Oppose Satan, and He Will Flee!
“Subject yourselves . . . to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.”—JAMES 4:7.
1, 2. (a) What trait of the Devil is reflected in a declaration recorded in Isaiah chapter 14? (b) We will discuss what questions?
THE Devil is the epitome of arrogance. His pride is reflected in words recorded by God’s prophet Isaiah. Over a century before Babylonia became the chief world power, Jehovah’s people were represented as making this declaration against “the king of Babylon”: “You have said in your heart, ‘To the heavens I shall go up. Above the stars of God [kings of David’s royal line] I shall lift up my throne . . . I shall make myself resemble the Most High.’” (Isaiah 14:3, 4, 12-15; Numbers 24:17) The pride of “the king of Babylon” was similar to the spirit of Satan, “the god of this system of things.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) But Satan’s arrogance will end in disaster, even as the Babylonian dynasty came to an inglorious end.
2 As long as the Devil exists, however, we may be concerned about such questions as these: Should we fear Satan? Why does he incite people to persecute Christians? How can we avoid being overreached by the Devil?
Should We Fear the Devil?
3, 4. Why are anointed Christians and their companions not afraid of the Devil?
3 Very strengthening to anointed Christians are these words of Jesus Christ: “Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. Look! The Devil will keep on throwing some of you into prison that you may be fully put to the test, and that you may have tribulation ten days. Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10) Anointed ones and their companions with an earthly hope are not afraid of the Devil. This lack of fear does not stem from inherent courage. It exists because they have reverential fear of God and ‘take refuge in the shadow of his wings.’—Psalm 34:9; 36:7.
4 Fearless early disciples of Jesus Christ proved faithful to death despite the things they suffered. They did not succumb to fear of what Satan the Devil could do, for they knew that Jehovah would never abandon those who proved loyal to Him. Similarly, in the face of intense present-day persecution, anointed Christians and their dedicated associates are determined not to break their integrity to God. However, the apostle Paul indicated that the Devil could cause death. Should that not make us fearful?
5. What do we learn from Hebrews 2:14, 15?
5 Paul said that Jesus ‘partook of blood and flesh’ that “through his death he might bring to nothing the one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil; and that he might emancipate all those who for fear of death were subject to slavery all through their lives.” (Hebrews 2:14, 15) As “the one having the means to cause death,” Satan got control of Judas Iscariot and then used the Jewish leaders and the Romans to execute Jesus. (Luke 22:3; John 13:26, 27) Through his sacrificial death, however, Jesus frees sinful mankind from Satan’s grip and makes it possible for us to have everlasting life.—John 3:16.
6, 7. To what extent does Satan have the means to cause death?
6 To what extent does the Devil have the means to cause death? Well, from the start of Satan’s career of wickedness, his lies and leadings have caused death among humans. This is because Adam sinned and thus passed sin and death on to the human family. (Romans 5:12) In addition, Satan’s earthly servants have persecuted worshippers of Jehovah, sometimes to the point of death, even as they did in the case of Jesus Christ.
7 Nevertheless, we should not think that the Devil can cause the death of any individual whom he wants to kill. God protects those belonging to Him and will never permit Satan to wipe out all true worshippers on earth. (Romans 14:8) True, Jehovah allows persecution to come upon all his people, and he permits death to come to some of us as a result of the Devil’s assaults. Yet, the Scriptures hold out the wonderful hope of a resurrection for those in God’s “book of remembrance”—and the Devil can do absolutely nothing to prevent such restoration of life!—Malachi 3:16; John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.
Why the Satanic Persecution?
8. Why does the Devil bring persecution upon God’s servants?
8 If we are loyal servants of God, there is a basic reason why the Devil brings persecution upon us. His objective is to cause us to compromise our faith. We have a precious relationship with our heavenly Father, and Satan desires to destroy it. This should not surprise us. In Eden, Jehovah foretold that there would be enmity between his symbolic “woman” and the “serpent” and between their respective ‘seeds.’ (Genesis 3:14, 15) The Scriptures identify the Devil as “the original serpent” and reveal that his time is now short and his anger great. (Revelation 12:9, 12) As enmity between the two ‘seeds’ continues, those faithfully serving Jehovah can expect to be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12) Are you aware of the underlying reason for such satanic persecution?
