Allow No Place for the Devil!
“Let the sun not set with you in a provoked state, neither allow place for the Devil.”—EPHESIANS 4:26, 27.
1. How did Peter describe the Devil, but what assurance of protection did the apostle give?
A VICIOUS wild beast is on the prowl. He has an insatiable desire to devour Christians. Peter warns: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. But take your stand against him, solid in the faith . . . But, after you have suffered a little while, the God of all undeserved kindness . . . will make you firm, he will make you strong.”—1 Peter 5:8-10.
2. (a) What circumstances make us more vulnerable to attack by Satan? (b) Why does the one who falls victim to apostasy have no one to blame but himself? (c) What weakness opened the way for the Devil to put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus?
2 We can be sure that the Devil and his agents, both demon and human, stand ready to exploit any gnawing doubt, any serious flaw of personality, any negligence on our part to keep spiritually strong in the faith. But Jehovah’s Word assures us that the Devil will not devour us if we take a firm stand against him. (James 4:7) For instance, no one falls victim to apostasy because it just could not be avoided. No one is predestined to abandon the faith. Motives of the heart are involved. True, John said that some “went out from us, but they were not of our sort.” (1 John 2:19) But this happened because they either chose apostasy or came into Jehovah’s organization with a bad motive at the start. Judas Iscariot had a good heart when called as one of Jesus’ 12 apostles, but the Devil worked on Judas’ weakness of greed. Even before the night of Jesus’ betrayal, “the Devil [had] already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him.”—John 13:2.
3. What factors can influence a person to become a victim of apostasy?
3 A person goes bad because he lets his own selfish reasoning, his own ambitions and desires, his chosen associates and surroundings, mold his thinking and determine the direction of his will. Paul spoke of some who were ‘once enlightened, had tasted the heavenly free gift, but had fallen away.’ (Hebrews 6:4-6) If we are not continually on guard, the Devil can by his sly propaganda make our hearts receptive to apostate thinking. But how does the Devil, in effect, set a person up as a likely casualty, a victim of apostasy?
4. What can happen if we succumb to bitterness, resentment, and faultfinding?
4 Common attitudes that Satan looks for are bitterness, resentment, and faultfinding. Such feelings can grow so strong that there is very little room left for love and appreciation. Perhaps some unresolved problem festers, causing a person to feel angry and justified in staying away from vital Christian meetings. By remaining provoked for an extended period of time, he ‘allows place for the Devil.’ (Ephesians 4:27) The disturbed individual sees only his brother’s human weaknesses, rather than forgiving him “seventy-seven times,” and he fails to use the trying circumstances as opportunities to be perfecting Christian qualities. (Matthew 18:22) While in this state of mind, if someone comes along and suggests that Jehovah’s organization is oppressive or restrictive, or even wrong in certain vital teachings, the embittered Christian’s heart may be receptive to such unfounded claims. How necessary it is, then, to avoid letting bitterness and resentment build up! Do not let the sun set on your anger. Instead, let love have its full expression in your life.
5. (a) How can pride or the resenting of correction prove to be a pitfall? (b) What part does humility play in remaining solid in the faith?
5 What other conditions of heart and mind is the Devil looking for? Well, there are pride, a feeling of self-importance, resentment at not getting the prominence one feels one should have. These are all pitfalls used by the Devil. (Romans 12:3) If you are counseled or even reproved for some wrong practice or attitude, this, too, may prove to be an ideal time for the Devil to prompt you to ask yourself if you are in the right organization. So keep humble. Be content to conduct yourself as “a lesser one.” Do not let pride or a feeling of self-importance ever cause you to totter from standing solidly in the faith.—Luke 9:48; 1 Peter 5:9.
6, 7. (a) What are some manifestations of impatience that the Devil is quick to exploit? (b) If one is lacking in wisdom, what should be done?
6 Impatience is another thing looked for by the Devil. We may sometimes feel that changes should be made; we want quick action, immediate answers. ‘This problem must be cleared up now, or I quit. I’ve got to have the answer to this question right now, or I’m not going any further. Armageddon and the new system have been “right around the corner” for years now. I’m tired of waiting.’ Be assured that the Devil is ready to sow seeds of doubt and revolt in such fields of impatience. Endurance and faith are needed.—Hebrews 10:36, 39.
7 James said: “Let endurance have its work complete, that you may be complete and sound in all respects, not lacking in anything. So, if any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching; and it will be given him. But let him keep on asking in faith, not doubting at all, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and blown about. In fact, let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from Jehovah; he is an indecisive man, unsteady in all his ways.” (James 1:4-8) Do not let the Devil make you a candidate for apostasy because you have become demandingly impatient, doubtful about the promises of God! Be patient, be thankful. Wait upon Jehovah.—Psalm 42:5.
