“Take your stand against [Satan], firm in the faith.”—1 PET. 5:9.
1. (a) Why is our fight against Satan especially important now? (b) How do we know that it is possible for us to win the battle against Satan?
SATAN is at war with the anointed remnant and the “other sheep.” (John 10:16) The Devil’s goal is to devour as many of Jehovah’s servants as he can in the short time that he has left. (Read Revelation 12:9, 12.) Can we win our fight against Satan? Yes! The Bible says: “Oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.”—Jas. 4:7.
2, 3. (a) How does the idea that Satan does not exist actually further the Devil’s objectives? (b) How do you know that Satan is real?
2 Many scoff at the idea that Satan even exists. To them, Satan and the demons are fictional characters of novels, horror movies, and video games. Such people feel that no intelligent person believes in wicked spirits. Now, do you think that it bothers Satan that he and his invisible cohorts have been relegated to the world of folklore? That is not likely! After all, it is easy for Satan to blind the minds of those who doubt that he exists. (2 Cor. 4:4) Promoting the idea that spirits do not exist is one of the many ways that Satan uses to mislead people.
3 As servants of Jehovah, we are not among those who are misled. We know that the Devil is real, for it was Satan who spoke to Eve through a serpent. (Gen. 3:1-5) Satan taunted Jehovah regarding Job. (Job 1:9-12) It was Satan who tried to tempt Jesus. (Matt. 4:1-10) And after the birth of God’s Kingdom in 1914, it was Satan who began “to wage war” with the remnant of anointed ones. (Rev. 12:17) That war still rages as Satan seeks to destroy the faith of the remnant of the 144,000 and the other sheep. To win the battle, we must take our stand against Satan and remain firm in the faith. This article discusses three ways to do so.
4. How has Satan shown himself to be full of pride?
4 Satan is anything but humble. In fact, for a spirit creature to have the audacity to challenge Jehovah’s sovereignty and set himself up as a rival god is the epitome of pride and presumptuousness. Therefore, one way that we can take a stand against Satan is by shunning pride and cultivating humility. (Read 1 Peter 5:5.) But what is pride? Is it always bad?
5, 6. (a) Is pride always bad? Explain. (b) What kind of pride is dangerous, and what Scriptural examples illustrate this?
5 One dictionary defines pride as “a sense of dignity and self-respect” and “a feeling of satisfaction which you have because you or people close to you have done something good or possess something good.” There is nothing wrong with that. The apostle Paul told the Thessalonians: “We ourselves take pride in you among the congregations of God because of your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the hardships that you are suffering.” (2 Thess. 1:4) So feeling good about the works of others and even having a degree of pride in ourselves can be healthy. We are not expected to be ashamed of our family, culture, or the region where we grew up.—Acts 21:39.
6 On the other hand, there is a kind of pride that can eat away at relationships and damage our friendship with Jehovah. Such pride can cause us to resent and reject needed counsel rather than humbly accept it. (Ps. 141:5) This type of pride is defined as “inordinate self-esteem” or “a haughty attitude shown by people who believe, often unjustifiably, that they are better than others.” Jehovah hates arrogant pride. (Ezek. 33:28; Amos 6:8) But Satan must delight to see humans display boastful pride, for it echoes his own arrogance. How Satan must have reveled in the boasting of such men as Nimrod, Pharaoh, and Absalom—all of whom fell victim to improper pride! (Gen. 10:8, 9; Ex. 5:1, 2; 2 Sam. 15:4-6) Pride also played a role in the downfall of Cain. He was counseled by God himself but was too proud to accept the correction. He stubbornly ignored Jehovah’s admonition and rushed headlong into disaster.—Gen. 4:6-8.
7, 8. (a) What is racism, and how can it be a form of pride? (b) Explain how pride could disrupt a congregation’s peace.
7 Today, people manifest pride in a number of destructive ways. Pride sometimes goes hand in hand with racism. One dictionary defines racism as “prejudice or animosity against people who belong to other races” and “the belief that people of different races have different qualities and abilities, and that some races are inherently superior or inferior.” Racial pride has led to riots, wars, and even mass murder.
8 Of course, such things should not take place in the Christian congregation. Nevertheless, disputes between fellow believers, which sometimes start with pride, can spiral out of control. Evidently, that was true of some first-century Christians to whom James wrote this penetrating question: “What is the source of the wars and fights among you?” (Jas. 4:1) Yes, deep-seated feelings of animosity and superiority can affect our speech and actions, causing untold pain to others. (Prov. 12:18) Clearly, pride can disrupt the peace of a congregation.
9. How does the Bible help us combat racism and other forms of improper pride? (See opening image.)
9 If we personally have a tendency to feel superior to others, we need to remember that “everyone proud in heart is detestable to Jehovah.” (Prov. 16:5) We would also do well to examine our view of those who belong to another race, nationality, or culture. If we harbor feelings of racial or national pride, we ignore the fact that God “made out of one man every nation of men.” (Acts 17:26) In that sense, there is just one race because all mankind has a common ancestor, Adam. Therefore, how absurd it is to believe that some races are inherently superior or inferior. Such thinking would suit Satan’s scheme to disrupt our Christian love and unity. (John 13:35) To fight Satan and win, we must resist all forms of improper pride.—Prov. 16:18.
AVOID MATERIALISM AND LOVE FOR THE WORLD
10, 11. (a) Why might it be easy to develop love for the world? (b) How might Demas have displayed love for the world?
