Genesis 3 is where all of the problems of man began, and why the evil in our world continues to this day. It is our problem with sin. This section of Scripture is one of the most important, because it deals with the temptation and the fall of the first man and woman on earth. Satan deceived Eve, and then she invited her husband into her sin. The devil is revealed in these verses of Scripture as a master deceiver. However, this means that you must become a master at discerning his deception and devices in your life. Are you a master at discerning his devices? Can you identify when you are being tempted, or when you are in the midst of spiritual warfare? This passage will give you tremendous insights into Satan’s devices and what to watch out for in your lifetime war with the prince of darkness. This is what Scripture declares. “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Gen. 3:1-6).
Does Satan truly exist?
The first thing that I must address is the question, does Satan really exist? Is he a real entity, a fallen angel, or is he a mythological or allegorical figure representing evil? This is a question that is debated in the church today. This question is especially argued among churches that have moved away from teaching the Word of God. In a recent poll, 47% of professing Christians said they believed Satan was a symbol of evil, but not a real fallen angel. So, how can you determine the truth of Satan’s existence? I believe the way to answer this question is very simple. When this question comes up, what I do is simply state the fact that Jesus believed he existed, and spoke of him and his evil deeds many times. Jesus told Peter in Luke 22:31, “Simon, Simon! Indeed Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.” Was Jesus mistaken in His opinion? Did Jesus just not know the truth? I believe that Christ’s opinion is our ultimate answer to this question, because He is God come in the flesh of a man, the Messiah. He knows all things!
Peter also believed Satan existed. He said to Ananias in Acts 5:3, “Ananias why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?” Paul declared 1 Thessalonians 2:18, “Therefore we wanted to come to you-- even I, Paul, time and again-- but Satan hindered us.” In addition, the Apostle John believed that Satan existed when he said, “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:9). Each of these passages confirm that both Jesus and His disciples clearly believed in a real devil, and the power and influence he had in this world. If you can’t believe Jesus and what He said, then you have no basis for your faith at all, over this or any issue. Scripture must be the final court of arbitration regarding any question you might have. Without God’s Word being this authority in your life, you will surely be persuaded by men into error, or deceived by demonic lies. With 47% of Christians not believing the devil is a real fallen angel, it only proves that Satan is doing a pretty good job at deceiving and convincing people that he doesn’t exist. So, will you receive the testimony of Christ and the other apostles, or will you reject it?
But, what should you say when someone tells you, “I don’t believe in the Bible, or what it teaches about Satan?” At this point, I appeal to a person’s logic. I ask them, “Do you see good and evil in the world today?” Everyone always answers, “Yes,” because it’s so obvious. Then I ask them, “What do you think is the source of all the good and evil in this world?” At this point most people are stumped. They don’t know how to answer this question, because they see the good and evil in this world, but have never thought about what the source might be. At this point I explain that the source of evil is Satan, who controls men and women to follow his bidding, which is exactly what is taught in Genesis chapter 3. Then I always make sure to finish with the fact that God is the source of all the good in this world.
Was the serpent actually Satan?
Another question that comes up quite often is, was the serpent in the garden actually Satan? Or, was Satan using the serpent as his tool to bring about this temptation? I believe it was most likely the latter, because the Scripture teaches that Satan can transform himself into another form, such as an angel of light, and he can use other individuals to do his work such as false prophets. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, Paul taught, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” If Satan can transform himself into an angel of light, or use men to spread his lies, it is no problem for him to use a serpent to tempt Eve. The Scripture is clear that demonic entities can inhabit human or animal bodies (Luke 8:26-33). This is exactly what took place in this instance. Why Eve didn’t think it was unusual for a serpent to speak to her is not explained here in the text or anywhere in Scripture. For me to comment on this point, would be pure speculation.