9, 10. The Devil has raised what issue, and how is the conduct of humans related to it?
9 The Devil has raised the issue of universal sovereignty. Related to it, he has called into question the integrity of humans to their Creator. Satan brought persecution upon the upright man Job. Why? In order to break Job’s integrity to Jehovah. Job’s wife and his three “troublesome comforters” served the Devil’s purpose at that time. As shown in the book of Job, the Devil challenged God, claiming that no human would remain faithful to Him if Satan were allowed to test that person. But Job held fast his integrity, thus proving Satan a liar. (Job 1:8–2:9; 16:2; 27:5; 31:6) The Devil persecutes Witnesses of Jehovah today in an effort to break their integrity and prove his challenge true.
10 Knowing that the Devil brings persecution upon us because he desperately wants to break our integrity to God can actually help us to be courageous and strong. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Our God is the Universal Sovereign, and he will help us to maintain our integrity. May we always seek to make Jehovah’s heart rejoice by being integrity keepers, giving him a reply to the great taunter, Satan the Devil.—Proverbs 27:11.
“Deliver Us From the Wicked One”
11. What is meant by the request, “Do not bring us into temptation”?
11 Being an integrity-keeper is not a simple matter; it calls for earnest prayer. Especially helpful are the words of the model prayer. In part, Jesus said: “Do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the wicked one.” (Matthew 6:13) Jehovah does not tempt us to sin. (James 1:13) However, the Scriptures sometimes speak of his doing or causing things, when he, in fact, merely permits them. (Ruth 1:20, 21) By praying as Jesus indicated, then, we are asking Jehovah not to abandon us to temptation. And he will not do so, for we have this Scriptural assurance: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.”—1 Corinthians 10:13.
12. Why do we pray: “Deliver us from the wicked one”?
12 After mentioning temptation in the model prayer, Jesus appropriately said: “Deliver us from the wicked one.” Some Bible translations read: “Deliver us from evil” (King James Version; Revised Standard Version) or “Protect us from evil.” (Contemporary English Version) In the Scriptures, however, the expression ‘deliver from’ is used chiefly with regard to people, and Matthew’s Gospel refers to the Devil as “the Tempter,” a person. (Matthew 4:3, 11) So it is important to pray for deliverance from “the wicked one,” Satan the Devil. He tries to maneuver us into sinning against God. (1 Thessalonians 3:5) When we make the request, “Deliver us from the wicked one,” we are asking our heavenly Father to guide and help us so that we are not overreached by the Devil.
Do Not Be Overreached by the Devil
13, 14. Why did the Corinthians need to change the way they dealt with a man in the congregation who had been immoral?
13 When Paul urged Christians in Corinth to be forgiving, he wrote: “Anything you kindly forgive anyone, I do too. In fact, as for me, whatever I have kindly forgiven, if I have kindly forgiven anything, it has been for your sakes in Christ’s sight; that we may not be overreached by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Corinthians 2:10, 11) The Devil can overreach us in various ways, but why did Paul make the statement just quoted?
14 Paul had reproved the Corinthians because they allowed an immoral man to remain in the congregation. This must have delighted Satan, for reproach fell upon the congregation for tolerating “such fornication as is not even among the nations.” Eventually, the wrongdoer was disfellowshipped. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5, 11-13) The man later repented. If the Corinthians refused to forgive and reinstate that man, the Devil would overreach them in another way. How so? They would be harsh and merciless, like Satan himself. If the repentant man became “swallowed up by his being overly sad” and gave up entirely, especially would the elders bear some responsibility for this before the merciful God, Jehovah. (2 Corinthians 2:7; James 2:13; 3:1) Of course, no true Christian would want to imitate Satan by being cruel, harsh, and merciless.
