Some people say there is no devil, but I am convinced that he is very real. In fact, I have had some personal experiences with him that leave no room for doubt. He is right here in this world. Like a lion he |goeth about seeking whom he may devour.| What to do with him is the biggest problem that faces some Christians. They spend so much time thinking about the devil, fearing him, and trying to combat him, that they have little time for God. Their testimony is a testimony of the devil's doings and their conflict with him. Their religion is a negative, not a positive, thing. It consists in not
doing and not
thinking and not
feeling or in trying not to. They are working on the problem from the wrong end. Our problem is to do and be, to live a positive life. Life is for accomplishment and for character-building. The overcoming of the obstacles that we meet is only incidental; it is not the main purpose of our lives. A great many persons think that they could accomplish great things and be wonderful Christians if it were not for the devil. What to do with him is their problem. I shall tell you what to do.
First, do not be afraid of him. Have you not read these words, |Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world|? If you will just believe that, you will have no cause to fear the devil. Do you not know that God is in you? and if he is in you, is he not more than a match for your adversary? |If God be for us, who can be against us?| Satan may oppose us, but he can not prevail against us. His opposition and his schemes will be brought to naught. Just add a little boldness to faith, and you will overcome him. Do not be frightened at his roaring. He can not touch you unless God permits, and if God permits him, it will only be to give you the greater victory in the end. Are you God's child? Will he permit anything that will do you permanent ill? Do not fear the devil; trust God. Give your attention and strength to pleasing him. If you will keep busy doing this, you will not have so much trouble with Satan. God does not want you to be shivering with fear. He wants you to |be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.|
Satan is like a lion; but when a lion roared against Samson, that man slew the beast with his naked hands because the Spirit of the Lord was upon him. If, instead of fearing, you will trust in the Lord to put his Spirit upon you when there is need of it, you may overcome Satan as easily as Samson did the lion. Daniel was thrown into the lions' den, but they did not eat him. God put a muzzle on them, not a literal muzzle, but something still more effectual, and they could not touch Daniel.
Being afraid of the devil is much like being afraid of the darkness. When I was a boy, I was bold enough to go where I wanted to in the darkness; but when I started for the house again, I could imagine that dogs and bears and all sorts of frightful things might be anywhere about, so I would run at full speed. There might have been something, but if so, I never really knew it; but I would get panic-stricken just the same. If you become frightened this way in spiritual things, you may look upon it as only a childish habit. You will never be a |really and truly| grown-up man or woman for God until you get over your foolish fear of the devil. We are told to |resist him stedfast in the faith.| It is faith that counts. If you have a gun, a crow will not fly near you. If you have faith, the devil will be more afraid of you than you are of him. Try using this weapon on him. You will find it very effectual.
Second, do not run from him. A man from the East was once riding over a Western prairie with a party of friends, when he saw an Indian walking along. While he was looking at the Indian, an angry bull, which had been bellowing and pawing up the ground, suddenly charged the Indian. Instead of his running, as the Easterner expected him to do, he simply turned about, folded his arms, stood stock-still, and faced the angry animal. It came charging down till it was almost upon him, then suddenly stopped, looked at him, and ran around him. The Indian stood motionless. The animal bellowed and pawed and ran round and round him. He did not move, and the animal did not touch him, but presently went off and left him alone, after which the Indian went on his way as though nothing had happened. There is a good lesson in that for us. There is no use to run from the devil, for he can run faster than we can. Our victory is often won by our standing still to see the salvation of God.
Third, watch. That is what our Lord commanded, but he did not say, |Watch the devil.| The thing that we need to watch most is where our own feet are going. If we allow ourselves to be occupied in watching Satan, we may get out of the path and not know it. The Bible also says, |looking unto Jesus,| not, |looking unto Satan.| It is from God that our help comes. When we look at Satan, he appears great and terrible. When we look to God, We see his greatness and realize how much greater he is than Satan, and our courage rises, our strength is increased, our fears vanish, and we become confident. Look to God and where your own feet are going, and let God manage the devil.
Fourth, ignore him. There is nothing Satan hates so much as to be ignored. For us to calmly go upon our way unafraid and trustful, not dismayed by his roaring, is not at all to his liking. If we will keep our hearts and minds occupied with good things and pay no attention to his threats, we shall find that he will go off and leave us. He may soon return, but if you meet him in the same way, he will not linger around you as he will if he can hold your attention upon himself.
You have better use for your time than to let the enemy occupy it. Use it in active service for God. Jesus said he would give us |rest unto our souls.| Do you have that rest? God means for you to have it, but you can not have it if you keep your attention on Satan all the time. He will tantalize you if you will let him. While you are looking unto Jesus, you will not see the faces that Satan makes at you, and so will not be troubled. If you will listen to God, you will not have time to listen to Satan. If he is constantly troubling you, it is because you are giving him opportunity. He is a conquered foe. The victory is yours, if you will have it so.