Not only did Satan use the serpent to tempt Eve, but he also used Eve to tempt her husband to sin against the Lord. I have observed this same thing take place many times in counseling, where a spouse is used by the enemy to tempt and seek to corrupt their partner. You need to be aware of this fact, and be ready for it if this ever happens to you. When you understand this potential then you understand why Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:23, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” It is very clear from this text that Jesus thought that Peter was being influenced and used by Satan to tempt Christ not to go to the cross. We know that this was definitely the intent of Satan, because he knew what would be accomplished by the cross. So, Satan can use people in very effective ways. The important point is to not be used by the devil, or allow yourself to be influenced by him.
How does Satan tempt and wage war against you?
How do you know that you are engaged in spiritual warfare and being tempted? You are very likely engaged in spiritual warfare when you experience: temptation, condemnation when you fail, confusion and lies in your mind, or when you begin to think that God doesn’t love you anymore. This war takes place around you every day, at work, home, and even at church. Paul declared, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:10-12). This wrestling that Paul refers to is the essence of spiritual warfare. It is a spiritual fight inside of you that feels like a wrestling match, which primarily takes place in your mind and thinking. Satan’s primary tools are lies and condemnation, and these both take place regularly in your mind. The proof of this fact is declared by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 when he wrote, “I’m jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Where and how does a person get corrupted from the simplicity in Christ? In their mind! The devil would love for you to get all twisted up in your mind about how to walk with God. This is why Jesus wanted to make relationship with Him very simple. He wants you to simply love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37-40). But this is only one way Satan wants to stumble you in your Christian life. I will cover more of his devices later.
You must recognize Satan’s methods, and the means that he uses to try and tempt and stumble you. Many of these methods are laid out in this section of Scripture. He is extremely cunning and sly, as our text here in Genesis declares that, “The serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field” (Gen. 3:1). He uses well-crafted lies to condemn and cause confusion in you, or guilt you into doing things you would not ordinarily do. He uses these lies to get you to make unbiblical decisions, so he can wreak havoc in your life. His intent is to get you to a place where you are in total confusion about any decision you make, so you will get into a quandary in your mind, where you go back and forth with possible choices. When this happens, you are in the middle of spiritual warfare. Sometimes you recognize it as spiritual warfare, and other times you do not. You are listening to lies in your mind, but you think that this is just you. You feel distraught and discouraged, and you think, What is wrong with me? Then you feel condemned, because you aren’t making a decision, which only brings more confusion. This is spiritual warfare.
How do you combat this kind of spiritual warfare? Stand on the truth! Go back to the simplicity of the truth you know. God loves me! God is patient with me! God will not condemn me! God wants me to trust His Word right now. If you don’t stand on the truth of God’s Word, then you are giving place to the devil. What do I mean? Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:26-27, “‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” In the context, Paul is talking about holding resentment in the heart, not reconciling or forgiving. Then he states, if you allow the sun to go down, and you fail to seek reconciliation, you are giving place to the devil. Now this word place, is the Greek word topos, where we get our word for a topographical map. It literally means territory, or place. So, Paul was saying that the Ephesians were giving Satan a foothold in the territory of their lives. One of the best ways to illustrate this truth is by the Normandy invasion by the allies during the Second World War. When the United States and our allies invaded France on the beaches of Normandy, the Nazis did everything in their power to not allow the allies to get a foothold on the continent of Europe. Why? Because the Germans knew if we got a foothold on the European continent, we would have a base of operation to then attack them in a more effective way.
So, don’t give the devil any foothold in your life by allowing sin to continue unreconciled in your heart. Remember, when Jesus was referring to Himself said that the enemy comes, and He has “nothing in Me” (John 14:30). In other words, Satan had no foothold in His life. Satan had no place or opportunity to attack Jesus. Why? Because Jesus was sinless. This is why you should not hold resentment or consciously allow any sinful attitude or behavior in your life. If you do, then you are giving place and opportunity to the Devil to use that sin as leverage against you through guilt and condemnation. Don’t give him that opportunity. Keep your heart right before God, and stand in the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to your account by your faith in Christ (Rom. 3:21-22). Learning Satan’s methods and means of opportunity will greatly arm you for the spiritual warfare you will encounter in the future.
How did Adam and Eve give opportunity to Satan to stumble them?
