As Christians we are told that we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). But how many of us live that? There seems to be a tendency to live under the circumstances we face instead of above them. We often hide from the devil’s schemes instead of attacking them.
For example, we eliminate things from our lives that can be good because of a negative possibility. I was counseling with an individual who has struggled with porn, specifically on the internet. He said that he hates smartphones because of the internet access. Since I have a smartphone, I’ve been thinking about if the phone is the issue or something else. I’ve never viewed porn on my smartphone and wouldn’t know how to get to it, yet he said that it is “automatically” there. Scripture does tell us to avoid the path of the wicked (Proverbs 4:15) which means to avoid compromising situations, so there is wisdom in putting protections in place for things such as internet porn. My concern though is that this individual is living in fear of temptation instead of conquering it.
We are given numerous examples in scripture of God’s victory over the enemy. But do we live it in our lives? Are you known by the demons as one that is strong or weak? Does the devil want to use his limited resources against you or someone else? He’s not stupid and he seeks where he can get the best return for his efforts.
What does it mean for us to be conquerors?
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) “The gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matt 16:18). I think that to live as a conqueror is to live in the power of the Lord, defeating the enemy so that we live in the fullness of God’s love.
When temptation comes, instead of being afraid, we look the enemy in the face and say “No, in the power of the blood of Christ I stand strong against your schemes. I command you to flee from me.”
Jesus bestowed His authority to those who choose to follow Him (Matt. 28:18). This means we have the authority to stand firm against the devil – who Jesus already defeated.
How to Overcome the Schemes of the Devil
James 4:7-8 says “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (ESV) This scripture is full of action that we as believers must take in order to overcome the schemes of the devil. What does it say?
We are to
- Submit to God. Easier said than done, but accomplished through perseverance of the faith. Submission to God is fundamental to all transformation in life (Rom 12:2). We need to be willing to say “Not my will, but yours be done” just as Christ did (Luke 22:42).
- Resist, resist, resist. Just because there is temptation doesn’t mean it has the power to make you fall. You truly have the free will to resist all temptation. It is a choice to cast out the thoughts and cast out the desires of the flesh to be obedient to self instead of God (1 Cor. 10:13). Often we have to resist more than once. The enemy doesn’t give up easily and neither should we.
- Draw near to God. When you feel like you successfully overcame temptation, draw near to God. More importantly, when you fail to resist, don’t pull away – draw near to God! Yahweh loves and restores. He expects change from you, but he loves so deeply as to walk with you through the struggle towards the change. (Jeremiah 29:12-14)
- Cleanse our hands. The proverbial “washing our hands” of a situation, a vice, a relationship, a selfish desire is required of us. We have to step away from the situation. Washing our hands also allows us to enter into the courts of praising our Heavenly Father – for we are called to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).
- Purify our hearts. At the end of the day, God is most concerned about the state of our hearts. For such is that, “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person (Matt 15:18 ESV). Confession of sins and turning away from them is necessary so that the enemy doesn’t have things to hold against us.
Put on the Armor of God
Ephesians 6:10-11 says “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (ESV) You have the protection of the Lord in your toolbox – but are you being cognisant enough to wear the armor of the Lord daily?
We have found that, when going to battle, having the proper protective gear on is important. Battle securely in the helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness and belt of truth. Be ready with the gospel of peace and wield the sword of the Spirit effectively. For a more in-depth look at the armor of God check out or book Behind Enemy Lines: A Discipleship Course in Spiritual Warfare.
Get Close to the Father
We see in James 4 that the key to conquering sin and temptation is our proximity to God. James tells us to submit and draw near to God. Paul tells us to be strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6:10). We are NOT righteous enough, strong enough, pure enough, good enough, or anything else enough to stand on our own. If we attempt to go at the devil in our strength we’ll end up like the sons of Sceva (Acts 19). That’s a scary thought. Understand that our victory is all about our position with the Lord.
As human kids, when we did things that our parents disapproved of, we knew that we couldn’t go ask for favors. We would be afraid to be in their presence because of our shame. It’s similar with our heavenly Father.
When we are living in sin, we are embarrassed to be seen in church; we don’t spend time in prayer and worship; we don’t want to be in the Father’s presence. But the great thing about God is that He doesn’t look at us in our sin! He sees us only in through the blood of Christ. His love for us is so deep, so wide, so incredible that even when we mess everything up, He still loves us and sees us as His child. When we come to the Father with humble hearts in true repentance, He forgives and restores us to our proper place. That place is in His grace and love – in His presence.
Live as a Conqueror
If you are feeling like less than a conqueror, follow what James and Paul tell us: Submit to God; Cleanse your hands; Purify your heart; Be strong in the Lord; Put on the whole armor of God. Then you will be “more than a conqueror through him who loved us” (Rom 8:37). For nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:39).
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