10 Satan is “the ruler of this world,” and it is lying in his power. (John 12:31; 1 John 5:19) Therefore, much of what this world promotes runs counter to the standards set forth in the Bible. Of course, not everything the world offers is evil. However, we should expect that Satan would use his world to exploit our desires and try to induce us to sin or to develop love for the world and neglect our worship of Jehovah.—Read 1 John 2:15, 16.
11 Evidently, love for the world affected some first-century Christians. For example, Paul wrote: “Demas has forsaken me because he loved the present system of things.” (2 Tim. 4:10) The Bible does not specifically say what aspect of the world Demas loved, causing him to abandon Paul. It could be that Demas began to love material things more than spiritual pursuits. If that was the case, Demas missed out on thrilling spiritual privileges—and for what? Could the world possibly offer Demas anything that would surpass the blessings Jehovah could give him as an associate of Paul?—Prov. 10:22.
12. In what ways could we fall victim to “the deceptive power of riches”?
12 Something similar can happen to us. As Christians, we have a normal desire to provide materially for ourselves and our family. (1 Tim. 5:8) Jehovah wants us to live comfortably—a fact that becomes clear when we consider the beautiful surroundings that he provided for Adam and Eve. (Gen. 2:9) But Satan can exploit our desires with “the deceptive power of riches.” (Matt. 13:22) Many think that money will make them happy or that material possessions are the key to success. Such thinking is pure deception, and it can cause us to lose the most valuable possession we have—our friendship with Jehovah. Jesus warned his followers: “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot slave for God and for Riches.” (Matt. 6:24) If we slave exclusively for Riches, we have stopped serving Jehovah, and that is precisely what Satan wants us to do! May we never let money or the things it can buy eclipse our friendship with Jehovah. To fight Satan, we must maintain a balanced view of material things.—Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10.
RESIST SEXUAL IMMORALITY
13. How has this world promoted a distorted view of marriage and sex?
13 Another trap of Satan’s world is sexual immorality. Today, many people view marital faithfulness—and even marriage itself—as restrictive and old-fashioned. For example, one famous actress stated: “Monogamy is impossible for both sexes. I don’t know anyone who’s faithful or wants to be.” An actor said: “I’m not sure if it really is in our nature to be with someone for the rest of our lives.” Satan must be pleased when influential people malign God’s gift of marriage. The Devil certainly has no interest in endorsing that arrangement or seeing it succeed. To fight Satan and win, therefore, we must uphold God’s marital arrangement.
14, 15. How can we resist sexual immorality?
14 Whether married or single, we must strenuously resist all forms of sexual immorality. Is the fight easy? By no means! If you are a young person, for instance, you might hear your schoolmates boast about having casual sex or about sexting, a practice that in some places is viewed as being tantamount to distributing child pornography. The Bible says: “Whoever practices sexual immorality is sinning against his own body.” (1 Cor. 6:18) Both suffering and death have resulted from the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. And the majority of unmarried youths who lose their virginity say that they regret what they did. The reality of immoral sex is far different from what is portrayed by the entertainment media, which would have us believe that breaking God’s laws has no consequences. Such thinking makes people fall victim to “the deceptive power of sin.”—Heb. 3:13.
15 If you struggle with temptation to engage in sexual immorality, what can you do? Acknowledge your weakness. (Rom. 7:22, 23) Pray to God for strength. (Phil. 4:6, 7, 13) Avoid situations that could lead to immorality. (Prov. 22:3) And when a temptation arises, reject it without delay.—Gen. 39:12.
16. How did Jesus respond to Satan’s temptations, and what can we learn from that example?
16 Jesus set a powerful example for us in resisting temptations. He was not fooled by Satan’s promises, nor did he have to take time to weigh the pros and cons. Rather, he immediately responded with the words: “It is written.” (Read Matthew 4:4-10.) Jesus knew God’s Word, and that made it possible for him to act quickly and quote scriptures in the face of temptation. To fight Satan and win, we must not allow ourselves to be tempted to engage in sexual immorality.—1 Cor. 6:9, 10.
WIN THE FIGHT BY ENDURING
17, 18. (a) What other weapons are in Satan’s arsenal, and why should this not surprise us? (b) What is in store for Satan, and how does that encourage you to endure?
17 Pride, materialism, and sexual immorality are just three weapons at Satan’s disposal. There are many more. For example, some Christians face opposition from family members, ridicule from schoolmates, or even restrictions on their preaching work from governmental authorities. Such hardships do not surprise us, for Jesus warned his followers: “You will be hated by all people on account of my name, but the one who has endured to the end will be saved.”—Matt. 10:22.
18 How can we fight Satan and win? Jesus told his disciples: “By your endurance you will preserve your lives.” (Luke 21:19) Nothing that any human can do will cause us permanent harm. Nobody can take away our precious friendship with God unless we allow that to happen. (Rom. 8:38, 39) Even the death of Jehovah’s servants does not score a victory for Satan, for Jehovah will see to it that they are resurrected! (John 5:28, 29) On the other hand, Satan’s prospects are bleak indeed. After the destruction of his ungodly system, Satan will be abyssed for 1,000 years. (Rev. 20:1-3) At the end of Jesus’ Thousand Year Reign, Satan will be “released from his prison” for a short time to make a final attempt to mislead perfect mankind. After that, the Devil will be destroyed. (Rev. 20:7-10) Satan faces certain doom, but that is not true of you! Take your stand against Satan, firm in the faith. You can fight Satan and win!