This first couple made some major mistakes in their encounter with Satan, which you don’t want to repeat. These cardinal errors are clear from the encounter recorded here in Genesis 3. So, how did the devil get that opportunity and foothold in their lives? He stumbled both of them, but how? Let’s look at several ways he was successful against them.
1. Eve entertained Satan’s questioning of God’s Word.
The reason I use the word entertained in this title, is because you will never be able to stop Satan’s questioning of God’s Word in your mind, but you must dismiss it immediately, and not entertain these lies. Satan’s primary methodology is always to get you to question God’s Word, because His Word is the truth that will quench every lie of the wicked one. Therefore, get ready for it, because his questioning of God’s Word is coming your way. Satan hates God’s Word, because it is true, righteous, and fair in all that it teaches and requires. The devil is a liar from the beginning as Jesus stated in John 8:44. Every believer has the ability to refuse to entertain or dwell on his lies within their mind. If you believe the truth of God’s Word then you must reject these lies immediately. For Eve to even begin to listen to these words, and then to dialog with the ideas that Satan was proposing, was a fundamental mistake. She should have refused to even entertain the idea that God had said something that might not be true. God had only told this couple the truth from the beginning. So, when you begin to entertain thoughts that question God’s Word, you are in the midst of spiritual warfare. Most Christians don’t immediately pick up on this ploy, but it is at the heart and core of Satan’s deceptive work against you. These thoughts will go through your mind, Did God really say that? Is that what He really meant? Satan especially likes to question what God’s Word says about sinful behavior. He suggests, Is this really sinful? How could this be wrong when it feels so right? Has God indeed said that this behavior is sinful? If you begin to play with these thoughts that question God’s Word, you are headed for trouble.
There is only one sure way to keep yourself from entertaining the lies of Satan. You must know the truth of the Word of God. If you ever want to defeat the devil’s lies that attempt to stumble and tempt you, then you must know the truth to resist him. This is how Jesus defeated Satan during his temptation in the wilderness. Every time Satan tempted Jesus, He responded by quoting the Word of God right back to him (Matt. 4:1-11). By doing so, Jesus quenched these fiery darts of the wicked one. As you stand in faith using the Word of God, you too will be able to overcome the lies of Satan.
It is also important to understand that Satan knows the Word of God too. He even quoted a verse of Scripture to Jesus during this temptation in the wilderness. Scripture records, “Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’” (Matt. 4:5-7). This exchange shows you just how evil and crafty Satan is. What Satan does is quote to Jesus a verse of Scripture that was out of context, and did not apply to His situation. Yes, God has His angels ready to help and protect those who believe in Him, but God would never want a believer to ever willfully and purposely put himself in danger by throwing himself off a building. So, be careful to always balance Scripture with Scripture, because this is exactly what Jesus did. Doing so will always keep you from error (1 Cor. 2:13-16).
Also, you never want to add to or subtract from what God has said. This is another failure having to do with God’s Word. Notice Eve’s response to Satan. “And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die’” (Gen. 3:2-3). Eve had it almost right when she recounts what God told her, but then she adds in, “Nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” God said nothing about touching the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but then she turned right around and did touch it, and ate of its fruit. Remember, if you quote the Word of God, make sure that you do not play fast and loose with what God has said. We are warned about doing this many places in the Scripture. Moses told the Children of Israel, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deut. 4:2). Also, the Apostle John gives one of the stiffest warning against this sin in the book of Revelation when he wrote, “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19). Therefore, accurately learn the Word of God, and use it appropriately against the wiles of the devil.
2. Satan questions Eve’s liberty and freedom to do as she pleased.
I have found in my years of counseling Christians who have stumbled and fallen into sin, that one of the ways this happens is through Christians being tempted with their liberty. Notice how Satan twisted Eve’s liberty and stumbled her. Satan said to her, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” In other words, the devil was saying, “God said that you could eat of all the trees in the garden,” implying that even the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was available to her. Yes, she did respond by explaining that the promise of God excluded the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but the idea had already been planted in her mind that she has a right to all the trees.
