BATTLE OF THE WILLS: Keeping the Devil at Bay

                The Bible records the unfolding eternal purpose of God. It’s a conflict of the ages—the ultimate good versus evil, and a story of redemption. It’s also a record of the battle of wills—the will of God versus the will of the created.


Lucifer (the exalted cherub) had it all with his position of privilege, beauty, and wisdom. When his heart was lifted up due to his beauty and brightness, his wisdom became corrupted. He desired to rise above the boundary that God had set for him and be like the Most High God (Isa. 14:13-14, Ezek. 28:12). He said in his heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:13-14). Following his own will instead of God’s led to his fall (Isa. 14:15, Ezek. 28:17-19) and ultimately to his demise (Heb. 2;14, 1 John 3:8). Mankind shortly after followed suit as they believed in Satan’s (fallen Lucifer, aka the serpent) lie that they could be as God (Gen. 3, Rev. 12:7). All who come after Adam, born of the woman, have the same free will to choose God’s ways or to trust in their own understanding (Prov. 3:5-7).


                After Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden, Eve bore two sons, the first Cain and the next was Abel. Abel trusted in God’s ways, but Cain trusted in his own (Gen. 4). Cain welcomed sin and its desire led to the first recorded murder (and an important indicator that pride (trusting in self) gives place to the devil). “Cain who was of the wicked one” murdered his brother because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous (1 John 3:12, Heb. 11:4). Cain’s name would become forever synonymous with the evil way (‘raising Cain’–meaning ‘raising hell’ or ‘raising the devil ‘). Many others would follow after ‘the way of Cain’ (Jude 1:11).


                After the flood, God blessed Noah and his sons and told them to be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth (Gen. 9:1). Sadly, through the line of Noah’s son Ham, his descendent Nimrod led a rebellion in defiance of God. He encouraged all to unify in one place and build a city for themselves, and a tower whose top is in the heavens in order to make a name for themselves (desiring to be their own gods) (Gen. 11:4). God will not be mocked and whatever man sows, he will also reap (if not immediately, eventually) (Gal. 6:7). Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though they join forces, none will go unpunished (Prov. 16:5). Even though God has allowed mankind free will, He is ultimately in control and even uses Satan and evil for His larger purposes (Prov. 16:4). When man’s will (plans) interfere with God’s ultimate will He steps in (Prov. 16:9), and He did so in this instance when He scattered the people abroad over the face of the earth and confounded their language (hence the name ‘Babel’) (Gen. 11:5-9).


                God, the Creator, is not mortal, fallible, or corruptible so His thoughts and ways are so much different and superior than anything He’s created (Isa. 55:8-9). Even though God has clearly revealed His invisible attributes, eternal power, and Godhead through the things He has made (creation), men and women have chosen not to glorify Him nor be thankful. They’re naturally bent on doing things their own way (independent of God). The irony is as they profess themselves to be wise, they become fools and become futile in their thinking. They exchange the truth of God for the lie— and worship and serve the corruptible creature rather than the incorruptible Creator (Romans 1:18-32).  The three things that men boast of and trust in are wisdom, power, and riches. God’s way of thinking is not only superior in relation to what He’s created, but it flip-flops the worlds way of thinking. God chooses the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty. He chooses meaningless things of the world and the things which are despised, and the things which are not valued in society to bring to nothing the things that are prized in the world. Why? —For the sole purpose that no flesh should glory (boast) in in His presence—He that glories, let him glory in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:27-31, Jer. 9:23). And that brings us to the epitome of humility and obedience—


The long-awaited Messiah of the Jews was born in a lowly manger (Luke 2:7). There was no outer beauty that attracted men and women to Him, in fact He was despised and rejected (Isa. 53:2-3). His triumphal procession as their king was on a donkey, not a steed (and not just a donkey, the foal of one) (Zech. 9:9, John 12:12-15). Jesus Christ was obedient to the Father unto death on the cross (Phil.2:5-8, Gal. 3:13). One only has to look at His recorded words in the Scriptures during His time on earth prior to His crucifixion (note the contrast of ‘not my will’ vs. Lucifer’s ‘I will’):

• “…I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father Who sent Me” (John 5:30);

• “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him Who sent Me” (John 6:38);

• “…My doctrine is not Mine, but His Who sent Me” (John 7:16);

And knowing that the time for His crucifixion was near He prayed, “…not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus could then truly say to God the Father, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4).

And to further support God’s ways are not the ways of the world, He exalts the humble in due time. After Christ’s supreme sacrifice, “… God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).


