18 Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass. 19 Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord; and they testified against them, but they would not listen. (2 Chronicles 24:18–19, NKJV)
At first, Joash, the king of Judah, “did what was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chron. 24:2). Yet later, he listened to the leaders of Judah and fell away from the Lord (2 Chron. 24:15-17). Listening to the counsel of men rather than the prophets of God, Joash and Judah turned back to idol worship. Led by the king, they even killed the prophet, Zechariah, in the court of the temple, because he rebuked their sins (2 Chron. 24:20-21; Jesus referred to this in Matt. 23:34-36). Indeed, the prophets of God were “an example of suffering and patience” (Jas. 5:10). Now, God speaks to us “by His Son” through His apostles and prophets (Heb. 1:1-2; 2 Pet. 3:1-2). The choice between listening to the will of men or to the word of God remains. Shall we join with those who cried, “Crucify Him!” and reject His word, or shall we stand with “the apostles of the Lord and Savior” who spoke Christ’s truth (2 Pet. 3:2)? Will you listen to the Lord or men? That depends on whether you want to fulfill the will of God or the devil (Jno. 8:43-44).
3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:3–4, NKJV)
The devil tempted Jesus to perform a self-serving miracle. After all, Jesus was hungry after a 40-day fast (Matt. 4:2). If He were the Son of God, turning the stones into bread would be within His power and solve his hunger. The devil used His hunger to tempt an unholy use of His power. But Jesus did not yield to the temptation of the flesh to misuse His power for temporal pleasure. That would not be the way He would reveal Himself to the world as the Son of God. He would live by the word of God first, even at the expense of temporary physical pain (Deut. 8:3). We should follow the example of Jesus when we are tempted to please the flesh instead of keeping the word of God. God promises to sustain and fill our lives with our necessities as we seek first His kingdom His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). With trust in God, let us live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” and reject the temptation to satisfy the urges of the flesh that violate the will of God.
Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13, NKJV)
Jesus was tempted far more than three times (Lk. 4:3-12). He was tempted forty days in the wilderness, and He was tempted throughout His work on earth (Lk. 4:2; 22:28). Satan continued looking for the proper time to entice Jesus to sin. The devil never stops looking for opportunities to tempt us to sin. Never think you are beyond temptation. If you do, then the devil has you exactly where he wants you. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). We must be sober, watchful, and steadfast in the faith to resist the devil (1 Pet. 5:8-9). We are commanded to resist the devil (Jas. 4:7). Jesus showed us how. He used God’s word to resist temptations (Lk. 4:4, 8, 12). Truth is our great way of escape when the father of lies entices us to sin against God (1 Cor. 10:13). You are not alone in your temptations. Jesus has been there. He resisted the devil, and so can you.
3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. 4 And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you. (2 Thessalonians 3:3–4, NKJV)
Christians are urged to never doubt the faithfulness of the Lord. “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5). The Lord is always present to strengthen and preserve us from the devil and secure us in times of trial. However, this does not free us from our personal responsibility to watchfully “resist the devil” so that he will flee from us (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8). As verse 4 of today’s passage indicates, it is as we obey the commands of Christ’s apostles that our assurance of His strength and protection is realized. Standing fast in the Lord is inseparably connected to holding to the truth handed down to us by the apostles (2 Thessalonians 2:15). It is precisely when we choose not to hold fast this pattern of sounds words that we falter and give the devil an opening to settle into our hearts, much like he did in the life of Judas (2 Timothy 1:13; John 13:2, 27). Although Judas was with Jesus, he fell because he chose defiance and betrayal over trusting obedience to Jesus. Put all your trust in Jesus by obeying His commands. The Lord is faithful to secure you, and all who do so.