Protected by Armor From God
15. What warfare do we wage, and on what does victory depend?
15 If we are to be delivered from the Devil, we must wage spiritual warfare against the wicked spirit forces. Victory in the face of such odds depends on our wearing “the complete suit of armor from God.” (Ephesians 6:11-18) This armor includes “the breastplate of righteousness.” (Ephesians 6:14) King Saul of ancient Israel disobeyed God and suffered the loss of holy spirit. (1 Samuel 15:22, 23) But if we practice righteousness and have on the full suit of spiritual armor, we will have God’s holy spirit and the needed protection against Satan and his wicked angels, the demons.—Proverbs 18:10.
16. How can we have continued protection against the wicked spirit forces?
16 For continued protection against the wicked spirit forces, we need, among other things, to read and study God’s Word regularly, making good use of publications provided through “the faithful steward.” (Luke 12:42) We will thus be filling our mind with wholesome spiritual matters, in harmony with Paul’s counsel: “Brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.”—Philippians 4:8.
17. What will help us to be effective proclaimers of the good news?
17 Jehovah enables us to have our “feet shod with the equipment of the good news of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15) Regular participation in Christian meetings equips us to proclaim the good news of God’s Kingdom. What joy we derive from helping others to learn God’s truth and experience spiritual freedom! (John 8:32) “The sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word,” is indispensable in warding off false teachings and “overturning strongly entrenched things.” (Ephesians 6:17; 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5) Deft use of God’s written Word, the Bible, helps us to teach the truth and safeguards us from succumbing to the Devil’s wiles.
18. How can we “stand firm against the machinations of the Devil”?
18 Paul opened his discussion of our spiritual armor by saying: “Go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength. Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations [“crafty acts,” footnote] of the Devil.” (Ephesians 6:10, 11) The Greek word rendered “stand firm” relates to a soldier’s holding his position. We stand our ground in spiritual warfare, although Satan uses various crafty means in his efforts to disrupt our unity, corrupt our teachings, or break our integrity to God. But the Devil’s assaults have not succeeded so far—and they never will!a
Oppose the Devil, and He Will Flee
19. What is one way to go on the offensive in opposing the Devil?
19 We can be successful in our spiritual warfare against the Devil and the wicked spirit forces under his direction. There is no reason to quake in fear of Satan, for the disciple James wrote: “Subject yourselves . . . to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) One way to go on the offensive in opposing Satan and the wicked spirit creatures in league with him is by having nothing to do with occult or magical practices and those indulging in them. The Scriptures clearly show that servants of Jehovah must refuse to look for omens or to engage in astrology, divination, and spiritism. If we are spiritually active and strong, we need not be afraid that someone will cast a spell on us.—Numbers 23:23; Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Isaiah 47:12-15; Acts 19:18-20.
20. How can we oppose the Devil?
20 We “oppose the Devil” by adhering to Bible standards and truths and by taking a firm stand against him. The world is in harmony with Satan because he is its god. (2 Corinthians 4:4) We therefore reject the world’s traits, such as pride, selfishness, immorality, violence, and materialism. We know that the Devil fled when Jesus resisted his attack by using the Scriptures during the temptation in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10, 11) Likewise, Satan will ‘flee from us’ in defeat if we are in full submission to Jehovah and prayerfully rely on Him. (Ephesians 6:18) With the support of Jehovah God and his beloved Son, nobody can do us permanent harm—no, not even the Devil!—Psalm 91:9-11.
a For further information on the spiritual armor from God, see The Watchtower, May 15, 1992, pages 21-3.
What Is Your Reply?
• Should we fear Satan the Devil?
• Why does Satan bring persecution upon Christians?
• Why do we pray to be delivered from “the wicked one”?
• How can we be successful in waging spiritual warfare?
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Fearless early followers of Christ proved faithful to death
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The Devil cannot prevent the resurrection of those who are in Jehovah’s memory
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Do you pray for deliverance from “the wicked one”?
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Are you wearing “the complete suit of armor from God”?