                The above rhyme popped in my head one day and has actually come in handy, (especially when I’m out driving my car) (nothing like a little humility on the road).  Boy that prideful nature can sure rear its ugly head when we’re fixated on our will and desires instead of looking solely to God and being obedient to His will.

                Here’s the thing, Satan is a liar and an accuser of those who believe (John 8:44, Rev. 12:7, 10). He not only desires to suppress God’s truth, he wants to take away the believer’s focus from worshipping God, their Creator, and instead turn them toward worshipping the creature or created (whether it be self, or anything or any person of the world that we idolize or put in the place of God). To be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God (Rom. 8:5, 7-8, James 4:4, 1 John 2:16-17).


                God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempt any man. Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Lust brings forth sin and sin death (Gen. 4:7, James 1:13-15, Prov. 29:6, 25). 

God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up (James 4:6-7, 10, Prov. 3:34, 1 Pet. 5:5-6). Beware of false humility (it’s a façade for pride and a trap) (Col. 2:18, 23).

Since our flesh has nothing good to offer us (Rom. 7:18, Phil. 3:3), this is the realm in which Satan desires to tempt us in. His method involves luring the believer into his trap by stirring up and energizing their corrupt flesh to sin (Rom. 13:12, 14, Eph. 4:22, 26-27)). 

“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back” (Prov. 29:11).

Emotions are a part of being human, but we need to be mindful of what’s ruminating in our head and take each thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5). This means submitting to the Lord and allowing His Spirit to give us self-control so that we do not act on our emotions and sin (Eph. 4:26-27, Gal. 5:23, Tit. 1:8, 2 Pet. 1:6).

Pride exalts itself above the knowledge of God and brings about shame, strife, and destruction (2 Cor. 10:5, Prov. 11:2, 13:10, 16:18, 28:25). We live in volatile times where there are many destitute of the truth—those who are already in the snare of the devil to do his bidding (2 Tim. 2:25-26, Prov. 29:25, 1 Tim. 6:9). They are proud and obsessed with disputes and arguments over words from which come envy, and strife that stir up the flesh. We are not to engage with them but withdraw as this is a trap (1 Tim. 6:4-5, 2 Tim. 2:4, 3:2-5). Contrarily a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition (2 Tim. 2:24-25).  In God’s economy, when we are weak, He is strong. We can submit to God and rely on His sufficient grace, trusting in His ways and direction (Eph. 6:10, 2 Cor. 12:7-10, Phil. 4:19).  You see although God has allowed the whole world to lie in wickedness due to the fall and sin entering in as a consequence, Satan is a defeated foe (1 John 5:19, 5:4-5). Greater is He Who is in us then he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Satan knows he can’t touch the believer’s eternal security, so deception is his mode of diversion and trap setting (Eph. 1:13-14, 1 John 5:18, Col. 3:3). Fear and worry are of the devil (2 Tim. 1:7, Prov. 29:25, Phil. 4:6-7). We have access to God’s Word which is living and powerful and as Christ used it on earth (when Satan came to tempt Him), we can as well, (but you can’t use effectively what you don’t know) (Heb. 4:12, Matt. 4:1-11, 2 Tim. 3:16-17).  Correctly handling God’s Word should be our priority as this will keep our walk lowly even though our calling is on high where our focus should be (2 Tim. 2:15, Eph. 4:1-2, Col. 1:9-11, 3:1-3, Phil. 3:14). The time will come when we’ll be lifted up and our present bodies of humiliation will be fashioned like His glorious body (Phil. 3:20-21, Col. 3:4). Until then be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (not your own) (Eph. 6:10, Col. 3:12).



“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: … Like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.” Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

Isn’t it funny how much of what goes on in the world is beyond our understanding and yet we think we can steer and control it?  I’m learning that doing so is a great waste of time. There’s so much going on ‘behind the scenes’ in the spiritual realm that would blow our minds if we were privy to it all. God’s only allowed us small glimpses of it. See Job 1:6-12, 2 Kings 6:16-17, Dan. 9:21, 10:11-13, 20-21, Eph. 6:12, Jude 9, and Rev. 12:7.

                THE ONE EVENT

It’s part of human nature to be fixated on self. Ironically, it doesn’t matter how rich, famous, beautiful, fit, skilled, talented, or wise one is, the one event that happens to everyone (regardless of status) is DEATH (Eccl. 9:11-12).  Man, like a bird caught in a snare, does not know when death will suddenly fall upon him (Eccl. 9:11-12).  All the tiresome toils and passing pleasures of this life can be traced back to the nature and fall of man.  One wouldn’t be wrong in saying that the consequences of it were life changing as man and woman no longer had access to the Tree of Life.  Now bound in time—life subject to limitations—it advances toward the one event that brings them back to the dust that they came from (Gen. 2:7, 17, 3:19, Eccl. 12:7, 1 Cor. 15:47, Ps. 103:14).