This is exactly what happens to believers in the midst of spiritual warfare. Satan says to you, “You have the liberty to do this or that. This is your right. God is the One who said you can do this or that.” Not only can your liberty stumble you, but it can also stumble others by giving them a confidence to take some action, because they see you doing it. Paul warned about Christian liberty many times in the Scripture, so you should take this encouragement to heart. Paul wrote in his epistle to the Corinthians, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Cor. 6:12). Often believers are brought under the power and control of what they feel is lawful to do. I have counseled many believers who believed that they had the liberty to drink one glass of alcohol, but then they are brought under the power of that alcohol, and then they have two or three more glasses. The next thing that happens is they begin to flirt with the waitress, or they get into an argument with someone, and the evening goes downhill from there. Their liberty has now caused them to sin. This is how Christian liberty can draw you into sinning, and Satan stands back and laughs at you every time.
Paul also said in Galatians 5:13, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh.” Liberty can often be used as an occasion or an opportunity for the flesh to take over inside of you. Remember, your flesh is stronger than your will to resist it, which is why you must be very careful with your liberty. Paul said of himself and his own struggle with the flesh, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Rom. 7:15-18). This is the record of Paul’s own struggle with his flesh before he came to realize that he could surrender to the Holy Spirit. He goes on to explain later in Romans 8, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). The power of the Spirit in Paul’s life is how he gained true freedom from the power of his sin nature that wanted to bring him into bondage. So, be careful for any area of Christian liberty, and don’t allow yourself to be tempted in these areas.
3. Satan denies there is any danger in what God has forbidden.
This attack upon Eve was a direct frontal assault upon God’s character of truth. Satan directly contradicts the truth that God has told her. He says, “You won’t die!” The devil in essence is calling God a liar. He declared, that what God had said would not happen. Satan is very good at this tactic. How can I be so sure? Think of how many people have said to you one of these statements. “There is no heaven or hell!” “I don’t believe that anything is sinful!” “There is no God!” “You Christians have just made up a God that soothes your own conscience.” Statements like these and many others like them only prove that Satan has effectively contradicted the Word of God, and convinced people of his lies. So, when Eve heard Satan say, “You will not surely die,” she began to believe him.
People are also very effective witnesses for the devil in his attempt to stumble you. Think of the times that a person you know comes to you and says, Let’s go do ______.” And you respond, “No, I don’t really want to, because that isn’t right.” They respond to you, “Oh, it’s not going to kill you.” “How can it hurt this once?” However, I can’t count how many times in counseling that people have told me, “I just thought one look at that porn wouldn’t hurt me. But now I’m caught.” Or, others say, “I didn’t think one drink, or one joint was going to hurt me, but now I’m hooked.” Or, the man or woman who is asked on a date by a non-Christian and they think, “How could one date hurt? I need to get out sometimes, and live a little.” But then they get emotionally involved with that person, and they are caught. You see, Satan always begins with a little rationalization in your mind, and then you become persuaded that you can get away with it. But remember, if God forbids an action, or warns you to stay away from some behavior, He knows what He is talking about. God is not the liar! When He says there is a consequence for sin, He means it. There is always a consequence for disobeying God. In Numbers 23:19 it declares, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” In other words, when God says something, He means it. He is going to do exactly what He says. He is not the liar, Satan is! You need to then listen for the lies that come into your head, and resist them with the truth of God’s Word. If you do, you will be successful in spiritual warfare.
4. Satan suggests that there is an advantage to disobeying God.
What was the advantage to disobeying God that Satan suggested to Eve? It was that she could become like God. The devil said, “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Isn’t this suggestion the same idea that caused Satan to fall? Think about this. Note the pride in the heart of Satan that made him think that he could be like God. Satan appealed to this same pride in Eve to capture her heart. Isaiah records for us what Satan said in his heart in Isaiah 14:13-14. He declared, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” The power and persuasion of Satan’s appeal to Eve’s desire to be like God is captivating. He is telling her that she can be something, by having the same knowledge as God. Satan wants to persuade her that it will be an advantage to her, so do what I’m suggesting and disobey God. Ask yourself, was there anything beneficial about knowing evil?
