By Chad Napier, Crosswalk.com
The believer has a regular and persistent adversary in the devil. He is the “ruler of this world” and the force behind “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” As 1 John 2:16 rightly discerned, these desires are “not of the Father, but [are] of the world.” His primary desire is for man to never realize the saving grace and forgiveness found under the blood of Jesus Christ. He devises plans of opposition and destruction for the faithful life of the believer.
Jesus informed Peter in Luke 22:31, “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.” Thus, his desire is to thwart and hinder the growth and impact of the child of God to the point of uselessness. So, what does our great adversary not want in the life of a believer?
1. Knowledge of Scripture
The devil loves a good argument upon which we base our belief or stance upon what “grandmother always said” or even “what the pastor preached about.” We fight our battles with the armaments of the Holy Spirit as outlined by the Word of God in Ephesians 6. Notice the strategy of the devil in Matthew 4:1-11 when he confronted our Savior in His most vulnerable physical state following a period of fasting in the wilderness. He first perverted scripture to have him turn stones into bread. He then desired Jesus to tempt the Lord by jumping off a pinnacle of the temple. Finally, the devil tempted our Savior to circumvent the will of the Heavenly Father by worshipping him.
In each instance, our Savior quoted scripture and the “devil leaveth him.” In 2 Timothy 2:15, we are advised to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
2. True Worship
The prince of this world doesn’t mind our clapping to the tune of the latest Lauren Daigle song. He couldn’t care less about us lifting our hands and shouting “amen” toward the rafters of the church. What he could do without is our true worship of Jesus Christ for who He is in our lives - Lord, King, and Savior. John 4:23-24 contains the words of Jesus preparing the people following Pentecost when “true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth” because “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
When we glorify or magnify Christ, space and opportunity are withheld from anything being attributed to the hands and power of man. Our worship is founded on the warranted gratitude and thankfulness toward the glorification of our Savior. What we do and how we do it is by the leading of the Holy Ghost and cannot be conjured by the devices of man. We praise Him for the righteousness He has bestowed upon our lives in salvation and our continued sanctification through the power of the Holy Spirit. We realize it is the truth because our life prior to salvation was rooted in falsified and manipulated self-righteousness, which continually failed. False worship is celebrated by the devil because it is an objectified show confined to a corporate service and has no bearing on the way the person lives his or her life outside of the church doors. There is no “staying power” in the might of man. Thus, our enemy desires us to engage in a manipulated worship powered by man and the world.
3. Bible Preaching
The devil is not concerned over our pastors who preach from the latest self-help book or pass on the human wisdom he gained from the denominational seminar on the practical approach to building up a church in 2022. The devil laughs at the jokes from the pulpit with the congregation because they give respite to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. He would be glad if every church hour was filled with such foolish nonsense instead of what “thus sayeth the Word of God.”
Paul’s advice to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2 to “preach the word” whether it’s popular among the people or wanted by them is still the advice to preachers today. The devil loves the preacher who does not “endure sound doctrine” and allows “their own lust” to succumb to “itching ears.” The listening congregation feels comfortable in his or her sin and is given a false sense of security by the de facto preaching of the acceptance of a sinful lifestyle.
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4. Being about the Father’s Business
How would you define “your business”? The Lord understands the need to work a job to make a necessary wage for your family, but what portion of your “free time” is spent on the “Father’s business”? We often use the excuse about the lack of time, but how many hours are wasted on social media or watching television? The devil loves when the church is consumed with the business affairs of the world. Unbeknownst to his parents, Jesus, at the age of 12, escaped to the temple to have discourse among the doctors. After three days, he was found by Mary and Joseph. When asked why He would do this do them, he calmly asked, “Didn't you know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Luke 2:43-49.
The entire life of Jesus was being about His Father’s business. His teachings of love, compassion, humility, and rebirth were all part of the providential plan of the Heavenly Father. Most importantly, His sacrifice upon the cross as our penalty for sin and resurrection overpowering death was ordered from the beginning of time. When we are not “about [our] Father’s business,” we are all about the world’s business.
5. Healthy Relationships
Our closest friendships should be with fellow Christians. These are the relationships that foster our growth and encourage accountability as the proverb teaches that “iron sharpens iron.”
In Hebrews 10:25, the writer noted the importance of “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” These appointed meetings are not meant to be solely during scheduled church meetings. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are who we go out to dine with and invite to cookouts at our homes. The purpose is the necessary exhortation of one another. The devil does not want our contact list to consist solely of “leather-backed” believers. On the contrary, he would love the church to be among the world and his people Monday through Saturday.
6. Tender Hearts
As we grow older and live longer upon the earth, our sensitivity level grows less and less without the sealing of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Jesus placed great emphasis on the humble and tender hearts of children when He taught about those who will “enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
In Matthew 18:3-4, he utilized the phrases of becoming “as little children” and humbling oneself “as this little child” in answering the disciples’ question of “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Similarly, while speaking in parables in Matthew 13, Jesus taught about the importance of the soil to the sowed seed. The seed sown in “stony places” withered away “because they had no root.” Those who “fell among thorns” were choked out. The heart of the young and humble are the desired ground because the soil has not been hardened by the devices of the world or full of so much world that there is no room for the word of God. Thus, the devil does not want the fertile ground and desires man to be sensitized by the world as soon as possible.
Paul wrote to the church in 1 Corinthians 14:40 to “let all things be done decently and in order.” The World of God establishes the order of our churches, our homes, our business relationships, and our friendships. Further, the scripture molds our priorities and portions our time. The matters of the kingdom are to take priority over any worldly obligations. Anything out of sequence or order gives rise and room for the devil to work in our lives. For example, placing ourselves in “unequally yoked” relationships, whether in marriage or business, allows the unsaved individual to have undue influence over our decisions. In Psalm 119:133, the prayer was for the Lord to “order [his] steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”
8. Being Known
If we are known by the Heavenly Father, we are known by the devil. After “God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul” in Acts 19, a few of the vagabond Jews attempted to cast out demons in the name of Jesus Christ. They used the special religious words of “we adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.” The demon spirit answered them back, saying, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” Because of their “unknown identity,” the evil spirits “leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them.” Thus, being known gives us the power and protection against the force of the devil and his spirits. They knew and respected the power contained within Jesus and Paul, but the exorcists lacked any such standing or ability.
Further, we are given freedom and strength, more so by being known by God. Paul, in Galatians 4:8-9, told the Christians, “when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.” Then, he emphasized that having the knowledge of God also means that they were “known by God” and questioned, “how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” Being known of God should attach a fear of a return to a service of the world and its elements.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Anastasiia Stiahailo
Chad Napier, while an attorney by trade, his passion is filling the pulpits of local churches when needed and engaging a broader audience with his writing. He enjoys running and golf as he completes a master’s degree at Dallas Theological Seminary. Chad lives in Jonesborough, Tennessee with his wife Brandi and one-year-old Welsh Terrier LuLu.