How to Overcome the Devil

“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. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.’ ”

Revelations 12:9–12

Why are there so many tears and disasters? So much worry, sorrow, pain, suffering, and death? The answer is in these scriptures. Satan was cast down, set loose on this earth to wreak havoc, and the Bible says that he will deceive the whole world. Every man and woman has been deceived at some time by this arch deceiver.

I wish that we could, just in the smallest degree, understand the significance of his deceitfulness. From the time you were born, he has studied your life, and for whatever reason, by one means or another, he has become a master artist at deceiving you. Every time we sin, we have been deceived into thinking that Satan’s plan is superior to God’s plan.

Some time ago, I was studying the Bible with a woman in Pennsylvania. Every doctrine we studied from the Bible—the state of the dead, the Sabbath, and many other doctrines—she accepted.

But when we began to study diet—pork specifically—she began to have issues. You see, diet is the downfall of so many people. We all know that the Bible says pork is an unclean food, unfit for mankind to eat, and those who are holy and pure do not eat pork or any other food the Bible identifies as unclean.

Sadly, this woman liked pork. You can see how the devil’s deceptions were working against her. If she didn’t like pork, then it would have been no temptation to her and, like all the other doctrines she had so eagerly accepted, she would have gladly given up unclean foods including pork. But she did like pork, and soon she began the process of rationalization.

Perhaps you have done the same thing. So-and-so does something that is wrong, so it’s okay for me to do it, too. Unfortunately, friends, the old adage, “two wrongs don’t make a right” is absolutely true. Excusing our sin by pointing out someone else’s, doesn’t make our sin any less sinful, nor does it deliver us from the resultant consequences.

Still, the devil wanted to keep her from fully and faithfully following Jesus, and to do this he had a terrible deception ready to use against her. Remember, he is the master deceiver. He had studied this woman her whole life and knew just what he should do.

About a month into our studies together, in fact it was during the same time that she was struggling with the truth regarding diet, she had lost her six-year-old daughter, and, oh, how she grieved over the death of her child. It is dangerous to reject truth because we sacrifice the protection of Jesus completely and leave ourselves open to all kinds of deception.

In her home, the daughter’s bedroom was at the top of the stairs on the second floor. One day, she looked up those stairs, still grieving, and for one fleeting moment, she saw her daughter standing there looking at her, smiling, and then she was gone. In that moment, she knew that her daughter was all right, that she was in heaven, and had come down to give her assurance and peace.

Also, in that moment, she decided that the Bible was wrong, or at least the way we were interpreting it was wrong. But the Bible doesn’t need an interpreter, for it plainly says regarding the dead, “The dead know not anything, neither have they any more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.” Ecclesiastes 9:5

The devil’s deception was so powerful that she believed she had truly seen her daughter, and she was so truly deceived that she determined that everything she had learned and accepted to that point was wrong, and she rejected everything. Satan knew right where to strike. Tragically, this woman loved her daughter and unclean foods more than she loved the truth, and unless she repents of her rejection and again accepts the truth, it will cost her salvation.

Satan has a master file of your life and mine. He has traced every event. He and his angels have studied every aspect of your life. They know your special desires, weaknesses, and insecurities. They know what offends and irritates you the most, and how to upset you.

Is There Anything That Can Cause You to be Lost?

Is there anything in this world that means more to you than the truth as it is in Jesus Christ? Your spouse and children? Family or friends? A job, a position of power, wealth, or possessions? Are you proud of your looks? Do you enjoy the flattery of the world? Do you desire attention? Have you been driven to a dark place because of illness, loneliness, or discouragement?

Is there anything that could cause you to give up the truth and turn away from the Holy Spirit? If there is, then rest assured Satan will bend all his power to bring about your destruction.

God wants you to be happy, but if you seek to follow Him, know that the devil will pull out all the stops to work against you. He has a temptation, probably more than one, that is tailor-made just for you. You see, not all temptations are successful against all people. While one person may struggle with addiction to smoking, drinking, or drugs, another may struggle with gambling or pornography, and another with pride and envy. Yes, the devil has a specific portfolio of temptations for each of us.

We will all be tempted, tested, during our lifetime. No one can expect to have a free ride to the pearly gates. Sooner or later, we will have to meet the devil face to face. We are never alone because the Holy Spirit is always with us to provide the power we need to overcome him. But, just as Jesus did in the wilderness of temptation, we will have to face the devil in battle, and we must be prepared to be conquerors.

The Only One

“The great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” Revelation 12:9

Except for One.

