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How to Resist the Devil: Overcoming Temptation as a Christian

Updated: Jun 4

Recently my hubby and I had the privilege of going to our high school daughter’s choir performance. Each year the students put on a show called the Sandie Revue, where they act out silly skits and sing songs. This year, two boys did a hilarious skit called, Shoulder Devil.


You’ve probably watched cartoons like Tom and Jerry or Sylvester and Tweety Bird where the curious cat is battling the sweet temptation by the shoulder devil to do the wrong thing and eat the little bird, but the angel is instructing him to resist the devil and do the right thing.



good verses evil, shoulder devil, shoulder angel


This skit was so funny to watch. One boy wore a red cape, representing Satan and would awkwardly climb up onto the shoulders of the other boy.


They demonstrated different scenes where the shoulder devil would tempt and entice the poor carrier to do all sorts of bad things, like steal from a grocery store, etc. The two would argue and wrestle with one another as the boy struggled to resist and stand under the weight of the oppressor and the accuser, while the relentless shoulder devil fought to hold on.


Occasionally, the boy would have enough, and tell the devil to get off and throw him to the ground. But the devil was evil and persistent and would climb right back on.

This silly show demonstrated the internal battle we all face and painted a clear picture of the reality of this spiritual struggle. Although funny to watch theatrically, it’s not all that comical in reality.

 




The truth is, we all have our shoulder devils who try to lead each one of us astray, don’t we? The weight can be crippling and the pressure crushing at times. Ultimately, it is the relentless pressure that often causes us to cave and give in.

At school, there is persistent peer pressure to cheat on that assignment or try something you shouldn’t. At work, there is performance pressure to lie about your progress or gossip about that employee. At home, there is pressure to look at something you shouldn’t or buy something you can’t afford. Pressure causes weakness in our flesh and the enemy knows this. Pressure causes us to give in to temptation, rather than resist it.


That persistent nagging voice urges us to pridefully take matters into our own hands rather than seek God and rely on His strength and power. The weight of giving into sin is heavy and it’s easy to become a slave to it. When you allow the enemy’s voice to become your master, you veer away from serving and following Jesus.


But there is hope!


Although we all face temptation, God provides an escape and a way out. It’s up to us whether or not we choose and follow that path. Temptation in itself is not sin. Yielding to it is.


“No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it.” (CSB) 1 Corinthians 10:13


Jesus makes a way for us to be free from the weight of sin and death. He says in Matthew 11:28-30

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

When we become yoked with Jesus, he carries the weight. He lifts the pressure.

Jesus offers all who are weary to come to Him and learn how to live life to the fullest; rest from the futile and crushing burdens from fraudulent religious systems, and an opportunity to partner and yoke with Him in the ventures of our lives.


What makes Jesus’ yoke easy and His burden light is that in Jesus’ own active obedience (i.e., His perfect fulfillment of the Law of God), He carried the burden that we were meant to carry. His perfect obedience is applied (imputed) to us through faith, just as His righteousness was exchanged for our sin at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our obedience to Jesus then becomes our “spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).


Furthermore, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who works in our lives to mold us into the image of Christ, thereby making the yoke of Jesus easy and His burden light. The life lived by faith is a much lighter yoke and a much easier burden to carry than the heavy and burdensome yoke of self-righteousness under which some continually strive to make themselves acceptable to God through works.


We have a helper, we have a teacher, we have a Savior. We are not alone in this battle of good vs evil. Jesus has paved the way for us to be victorious through his victory over sin and death. Although we currently battle, the war is already won. Yes, the enemy is always on our backs, but as believers, Jesus lives in our hearts and God is always at our side. He never leaves us, nor forsakes us, even when we resist him.


In John 14:16 Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit. The Bible verse says,

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, That He may abide with you forever"


We have the Holy Spirit as our conscience and our guide, he’s like our own little Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio—our little shoulder angel who aims to keeps us out of trouble and off of Temptation Island, so long as we listen and obey his instruction.


In the same way, Jiminy Cricket followed after the obstinate boy seeking to save him from destruction, distraction, deception, and deviation, God passionately pursues his people. Despite our disobedience and our attempts to run from God, he is persistent in chasing us down because He never gives up on us. He is faithful to forgive us time and time again because his love for us is unconditional and He is a good, good Father.





