Do Not Allow Place for the Devil
“Do not give the Devil a chance.”—EPHESIANS 4:27, Byington.
1. Why have many questioned the existence of the Devil?
FOR centuries, many people thought of the Devil as a horned, cloven-hoofed creature clad in red and using a pitchfork to cast wicked humans into a fiery hell. The Bible does not support that idea. Undoubtedly, however, such misconceptions have caused millions to question the existence of the Devil or to think that the term applies only to a principle of evil.
2. What are some Scriptural facts about the Devil?
2 The Bible provides eyewitness evidence and clear testimony that the Devil exists. Jesus Christ saw him in the heavenly spirit realm and spoke to him on the earth. (Job 1:6; Matthew 4:4-11) Although the Scriptures do not reveal this spirit creature’s original name, they call him the Devil (meaning “Slanderer”) because he has slandered God. He is also called Satan (meaning “Resister”), since he resists Jehovah. Satan the Devil is referred to as “the original serpent,” apparently because he used a serpent to deceive Eve. (Revelation 12:9; 1 Timothy 2:14) He is also known as “the wicked one.”—Matthew 6:13.a
3. We will consider what question?
3 As Jehovah’s servants, in no way do we want to resemble Satan, the archenemy of the only true God. We must therefore heed the apostle Paul’s counsel: “Do not give the Devil a chance.” (Ephesians 4:27, Byington) What, then, are some of Satan’s traits that we must not imitate?
Do Not Imitate the Great Slanderer
4. How did “the wicked one” slander God?
4 “The wicked one” deserves to be called the Devil, for he is a slanderer. Slander is a false, malicious, and defamatory statement about someone. God commanded Adam: “As for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Genesis 2:17) Eve had been informed of this, but through a serpent, the Devil told her: “You positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” (Genesis 3:4, 5) That was malicious slander against Jehovah God!
5. Why did Diotrephes deserve to be called to account for slandering?
5 The Israelites were commanded: “You must not go around among your people for the sake of slandering.” (Leviticus 19:16) The apostle John stated concerning a slanderer in his day: “I wrote something to the congregation, but Diotrephes, who likes to have the first place among them, does not receive anything from us with respect. That is why, if I come, I will call to remembrance his works which he goes on doing, chattering about us with wicked words.” (3 John 9, 10) Diotrephes was slandering John and deserved to be called to account for it. What loyal Christian would want to be like Diotrephes and imitate Satan, the great slanderer?
6, 7. Why would we want to avoid slandering anyone?
6 Slanderous statements and false accusations are often hurled against Jehovah’s servants. “The chief priests and the scribes kept standing up and vehemently accusing [Jesus].” (Luke 23:10) Paul was falsely accused by High Priest Ananias and others. (Acts 24:1-8) And the Bible speaks of Satan as “the accuser of our brothers . . . , who accuses them day and night before our God.” (Revelation 12:10) Those falsely accused brothers are the anointed Christians on earth in these last days.
7 No Christian would want to slander anyone or make false accusations. Yet, that could happen if we did not have all the facts before bearing witness against someone. Under the Mosaic Law, deliberately testifying falsely could result in death for the accuser. (Exodus 20:16; Deuteronomy 19:15-19) Moreover, things detestable to Jehovah include “a false witness that launches forth lies.” (Proverbs 6:16-19) Surely, then, we want to avoid imitating the principal slanderer and false accuser.
Shun the Ways of the Original Manslayer
8. In what way was the Devil “a manslayer when he began”?
8 The Devil is a manslayer. “That one was a manslayer when he began,” said Jesus. (John 8:44) Beginning with his first act in turning Adam and Eve away from God, Satan has been a manslayer. He brought death upon the first human pair and their offspring. (Romans 5:12) It may be noted that this action can be attributed only to a person, not to a mere principle of evil.
9. As indicated at 1 John 3:15, how can we become manslayers?
9 “You must not murder,” states one of the Ten Commandments given to Israel. (Deuteronomy 5:17) Addressing Christians, the apostle Peter wrote: “Let none of you suffer as a murderer.” (1 Peter 4:15) So as Jehovah’s servants, we would not commit murder. Yet, we would bear guilt before God if we hated a fellow Christian and wished him dead. “Everyone who hates his brother is a manslayer [or, “murderer”],” wrote the apostle John, “and you know that no manslayer has everlasting life remaining in him.” (1 John 3:15; New International Version) The Israelites were commanded: “You must not hate your brother in your heart.” (Leviticus 19:17) May we be quick to resolve any problem that arises between us and a fellow believer, so that the manslayer Satan does not destroy our Christian unity.—Luke 17:3, 4.
Stand Firm Against the Chief Liar
10, 11. What must we do in order to stand firm against the chief liar, Satan?
10 The Devil is a liar. “When he speaks the lie,” said Jesus, “he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.” (John 8:44) Satan lied to Eve, whereas Jesus came into the world to bear witness to the truth. (John 18:37) If we are to stand firm against the Devil as followers of Christ, we cannot resort to lies and deception. We must “speak truthfully.” (Zechariah 8:16; Ephesians 4:25) “Jehovah the God of truth” blesses only his truthful Witnesses. The wicked have no right to represent him.—Psalm 31:5; 50:16; Isaiah 43:10.
11 If we cherish our spiritual freedom from satanic lies, we will cling to Christianity, “the way of the truth.” (2 Peter 2:2; John 8:32) The whole body of Christian teachings constitutes “the truth of the good news.” (Galatians 2:5, 14) Our very salvation depends on our “walking in the truth”—adhering to it and standing firm against “the father of the lie.”—3 John 3, 4, 8.
Resist the Foremost Apostate
12, 13. How should we treat apostates?
