So many times we feel like we are helpless against the trials, tribulations, and temptations Satan puts in our path. We use the excuse, "the devil made me do it", as if it were completely beyond our control. We live like we are powerless to overcome the devil.
But we need to understand: God gave us victory over the devil.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:57)
Throughout the Bible, we see the rewards promised to those who overcome, who stand firm, who keep the devil in his place. God gave us the victory, but we have to walk in it; we cannot give in or give up.
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Rev. 21:7)
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Rev. 3:21)
And where is the devil's place in the life of a Christian, anyway? Where does he belong, and how do we keep him there?
The Bible tells us in Ephesians 1:19-23 that God put the devil in his place when He raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavens. He placed Jesus far above any ruler or authority on earth or in heaven. Satan was defeated when Christ rose from the dead to eternal life.
So where is Satan's place now? We see the answer in verse 22: God placed all things under Christ's feet, and appointed Him (Jesus) to be head of all things, for the sake of the church, which is His body.
We, as Christians, make up the church, which is the body of Christ. And Satan is under Christ's feet. If we are His body, then doesn't it stand to reason that Satan is also under OUR feet?
That's right! Satan's place is under our feet! He may strike our heels, but we can crush his head, through Christ Jesus. (see Genesis 3:15) We are no longer under Satan's power, but are empowered by God Almighty to defeat the devil when he comes against us! Hallelujah! God's Word promises us:
"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1 John 4:4)
So Satan has no power in the life of a believer, unless we give it to him. That's right! Jesus freed us from Satan's power, and as long as we abide in Christ Jesus, the devil has absolutely no power over us.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Rom.8:2)
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Gal. 5:1)
Satan also cannot tempt us beyond our endurance. If we give in to temptation, it is a deliberate choice on our part. We are not helpless victims to Satan's wiles. To say that "the devil made me do it" is to call God a liar, because the Bible says:
There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able to withstand; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it. (I Cor. 10:13)
It is vitally important for us to understand that any deliberate sin on our part is an act of rebellion against our Heavenly Father. We are often guilty of taking sin far too lightly. We excuse it, justify it, rationalize it, and ignore it. But make no mistake about it: Sin is rebellion against God.
And every time we give in to sin, we give the devil power over us. He is constantly searching for an opening where he can get in. The Bible tells us:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. (I Peter 5:8)
So how do we stand firm, and overcome Satan's snares, and keep him in his place, under our feet? How do we learn to walk in the power of God, so that we do not give the devil a foothold in our lives? We need to learn: our power is in our OBEDIENCE! As long as we stay in OUR place, the devil has no choice but to stay in his.
Please understand this: our adversary is a defeated enemy. Christ defeated him at Calvary. The only power Satan has in the life of a believer is the power we allow him to have, by our disobedience. James had the answers we need to walk in victory and keep Satan under our feet:
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:7-10)
Do you notice the sequence there? Many times, Christians rely on only a single part of those instructions: they think they can resist the devil and he is just going to flee from them. But I can assure you, both from personal experience and observation, that if we do not begin by first humbly submitting ourselves to God, old Satan is not going anywhere! In fact, he'll just step up the battle!
These verses contain ten separate instructions for Christians. In the original Greek text, these were worded as imperatives, calling for immediate action, to root out the underlying sin of pride.
To have victory, so that the devil will flee from us, we have to do just as these verses say. We have to first submit ourselves to God. Only then we are in a position to resist the devil. If we do not first submit ourselves to God, we are going to fail in our attempts to resist the devil.
Then, after we have resisted the devil, we need to be sure we draw nigh to God, so that we do not become puffed up in self pride, as if we had resisted him in our own poor power. We must understand fully and without a doubt, just exactly where our power comes from. When we draw near to God, the Bible promises that He will draw near to us.
Then we are told to wash our hands and purify our hearts. Psalm 24 tells us that it is those with clean hands and pure hearts that can enter the sanctuary of the Lord, and will receive blessings and righteousness from the Lord:
Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that has clean hands, and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalm 24:3-5)
James then said we are to grieve, mourn, and wail, turning our laughter to mourning and our joy to gloom. In other words, we are to repent: to be sincerely sorry for our sinful thoughts, attitudes, and actions. We cannot hide iniquity in our hearts and expect to have victory in our lives. We must see our sin as God sees it: prideful rebellion against His holy authority.
Then, when we agree with God about our sin, we can easily humble ourselves before Him. And He promises that when we do so, He will lift us up.
We keep the devil in his place by humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of the Almighty God. When we get out of our place under God's hand, Satan can get out of his place under our feet. Obedience is the key to victory.
Have you ever noticed how so many of the problems we face on a day to day basis are the results of our disobedience? We give the devil a foothold by disobeying what we know God has told us. Why on earth don't we realize this , and just submit ourselves to God in humble obedience, as the Bible says?
Let's face it, if you are truly a Christian, if you truly love God, you are going to obey Him sooner or later, anyway. So don't be a Jonah --- obey God the first time and save yourself a lot of problems!
We will never keep Satan under our feet if we do not obey what we know God has told us. The Bible tells us that if we know to do right, but do not do it, it is sin!
Therefore to him that knows to do good, and doesn't do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)
For instance, if we are harboring a grudge against someone, we KNOW God has told us to forgive. We may think we are right, we may think we are justified, but the fact is, God tells us to forgive. II Cor. 2:11 makes the connection very clear: we are to forgive, so that Satan does not gain an advantage over us!
Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us the same thing:
Be angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
Our humble obedience is the way we keep Satan in his place. Luke 9:1 tells us that we have power over the enemy. Some argue that this was a power given only to the apostles, and is not available to Christians today. But God is no respecter of persons; He does not grant special dispensation only to certain people. Make no mistake about it: the power of God is every bit as available to us today as it was to the disciples in the early church.
"Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases."
And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matt. 16:19)
It is high time we learn that we have power and authority, through Jesus Christ, to walk in victory over the enemy. Jesus gave us that power, and as long as we humble ourselves before God, and submit ourselves to Him, the enemy cannot defeat us. We can keep the devil in his place, right where God put him: under our feet. Hallelujah!!