“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”
Keep them from the evil one
Christians have the confidence of knowing that God will keep them. We have Jesus’ prayer for assurance–the prayer of a righteous man has great power as it is working–and we also have the promise that God will answer His prayer.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:3; “The Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”
- 1 John 5:18; “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”
- Psalms 121:1-8; “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He owns His sheep, He keeps His sheep, He protects them.
- John 10:8-15; “All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
A hired hand flees
If a hired hand watched over Jesus’ sheep, he would surely flee at the first glimpse of danger. Why? Because, Jesus says, he doesn’t own the sheep–he doesn’t care for them. In contrast, Jesus purchased us with His own blood and, consequently, cares for us more deeply than we could ever imagine. He will never flee, He will never run, He will always protect us.
His sheep may go through difficult times. We aren’t excluded from trials and troubles. And though we have the promise of God’s protection, we have seen how he allowed Satan to test Job. But let us be comforted that He will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure.
- 1 Corinthians 10:13; “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
God is faithful. He will establish us and guard us against the evil one and He will never allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to endure. Nevertheless, will not put our trust in our strength. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1, “We do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
When it seems God has left us (He hasn’t), when it seems tribulation is greater than we can endure (it will never be), let us follow Paul’s example and rely, not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Satan demanded to have you
The devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. We learn from Job’s story that he even asks permission from God to harass people. He is not a make-believe entity who merely represents evil, He is real, and He spends his time ravaging the earth.
- 1 Peter 5:8-9; “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
But I have prayed for you
The warning we have concerning the devil is not to make us afraid, but to make us aware and watchful. And we have the same encouragement Peter had: Jesus prays for us.
- Hebrews 7:23-25; “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but [Jesus] holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
- Romans 8:34; “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
Though the devil wants to destroy us, we have an advocate.
- Zechariah 3:1-5; “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?’ Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ And to him he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.’ And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.”
- 1 John 2:1-2; “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
- Hebrews 9:24; “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”
“And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.'”
Ephesians 6:16 tells us that in the spiritual battle we wage, faith is a shield for us in very circumstance. No matter what fiery dart the devil shoots at us, faith will quench it. One of the ways faith manifests itself in our lives is through prayer. That is, if we truly believe God–if we truly rely on Him–we will be inclined to call out to Him in trouble.
The first line of defense we have against temptation is prayer. We can think of it simply as taking refuge in God, seeking His protection, taking shelter under His wings. Before temptation comes, we can run to the Lord, petition Him to strengthen us and lead us, not into temptation, but into righteousness.
Now, the Lord knows how weak we are without Him. He knows our spirit is willing but our flesh is weak. He even knows we may not know how to pray, so He has given us some psalms for guidance.
- Psalm 19:13; “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
- Psalm 119:116-117; “Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope! Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually!”
- Psalm 119:133; “Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.”
“Sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
I’ve heard it said, “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.” I’m half inclined to say that’s true. But amongst the church, I would say a far greater deceit would be the lie that we have no power, no strength, no ability to stand against the power of sin and the wiles of the devil.
Sin will have no dominion over you
The devil does not want you, Christian, to know the truth about sin. Sin has no dominion over you. You are not a slave to it. You are not obligated in any way to indulge in it. You are free from its reins.
- Romans 6:3-14 “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
- John 8:34-36 “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'”
As long as we still consider ourselves weak and powerless against sin, we will remain enslaved and obedient to it. That’s why Satan does not want you to know about your freedom. He does not want you to believe that whom the Son sets free will be free indeed. He knows that if you realize this and walk in your freedom, exercising your right as a child of God to submit yourself to the Lord as an instrument of righteousness, he will have no stronghold over your life.
You are not under law but under grace
1 Corinthians 15:56 says, “The power of sin is the law.” Sin gets it’s strength in the unattainable requirements of the law. Paul says it this way: “If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me;” Romans 7:7-11.
Satan does not want you to know that you have been freed from the law through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He wants you to think you are still held hostage by its demands. For if you are still under the law sin is still strong and grace is ineffectual to you.
- Galatians 3:10-14 “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’ Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”
- Colossians 2:13-15 “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
Through faith in Jesus Christ we have been freed from the law. He bore our curse to redeem us. Having redeemed us, He gave us the Spirit. He forgave us all trespasses and disarmed all rulers and authorities. We are dead to sin and alive to God.
Satan does not want you to know this.
Satan wants you to think you’re weak. Satan wants you to think the legal demands of the law still stand against you. He knows that if you consider yourself a helpless victim, you will continue to be enslaved. Oppression by the hand of a weak bully is only as strong as the mind of the subjacent who has been deceived.
Here’s what God wants you to know: you have His Holy Spirit. Through Him, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” Everything we need for life is in Him. Everything we need for godliness is in Him. We have His fruit, we have His life, we have His strength. Now let us walk as those who have passed from death into life, no longer presenting ourselves as weak, helpless slaves to unrighteousness, but presenting ourselves as strong, emboldened, empowered servants of Christ.