8. How does the tendency to rebel against authority open the way for the Devil to entice a person to throw off Scriptural restraints?
8 What else does the Devil use in trying to turn us away? Has he not always tried to stir up rebellion, to cause Jehovah’s servants to become critical of those taking the lead? ‘The elders just do not understand. They are too critical, too demanding,’ some may say. A person may go further and claim that the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses or other responsible brothers interfere with freedom of conscience and the individual’s “right” to interpret the Scriptures. But remember Joseph’s humble words: “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Genesis 40:8) And did not Jesus foretell that in these final days an organization of anointed ones, “the faithful and discreet slave,” would be entrusted with providing spiritual food at the proper time? (Matthew 24:45-47) Beware of those who try to put forward their own contrary opinions. Also beware of those who want to throw off all restraints or who promise freedom, claiming that Jehovah’s Witnesses are slaves! Peter said of false teachers: “While they are promising them freedom, they themselves are existing as slaves of corruption. For whoever is overcome by another is enslaved by this one.”—2 Peter 2:1, 19.
9. What is often the attitude of those who are critical of the ones taking the lead?
9 What is often the motive of those who criticize the Society or those taking the lead? Is it not often that some application of Scripture affects them personally? Rather than conform to sound doctrine and direction, they want the organization to change. Let us illustrate this with a few examples:
10. How might insistence on extreme clothing or grooming styles result in one’s ‘allowing place for the Devil’?
10 A brother insists on some extreme clothing or grooming style. The elders feel that he is not a good example and do not extend to him certain privileges, such as appearing on the platform to give instruction. He becomes resentful, claiming that others are trying to take away his Christian freedom. But what is behind such reasoning? Is it not usually pride, an independent attitude, or a rather childish desire to have one’s own way? While this seemingly is a small thing, a person reasoning in that way could “allow place for the Devil.” But love and humility will cause us to dress and groom ourselves in a modest, acceptable way. We should want to do all things for the advancement of the good news and not to be pleasing ourselves.—Romans 15:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 10:23, 24.
11. What could be behind any questioning of Jehovah’s command to abstain from blood?
11 Let us take another example. Occasionally you may hear someone question whether the Scriptural prohibition against eating blood really applies to transfusions. But what is behind that reasoning? Is it fear—fear of possibly losing one’s present life or the life of a loved one? Is hope in the resurrection fading? Faithful Christians do not compromise on God’s law or look for ways to water it down. Abstaining from blood to nourish the body is just as necessary as abstaining from fornication and idolatry, all condemned in the same spirit-directed decree of the apostles and older men at Jerusalem.—Acts 15:19, 20, 28, 29.
12. Why should mistaken loyalty not cause us to violate the Scriptural requirement that we avoid social fellowship with those who are disfellowshipped?
12 Some who have a critical attitude claim that Jehovah’s organization is too strict about cutting off social contacts with disfellowshipped persons. (2 John 10, 11) But why do such critics feel that way? Do they have a close family tie or mistaken loyalty to a friend that they are putting ahead of loyalty to Jehovah and his standards and requirements? Consider, too, that continuing to accord social fellowship to an expelled person, even one as close as a relative, may lead the erring one to conclude that his course is not so serious, and this to his further harm. However, withholding such association may create in him a craving for what he has lost and a desire to regain it. Jehovah’s way is always best, and it is for our own protection.—Proverbs 3:5.
13. What attitude should we have regarding public preaching from house to house?
13 Still another person may incorrectly claim that the Scriptures do not support public preaching from house to house. But is this because he already dislikes this important work and is looking for an excuse to abstain? Love of God and neighbor should motivate us to see the urgency of this lifesaving work. Again, endurance is needed. The apostle Paul spoke of his own endurance in ‘thoroughly bearing witness to Jews and Greeks’ as he taught publicly and from house to house. (Acts 20:18-21) Rather than complain, should we not loyally follow his fine example? Look at the thousands who have been gathered into the “one flock” because of Jehovah’s blessing upon the house-to-house work! (John 10:16) And do not forget the fine benefits we receive in training and discipline, in strengthening our faith, by going from door to door so as to reach people with the good news.—Compare Acts 5:42; 1 Timothy 4:16.