Aren’t these the exact thoughts and rationales that pass through people’s minds just before they sin? Oh, this will be good for me to commit adultery, because then I can have two people to sleep with at the same time. It’s a good thing to get high with this drug, so I don’t have to feel so bad all the time. It is right for me to hold this resentment, because that person should never have hurt me this way. These kinds of thoughts are common place as a person begins to rationalize their sin. But don’t be fooled, sin has always brought death to your soul, and it always will. The Scripture is emphatic and unequivocal, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Spiritual death is not an advantageous thing for anyone!
5. Satan challenges God’s love.
Another way Satan got a foothold in Eve’s mind is that he directly challenged God’s love and goodness toward her. He proposed that God was holding out on this couple by not allowing them access to this one tree. Satan said in verse 5, “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Satan declared that not only is there an advantage to disobeying God’s command, but he also gives the rationale for doing so. It’s because God doesn’t really care about you, and He is actually trying to keep you from becoming all that you could be - which is to be just like Him. God doesn’t want to protect you from the fruit of this tree, but is trying to harm you. These suggestions are how Satan actually leads a person into questioning the love of God.
Questioning the love of God is one of Satan's favorite tactics and devices to try to keep you from trusting God. You see, if you don’t believe God loves and cares about you, then how can you trust Him? Believing God’s love for you and trusting Him, always go together in a person’s mind. David knew this truth and wrote, “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Ps. 36:7). Satan’s ultimate aim is to keep you from fully trusting the Lord. This is why he constantly questions the love of God. This is also why one of the primary messages of Christ’s ministry was revealing and asserting the love that the Father has toward all mankind. This is why Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus said again, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9). In the garden Jesus also prayed, “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17:23). These are just a few of the times that Jesus confirmed the Father’s love for all men.
Satan is relentless in his attack upon the love of God. Each of us have had thoughts that go through our minds which question God’s love. This especially occurs when some tragedy strikes your family or a community somewhere in the world, or we lose our job, or someone we care about betrays us. We think, Why did God let this happen to me? Why didn’t God protect that person? Why didn’t God intervene? At that moment you are under attack. How do you get through this moment? The answer is simple. Go back to the ultimate practical proof of God’s love which is the cross of Jesus Christ! This is the ultimate answer to this question. Why? Because I can’t answer every why question that comes into my head, but I can go back to this ultimate fact of history. Jesus Christ died for me and the entire world, even when people were spitting in His face and cursing Him! This is the fact; He paid the price for my sin and the sin of the whole world! Stand on this fact. Never forget this fact. It is your lifeline, because it is the ultimate proof that God loves you! Don’t ever forget this simple truth.
Remember, God is not the source of your problems. Don’t blame Him for your troubles. He is the source of your answers and the solution to your difficulties. In reality, Satan is the source of your troubles. People that Satan controls are the source of your problems. In addition, you must realize that you too are the source of your difficulties in this life, not God. If you start down the road of questioning God’s love, you will be listening to the lies of the wicked one.
6. Satan loves it when you make decisions based on your feelings and desires.
Another way Eve was stumbled was when she yielded to what she saw, felt and desired. She was swayed by her feelings, instead of obeying God’s command. This is clearly indicated by the statement, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” So often believers have stumbled because they are feeling-oriented rather than commandment-oriented. Maturity in your Christian life is revealed when you obey God’s command even when you don’t feel like it. One of the best indicators of this principle is in the area of forgiveness. Personally, I have never felt like forgiving anyone. Why? Because I’m angry with that person because of how they have treated me. But you must choose to forgive even when you don’t feel like forgiving (Matt. 6:14). Why? Because God commanded you to forgive, or He will not forgive you. After you forgive, feelings of forgiveness will come. I don’t feel like praying sometimes, but I do because God has commanded me to come to Him in prayer (Matt. 7:7). I don’t feel like reading my Bible sometimes, but God has commanded me to seek His face (Deut. 17:18-19).