Even when we’re foolish, reckless, or give up on ourselves, His love never fails. Perhaps you’ve made some mistakes, you’ve given in to some temptations, you’ve failed some tests, God still loves you. And you’re worth pursuing. Run to the Father! His arms are always open wide.



pinocchio and geppetto hugging, a father's love, God's love

Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide


We also have the Bible to teach us and instruct us.

 

How do we resist that shoulder devil and overcome temptation from the enemy?


Let’s look to Scripture to see how Jesus, the angel of the Lord, did it and modeled victory for us.


The Temptation of Jesus:


The Test (Matthew 4:1-11 MSG)

4 1-3 Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”

4 Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”

5-6 For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”

7 Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”

8-9 For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”

10 Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”

11 The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.



jesus in the wilderness images, the temptation of jesus


God allows his children to be tempted just as he allowed His Son, Jesus to be tempted and the Israelites.


The Lord led the Israelites in the desert 40 years to humble them and test in order to know what was in their hearts, and whether or not they would keep his commands.


At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he is subjected to a similar test and shows himself to be the true Israelite who lives on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. And whereas Adam failed the great test and plunged the whole race into sin, Jesus was faithful and thus demonstrated his qualification to become the Saviour for all who receive him. Jesus needed to overcome temptation so that he could become our merciful and faithful high priest, able to help those who are being tempted. Jesus became the model for all believers who are being tempted by the devil.


God tests his people, but it is the devil who tempts people to do evil. And when we overcome temptation, God sends his angels to meet our needs.

 

Just as God gave the Israelites manna in a supernatural way in the desert, so also people today must rely on God for spiritual nourishment and refreshment. Jesus relied on his Father, not his own miracle power, for provision and protection in the wilderness.

 

Jesus quoted Scripture and commanded the enemy to flee from him during his time of testing and temptation. We must be aware that the enemy quoted scripture too, although he twisted it.

We need to know what Scripture says so that we can stand firmly and victoriously on the word of God.


So what does the Bible tell us about spiritual warfare?

 

James 4:7-10

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 


The enemy tempts us in 3 ways. He tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden in this way and also Jesus in the wilderness.


  1. The lust of the flesh.

  2. The lust of the eyes.

  3. And the pride of life.

 

How do we Resist the devil?


God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

These verses give ten commands for rooting out the sinful attitude of pride in our hearts.

We Resist the devil by humbling ourselves before God and by putting on the armor of God, our weapon of defense.



armor of god images


Paul draws attention to the unseen world, in describing the spiritual battle that takes place against evil in the heavenly realms.

In this battle, human effort is inadequate but God’s power is invincible.


We don’t lash out against human opponents as though they are the real enemy, nor do we assume the battle can be fought using merely human resources.


We must stand firm in the word of God as individual soldiers withstanding assault.


Brute force doesn’t win this battle. The warrior’s character is their defense.

The message of the gospel is connected with the protective and supportive footgear of the Roman soldier and the shield that puts out flame-tipped arrows.

This battle is spiritual and must be fought in God’s strength, depending on the word and God through prayer and the Spirit.

 

7 Bible Verses to Read When Facing Temptation

James 1:13-14

Luke 4:13

Hebrews 4:15

Matthew 6:13

Matthew 26:41

1 Corinthians 10:13

1 John 2:1-2


Let me pray for you.

 

Lord, we know that we have an enemy who wants to weigh us down in this spiritual battle of good versus evil. We thank you for the victory we have in Christ and that we are not alone in warfare. Help us, empower us, and equip us, Holy Spirit to resist the devil and his temptations. Remind us to suit up in the armor of God and stand on the word of God daily, so that we can withstand the attacks of the enemy. Thank you, Jesus, for defeating Satan and overcoming sin and death for us on the cross, and for modeling for us how to resist the devil and overcome temptation through your victory.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 


I pray this message was a blessing and an encouragement for you.

Please visit my website below to learn more about me, my Christian books, and my podcast!


God bless,

Mistie House

Award-Winning Christian Author and host of the Beloved Bride Christian women's podcast.

 

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