10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:10–11, NKJV)
Satan has devices, and we must understand them. If we fail to do so, he will take advantage of us, and lead us into sin. The word “devices” speaks more to the thinking, plans and purposes of the devil, than to the methods or tactics he uses to accomplish those plans (concerning his methods, see Ephesians 6:11). One of his purposes is to undermine peace and unity among Christians. Here, Paul identifies this device of Satan as an unwillingness to forgive a fellow Christian who has repented of his sins. The devil’s purpose is served when Christians are unwilling to reaffirm their love for a fallen Christian who is restored to Christ (2 Corinthians 2:8). When a fallen Christian is disciplined by the church, and brought to repentance, the devil will attempt to use this wonderful blessing to execute his disruptive plan. He tempts Christians to harbor ill will, bitterness and doubt toward the sinner to such an extent that, instead of confirming our love for him, some take a “hands off,” “wait and see” attitude before forgiving him. Such an approach prevents genuine forgiveness. It is not how Christ forgave us (Ephesians 5:31-32). It is a device of Satan; it is sin. We know how he thinks. Do not let him take advantage of you. He seeks your destruction.
10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another… (1 John 3:10–11, NKJV)
There are obvious differences between the children of God, and the children of the devil. This passage expresses those differences negatively. The person who does not practice righteousness, and the one who does not love his brother, is “not of God.” This is entirely consistent with the apostle’s declaration in Acts 10:35, that “whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” Practicing righteousness is equivalent to practicing truth, and walking in the light (1 John 1:6-7). Christians live their profession of faith by walking in truth, otherwise, they are “not of God,” and are without God’s approval. For you see, it is sin not to practice righteousness (1 John 3:7-8; James 4:17). As we practice righteousness, we must love our brethren, even as Jesus commanded from the beginning (1 John 13:34-35). The devil’s children do not practice righteousness or brotherly love. To them, these are unnecessary for God’s acceptance. It is a great deception to say how one lives as a Christian does not impact one’s divine approval now, and eternally. May we practice righteousness, and love our brethren. By this, we know we are of God.
13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13–14, NKJV)
The Christian must be spiritually alert every single day. The enemy is always stalking his prey, and he intends for you to be his next meal (1 Pet. 5:8). Like soldiers guarding a stronghold, we must not waver as we strive “together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). Moral courage is essential, and when added to your faith it helps you attain to the spiritual strength you need to battle the adversary (2 Pet. 1:5). The most striking part of Paul’s call to arms is the directive to do all things with love. Being steadfast in your faith and undeterred by the devil’s attacks is accomplished by loving God, His truth, your brethren and your enemies in all you say and do. The fight is on. Thanks be to God, “who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:43–44, NKJV)
Jesus challenged His audience to examine why they argued with Him and opposed His teachings. Why did they refuse to know and abide in the truth (Jno. 8:31-32)? Why couldn’t they understand what He was saying? Not because it was unknowable, but because they were not listening to Him with willing hearts. They were not committed to knowing and following His word (v. 43). Why were their hearts so closed that they would not believe and follow Jesus? Because they desired the sins of the devil instead of the truth of God (v. 44). The devil is a liar who convinces people not to believe the Bible, the word of God. He lies about Jesus, the Son of God. He lies about His gospel, God’s power to save. He lies about Christians as they follow the truth of Christ. At some point, all who reject the word of Jesus must face what is apparent: They are children of the devil, not children of God. That which we desire will be reflected in our attitude and actions toward Jesus and His word of truth.
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9, NKJV)
Peter has just assured us that the Lord constantly cares for us as we cast our cares upon Him (1 Pet. 5:7). While doing so we must be sober-minded and watchful. The devil is stalking us. Every temptation to sin must be met with the stiff and steady resistance of faith. The devil continues to look for the weak lamb and the straying sheep. We must constantly be on guard lest he slip up on us and overtake us. It helps us to know that our brethren in other places face the same kinds of threats we face. Resistance is not futile; Faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1 Jno. 5:4).
45 “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.” (John 8:45–47)
Isn’t it ironic that many who say they have faith in God refuse the very words that come from God? Jesus said, “But because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me” (Jno. 8:45). He told them the truth, but they wanted to do the desires of their father, the devil (Jno. 8:44). There is no truth in the devil. Sin always hinders us from believing the truth of Jesus. If you want to do the desires of God, your Father, then you will hear and believe the truth that Jesus taught. He spoke to the world the things that come from God (Jno. 8:26-27). God is speaking to you by the words of Christ. Are you listening? That will depend on whose desires you want to do; the devil’s or God’s.