Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Resist the Devil by John MacArthur

James’s second command goes hand in hand with the first: “Resist the devil” (4:7). Unfortunately, modern American society, by and large, is characterized by resistance to God’s standards and tolerance of the devil’s.

In fact, most of our society’s values in recent years have been shaped by the devil’s agenda. The problem is becoming worse every year as our culture becomes more and more brazen in rejecting the God of Scripture and embracing a devilish worldview.

To cite one example from the popular culture, fifty years ago on television, Ozzie Nelson and family portrayed the average American household on television; but [in early2002], the highest rated cable television program in history features heavy-metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his quintessentially dysfunctional family. Few realized it when The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was on the air in the 1950s and ’60s, but Ozzie Nelson was a committed atheist. (He later revealed his atheism in an autobiography published in the 1970s.) The ’50s sitcom was not overtly anti-Christian, of course, but God was conspicuously absent from the Nelsons’ family life. Ozzy Osbourne, on the other hand, makes no secret of his infatuation with Satan, and that is plainly reflected in his family’s lifestyle. The road from Ozzie Nelson to Ozzy Osbourne perfectly illustrates how bold society has become in overtly promoting evil and the agenda of the evil one. That is the drift of American culture.

 People who truly desire God’s blessing must resist the devil and his schemes. That means before we have a right to expect God to bless us, we must turn away from the evil that hinders that blessing. For many Americans—Christians included—that calls for major changes in lifestyle and interests.

The devil and his influence are more prevalent in American culture than most people realize. Scripture says those who practice sin are “of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Jesus told even the religious scribes and Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do” (John 8:44). All who resist God are, in effect, in league with the devil, whether they realize it or not.

But resisting the devil doesn’t mean we should declare war on unbelievers. Nor does this call us to engage in the kind of antics some people think constitutes “spiritual warfare”—pretending to command demons, prayer marches, “spiritual mapping,” and other superstitious nonsense. It simply means we ourselves must forsake evil, say no to temptation, and refuse everything that would advance the program of the evil one. Above all, we should be alert to the wiles of the devil and fortify ourselves against his deceit and his cunning (Ephesians 6:11) by resisting the father of lies with God’s truth.

MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2002). Can God bless America?: The Biblical pathway to blessing (12–14). Nashville, TN: W Pub. Group.