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

The devil is a qualified tempter – he came to the point of trying Jesus, the One who created him. I believe one should not try to judge and dare into his grounds out of mere presumption – there is no way to beat the devil but through God, by being aware of God instead of or even by having the knowledge about evil and good. “But to you I say, as many as do not have this doctrine, and who have not known the depths of Satan…”, Rev 2:24.

The most effective weapon the devil has access to, however, is the inward of man, whatever man is. He may tempt someone and leave the impression behind that he has been there; or he may do so leaving the impression he has never been there. He may tempt openly, but most of the time he will be tempting having temptation breed within the very soul of man, as if it is man alone who is to be blamed for it. He leaves temptation in man as a seed which breeds by iteself too. Man has a feature in him to be influenced by himself alone. Just as God does, so may the devil do as well. If the devil is able to reach the heart of man, he may possess it, he may influence it, he may vary even between these two so now and then and discard one or none of them, he might even make people resist him when he knows they are separated from God so as to fancy a fight which does not really exist, and occupies the mind of man with vain beliefs of goodness that he is fighting the devil (assuming God to be on his side because this fight is kind of taking place).

This might sound discouraging, but in fact, it should be encouraging unto us. One is but to notice that the devil is only able to use me against God, just as far as I am. “No temptation has taken you but what is common to man”, 1Cor.10:13. His grounds are limited to whatever I am and he can use but me to cause to sin. “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life”, “Ponder the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established”, Prov.4:23,26. This is why it is so easy to stay out of sin, once one is fully submitted unto God, aware of God and made righteous: three different reasons to stay away from sin and keep a heart clear, and just one of any of these would enable man to stay clean. A new heart, a full view of God and an overflowing influencing life from within is to turn people into more than conquerors. Just find those quickly before and above fighting the devil. The fact remains that one is not there to fight the devil, but rather to live out in a new life. If the devil entices, he is but trying to breed certain things in me, trying to fancy a fight away from the awareness of God and His Life; if he suggests, he has got only one thing in mind: to turn man self-willed, for he knows he may use only as far as man is to create sin in man. In this he happens to be qualified and fully specialized through the years and through the ages. In here God adds another reason man may stay pure: man’s own will submitted unto God alone - and that for real. If the devil uses man to make him self-willed, it means salvation is to be fully submitted unto God and not only fully made free from the devil. Self is the domain of sin in man, not the devil.

We read and understand from Genesis, the book where God started complaining against the boundless “imaginations of man”, that there might have been a time when people would not really have any temptation of the kind of being aroused by looking unto woman, up until a certain point. We read in Gen 6:1-3 “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, (2) That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.  (3) And the LORD said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years”. I do not want to argue as to what this “sons of God” means, for I take notice there is a lot of controversy concerning it. There is even said that Goliath was one of such coming from a relationship between a carnal woman and these “sons of God”. But, even though I do not take sides with this theory, I may even assume that this was the case and it will not change this issue at all: the demons may tempt because they are sinful and it would take a tempted woman to lie down with them, for we do not read that they were forced to do so as it might have happened as well then.

It takes but a sinful man to be tempted by another sinful being. And it takes a holy man to be taken by a Holy Being. Jesus said concerning Himself so: “for the prince of this world cometh, and hath found nothing in Me”, John 14:30. Temptation has this feature and capacity: to find something within man and to displace him. This is why “through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God”, Act.14:22: not that God wants to know what is there, but because He knows and man doesn’t. Temptation allows sin to breed and come out into clear light fully. To breed is bad, but to bring to the light is fatal to any kind of sin. This is why justice put in man by God will also be made aware unto man himself - it has to breed and be turned visible to become alive too. It is by knowing the truth that man will be set free - not by resisting through it (unless God so shows).

Temptation does not mean man has that sin within him, but rather that he might not have it at all and he might be being induced to have it – if he had it, he might not have been tempted at all, for he would just walk according to it! I do not believe the devil will arouse a sin that is installed within man by having that man take full notice of it once he is near Jesus. A sinful man is a lost man and if that man is unaware or confused concerning his sin, he is a double lost man. To take notice that that sin is there, opens the way to full salvation from it, unless man loves his sin and frets himself to be induced into it again and again, for the knowledge of it will induce man to flee for his life as well. The option left to the devil then, is to have such flee to the wrong place then, for he has taken full knowledge of his sin and "may" not take inward knowledge  of an indwelling Saviour or he will be made free. There is very little the devil can do and achieve from a saved man, saved-from-his-sin man, besides lying to such. He will use truth against a bound man to have him accused, however (or even some lies as well). 

But until man submits himself unto God fully, there is no way the devil will be overpowered. We are told to resist the devil and not so much the temptation coming from the devil. I agree people may have to cut off their right hand and eye in a certain stage of their life, but we may never ignore these words from Jesus. “IF your right hand or eye makes you stumble”; meaning that, if you have that sin in there and opportunity installs itself to make use of it, you must then choose to cut the object of sin off, rather than sin. But this piece of Scripture does not tell people to pluck a sound eye off, nor that a ill member of his body can not be made healthy again, once the devil tempts it. Submission unto all God is, as He really is, is the secret to overcome all sin - not self-power against the devil. Hope and pray christians do not fall into his net by resisting it. Nowhere in Scripture do we read we should resist the devil, but by submitting to God and His ways alone. One should do the right thing and not fight the wrong battle. Let the devil resist us - let's do the right thing and he the wrong one. "Let us walk becomingly, as in the day;...not in strife and envy", Rom 13:13 "...But I would have you truly wise as to good, and simple toward evil", Rom 16:19."Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with (being) good", Rom 12:21. "And if you do not do well, sin crouches at the door; and its desire is for you, and you shall rule over it", Gen.4:7. Do well then, above fighting evil. Amen.

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José Mateus