12 The spirit creature who became the Devil was once in the truth. But “he did not stand fast in the truth,” said Jesus, “because truth is not in him.” (John 8:44) This foremost apostate has pursued a relentless course of resistance to “the God of truth.” Some first-century Christians fell into “the snare of the Devil,” apparently becoming his victims because of being misled and deviating from the truth. So Paul urged his coworker Timothy to instruct them with mildness so that they might recover spiritually and get free from Satan’s snare. (2 Timothy 2:23-26) Of course, it is much better to cling firmly to the truth and not be ensnared by apostate views in the first place.
13 Because of listening to the Devil and not rejecting his lies, the first human pair apostatized. So, then, should we listen to apostates, read their literature, or examine their Web sites on the Internet? If we love God and the truth, we will not do so. We should not allow apostates into our homes or even greet them, for such actions would make us ‘sharers in their wicked works.’ (2 John 9-11) May we never succumb to the Devil’s wiles by abandoning the Christian “path of truth” to follow false teachers who seek to “introduce ruinous ideologies” and try to ‘exploit us with well-turned phrases.’—2 Peter 2:1-3, Byington.
14, 15. What warning did Paul give elders from Ephesus and his coworker Timothy?
14 Paul told Christian elders from Ephesus: “Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own Son. I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:28-30) In time, such apostates did arise and “speak twisted things.”
15 In about 65 C.E., the apostle urged Timothy to ‘handle the word of the truth aright.’ “But,” wrote Paul, “shun empty speeches that violate what is holy; for they will advance to more and more ungodliness, and their word will spread like gangrene. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of that number. These very men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred; and they are subverting the faith of some.” Apostasy had begun! “For all that,” added Paul, “the solid foundation of God stays standing.”—2 Timothy 2:15-19.
16. Despite the wiles of the foremost apostate, why have we been loyal to God and his Word?
16 Satan has often used apostates in an effort to corrupt true worship—but to no avail. About the year 1868, Charles Taze Russell began a careful examination of long-accepted doctrines of Christendom’s churches and found misinterpretations of the Scriptures. Russell and a few other truth-seekers formed a Bible study class in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. In the nearly 140 years since then, Jehovah’s servants have grown in knowledge and love of God and his Word. Despite the wiles of the foremost apostate, the spiritual vigilance of the faithful and discreet slave class has helped these true Christians to remain loyal to Jehovah and his Word.—Matthew 24:45.
Never Let the World’s Ruler Get a Hold on You
17-19. What is the world that is lying in the Devil’s power, and why should we not love it?
17 Another way that Satan seeks to ensnare us is by inducing us to love this world—unrighteous human society alienated from God. Jesus called the Devil “the ruler of the world” and said: “He has no hold on me.” (John 14:30) May Satan never get a hold on us! We realize, of course, that “the whole world is lying in the power of [that] wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) So the Devil could offer Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world” for one apostate act of worship—something unequivocally rejected by God’s Son. (Matthew 4:8-10) The world ruled by Satan hates Christ’s followers. (John 15:18-21) No wonder the apostle John warned us not to love the world!
18 John wrote: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) We must not love the world, for its way of life appeals to the sinful flesh and is diametrically opposed to Jehovah God’s standards.
19 What if love of this world exists in our heart? Then let us pray for God’s help to overcome this love and the fleshly desires associated with it. (Galatians 5:16-21) Surely we will strive to keep ourselves “without spot from the world” if we bear in mind that “wicked spirit forces” are the invisible “world rulers” over unrighteous human society.—James 1:27; Ephesians 6:11, 12; 2 Corinthians 4:4.
20. Why can it be said that we are “no part of the world”?
20 Regarding his disciples, Jesus said: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:16) Anointed Christians and their dedicated companions strive to keep morally and spiritually clean, separate from this world. (John 15:19; 17:14; James 4:4) This unrighteous world hates us because we keep separate from it and are ‘preachers of righteousness.’ (2 Peter 2:5) True, we live in the midst of human society, which includes fornicators, adulterers, extortioners, idolaters, thieves, liars, and drunkards. (1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 6:9-11; Revelation 21:8) But we do not breathe in “the spirit of the world,” for we are not driven by this sinful motivating force.—1 Corinthians 2:12.
Allow No Place for the Devil
21, 22. How can you apply Paul’s counsel recorded at Ephesians 4:26, 27?
21 Instead of being motivated by “the spirit of the world,” we are led by God’s spirit, which produces in us such qualities as love and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, 23) These assist us in withstanding the Devil’s assaults on our faith. He wants us to become “heated up only to do evil,” but God’s spirit helps us to “let anger alone and leave rage.” (Psalm 37:8) True, we may at times become justifiably angry, but Paul counsels us: “Be wrathful, and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with you in a provoked state, neither allow place for the Devil.”—Ephesians 4:26, 27.
22 Our anger could result in sin if we remained in a provoked state. Our having this frame of mind would give the Devil a chance to promote discord in the congregation or incite us to engage in evil deeds. Hence, we need quickly to settle differences with others in a godly way. (Leviticus 19:17, 18; Matthew 5:23, 24; 18:15, 16) Let us, therefore, be guided by God’s spirit, exercising self-control and never letting even justifiable anger degenerate into bitterness, malice, and hatred.
23. What questions will we consider in the next article?
23 We have discussed certain traits of the Devil that we should not imitate. But some readers may wonder: Should we fear Satan? Why does he foment the persecution of Christians? And how can we avoid being overreached by the Devil?
a See the cover series “Is the Devil Real?” in The Watchtower of November 15, 2005.
What Is Your Reply?
• Why should we never slander anyone?
• In keeping with 1 John 3:15, how can we avoid being manslayers?
• How should we view apostates, and why?
• Why should we not love the world?
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We will never allow the Devil to destroy our Christian unity
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Why did John urge us not to love the world?