Wednesday, February 18, 2009



Jesus shares an illustration about an unclean spirit living in a man, leaving that man and returning to the man. Jesus says: "Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation." (Matthew 12:43-45)

Basically Jesus is illustrating what happened to the religious leadership when they heard the truth, most likely, through John. They initially received John's message-to a point. But they didn't continue and follow-through to receive the message of Jesus. THEREFORE, they were even more vulnerable to the devil and his demons. Note what the state of the man was who was most vulnerable to even more demonic activity. By rejecting the little bit of truth they had, they set themselves up to be more inviting to seven additional demons to reside in them. There are three descriptive terms here: "unoccupied, swept and put in order". The operative word here is "unoccupied". It means to be in a passive, meditative state, wide open for anything to take over a person's thoughts, mind and heart. "And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first."

There is one other thing that comes up for me in this short illustration by Jesus. The man is satisfied with just a little bit of truth and not growing any further. For too many, just doing enough to get by is just fine. And, there is one other thing missing. In addition to not receiving more truth and responding to it, there is no sense of resisting any new evils that might threaten his life.

When it comes to understanding what you can do to the devil and his demons, there is a constant theme that is practiced by Jesus and taught by James, Peter and Paul. The theme is resistance! Jesus resisted the devil in the wilderness at the end of 40 days. James, Peter and Paul all say to resist the devil and his demons, but so few followers of Jesus have any idea what it means to resist the Evil One.

By the way, if you don't know what to do to resist the devil and his demons in your life, then you are most likely being beaten down by their activity of demonization. So, let's take a look at what it means to resist.

Jesus resisted the devil in the wilderness primarily by firing right back at him with a truth from the book of Deuteronomy. It was a fierce struggle to win the battle against the devil. In Luke's record of the temptation he points out that the devil left Jesus until a more opportune time. In other words, the struggle will continue. And it did when Jesus was attacked by a variety of demons from village to village. And in response to those attacks or when He encountered a demonized person, Jesus commanded the demons to come out of the person. What is seldom noticed is that in most cases Jesus didn't just say a command and they came out, but He had to repeatedly command the demons to come out and they did. Resistance is not easy; it's a struggle at every level.

James teaches followers of Jesus to resist the devil. He says: But He gives a greater grace Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE." Submit therefore to God resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:6-7)

After showing that God is against the proud and gives grace to the humble, James gives a most practical instruction for us. Therefore or since God is with the humble and against the proud, there are two specific things to do. One is to submit to God and the other is to resist the devil. Then note what the result will be. "And he, the devil, will flee from you." I have practiced this many times over the years with the same result. When I am not sure whether or not something is of God or of the devil, I pray this way: "Lord, I submit my life to you all over again and if this is of you, I want it. However, if this or any part of this is of the devil, then I resist him in the name of Jesus. I don't want any part of it."

Peter teaches his perspective on how to resist. He says: Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. (I Peter 5:6-10)

Again, there is the theme of pride and humility. Peter urges followers of Jesus to cast all your cares and worries on God, because He cares for you. Then, he turns the corner and says to get serious about this spiritual life you're living. Be on the alert.

He warns that your enemy, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. A friend of mine in Africa pointed out to me that the only lion that prowls about roaring is usually an older toothless lion who can only scare you to death. He is scary, but he can only gum you to death. Then, Peter says: "But resist him, firm in your faith."

James and Peter strongly urge you to resist the devil and his demons, but don't give many specifics as to how to resist. Peter says that once you have fought this fight of resistance of the devil "the God of all grace will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you."

Paul does go into specifics on how to resist and we will examine that in detail in tomorrow's session. Paul opens up his teaching on resisting the devil and his demons with this: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. (Ephesians 6:10) I think what Paul is saying is that when it comes to the spiritual warfare, where you must do battle with the devil and his demons, the only kind of power or strength that will be effective is to be found in the Lord, Himself.

To me, whenever I have recognized some evidence of doing battle with evil, I am drawn even closer to the Lord. Why? There is no other hope for success! Embrace these words for yourself as you prepare for what we are about to learn about resisting in the morning: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.