In addition, the Apostle James taught, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:13-15). Notice how someone is drawn away to sin. It is by their own “desires and enticed.” The enticement is definitely from the devil, but he also uses your own desires very effectively in the temptation. This is how we lived before coming to Christ. Paul said that, “You He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (Eph. 2:1-3). We used to conduct our lives by “the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.” Whatever felt good and pleased our flesh, that is how we lived. Yet in Christ we must live differently. God’s way is becoming commandment oriented instead of feeling oriented. Had Eve done this, she would not have sinned. So, don’t be led by your feelings, the desires of your flesh, or what your mind tells you is best. Let God’s commands guide your decisions.
7. Adam listened to his wife, instead of remembering the command of God.
Eve was deceived, but Adam willingly chose to listen to his wife and partake of the forbidden fruit. Each of us has a responsibility to do what God has commanded us to do. Each of us has an individual command given to us by God to follow Him. Who will influence and persuade you? Will it be God, a spouse, or a friend? Will you be a people pleaser, or a Father pleaser? Adam listened to his wife and took of the fruit, because she was the one who gave it to him. This example should give every married person, and those who have very close friends, a clear warning: don’t let anyone stumble you in any way from following the Lord. You have been called to follow the Lord, no matter what someone else chooses to do. Remember the words of Jesus who said to Peter who was overly concerned about what the Apostle John was going to do after Jesus departed. Jesus said, “Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, ‘But Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me’” (John 21:21-22). The decision to follow the Lord is a personal one; therefore, choose to always be faithful to the call of God upon your life, regardless of what others do.
How do you resist and fight against the devil?
One of the most important things you need to have in dealing with spiritual warfare is a plan for how you can resist him. Why? Because there is demonic activity that surrounds you every day. You are in a spiritual battle with principalities and powers that want to lie, tempt, and distract you from the goals that God has set for you. So, let’s look at some basic ways to resist the enemy of your soul.
1. Begin by believing that God has already set you free from Satan’s control over you.
The first step in your plan to resist the devil is to realize that he is a defeated foe! The death of Christ on the cross, and His subsequent resurrection, was the moment of Satan’s defeat! Today this fallen angel has no control over you as a believer any more. Paul declared concerning Christ that, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14). Because of the redemption won through Christ’s death and resurrection, you have forgiveness for all your sins, and all of the guilt that held you captive in the kingdom of darkness. He has opened the door to His kingdom and invited you in, and filled you with the power of the Holy Spirit. This fact is what has now delivered you from Satan’s power. The word used in this passage for power is the Greek word exousia, which means authority, control, or influence. This means that the devil’s authority and control over you has been broken by the power of God. In Christ, you are free today, because of the deliverance of God’s grace and mercy. Rejoice in this freedom, and stand in the victory you have today!
Paul taught the same thing to the Colossian church when he wrote, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:13-15). Notice again, Paul connects the fact that you have been forgiven for your sins by Christ’s death on the cross, with the disarming of principalities and powers. These principalities and powers are the different rankings of demonic forces. The important thing to understand is that the word disarmed means to take away his weapons, and to cast them aside, or to render them harmless by stripping away these weapons from his hands. This is the victory you possess today in Christ. If you truly believe that this victory is yours, then you will rejoice in faith that God has defeated Satan by the cross of Jesus Christ. These truths will always cause you to stand and resist Satan and all his attacks upon you.
Note the similar message in the epistle to the Hebrews. The apostle declared, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).” Notice, the apostle is very clear about the fact that Jesus has destroyed his power over you. The Greek word for destroyed literally means to render impotent. That is a powerful Greek word! Jesus has rendered him powerless over any and all who believe. So, stand on this truth in faith the next time you sense you are in spiritual warfare. Declare to God in prayer that you believe that He has delivered you from Satan’s authority, and has rendered his weapons as impotent against you, simply because you are in Christ. When you stand in faith like this, no weapon formed against you shall prosper (Is. 54:17).
But you may be thinking, If this is all true, why do I have so much trouble with temptation and spiritual warfare? The answer is simple. It is because you either don’t know that you have been delivered from Satan’s authority and influence, or you don’t believe it. If either case is true, you won’t be winning any battles against the demonic forces that are all around you. Satan is trying to lie and convince you that you are still under his control and influence. This is why you must begin by believing that God has already won the victory over your arch-enemy. As Jesus said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). All that was necessary to set you free from your sins, your sin nature, and the one who tempts you to sin, is accomplished! It is done!