Of all of the people who have ever lived in the world, there was only One who was never deceived, the Man Christ Jesus. There is no one who has ever been tempted more than He.

For more than thirty years, Satan had prepared, focusing all his energies into the destruction of Jesus. Throughout His entire life, he had sought to weaken Jesus, to cause Him to give up His faith and confidence in His Father. The time had come. Jesus was about to have that face-to-face confrontation that we ourselves will one day have with Satan.

“Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.” Luke 4:1, 2

John the Baptist had baptized Jesus in the Jordan, and the Father had declared, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17. But now God was leading Jesus to the wilderness for the fight of His human life. God took Him to the wilderness and left Him there, with no food or shelter, nothing but the hard ground for a bed, and no earthly protection against wild beasts or other dangers. Jesus had the power to provide for Himself, but the Father had ordained that He should come to earth and live as an ordinary man, trusting completely in Him for all of His needs.

Satan determined that Jesus would be overcome, understanding that “he must either conquer or be conquered. … All the energies of apostasy were rallied against the Son of God. Christ was made the mark of every weapon of hell.” The Desire of Ages, 116

Turn These Stones

Even in His weakened and starved condition, Jesus’ trust in God remained strong and He continued to pray until a beautiful angel came to Him, an answer, it seemed, to His prayer.

“He claimed to have a commission from God to declare that Christ’s fast was at an end. As God had sent an angel to stay the hand of Abraham from offering Isaac, so, satisfied with Christ’s willingness to enter the bloodstained path, the Father had sent an angel to deliver Him; this was the message brought to Jesus. The Saviour was faint from hunger, He was craving for food, when Satan came suddenly upon Him. Pointing to the stones which strewed the desert, and which had the appearance of loaves, the tempter said, ‘If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.’ ” Ibid., 118

God accepted Your sacrifice here in the wilderness. He has accepted Your submission to His will. Now He has given You permission, “ ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ ” Matthew 4:3

Let’s look at this temptation. Yes, it was a test on appetite. But this angel said something, just a small word, that should give anyone a clue that he might not be what he appeared to be: “If.” “If You are the Son of God … .” Would God treat His Son this way? is the insinuation. An angel from heaven would know who Jesus is. This angel was not sent from God. Jesus discerned who he was. Imagine the added temptation for Him not to show this imposter just exactly who He is.

Why was Jesus not deceived as mankind usually is? Jesus recognized Satan because His relationship with and faith in His Father prevented even His humanity from being deceived.

But why is mankind so easily deceived?

“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception, among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10

Without a saving relationship with Jesus, we will be unable to see Satan for who he is. He will come to us in a way that looks good, but it won’t be good, and if we do not have a love for the truth, we will be deceived.

Jesus loved truth more than He loved life itself. He would rather die than sacrifice even one of God’s precepts. God had said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This was the word of God regarding who Jesus was. Knowing who Satan was from the beginning, Jesus did not enter into controversy with him. He would not parley with temptation and simply replied to Satan, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ” Luke 4:4

If You Will Worship Me

From there Satan took Jesus up on a high mountain. From this vantage point, he showed Him all the kingdoms of the world laid out in all their glory, along with all the people who lived in them, the very people Jesus had left heaven for, those He had come to save.

Satan said, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

In that moment, Jesus saw a narrow path strewn with stones and thorns and thistles. As the path stretched tortuously up, He saw a cross, and hanging on that cross is a man; He sees Himself. Here is the choice: a mere act of homage or the cross.

Without hesitation, Jesus replies, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” Luke 4:8

At the Cross

I am so happy that Jesus chose the cross, for it was through that choice that He gained the victory over Satan and his temptations and deceptions, and brought victory to us. For it is by that blood that we are saved and can find salvation from the temptations and deceptions Satan will surely bring to each one of us.

Do you spend time with the cross every day? Do you suppose that you can overcome Satan on your own? Do you think you are strong enough? It was at the cross that Satan was overcome. If we are to find victory over Satan and his deceptions, then we must go to the cross.

Revelation 12 says that Satan will deceive the whole world, but there are some who gain the victory.

“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb (Christ) and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.’ ” Verses 10, 11

Christ gained the victory on the cross, and it is to the cross that we also must go to find victory. It is accomplished by the union of the divine and human, uniting our lives with the life of Christ.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?’ ” Matthew 16:24–26

How few today have found that personal victory over Satan. Have we? Can we know that we have experienced the same victory that we find in the life of Christ?

