Temptation. We all are tempted on a daily basis. How do you know when you are being tempted by the devil? How do you fight temptation from the devil and win? These are two questions that we must answer if we are going to successfully navigate the world today.
I was recently talking to my brother-in-law and was reminded about something I had once heard. I don’t remember where I heard it or how long ago but it’s stuck with me and really made me re-think how I look at my life.
“If the devil isn’t bothering you it’s because you are both going in the same direction”
Playing Patty-Cake With The Devil
Now, I don’t know about you but when I first heard that, it made me stop and think “How do I know when the devil is tempting me and when do I flirt with temptation?” That thought reminded me of a sermon I once heard T. D. Jakes give called “Playing Patty Cake With The Devil.”
You see, so many people today don’t realize that we have an enemy. One who is sneaky and very good at wooing people to unknowingly walk with him. Let me give you a visual.
In his sermon, T. D. Jakes had a circle of very large men surrounding a man who was much smaller. Walking around outside was another larger man. As the man on the outside walked around the outside of the ring, the man in the middle would reach out and just touch him as he walked by. As this continued the space between the guys in the circle would grow bigger and bigger until all of a sudden when the man in the middle reached out, instead him just touching the man walking around the outside, the man on the outside grabbed his hand, pulled him out and carried him off…..LITERALLY! I tried to find the video of this to share with you guys because it was so powerful but I couldn’t.
Knowing Your Enemy
This gives a great example about how the devil works. In the world today there are so many temptations! We all want comfortable lives. We want a nice place to live, money to buy the things we want and time to enjoy our favorite activities. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! God gave us a beautiful world to live in! He wants us to enjoy our lives!
Unfortunately, the world has distorted that to the point where people make enjoying life a god in and of itself. People don’t even realize they are being tempted so how would they know to fight temptation? That’s how the devil works. He takes something God meant for good and he twists it in order to draw you away from God.
In order to understand how the devil works you have to first understand who he is. In 1 Peter 5:8 the Bible says this;
8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
Billy Graham said it like this,
“Don’t think of Satan as a harmless cartoon character with a red suit and pitchfork. He is very clever and powerful, and his unchanging purpose is to defeat God’s plan at every turn-including His plans for your life.”
The devil is conniving and smart. He uses lies and deception as some of his tools. And he’s had thousands of years to practice. So the first thing we have to learn is to be on guard.
Billy Graham also said,
“It should not be surprising if people believe easily in a God who makes no demands, but this is not the God of the Bible. Satan has cleverly misled people by whispering that they can believe in Jesus Christ without being changed, but this is the Devil’s lie. To those who say you can have Christ without giving anything up, Satan is deceiving you.”
The devil wants you to think that when you accept Jesus Christ you’re good! That’s all you have to do… it’s not. We have to turn from sin, the Bible even says flee or run! But so many people don’t turn and run, Instead they want to flirt with sin and play patty cake with the devil and before they know it, he’s snatched them away from God and they are right back in the sin, living the life they were living before accepting Christ. And, friends….you can’t have it both ways. The world wants you to think you can, but you can’t.
Are You Walking With The Enemy
So how can you know you are walking with the enemy? Well, the first thing I’d suggest is to ask God. He’s the one who created you so He’d be the one to ask if you are flirting with world? This is the part that a lot of folks don’t like because you have to be willing to change. You have to ask God as David did in Psalms 139:23-24,
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
In other words, show me what you don’t like and tell me how I can change in order to be obedient to what you want me to do. To be that transparent with God and honest with yourself is HARD! But oh boy, is it worth it!
Are You Protected?
So many folks think of obedience as chains that hold you back from enjoying life when in fact, it’s just the opposite! Think about that circle in the example of playing patty cake with the devil. Instead of looking at the circle of men surrounding him as protection, it’s easy to see how the guy on the inside would look at it as a prison cell instead. He saw all the cool stuff on the outside of the circle and just wanted a taste, just a little bit of the “good life”. But, when you think about the difference the outcome would have been if he’d seen that circle as protection and stayed in the middle where he was safe. The devil never could have reached him! WOW! To me that’s powerful!
