First, Be. Then Do.
When we think of this question, “How to stand against the schemes of the Devil in the New Year?” we might first think of what we must do.
Remember the story of Elisha and his servant and how the Syrians surrounded them in the city of Dothan (2 Kings 6). Elisha’s servant cries out to Elisha: Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
But before you start thinking about doing something, the Apostle Paul would have you think differently. Instead, be.
Be who you are in the Lord.
Paul writes this way: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10).
Again, first, be who you are in the Lord. Paul is not unclear about this in his letter to the church at Ephesus.
Who are you as a Christian member of your church? Paul says that you are joined to Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone… “in whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:21).
And this is Paul’s point in fighting the schemes of the Devil. First, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
As a Christian–strong in the Lord–this means we are not to take any part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead [and here comes the doing] expose them (Ephesians 5:11).
Jesus’ words are appropriate here: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (i.e. wealth)” (Matthew 6:24).
So, how do we fight against the schemes of the Devil?
Be who you are in the Lord. Be strong in the power of his might.
This is the way of Jesus. From Matthew 4, we learn of the Devil tempting Jesus. How did Jesus withstand the Devil?
Again, first, be.
The Holy Spirit had just anointed him at the Jordan River in his baptism. Now, at this time of temptation in the wilderness, Jesus is being who he is. The Son of God.
And as children of God in our homes, this is who we are to be. Children of God.
And being the children of God, Paul reminds us what we possess in the many blessings of the Christian life.
Here’s a short list just from the first five verses of Ephesians:
God’s grace and peace (1:2)
All spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (1:3)
Chosen in him before the foundation of the world (1:4)
Predestined unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ (1:5)
Now Paul also calls us to put on the whole armor of God. To “put on the whole armor of God” is a type of command, something that we should do. But, it really is a command to put to good use something we already possess in the Lord (shield of faith, helmet of salvation, etc.). We’ll consider this armor next time.
WHAT TO FIGHT: THE SCHEMES OF THE DEVIL
Let’s Do This.
So what schemes of the Devil do we need to fight while being in union with Christ and enjoying his blessings?
And how can family worship (reading the Bible, praying, singing) assist in the battle?
The first thing that might come to mind about the schemes of the Devil is the legalization of abortion or same-sex marriages at the U.S. Supreme Court.
And you’re not wrong in thinking that way. But, before we go to the Capital, think about our own homes.
SCHEMES OF THE DEVIL CLOSE TO HOME
To be honest, I don’t readily think about the scheming of the Devil when there is sin showing up in my home. Unkind words. Bitterness. Covetousness. But when considering this letter to the Ephesians, I realize more often how the scheming of the Devil can show up in my home.
Notice how Paul describes the sins that can be within the home in which we can give opportunity to the Devil and serve him (Eph. 4:27).
Sensuality (Eph. 4:19)
Greed (Eph. 4:19)
Falsehood (Eph. 4:25)
Stealing (Eph. 4:28)
Corrupt talking (Eph. 4:29)
Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and slander (Eph. 4:31)
Sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness (Eph. 5:3)
Filthiness, foolish talk, crude joking (Eph. 5:4)
In the Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has Uncle Screwtape, the senior official of the Underworld, teaching his nephew Wormwood to find the weak spot in a certain person on earth.
Uncle Screwtape states:
“It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
In our homes we are first being what God calls us to be: worshippers. Our reading the Bible, praying and singing to the Lord steers us away from that gentle slope descending to the Devil’s purpose.
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I quite enjoy the quote by Abraham Kuyper (Prime Minister of the Netherlands; 1901-1905) who says:
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
And this is true for our homes as well. Our homes are God’s homes. As Matthew Henry states: They are little churches. They are holy unto the Lord.
As holy unto the Lord, we are to be fighting the schemes of the Devil. Again, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.”
Pastor Douglas Wilson states in his book, Rules For Reformers:
“When fighting principalities and powers in high places, the preacher should take care to aim low…where the sin is.”
And so should we as fathers.
We should be taking inventory in our homes. What are the sins of the family?
How do I need to help the family fight the schemes of the Devil? How can I help them realize who they are in Christ so that they are prepared to do what is needed? What doors into my home do I need to keep shut (e.g. certain movies, music, friends) to prevent the influence of the Devil leading my family to sin?
Why should we do this? Again, it’s because of what God has made us to be and then, to do.
Our prayers as fathers is to lead in family worship so that our families experience being strong in the Lord and the victory we have in Jesus.
For example, Pastor Phillip Kayser has a great resource for praying with the family called “An Hour of Prayer: A Practical Guide To 12 Kinds of Prayer.” One of the twelve kinds of prayers he includes is spiritual warfare. It’s worth getting the download.
Here is a sample prayer by Pastor Kayser regarding spiritual warfare (23):
“I recognize that Satan and the kingdom of darkness over which he rules have plotted and strategized against revival with relentless effort. Satan has built carefully his kingdom to oppose all that is holy and good. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…I pray the focus of the mighty victory of the cross and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ directly against Satan’s plans to hinder revival….”
Let’s not fool ourselves. Reformation in the home can be messy. But it should not lead to despair. When pleading the words of Elisha’s fearful servant, “What shall we do?” let’s ask God to help us be who God has called us to be: Strong in the Lord.
In what ways are you and your family wrestling against the schemes of the Devil?
Where else would you go in the Bible for encouragement to be strong in the Lord?