“Communion with Christ—how unspeakably precious! Such communion it is our privilege to enjoy if we will seek it, if we will make any sacrifice to secure it.” Maranatha, 74

Oh, Taste and See

What we need is an experimental religion. Putting God to the test, claiming His promises and finding them true. Think of the three worthies, who refused to eat from the king’s table. They did what was right, and they were blessed as a result and were a living testimony for all around them. Daniel continued to pray three times a day in spite of the king’s decree, knowing he would be thrown in the lion’s den. But He trusted that God would save Him, and He did.

“Experience is knowledge derived from experiment. Experimental religion is what is needed now. … Some—yes, a large number—have a theoretical knowledge of religious truth, but have never felt the renewing power of divine grace upon their own hearts. … They believe in the wrath of God, but put forth no earnest efforts to escape it. They believe in heaven, but make no sacrifice to obtain it. … They know a remedy for sin, but do not use it. They know the right, but have no relish for it. All their knowledge will but increase their condemnation. They have never tasted and learned by experience that the Lord is good.

“To become a disciple of Christ is to deny self and follow Jesus through evil as well as good report. … Every darling indulgence that hinders our religious life must be cut off. … Will we put forth efforts and make sacrifices proportionate to the worth of the object to be attained?” Ibid.

That’s when it becomes yours. That’s when you’ve experimented with the promises of God and found them true. That’s when you develop a testimony. Not one in twenty, we are told, have an experimental knowledge of religion (Messages to Young People, 384). Oh, they may know how God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, about Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, Bible stories like Daniel and the lion’s den, but they have never had an experience like that, nor have they ever relied fully and only on the naked promises of God for deliverance. They have never sacrificed everything for a personal knowledge of God’s saving power.

We are not saved by good sermons nor by listening to CDs, watching DVDs, or reading books. Going to church will not save us. Even physically being with Jesus, as the disciples were, will not save us. We must have a close, intimate relationship with Jesus, a joining of the divine with the human. The experiences and trials that we live through in this life are meant to teach us that we can and must trust in God.

So, Here’s the Question

Do I have this experience, a testimony of victory in my own life? Remember what Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb (Christ) and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

Think again of the three worthies, standing before the golden image on the plain of Dura. How easy it would have been to just kneel and pray to God. They wouldn’t have been worshiping the image, but their testimony would have looked the same as everyone around them. It would have appeared that they were worshiping the image. It would have shown lack of faith in God. Instead, they did what they knew was right, at the very real risk of their lives, believing that God would save them if it was His will to do so, and they learned that God is faithful to those who put their faith in Him.

What would you have done?  Would you have knelt and prayed to God, rationalizing that you weren’t really worshiping that image? You could have come away from that experience saying, “Well, the Lord saved me from death.” But you wouldn’t have had a testimony. The three worthies received their testimony by going into the fiery furnace. They put their faith in God to the test, they did what was right even though it would mean death, and they found that He is faithful.

We have a testimony when we lose our job rather than work on the Sabbath. We have a testimony when to human eyes there are more bills to pay than money to pay them with and we still pay tithe first. We have a testimony when we pray and ask God for healing, but accept whatever His answer might be, even if it is not healing. When everything is against us and we have nothing but trust in God’s promises, then we have a testimony.

Too many of us do not have a testimony to bear for God because we have never tried Him. We bow down to the idol because we are afraid of the fiery furnace.

“Many look on this conflict between Christ and Satan as having no special bearing on their own life; and for them it has little interest. But within the domain of every human heart this controversy is repeated. Never does one leave the ranks of evil for the service of God without encountering the assaults of Satan. The enticements which Christ resisted were those that we find it so difficult to withstand. They were urged upon Him in as much greater degree as His character is superior to ours. With the terrible weight of the sins of the world upon Him, Christ withstood the test upon appetite, upon the love of the world, and upon that love of display which leads to presumption. These were the temptations that overcame Adam and Eve, and that so readily overcome us.” The Desire of Ages, 116, 117

Our testimony comes when we stand the test through the strength of God, and though Satan works to deceive the world, we overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. When Jesus’ wilderness experience becomes ours, when the divine has united with the human, then we can overcome the devil.

Friends, Satan is seeking to deceive the whole world, and he is successfully doing so for much of it today. But he can be overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony.

I invite you, morning by morning, to come to the foot of the cross, meditate upon the sacrifice of Christ, and then step out on the promises of God and determine to do what God says, come what may, and see how the Lord will work, so that you also might have a testimony.

[Emphasis supplied.]

Pastor Marshall Grosboll, with his wife Lillian, founded Steps to Life. In July 1991, Pastor Marshall and his family met with tragedy as they were returning home from a camp meeting in Washington state, when the airplane he was piloting went down, killing all on board.