- (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the devil cannot "make you" do anything. He can, however, tempt you, and he can also oppress you once you give into his suggestions. So just how does this whole temptation thing play out, especially as it relates to the role of the devil?
To begin with, let's remember that the devil was originally one of God's good angels. Then he went rogue, and a third of the angels went with this rebel. But don't forget, the devil is only one angel. Powerful? Of course. But he can only be in one place at one time. He is not omnipresent like God.
This is where the other evil spirits (demons) come in. They are his posse and his servants of iniquity. It's a good thing we don't see them. I don't think we would handle it very well. But God is always with His children, and God's angels are also protecting us and watching over us.
So how do demons spend their time? Well, read the New Testament and you will get a pretty good idea. They mess with people in a variety of ways. But of course their biggest goal is to keep people from knowing Jesus as Savior. When someone becomes a Christian, the devil instantly loses his footing in that person's life.
There is often a progression which the demons seem to follow when it comes to temptation. They learned it from their master, Satan. Do you remember the nature of Adam and Eve's temptation in the Garden of Eden? The eyes were seduced after the mind had started to embrace Satan's lies, and finally the body also engaged in sin by eating the fruit. The boundaries were blurred in the mind; the forbidden fruit was gazed upon lustfully, and the body then dove right into it.
A similar thing happened with King David. (see 2 Samuel 11:1-5) He looked out from the roof of his palace and saw a beautiful woman bathing. He entertained some forbidden ideas in his mind. And finally, he sealed the deal with his body. The devil and his demons target the eyes, the mind and the body. And human beings experience temptation on each of those levels. As man gives into one, the next temptation begins to wrap itself around him. And the demons pounce on each one of man's sinful choices, which in turn draw him deeper into depravity.
Can the devil make a believer sin? No. But his minions gain an opening into a believer's life once a boundary line is crossed. For example, Scripture teaches us, "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." (Ephesians 4:26,27) The sin of going to bed at night angry opens the door for Satan and his demons to disturb your heart and your peace of mind.
Think about the last time you went to bed angry. You didn't sleep well, and the minute you woke up, your thoughts were still on that issue or that person. Why? Because your subconscious was stewing over it all night, and the demons were having a heyday while you were trying to get some rest.
Unconfessed sin opens the door for the devil to bother believers. This is one reason why it is so critical for us to keep short accounts with the Lord, especially if we have allowed our eyes, mind or body to embrace something sinful. As Christians, we place ourselves in harms way when we willfully step into the devil's playground.
Job said, "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman." (Job 31:1) He didn't want to even start the chain of events that would surely follow such lust. We live in a day where the eyes of man are constantly bombarded with images which are dangerous to his spiritual health. Unless a person guards his eyes and his heart, it is easy to fall victim to wayward viewing and impure thinking. That is the nature of man. And demons have witnessed human tendencies and weaknesses for many centuries.
The wellspring of God's grace flows the strongest in us when we are careful to only look upon things which are wholesome, and to only think about things that are righteous. This is a daily battle for every Christian. No wonder the words "disciple" and "discipline" are so interwoven. Christianity involves more than believing in Jesus. It involves following Him with our eyes, our mind, and our body. That is the path of discipleship, and it is fraught with danger along the way.
So how is your Christian life going? If you want to get a quick snapshot of it, examine your recent viewing and thinking. What you gaze upon and what you think about will determine the pattern of your life, and your body will tend to dive into whatever has become the strongest influence upon your eyes and your mind. There is a path of godliness, and there is a path of sinfulness. If left to ourselves, every single one of us would choose the sinful path all the time.
God comes to us in His grace and mercy and He forgives us. Through faith in Jesus, our sins are washed away. And then the battle really heats up. If we thought we faced temptations before we knew Christ, it is nothing compared to what happens after we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The demons go nuts when that happens. They hate Christ, and they detest Christians. Therefore, they target Christians more than anyone else. The cross of Calvary is where the devil and his demons were defeated, and they know it. (see Colossians 2:15)
The ebb and flow of your soul is closely connected with the choices you make on a daily basis. By choosing things that are pleasing to the Lord, you as a believer experience a greater degree of God's peace and joy. It is our privilege as believers to commit our eyes, mind and body to the One who gave His life on the cross for our salvation. Likewise, by choosing to view things and think about things which fuel sinful passions, we open our life to being oppressed by demons. These evil angels are "the hyenas of the spiritual world" so to speak. They are dark and sinister, and they attack whenever they are handed an opportunity.
Demons were busy in biblical times, and they remain just as active in the world today. The good news for believers is that we have the eternal victory in Jesus our Savior. The demons can only wish they were on the winning team. Their master was defeated by our Savior, and they know they are on the losing end of Christ's victory. Satan is a created being. God is the Creator. God is all-powerful. Satan's power, however, is limited. The devil is like a "pit bull on a leash." And God is holding the leash.
Therefore, Christians don't need to become obsessed with demons. Far from it. There are so many pure things to reflect upon and so many holy endeavors to pursue. We do of course need to be aware of the devil and his forces, (see Ephesians 6:10-12) but we don't need to think too much about their wicked pursuits. After all, we serve the King of Kings. We are headed to a glorious eternity with Him. Meanwhile, the demons have nothing but pain and punishment in their future. (see 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6)
No wonder they are so terrified of Christ, and so ticked off at every person and every angel who worships the Messiah.