The Apostle Peter warns us, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). Oh yes, the devil is real, and he's out to get each one of us. What do we do? James gives this instruction: "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (Jas. 4:7). Submitting to God is equivalent to resisting the devil, and James instructs in the next verse that it is accomplished by drawing near to God: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." We cannot walk with God- equivalent of drawing near to Him- without submitting to Him. O.K., how do we submit to God? Glad you asked...
We submit to God by surrendering to His will for our lives. In other words, we submit to God by obeying Him. We obey God by obeying His teachings. We cannot obey- submit to- God and walk with the devil at the same time. Such is an impossibility. This is a key understanding in resisting the devil and, thus, overcoming temptation.
All temptation is of the devil. It is his ploy to draw us away from God. We resist the devil, send him into flight, by drawing near to God. We draw near to God as we learn, believe and obey His teachings. That's how faith develops within us (Rom. 10:17), and strong faith is central to effectively resisting the devil's temptations (1 Pet. 5:8-9).
Many people delude themselves with the notion that they are close to God while living in sin. This delusion is itself of the devil. The devil is totally opposite of God. Living in sin is the same thing as walking with the devil. Just as God and the devil are complete opposites, so walking with the devil and walking with God are as far apart as is the east from the west. If a person is living a lifestyle of sin, he cannot at the same time be walking with God. Conversely, one who is walking with God will not be living in a state of sin. Living a lifestyle that obviously characterizes sinfulness automatically moves one away from God.
How can we be as sure as possible that we are truly walking with God? By making sure that we are living by His teachings contained in His word. The Psalmist writes, "How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word...Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Ps. 119:9, 11). Storing up God's word in our hearts, living by its teachings, will naturally bring us close to God. Doing so will strengthen us against the devil and enable us to stand tall in the face of any temptation he might try to use to draw us away from God. The power, the strength is not in us. It is in our relationship with God communicated to us through His word (1 Cor. 10:13). The word equips us to live the faithful life that God would have us live (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The power is there because it is His word. Let us always hold dear the precious word of God...
Gary L. Hutchens