When I was part of the Brownsville revival, one of the pastors of the church there used to tell the congregation, “When you became a Christian you entered a war.” We need to be reminded of this because fighting in a war is hard work and it is easier to not fight and just give up. But that is exactly what the devil wants you to do, because he knows that if you fight him you will win.
He knows this because he knows the Bible. James (Jacob) tells us, “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas 4:7). Notice that James (Jacob) does not say we have to fight well or demonstrate any particular skills. All we have to do is resist him and the result is he will flee. That does not mean we only have to wave our hand and he goes running away. Our resistance will take effort. It will take perseverance. But we will never lose just because we were not strong enough. We do not have to be strong enough because Jesus is, and he has already defeated Satan. The only way we can lose our battle with him is if we refuse to fight. If we will fight, Jesus will stand up for us and that is what makes the devil flee.
One of the most damaging lies the devil has convinced the church to believe is that all things, both good and evil, are God’s will. Because God is sovereign, even the devil can do nothing except what God wills. This is a theological point that has been taught in churches and seminaries since the time of Augustine. But it is a lie from Satan.
It seems almost surreal that I would have to write to convince people that Satan acts contrary to God’s will, and that it is the job of the Christian to resist Satan and fight against his works. But millions of Christians around the world have bought into the lie that no matter what happens we must accept it with calm resignation because it is all part of the outworking of God’s will. This can be illustrated a thousand times, but I will give one representative example.
In 2008, a plane crashed in the Congo, killing 40 people. Just before takeoff, an engine failed, and when the pilot tried to brake, a tire blew. The plane burst through a fence beyond the runway and crashed into a market. A woman watched her 15-year-old son run out of a shop, his clothes and body on fire, not knowing if her three other sons were alive. After being treated for back injuries, she responded: “What have I done to God to deserve this?”
It is so common for people to blame God for every tragedy that even insurance claims have been famously noted for referring to tornadoes and hurricanes as “acts of God.” Do you not find it odd that people do not refer to such things as acts of Satan? Why is that people who suffer tragedy do not ask, “Why did the devil attack this plane?” or “Why did Satan steal my baby boy?” The reason is that they are affected by a theological worldview that rejects the notion that Satan could have done the evil without God’s express permission. This worldview claims that even Satan does the will of God when he performs evil deeds.
But when Peter mentioned that the devil is looking to devour people, he told us to, “Resist him” (1 Pet 5:9). If the devil is doing God’s will, then to resist him is to resist God. John tells us that the reason Jesus was manifest was “to destroy the works of the evil one” (1 John 3:8). The same verse says the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The devil does not always do the will of God. The devil is a liar, a thief, a murderer, and a destroyer. When we see these things manifested in our world, we should recognize them as the devil’s work, and we should fight against its perpetuation.
I would contend that it was not God’s will for that plane to crash and for those people to die, though it probably made the devil happy. I believe that fervent prayer might have prevented that disaster from happening, because such prayer would constitute resisting the devil. Guy H. King once said: “No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil; not that he practices it, but he suffers from it.” It is part of the church’s calling to fight for the destruction of the devil’s works, just as Jesus did. We must fight! But be encouraged; if you fight you will win. If you resist him, he will flee from you.
Knowing this, the devil works hard to keep us from fighting. He struggles hard to keep us off our knees. And he uses a variety of means to sap the strength from our prayers when we do pray. The easiest way to make prayer ineffective is to pray without faith. If we are not sure we are praying according to God’s will, then it will be hard to pray with faith. so the devil tries to convince us that all evil is part of God’s grand plan so that we will not pray with faith against the evil that he perpetrates. It is my hope that exposing this lie of the devil will empower many believers to pray with fervency against the devil and his works.
It is true that we sometimes lose a battle. The devil sometimes gets the upper hand. He got Peter to deny Jesus three times. But if we keep fighting, we will win in the long run. After denying Jesus, Peter went on the become one of the greatest men of God the world has ever seen.
Don’t let your past defeats keep you from fighting. If I prayed and the answer did not come, what am I going to do? Keep on praying! If I fought for the salvation of a loved one, who never came to Jesus, what should I do? Keep praying for my lost loved ones. If I pray for someone’s healing and that person dies, what should be my response? Turn and find someone else to pray for, because God’s promises are not contingent upon my past experiences, but on His faithfulness, and they are activated through my prayers and yours.
My prayer for those reading this is that you will be encouraged to keep up the good fight of faith, to not grow weary in doing good, but to trust God, who will stand up for you and bring you to victory.