2. Jesus has given you all authority over the supernatural power of the enemy.
Once you understand and believe that Satan has no control over you any more, the next part of your plan to resist him is essential. Step two is to pray and take authority over all demonic forces that are around you, and command them to cease their activity. This is how you fight and resist in the spiritual realm. Jesus announced this right and responsibility to His disciples when He said, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19). Here is your right and authority in Jesus’ name to resist all that the devil seeks to do to hinder you. It is important to mention that the words authority and power in this verse are two similar words for power. Jesus chose these words deliberately to emphasize the meaning and application of these words. The word authority is the word exousia which I mentioned earlier. This word means authority, control, or influence. Remember in Colossians 1:13, Paul said that all believers have been forever delivered from Satan’s authority (exousia). But here Jesus is teaching that you have been given all authority over all of Satan’s power. The second word referring to Satan’s power is the Greek word dynamis which refers to the supernatural strength and power of Satan. What a promise is this! You have all authority over all of the supernatural power of the wicked one. The best way to illustrate and understand these two words is one you are familiar with. When a police officer stands in the middle of an intersection directing traffic, he has the authority of his badge and uniform, which is why people obey him. The officer obviously does not have greater power or strength over the cars he is directing in the intersection, but they obey him because he has the authority to command them. In the same manner, believers do not have greater power than Satan, but we do have authority in Jesus’ name to say stop. This is your right as a child of God, to stand and hold up your hand and command the devil to stop the things he is trying to do around you or your loved ones. This authority is vital for you to take if you want to be victorious in resisting the works of the devil.
3. Receive the infilling power of the Holy Spirit.
When you believe that Satan is a conquered foe, and you have authority in Jesus’ name to resist him, one more thing is essential. You need the infilling of the Holy Spirit to empower you to resist. God promised His people that, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him” (Is. 59:19). Now who can resist a flood that is moving across the land? No one can, because the power of flood waters is beyond the strength of one man to stop them. But, when the Spirit of the Lord gets involved, He will enable you to do things that are beyond your ability and strength. If God can control the waters of Noah’s flood, He can handle the flood of evil that the devil brings your way. God’s Spirit inside of you is what enables you to stand in faith and take the authority given to you in Jesus’ name. This is why this step in your plan to resist Satan is so important.
This is also why Jesus commanded His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the infilling of the Spirit after His ascension. He told them, “Not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’” (Acts 1:4-5). Then Jesus told them why they needed this baptism of the Holy Spirit. He said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The word for power that Jesus used here is very, very important. It is the word dynamis which means the supernatural power of God’s Spirit. God’s supernatural power can come to live inside of you. This fullness of the Spirit is what emboldens you to share your faith with others, but it is also essential for your personal boldness in spiritual warfare. If you have never asked for this baptism of the Holy Spirit, I implore you to stop now, and cry out for this infilling of the Spirit. Jesus promised, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11:13)! The word ask in this verse is in the present tense, which means that those who continually ask for His Spirit will be filled! Ask Him now!
4. Recognize Satan’s tactics and devices.
After you have received the infilling of God’s Holy Spirit, and you realize the authority you have over all the attacks of the wicked one, now you need to be on guard against Satan’s tactics and devices against you. In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul told this church to beware, “Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” In the context of this warning, you will see that the Corinthians were hesitant to forgive a man that had committed a grave sin, but had now repented. Paul encouraged them to forgive him, and receive this person back into fellowship. If they did not forgive him, Satan would gain an obvious advantage. What advantage? He could lie to this man, and try to convince him that he had gone too far and forgiveness was not possible. Or, Satan could tell him that all Christians are hypocrites, and try to turn him away from the faith. We must understand Satan’s devices, so we won’t give him any advantage.