The scary part is that a lot of people don’t understand that the devil is still at work today doing the same thing he did in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve. How do I know that? Because the Bible tells us he’s still in the same business he was back then. Remember 1 Peter? He prowls around looking for someone to kill and destroy. In John 10:10 Jesus says this,
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Open Your Eyes
So why is it so hard for people to see what’s going on? 2 Corinthians 4:4 gives us a hint,
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Do you see that? The devil has blinded the minds of folks. The problem is that a lot of Christians think they’re safe just because they accepted Jesus but in Ephesians 6:11-12, Paul tells us otherwise,
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Even though we are saved, we are still in a battle! The devil wants us to turn away from God or if nothing else at least straddle the fence and be useless. This is where playing patty-cake comes in.
SO many people today want it all, they want to be saved but yet they still want to be able to have all the comforts this world offers. Do what they want, watch what they want, listen to what they want and not have to make any sacrifices or do anything that’s uncomfortable. Comfort is really what everyone is looking for! Everyone wants a comfortable house, job, and lifestyle. No waves, no problems that are too difficult and lots of money to enjoy life with, right? Isn’t that everyone’s dream? Come on, you know it is! I would LOVE that….if the price wasn’t so high. But what folks don’t realize is there’s a cost for choosing the world’s ways and that cost is separation from God.
Where Is Your Influence Coming From
It is taught in society today that you should have the dream of making a lot of money and retiring to take it easy. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to retire and enjoy life. God wants us to enjoy this beautiful world He’s created! The thing we have to be careful about is not allowing God in to the equation. When our focus is on what we want and not on what God wants, that’s when we get in to trouble.
Let me ask you a question. Do you like to watch shows that glorify wealth, premarital sex, killing, prejudice or cussing? You may think these things are trivial, no big deal. And by the world’s standards, they aren’t, but to God, they are. And that’s how the devil works. He desensitizes you to things like these so when the Holy Spirit tries to convict your heart you just blow it off. Next thing you know, you’re watching shows where nudity, and sex are common. People use the ‘f’ word more than anything else and people are getting their heads blown off and it doesn’t even bother you.
Or maybe you’ve tried to “keep up with the Jones’” so you have so much debt you don’t tithe as you know you should because you feel you can’t afford to pay your bills and tithe 10%, too. The world today treats tithing as “optional” or “negotiable” but that’s not what the Bible says.
You have to remember, what goes in is what comes out and what you spend your time doing and how you spend your money reflects what’s most important to you. When your focus is more on the things of this world, that’s when the devil knows he’s got you
Don’t Flirt With The Devil
The Bible tells us we are to have NO PART in any of that stuff. In Ephesians 5:3-7 Paul puts it like this;
3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 6 Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do.
Do you see that? We are to have NO part in any of that! Yet so many still want to flirt with the devil and think they’ll be ok! So how do we get ourselves in such a mess? We forget why we are here and we lose our focus on what we should be doing. In Ephesians 2:10 Paul tells us why we were created and what we were created for,
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
So, we are created in God’s image to do good works that He prepared for us to do. Therefore, when our focus gets off of God and on to ourselves, we get out of balance. We start flirting with the world’s ways and let’s face it, the worlds ways are very enticing! Again, the devil is VERY good at what He does!
Prepare Yourself For Battle
So how can we fight him? The same way Jesus did in the desert. Every time the devil tempted him, Jesus came back with “It is written…” He used scripture as his main weapon. And you can too! Get your Bible out and start memorizing it. Going to battle with the devil without scripture is like trying to defeat an army of tanks with a sling shot. Not going to do a whole lot of good.
At this point you may be thinking it’s impossible to beat the devil but I’m here to tell you it’s not! You see, the battle has already been won! When Jesus rose from the dead, Satan was defeated! We just have to fight the skirmishes until Jesus returns. So how do we do it? Here are some practical ways to fight the devil and win.
Believe You Can Win
Believing is the very first thing you have to do. Remember, it all starts with a thought. If you can believe it, that’s half the battle won right there.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
19 Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.
These scriptures we have the equipment to fight with, the ability to resist him and the authority over him to defeat him. You just have to believe it!
Believe You Are In A Battle
You must believe you are in a battle and you have to prepare yourself in advance for the fight! So how do you do that? God gives us His full armor to use in our defense. In Ephesians 6:10-18 it tells us what the Armor of God is and how to us it,
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[d] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[e]
16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[f] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
We have to stand firm, in other words, be persistent and don’t give up when it gets hard. The different parts of the Armor are important and you must ‘put on’ or use each piece. Let’s start at the head and work our way down the body.
