“Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”, Jam 4:7 

The faintest idea to overcome the devil in his territory is simply foolishness for many reasons. 1.God is against you if you live in a worldly domain or environment and there please men, flesh or the devil; 2.You happen to fight dirt through dirt, use sin against sin, how will it bring you to any kind of victory? If you overcome one sin, you keep the one you used to defeat it with and the devil will anoint you more for destroying his things – he will just be too angry against you to stop disturbing you with sins.

It is always a useless task to defeat sin with sin. Here is what the Word really means: to submit to God first. You cannot defeat sin and the devil unless Christ has accepted you first – by this I do not mean you having accepted Christ at all, for it is Christ who has to make you acceptable. He has to accept you in His table of victory.

In submitting to God, one may not think it means going to church, praying a lot, testifying to people and whatever else is said a Christian should do. It is a kind of life that removes and defeats the other one. If you have it from within, darkness will not be seen within you: one or the other will need to go from you. You cannot bargain with this, you cannot expect to be with God in church if your work place is a place where you curse and look at the opposite sex; you cannot expect to have peace and tranquillity where you work if, at home, you sin either against yourself or against others there or even against God.

Submission to God has to be of the kind that is fully subjected to His terms through His ways (and not just being aware of them). This submission unless real, is not effective at all. If real, however, one may stand up and the devil will run.  What serves as a sign to backsliding is that the devil easily overpowers who prays and preaches the gospel. A sound doctrine, a remarkable speech, many people praying for you, a holy man’s blessing upon your life or marriage, will not work out unless your life is fully subjected to God’s first and to His will for you and to His way. Unless one is submitted to God's ways of doing and dealing with us and with sin, with holiness and everything else, it is not submitting at all. Being submitted to God our way, or to keep our strength and way or doing, is not submission at all. It is not the blessing which makes the difference, but the submission and the kind of submission under that same blessing; and if you are submitted to God the way  you should, if God does not find anyone to bless you like he found Ananiah to bless Paul, then He will do it Himself.

If, in you past or present you have a sin which needs to be confessed out of hiding, if one has been hurt by you and needs to be asked for forgiveness and restored to some honor, money or any other kind of apology, you can pray and submit with all human power you may have and still the devil will only play the cat and mouse with you and even imitate God for you. If your motives are not God’s glory when you preach, work or pray, if there is still a difference for you between going to church or to work, there is very little to be expected from a life like yours in terms of victory. If honesty is absent from your relationships towards family (if you do not uphold God clearly before them as you would do with a normal family matter, or as you would talk about a movie in your previous sinful life, with the same easiness you had with your previous lifestyle, and that not only in words), if there is no reality in your life about God, if your motives and ways with the opposite sex are selfish and deplorable in church or elsewhere, or if you disrespect your enemies, there is little you may expect from God even if He is around you still. God encircled Israel, but for the peace within the individual it would mean little, since they were in sin still. If you do more for a friend than you would do for an enemy, if you do more for your wife than for someone else's husband, you will never be like Christ and you cannot, therefore, attain to His victorious Life to resist and overcome the devil within it. To have Christ, you must be able to love as He did, who loved you when you were His enemy because of lying and cheating, loving you without approving you. But now He should be able to approve you because you came to love Him.

To be victorious you must submit to God, to all it may mean and to all the way it has to accomplish for you and for God. Do not expect victory in your work place, an accompanying blessing wherever you go, if you choose your own marriage, or your feelings towards it, if it is you who would like to choose your work or even work place for you or for someone else, if you choose where to read in the Bible when God wishes to share with you something else elsewhere, even if it is outside the Bible or outside the church you go to. There is no way the devil will run from you if your life is not ordained by the same power and will which rules heaven – alone. It is Christ’s solemn prayer that the will of the Father will be done here on earth as it is done in heaven, it meaning, by the same power, the same way to the same glory. It means you can have your own marriage, your own way, your own private church which suits your feelings and ways best more than Christ Himself, but you can rest assured God will not go out with you against the devil until you submit to Him as you would do were you in heaven, for there is no reason and no reasonability in the horizon why you should not be submitted to God that way at all.

Are your feelings, your doctrines, your church people, your sins, your private and secret sins, perhaps withholding you from victory in any other matter whatsoever? Is an unconfessed lie, perhaps, withholding you from victory over lusts and perverted thoughts? Is there one sin keeping you from being victorious against another one? Is death still a fear to you because you cheat or brag, is persecution and hunger still a fear to your resolutions and do they determine what you must do or not do for God? What makes you do something?  Is it the absence of persecutions and problems? Or is it God’s will in spite of whatever happens, really? It is just too sad to see that young couples will face any kind of commitment, face any kind of hardship when marrying (even outside God’s will for them) and yet, they will not face the same or even less troubles easily within God’s will for them at all. This is double heartedness which is not easily accepted by God. There will be no victory in a life which does not face danger and peace the  same way, reproach or praise with the same motive, with the same easiness with which one would in case something great for self would come out of it were one selfish, somehow.

Are trials a burden to you still? Do they have a weight on your decisions still? Do you take your decisions according to your thoughts of fear or are they grounded on God? Or are they taken because God has spoken or because you fear? Have a look how well committed you happened to be to God and with what motives and through which power. Then you might shun sin and not burdens from you! Are temptations means by which you easily fall or do they cause you to emerge from defeat? Does the Serpent still get you to sin easily? Is the devil a difficult enemy to you? That's because God might not be an easy friend. Just check out what way you have been submitting to God and not only what you may have been submitting to Him, if it is your way or God’s chosen one. People usually blame the devil when they face problems, but these seldom blame him for their sins. Sin is not seen as a problem from the devil. People easily pray against problems, but seldom against their own sin, by confessing it and bringing it to the light, where everyone can see it, behold it and forgive it eventually or at least learn something from you.

If you are not victorious, if bitterness easily gets you, there must be something wrong somewhere else, especially with the kind of submission to God you live through. May it not be so any longer. Amen.

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José Mateus