Our Senior year in high school, we chose “Charlie’s Aunt” for our class play, and I assumed the role of Sir Francis Chesney. Between two of my scenes lay a sizable gap, so each night during this interlude another production member and I would slip away from practice to access the weight room. Over the six weeks or so before our debut, I increased my bench press maximum by 45 pounds. Resistance training didn’t make me a better actor, but it made me stronger.
As people in Christ, we are called to resist—to exert ourselves against the weight of oppression. His enemy is our enemy, so we struggle not against physical or ideological combatants, rather “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,”1 those that rise up in rebellion against God. Our battle is real, but how do we detect attacks from a silent foe we cannot see? We discern his voice of falsehood in opposition to truth—his attempts to deceive us into disbelieving God’s word or disregarding it entirely. He tempts us to think of God as less than He is, and he entices us to sate our “evil desire,”2 which leads to sin and death. All of this he does through lies.
How then do we fight this invisible battle? We stand—we are called to stand. “Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand,”3 Paul writes. We plant ourselves squarely on who the Bible says God is and who God says we are in Christ Jesus. Discerning truth, we “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”4 We “offer [ourselves] to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and [we] offer every part of [ourselves] to him as an instrument of righteousness.”5 We remain “alert and of sober mind [as our] enemy the devil prowls about … looking for someone to devour.”6 We “resist him, standing firm in the faith,”7 knowing this promise from James: “Resist the devil … and he will flee from you.”8 Then “the God of all grace … will himself restore [us] and make [us] strong, firm and steadfast.”9 We will emerge from the trial of temptation, changed—strengthened and made confident in victory—for we stand in Christ, and Jesus always wins.
“Away from me, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10)
Father, temptations lure us, and we are easily deceived. Send us your Spirit to remind us what is true and to strengthen us against him who is false. Thank you that, against deception and temptation, we need only to stand in Christ. Amen.
1 Ephesians 6:12
2 James 1:14
3 Ephesians 6:13
4 2 Corinthians 10:5
5 Romans 6:13
6 1 Peter 5:8
7 1 Peter 5:9
8 James 4:7
9 1 Peter 5:10