Your Armor Of God
The Helmet of Salvation – We have to guard our thoughts. That’s usually the first place satan will attack. We have to be very careful about what thoughts we allow to stay in our minds. And yes, we do have control over them. I’ve written a whole post about it here.
The Breastplate of Righteousness – The enemy knows how to manipulate our emotions and feelings and if he can get us all riled up, he knows he can make us lose control and then he’s got the upper hand. So we have to be mindful of our trigger points and really seek God’s help in keeping a tight rein on our emotions and feelings.
The Belt of Truth – God’s Word tells us how to live but if we don’t put it in to practice, it does us no good. We must believe what the Bible says and be put in to practice what we learn. Otherwise we open the door to the enemy thorough lies and deception. Remember, he is good at what he does and can make it look like the truth if you don’t have the foundation already established.
Shoes of Peace – When we completely submit ourselves to God and truly seek Him in all we do, He gives us a peace that we can’t get anywhere else. I have experienced this myself in my battle with cancer. I can’t explain it, I just know that everything’s going to be okay. It truly does pass all human understanding as it says in Philippians 4:7.
Peace is not something that comes easily for most folks. But it’s something we have to have in order to spread the gospel. Think about it, if the world sees Christians arguing and fighting all the time, will it make them want to accept Jesus? NO! So we have to seek peace, pursue it, even run after it! The devil LOVES to cause conflict because he knows that if he can keep people fighting, he’s winning. Just look at the world around us as an example! So I urge you to seek peace at all costs. It’s not easy but so worth it.
Shield of Faith – It says in Matthew 17:20 that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can move mountains! Our faith protects us from the enemy’s lies. When we truly believe what God’s Word says and put it in to practice, the devil can’t deceive us. When we know the truth he can’t touch us! And as it says in Matthew, it doesn’t take much…BUT, it is our responsibility to grow our faith and make it stronger by reading His Word, praying and putting what we learn in to practice.
Sword of the Spirit – Now we come to the most important part of our armor. All of the other pieces protect us but we they aren’t considered weapons. The Word of God is what Jesus used against the devil when He was in the desert and we have that same weapon to use when he attacks us. So how do we use it? You have to know it to be able to use it, so I encourage you again to memorize scripture. You can write it on index cards and keep them with you or put it on sticky notes and post them at your computer at work, on your bathroom mirror, anywhere where you can see it regularly.
One of my favorite scriptures about how powerful a weapon the Word of God is we can find in Hebrew 4: 12;
12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
So our number one weapon is the Word of God. You can’t use it if you don’t know it. Bible memorization is vital to being able to use it as a weapon. Otherwise what are you going to do when the devil attacks? Tell him to hold on just a minute while you go get your Bible to look up the scripture you need? I’m sorry if that sounds sarcastic but that’s how a lot of Christians live today and then they wonder why they struggle!
One of the best ways to memorize scripture is to say it out loud. For instance, John 8:32 that I referenced earlier about truth would go something like this…you would say out loud John 8:32 “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. John 8:32”. So you would say the scripture reference, say the scripture and then repeat the scripture reference again. It’s been studied and that is the best way to memorize anything! What I do is when a scripture really speaks to my heart, I write it down and use the above technique to memorize it and I can’t tell you how many times that has helped me when the enemy has attacked.
Prayer keeps us connected to God. It is vitally important that we stay connected to God. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or formal. God wants an honest, sincere relationship with us and He has promised, if we seek Him, we WILL find him.
So I encourage you to ask yourself, are you playing patty-cake with the devil? Are you flirting with the enemy? Or are you standing firmly in the middle of God’s protection, resisting the enemy and using all the weapons God has provided to fight the battle you are in? These are questions we should ask ourselves regularly to make sure we don’t get drawn out by our adversary and allow him to start wooing us away from God.
Has this helped? Let me hear from you in the comments below. And sign up to get email reminders and receive my free gift “7 Ways To Control Your Thoughts To Create More Peace And Joy In Your Life”! I am praying that God will protect each and every one of you today and that you will seek Him more and more.