A contender’s adversaries

I wrote previously about the necessity of contending for transformation. I highlighted that while God meets and saves us where we are, His intention isn’t for us to remain the same. He desires that we become like Jesus in character and experience [Romans 8:29]. This happens when our minds are transformed. Only then can we discern and act on God’s will to usher in His purposes on earth [Romans 12:2]. While we must commit to this transformation by abiding in God’s word [Philippians 2:12], we must also expect our adversary, the devil, to do everything to sabotage us. He knows that a child of God with a renewed mind will exercise dominion over him [Romans 8:37].

To overcome the opposition, we must understand the schemes of the devil [2 Corinthians 2:11]. He works in tandem with our other adversaries, the world and our flesh [1 John 2:16]. The devil opposes us because he’s an enemy of God [Mark 8:33]. The world is currently under the devil’s dominion, so it dislikes us [John 14:30, Ephesians 2:1-3, 2 Timothy 3:12], while our flesh continually opposes God’s Spirit [Galatians 5:17]. There was a time when humans lived in perfect harmony with God and had dominion over His creation [Genesis 1:26-28]. Then, Adam disobeyed God and subsequently blamed his wife for his actions. Next, she blamed the devil [Genesis 3]. The devil quietly took the blame and with it, mankind’s God-given dominion. It’s the same dominion the devil offered to Jesus in exchange for worship [Matthew 4:8-10].

God’s grand plan includes the restoration of our dominion [Romans 8:19]. Consequently, when we accept God’s offer of salvation by confessing that Jesus is Lord and believing with our hearts that God raised Him from the dead [Romans 10:9-10], God ransoms us from the clutches of darkness and transfers us into the kingdom of His Son [Colossians 1:13]. As a result, though we remain in the world, we’re no longer of the world [John 17:14-16]. This transfer is essential because the devil has no dominion over anyone in God’s kingdom. Consequently, the greatest need of an unbeliever is to hear the gospel of salvation, believe it and confess Jesus as Lord, because transformation is impossible for anyone under the devil’s dominion.

While the devil has no authority over anyone in God’s kingdom, he’s still able to tempt them. Through distraction, deceit and other schemes, he can rob God’s children of the life God intends for them by preying on their untransformed minds. Therefore, it’s advantageous to him when our minds don’t become transformed, and we don’t possess the mind of Christ that was able to thwart every trick of the devil on His way to fulfil His Father’s will. Consequently, the devil will oppose everything in your life that could lead to transformation because a transformed mind renders him impotent. That said, are you making his task easier or harder?

It’s fair to assume that no Christian wants to help the devil derail the purposes of God in their life. But does this mean we don’t inadvertently help him? For instance, a fertile ground for the devil is where there’s darkness. Thus, we’re to walk in the light [1 John 1:7]. This command speaks to living with integrity such that every aspect of your life can stand up to scrutiny, something Daniel wonderfully epitomised under immense pressure [Daniel 6:4]. For most, several aspects of their lives couldn’t stand up to godly scrutiny before they met Jesus. Even those of us who grew up in church and Christian homes have shady pasts. These shortcomings didn’t just disappear when we became Christians.

We all have ungodly proclivities we must address in our lives. Moreover, Scripture warns us that now we’re in God’s kingdom, we can no longer wilfully partake in ungodliness [1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Ephesians 5:8-9]. So, we must decide. We can either own up to our weaknesses or try to hide them. Accepting and exposing our failings is tough because it usually leaves us vulnerable to the judgement of others. We dread this because we want to project a certain image even to our closest friends. Consequently, we try to mask our flaws and avoid any accountability. However, God is already aware of all our weaknesses, and so is the devil.

The things we don’t expose to the light become ammunition for the devil, and he will use them to hamper our transformation and sabotage our lives. We see this often with people who haven’t dealt with lust, anger, addictions and other ungodly tendencies. They may hide these failings for a while, but they rarely get away with it. Most of us make brilliant defence attorneys for ourselves, so it often takes a friend to reveal the gravity of our flaws. We do ourselves a disservice if we fail to listen to such friends [Psalm 141:5]. Even without friends, how many of us can pray like David; “search me, O God…and see if there be any grievous way in me” [Psalm 139:23-24]?

One of the reasons I often fail to admit my failings is pride. The world frowns on admitting weakness, so I become defensive when anyone confronts me. This attitude deprives me of God’s help [James 4:6]. Sometimes, the shame I feel for my failings leads me to isolate myself by keeping others at arm’s length with a façade. But I’m tired of giving the devil easy victories in my life. So, I’m committed to allowing God’s word to teach, rebuke, correct and train me in righteousness [2 Timothy 3:16]. Though my ego will be stung, I’ll seek accountability from others and actively shine the light of God’s power in those dark places in my life as I boast in my weaknesses [2 Corinthians 12:9-10]. Because if I can possess mastery over my flesh and abide in God’s word, there’s little the devil or the world can do to stop me from reigning in life [Romans 5:17, Romans 8:31].

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