OVERCOME THE DEVIL
K. V. Varghese, Ampat
John the apostle describes three levels of Christian growth in relation to sin. “I have written to you fathers, because you have known Him who had been from the beginning. I have written to you young men because you are strong and the word of God abides in you and you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you little children, because you know the Father” (1Jn.2:13).
What about our faith? Are we children, young men or fathers in the faith? Think it over.
Having challenged us to fight Satan and sin’s power in our lives, John names the sources through which Satan tempts us to lure us away from God: the lust of flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1Jn.2:14). Let us understand these with the examples recorded in the Bible.
Lust Of The Flesh
First, Satan planted a doubt in Eve by asking her, “Has God said...?” and continued talking to her till she developed an ‘appetite’ for the forbidden fruit. She saw that the fruit was good for food and eventually succumbed to the lust to have it. Even David who was a man after God’s own heart became a victim of lust and committed adultery and murder. Satan confronted even the Son of God when He completed 40 days of fasting with the suggestion to turn stones into bread to satisfy His physical hunger. He thought it was the most opportune time to lure Jesus into yielding to the lust of the flesh. Satan is also watching us, looking for vulnerable areas in our lives, such as desire for food, rest, comfort, sex, wealth, position etc. He will offer you comfort and fulfilment through shortcuts.
Can we succeed as Jesus did? The ‘lust of the flesh’ draws us away from God into Satan’s territory. Satan lures you through this channel and fulfils your wants against God’s will for you. When you resist the temptation to give in to the lust of the flesh, you are acknowledging your dependence on God for your legitimate needs; but if you yield to the temptation, your faithfulness as a Christian suffers.
Lust Of The Eyes
The second channel is the lust of the eyes through which Satan deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden with his lie about the consequence of disobeying God. God had told Eve, “The day you eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall surely die.” But Satan told Eve, “You surely shall not die.” The forbidden fruit was a delight to her eyes (lust of the eyes) and she ignored God’s command by doing what appeared to serve her own interests.
The lust of the eyes draws us away from the word of God and from our confidence in the Lord. We see what the world has to offer and desire it above our relationship with God. We give more importance to our perspective of life than to the commandments of God and His promises. Fuelled by the lust for what we see in this world, we grab all that we can get hold of, believing that we need them and wrongly assuming that God will not withhold anything good from us.
Job had made a covenant with his eyes not to look at a woman with lust. Let us resolve not to fall a victim to the lust of the eyes.
Pride Of Life
The third channel, the pride of life, is not from the Father, the giver of life, but from the world. This is the heart of the New Age movement where man is central; he is viewed as divine, as co-creator, etc. This is the temptation from the god of this world to direct our own destiny. Satan teased Eve with the promise of something non attainable. She was told that the day she ate this fruit, her eyes would be opened and she would be like God!
Satan played the same trick with Jesus, but without success (Matt.4:8-10).
The temptation of the ‘pride of life’ is intended to draw us away from the worship of God and our obedience to Him. When we stop worshipping and serving God, we begin to serve Satan.
Another way Satan shows his authority and power is through deception and instilling unhealthy fear in us. He knows that if he succeeds in bullying us, fear will take the place of faith. Satan “prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1Pet.5:8). But because of our position, authority and protection in Christ, he can’t touch us. So, Peter instructs us to “resist him, standing firm in your faith” (1Pet.5:9). When we do so, he has no choice but to leave us. The devil’s bark is much bigger than his bite. Stand firm in the faith, resist him and he will flee from you.
So, dear friends, we need to always remember that the lust of the flesh preys on our physical appetite and its gratification; the lust of the eyes appeals to self-interest and tests the word of God; and the pride of life leads to self-promotion and self exaltation. Satan confronted the first Adam and the last Adam (Jesus) through all of these temptations. The first Adam fell, but the last Adam triumphed and regained the glory of God.
Let us ask God to strengthen us today and everyday so that we resist Satan in his attempts to draw us away from God.