, we need to put on the complete suit of spiritual armor from God in order ‘to stand firm against the machinations, or crafty acts, of the Devil.’—Eph. 6:11-18, ftn.
17 Something else helped Jesus to oppose the Devil, and it can help us too. The Bible states: “For the joy that was set before [Jesus] he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2) We can have similar joy by upholding Jehovah’s sovereignty, honoring his holy name, and keeping the reward of everlasting life before us. What joy we will experience when Satan and all his works are obliterated forever and ‘the meek ones themselves possess the earth and find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace’! (Ps. 37:11) Therefore, keep on opposing the Devil, as Jesus did.—Read James 4:7, 8.
How Would You Answer?
• What proof is there that Jehovah preserves his people?
• How did Jesus set an example in opposing Satan?
• In what ways can you oppose the Devil?
1. What opposition did Jesus know he would face on earth, and with what outcome?
2. Why was Jehovah confident that Jesus would successfully resist the Devil?
3. What is the Devil’s attitude toward Jehovah’s servants?
4. What proves that God’s people have successfully opposed the Devil in our time?
5. How has Isaiah 54:17 proved true in the case of Jehovah’s servants?
6. What does Daniel’s prophecy tell us about the future of the Devil’s rulership?
7. How do we know that Jehovah’s servants as individuals can successfully oppose the Devil?
8. What was the first recorded temptation that the Devil used against Jesus in the wilderness, and how did Christ respond?
9. Why must we resist the Devil’s attempts to exploit our natural physical desires?
10. According to Matthew 4:5, 6, what was another temptation that Satan used in an attempt to break Jesus’ integrity?
11. How may Satan tempt us, and what could be the result?
12. What was the temptation mentioned at Matthew 4:8, 9, and how did God’s Son respond?
13, 14. (a) By showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, what was the Devil offering him? (b) How does Satan attempt to corrupt us?
15. Why does opposing Satan mean being continually alert?
16. Jehovah gives us what powerful force, and why should we pray for it?
17. What joy helped Jesus resist the Devil?
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Friendship with the world puts us at enmity with God
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Jesus rejected Satan’s offer of all worldly kingdoms