14. How do you think we should react when critics accuse Jehovah’s Witnesses of being false prophets?
14 Finally, we might consider what the Society has published in the past on chronology. Some opposers claim that Jehovah’s Witnesses are false prophets. These opponents say that dates have been set, but nothing has happened. Again we ask, What is the motive of these critics? Are they encouraging wakefulness on the part of God’s people, or are they, rather, trying to justify themselves for falling back into sleepy inactivity? (1 Thessalonians 5:4-9) More importantly, what will you do if you hear such criticism? If a person is questioning whether we are living in “the last days” of this system, or perhaps is entertaining ideas that God is so merciful that he surely will not cause the death of so many millions of people during the “great tribulation,” then this individual already has prepared his heart to listen to such criticisms.—2 Timothy 3:1; Matthew 24:21.
15. Rather than being false prophets, what proves that Jehovah’s Witnesses have faith in God’s Word and its sure promises?
15 Yes, Jehovah’s people have had to revise expectations from time to time. Because of our eagerness, we have hoped for the new system earlier than Jehovah’s timetable has called for it. But we display our faith in God’s Word and its sure promises by declaring its message to others. Moreover, the need to revise our understanding somewhat does not make us false prophets or change the fact that we are living in “the last days,” soon to experience the “great tribulation” that will pave the way for the earthly Paradise. How foolish to take the view that expectations needing some adjustment should call into question the whole body of truth! The evidence is clear that Jehovah has used and is continuing to use his one organization, with “the faithful and discreet slave” taking the lead. Hence, we feel like Peter, who said: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.”—John 6:68.
16, 17. (a) How does application of Jesus’ words at Matthew 7:15-20 help to identify the organization that has Jehovah’s blessing? (b) What is some of the good fruitage produced in the lives of Jehovah’s true servants?
16 Only in the spiritual paradise, among Jehovah’s Witnesses, can we find the self-sacrificing love Jesus said would identify his true disciples. (John 13:34, 35) By their bad fruits, false prophets are exposed for what they really are. But Jesus indicated that the good trees would be identified by their fine fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20) And what fine fruitage we have in the spiritual paradise! Amazing increases are taking place in practically every country. Over 3,000,000 happy subjects of God’s Kingdom around the globe are living proof that Jehovah has a people on the earth.
17 Because they are taught by God, Jehovah’s Witnesses really produce the fruits of Christianity in their lives. (Isaiah 54:13) Only Jehovah’s people have completely broken free from Babylonish superstitions. Only they have an organization that completely abides by what God’s Word has to say on sexual immorality, abortions, drunkenness, stealing, idolatry, racial prejudice, and other worldly pursuits and practices. And they alone are the ones obeying the command to preach the good news of Jehovah’s Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14) God’s own Word unquestionably points to Jehovah’s Witnesses as the one organized people that have his blessing!
18. When confronted with apostate teachings, what should be the position of Jehovah’s servants?
18 Yes, to all who are faithfully and loyally enduring in the Christian way, we are sure that Jehovah’s truth is still beautiful, satisfying—even more so than when they first heard it. Therefore, resolve in your heart that you will never even touch the poison that apostates want you to sip. Heed the wise but firm commands of Jehovah to avoid completely those who would deceive you, mislead you, turn you aside into the ways of death. If we love Jehovah with our whole heart, soul, and mind, while loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, we will leave no room for penetration by apostate thinking. (Matthew 22:37-39) We will not “allow place for the Devil” and will have no desire to look elsewhere. We will not ‘be quickly shaken from our reason’ by some counterfeit teaching.—2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2.
19. What course will ensure that ‘no man will deprive us of the prize’ of everlasting life?
19 Let us always appreciate our privilege of being in Jehovah’s spiritual paradise, where we are enjoying so many rich blessings. We know who are holding faithfully to the sayings of everlasting life. So maintain close association with them, knowing that they are our genuine, loyal brothers and sisters in the faith. May we continue to have the same joy and satisfaction that we had when we first learned the truth, with the assurance of the grand prize of everlasting life in Jehovah’s new system of things. As Paul so aptly said: “Let no man deprive you of the prize”!—Colossians 2:18.
Can You Answer?
□ Why is it true that no one is predestined to abandon the faith?
□ How can resentment, pride, and impatience open up a place in the heart for the Devil?
□ What is usually behind criticism of the counsel that is given by those taking the lead?
□ What fruitage produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses proves that they are the one organization God is using?
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By rejecting counsel, we can “allow place for the Devil”
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Pride can lead to a fall from which one might not recover
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Busy and happy servants of Jehovah ‘allow no place for the Devil’ or for apostate ideas