What are some other devices Satan uses? We have already looked at several of the devil’s devices at the beginning of this study. He is subtle in all of the lies that he perpetrates upon believers. He twists God’s Word to try to make it say things that the Father never intended. As He twists God’s Word, he is attempting to sow doubt inside of you, so you will disobey God and sin. He tells you that you know more than God, and you should make your own decisions on some moral question. The devil tells you that you deserve the pleasure you are desiring, and tries to persuade you that God is mean and doesn’t want you to have this sinful thing. Satan uses fear, guilt, and your own lusts against you as he tempts you to rebel against God. When you do sin, then the wicked one condemns you and tries to drive a wedge between you and your heavenly Father. His favorite tactic is to make you think that now there is no way back, that you have gone too far and there is now no forgiveness. Satan then tries to convince you that you have committed the unpardonable sin. But you must always remember what Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter” (Mark 3:28). According to Jesus, how many sins will be forgiven? All sins will be forgiven! All you have to do is sincerely ask for God’s forgiveness, and He will grant it. Jesus also said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8). How many will receive? Everyone who asks! Ask Him now!
5. Submit yourself to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
This step for resisting Satan is the simplicity of how to win in spiritual warfare. James declared, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). This verse is in the imperative in the Greek, which means it is a divine command. God commands you to take this action. This is not optional. You must resist the devil if you are to succeed as a believer. If you surrender yourself under the control of God, and are filled with the Holy Spirit, and by faith take authority over Satan, he will flee from you. Notice it doesn’t say he might flee from you. No, James declares that he will flee from you. This is probably the simplest and easiest way to win in the spiritual warfare that you will encounter as a believer. Just submit yourself to God, and yield control over your life to Him. Submit to God’s Word, and obey anything God has told you to do. Submit your mind and thoughts to your heavenly Father, and listen to Him alone. When you yield yourself to God in this manner, Satan has lost any ability to gain a foot-hold in your life.
Then resist Satan in prayer and with the Word of God. One important note is this word resist. The Greek word for resist literally means to become hostile toward. This is a fighting word. It means you must oppose him, set yourself against him, or to stand up against him. Why is this important to understand? Because you are in a spiritual battle, and no soldier can ever be passive. You must become aggressive so you can win this war. A soldier in a war doesn’t hide out in his barracks, but is in the fight to take territory that has been seized by the enemy. You are a citizen of a heavenly country, and called by your King to go to war, and to fight for the souls of men.
How do you fight in this war? First, by taking the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God and standing on this truth for yourself and your own victorious standing in Christ. You must also speak the truth to set free other captives who are held by the Prince of Darkness. You must do the same with other believers. When you meet a believer who is caught by one of Satan’s lies, you must share God’s Word with them, which is how you fight the spiritual battle going on in that person’s life. Fight lies with the truth! I have said countless times to people caught in lies, “That is a lie of Satan! Let me show you what God has said.” Identify the lies of the enemy, and speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). When someone says, “I’m so depressed, because I don’t believe God could ever forgive me for what I’ve done,” resist this lie and encourage that person, that if they confess their sins, God will be faithful and just to forgive them all their sin (1 John 1:9). Help them to stand on the truth.
In addition, you must fight aggressively in prayer. First, when you are personally caught in your own mind with doubt or discouragement, you need to pray for yourself. Determine the lie you are believing by comparing your thoughts with the Word of God. Stand on the truth that God has spoken. This is how you resist him in your own life. This is why Paul told the Corinthians, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5). This weapon of prayer is mighty, enabling you to pull down strongholds and bring every thought into submission to Christ. Also, when you know of a friend or family member who is captive to the devil’s lies, you need to pray and take authority over Satan’s work that is blinding them to the truth (2 Cor. 4:4). Then go and speak this same truth to them. This is how you fight and resist the devil and his work in other people’s lives. Praying for yourself and those you care about is a mighty weapon in the hand of a believer. This is what it means to be in the fight! So, become the warrior that God has called you to be!
Simply put on the whole armor of God if you want to win in your wrestling match with the powers of darkness. Paul said, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:10-18). This is a real fight, and a real war that occurs around you every day, so be strong in the power of His might!