                GOD’S TIME IS NOT OUR TIME

All’s not fair in this life. Often the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. The question, “Why would a loving God permit evil and suffering in the world?” is a common one. God’s allowed men and women to have freewill, giving each to choose to follow what’s good or what’s evil.  God’s already provided a remedy for sin and His mercy and longsuffering are beyond human comprehension (John 3:16, Rom. 5:8, Ps. 86:15, 2 Pet. 3:9). To us mere mortals, ensnared in a fallen world, it may seem like an eternity, but God’s timing is always perfect. His work goes beyond the scope and sphere of our work and His purpose dates back before time began, and continues on after it’s ended. We’re unable to ‘find out the work that God does from the beginning to the end’ (Eccl. 3:11, Rom. 11:33-36, Acts 1:7, Ps. 115:3, Isa. 40:28). So why do we think we can?

The endless cycle of human experience described in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a faint echo of the mighty purpose of the ages.  Whatever God does, it will be forever. Not a thing can be added to it or taken from it (Eccl. 3:14).  God works in the way He does ‘that men should fear before Him’ (Eccl. 3:14). This fear of the Lord (reverence) is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7). It’s only the “beginning” as Job discovered (Job 42:5-6, James 5:11).  King Solomon found that the conclusion of all his searching and testing was to “Fear God and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13).


When men no longer fear God they sin without hesitation. The fear of consequences isn’t a deterrent when the fear (reverence) of God is gone. Proverbs 19:21 says, “There are many devices (schemes) in a man’s heart, yet the counsel of the Lord shall stand.”  Yet throughout the ages man has turned to the creature and not the Creator to seek counsel apart from God using everything from fortune tellers with crystal balls to tarot cards and horoscopes. Even turning to witches, enchanters, wizards—those who use spells, divination or consult with familiar (evil) spirits to seek the dead. These are of no real help and an abomination to the Lord (Rom. 1:25, Ps. 115:4-8, 146:3-4, Deut. 18:10-12, Lev. 19:26-31, 1 Tim. 4:1-3, 2 Tim. 4:3-4, Titus 1:10-16). This in the end led to King Saul’s demise (1 Chron. 10:13-14). 


Jesus’ death and resurrection has given the believer a hope and a purpose to wait patiently and endure this present evil age.  If the dead won’t rise then the “Let’s eat, drink for tomorrow we die” mentality would suffice. But that’s not the case. The counsel of the Lord will stand and all works will be brought into judgement (Eccl. 12:14, Ps. 37:1-2, Heb. 10:23). Sin came through disobedience while righteousness comes through obedience (Rom. 5:12, 19). “Though He were a son, yet learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8, 12:2, 1 Pet. 2:21-24).  Obedience is the cadence in which a believer must learn to walk in. One can’t bypass suffering in the chain of events that lead to hope (Rom. 5:3-4).  Being conformed to Christ’s likeness happens as the believer has faith through trying times, while keeping their eye on the prize (Rom. 8:29, Phil. 3:14, 20-21, 2 Tim. 4:7-8, 2: Cor. 4:8-10, 16-18). Though we may not understand it, God disciplines because He desires for us to be partakers of His holiness. It’s not always pleasant going through it but afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb. 12:5-11, Gal. 6:8-9, 2 Tim. 2:11, 2 Cor. 4:17-18).


Our finite minds can only see in part. It’s not for the created to question the Creator. God justifies man/woman when they come to Christ and receive Him as Savior, knowing that it’s not based on any merit of their own. The believer becomes a new creation and learns to live and walk by faith, not by sight (Eph. 2:8-10, 2 Cor. 5:17, 7, Gal. 2:20).   Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”  God sees the whole staircase.  He knows where it’s going. We need to trust and obey His direction and will in our lives. Even when we trip and fall, we need to get up and take the next step in faith, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began (Titus 1:2).

May the poem, “The Weaver”, by holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom, inspire you to see with eyes of faith:

“My life is but a weaving
between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaves steadily.

Oft’ times He weaves sorrow;
and I in foolish pride
forget He sees the upper
and I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
and the shuttles cease to fly
will God unroll the canvas
and reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
in the weaver’s skillful hand
as the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
who leave the choice to Him.”