|Vol. 13 No. 7 July 2011||
What is the power that we give the devil? Some of us give him the power of our love for money and wealth. Some of us give him the power of our love for position. Some of us give him the power of our love for possessions. Some of us give him the power of our love for prestige. The list is virtually endless. There are a lot of ways and means for us to be tempted.
We give the devil power in our lives through the world’s three gateways. The devil is on the prowl 24/7 in an attempt to gain a way into our hearts to cause us to sin in thought, word or deed! The apostle John tells us not to love the world or the things in the world. For all that is in the world (1) the lust of the flesh, (2) the lust of the eyes and (3) the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world (1 John 2:15-16).
It may surprise some of us to know that every sin we can name falls into one of those three categories. Satan used them with Eve, and through his deception, she fell into transgression. She and Adam lost their paradise home. The whole world was plunged into sin! He used these categories of sin with Jesus Christ and failed miserably (Matthew 4:1-11)!
If there were more ways to cause us to commit sin, iniquity, trespass and transgression, John would have told us and warned us. The only power the devil has is the power we give him! We must understand any power we give the devil for any length of time, he will always use against us! All he wants is an opening. He cares nothing about us — care is not in his vocabulary!
We must come to understand that it is not the temptations we experience from all that is in the world, it is when we yield to them that peril arises! Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, and He did not yield to him! He was tempted in all points as we are, yet He never sinned! Speaking of Christ, the writer of Hebrews 4:15 states, “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (ESV).
We need to read, believe and accept what God has revealed to us about our arch-enemy. In his book, Bible Words and Theological Terms Made Easy, Wayne Jackson gives a most penetrating definition of who the devil is and what his purpose is. Part of that definition reads: “The term means to slander, accuse (cf. Rev. 12:9-10). This word is used thirty-three times in the N.T. of the arch-enemy of man, Satan (Mt. 13:28). His characteristic activity is tempting others to sin (‘tempter’ in Mt. 4:3 is a present tense participle, indicating sustained action). His power over us is limited to our own freewill, so we must resist him (Jas. 4:7; Mt. 26:41).”
John tells us as pointedly as he was inspired to do so about our adversary the devil in 1 John 3:8. “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” The lie that the devil told Eve was without a doubt the biggest, most monstrous and unconscionable lie ever told in the history of mankind!
When we look at the 12 apostles of Christ, the sins of some of them are notable. One of the sins Judas harbored was his hidden greed for money. Apparently, this sin was foremost in his life because it is the one Satan used against him with a vengeance! We first learn of this well concealed sin when the chief priests and the scribes were plotting to kill the Lord. Matthew 26:14-15 records, “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.” Note that Judas went to the chief priests of his own freewill!
Luke 22:3-6 of this event reads, “Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. Then he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.” Judas was not only a conspirator, but also a coward, sealing his wicked deed with a promise to see it through!
John 12:1-6 reveals Judas was also a thief. Mary and Martha had prepared a supper for Jesus and His disciples after He had raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus sat at the table with Jesus, Martha served the supper and Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard and anointed the feet of Jesus. Judas asked why the oil had not been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. It was about a year’s wages for an ordinary workman. In verse 6 we learn, “This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.”
Satan used these sins and weaknesses in the life of Judas to full advantage in bringing about his ultimate downfall! John 13:1-30 gives us the account of Jesus washing His apostles’ feet, telling them they were not all clean and proclaiming that one of them would betray Him. Verses 2-5 read, “And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus … rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself … poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet.”
Initially, Peter made one of his thoughtless statements saying Jesus would never wash his feet! When Jesus made him understand, Peter gladly submitted. John 13:10-11 says, “Jesus said to him, ‘He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’ For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, ‘You are not all clean.’”
Jesus further states in John 13:18, “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’” Jesus prayed for Himself, His apostles and all believers in John 17. As He prayed for His apostles, in verse 12 He said, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”
Jesus had told the twelve in John 6:70-71 that Judas was a devil. “‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ He spoke of Judas Iscariot; the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.” Judas was a devil and nobody knew it but Jesus! Even when Jesus told His apostles that one of them would betray Him, and demonstrated what He had told them in a most dramatic way, they still didn’t get it! So many times we simply do not see what we are not looking for.
As the twelve ate the Passover meal with Jesus, Peter had motioned to John to ask who it was that would betray Him. John 13:26-28 says, “Jesus answered, ‘It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.’ And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly.’ But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him.” In case we missed just how clueless the other apostles were, verse 29 says, “Some thought because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, ‘Buy those things we need for the feast,’ or that he should give something to the poor.”
We sometimes hear people say that money is the root of all evil. That is not what the Bible says. Paul said in I Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” That is certainly a most accurate description of the actions of Judas and his tragic end when he realized the grievous sin he had committed.
Matthew 27:3-5 records, “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘What is that to us? You see to it!’ Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.” Even the chief priests didn’t want the money back. They said it was the price of blood. Where was the devil when Judas needed him most??
Judas’ selfish need and greed blocked his ability to see how he was being used by Satan. He played him “like a bass fiddle,” and Judas never saw it coming! When he did, it was far too late! Events had spiraled completely out of his control, took a turn he never could have envisioned and sent him into an emotional tailspin that he had no spiritual fortitude whatsoever to withstand!
What has God told us we must do to nullify the power of the devil in our lives? The direction and warning of Paul in Ephesians 6:10-11 could not be any plainer. “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 [schemings] of the devil.” Paul says the same thing a little stronger in verse 13. “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.” Verse 16 is most powerful. “Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” It was stated earlier that we have been commanded not to love the world or the things in the world. First John 5:4 is another passage that tells us why. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.”
Such strength and confidence is ours as stated in 1 John 5:18-20. “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true … His Son Jesus Christ” (ESV).
In John 17:15, Jesus had prayed that God should keep His apostles from the devil as they lived in this sin-cursed world. “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” The statement has been made if we give Satan an inch, he will become our ruler.