THE DEVIL'S PERSISTENCE
We will all agree that there is no good thing about Satan who has been a thief, a killer and a destroyer of the human race since he was thrown out of heaven for his rebellion against God. You may think that Satanists who worship Satan like him, but you will get to understand how terribly their so called master treats them, especially whenever they fail to carry out the evil assignments he gives them, hence they serve him just for the reasons of fear and for their lust of power over their fellow humans to inflict pain at will, and in no way do they serve him because they love him or even because he loves them.
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However we will also be able to agree unanimously with the fact that there is something the devil is good at in his bid to fulfill his mission to steal, kill and destroy human souls (John 10:10), and that fact is his persistence. This old serpent who stalked Eve in the garden of Eden, has no virtues at all, but is good at persistently employing his subtle means to tempt and to attack man. We often think that the event recorded in Genesis chapter 3 of Eve’s temptation by Satan to eat from the forbidden tree was carried out in one day, but I seem to think it may have been a matter that kept on for days with Eve and the serpent engaging in that debate about God’s commandment against eating from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the garden of Eden. It must have been Satan’s persistence at persuading Eve to disregard God’s command that won him that victory at turning man against God. But how does Satan employ this weapon of persistence which he has? Let us now consider few of the examples that have been outlined in the Holy Bible.
A foremost example of the devil’s persistence is to be seen in the story of the great Patriarch and father of faith, Abraham and his wife Sarah. At the time of Abraham’s wait for the promised child and heir of his estate that God had promised him after many years of his wife’s barrenness, the old serpent once again crept in to employ his weapon. He comes to Sarah and suggests to her to get Abraham to sleep with their maid, Hagar the Egyptian, and have a child through her which they will adopt. Sarah buys this idea and tells it to her husband (Genesis 16:3). We will know for one thing that Abraham believed God’s promise strongly and would not just have given into his wife’s suggestion in one day. Hence Sarah must have persistently mounted pressure on him to do this action which has now plunged the world into the great religious conflict between the children of God’s promised heir and the children of the bond woman. Once again we see the devil’s persistence at work in bringing to pass his evil agenda.
We move on to see another of the devil’s persistence at work as we consider the story of the encounter of Joseph and the wife of Potiphar his master in the land of Egypt (Genesis 39). Mrs. Potiphar suddenly became very attracted to Joseph and lusted after him and planned to get him to sleep with her. We will know how these things work and we will definitely understand that she did not just walk up to Joseph one day to ask him to sleep with her, rather she may have started off trying to seduce him. Think of her wearing revealing dresses whenever Joseph was around her in the house. Think of her trying to get him closer to her by scheduling some tasks for Joseph which would leave him alone with her for long periods of time. See that she must have been quite persistent at employing this scheme. However, when Joseph would not notice anything she was doing, the plot had to be taken to the next dimension where she openly tells Joseph of her desires. Of course this seed of Abraham was too connected to God to be taken in to do such great evil of sleeping with another man’s wife. We seem to still hear that loud “No” that Joseph answered to Mrs.Potiphars demand. Yet, for the devil’s persistence, Mrs. Potiphar kept at her demand day after day as we have recorded in Genesis chapter 39:10. And then came that day that her persistence wore thin and she was ready to force him into the act and rape him. How woefully the devil’s persistence failed in this story, for instead of succumb to Mrs.Potiphars tight grip on his garments, Joseph chose to leave the garments in her hands and flee from the house naked. O how I wish that all of God’s children will be like Joseph in their hatred of sin and in their resisting the devil persistently and winning over all his schemes.
We see the devil’s persistence also in the story of Samson and Delilah, a story I hope you know about. The mighty man of valour and Judge of Israel, Samson, was reduced to just a piece of bread by means of inappropriate relationship with Delilah, a Philistine woman (Proverbs 6:26). She needed to get him to reveal the secret of his great strength in order to capture and destroy him, and she succeeded with the weapon of persistence (Judges 16:6-18). But how will a man be told clearly to reveal his secrets so that his enemies can bind and capture him, and instead of run as fast as possible away from the tempter, he lingered on and played hard to get? What Samson failed to realize was the fact that his tempter was a persistent tempter. Every time he gave a wrong clue to the secret of his strength and mocked the Philistines who came at him, he would have thought that Delilah would get fed up and give up the request, but no, she kept on asking with words that cut Samson to the heart every time until he told her all she needed to know to get his enemies to overpower him.
Again we see the devil’s persistence in the story of Job. Satan had stolen all of Job’s possessions including his children and his health, because God let him do so in order to affirm His testimony of Job’s steadfast trust in Him. In all of Job’s losses, he did not speak against God but continued to trust that God will redeem him at the right time. But the devil was not done yet with his ploy to get Job, Job’s wife became the next weapon to be used against him (Job 2:1-10). Think of her applying some balm to Job’s sores and just gently asking him if there was any need for him to continue living in such ill condition. Think of Job not responding to such suggestions, though it is made day in and day out, until the day came that she boldly said to him, “How long will you continue like this? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9, paraphrased), and Job had to rebuke her sternly. That righteous man Job must here give us an example of steadfastness despite the devil’s persistent attacks and temptations.
Many more examples abound in Scripture to show the devil’s persistence in carrying out his wicked schemes. Many good men became stained and their good testimonies tainted because they failed to watch against the devil’s persistent attacks. Good Aaron would never have dreamed of setting up an idol for the children of Israel to worship instead of the God who had mightily delivered them from the bondage of Egypt, but he did this when the persistent cries of the children of Israel, “make for us a god” became louder, louder and deafening (Exodus 32:1-5). Gideon had torn down the idol altars of his father’s house and the Lord had given him victory over the Midianites, the ravaging enemies of his people, yet the devil persistently got him to set up another altar, a golden ephod, in celebration of his victory, which became a snare of idolatry to him and to his family (Judges 6, 8:27). Think about David and Bathsheba, the snare of pornography lay in wait for this great king of Israel who had never lost any battle with enemy nations, and once caught in it, it led to adultery and then to murder thus tainting David’s record (2 Samuel 11). Think of wise Solomon who served the Lord faithfully at youth but had his strange wives turn his loyalty from the true God to the worship of his wives idols in old age. It must have taken persistence of these women to see this wise man turn from the God that had so blessed him to serve the vile idols of men (1 Kings 11). Jezebel’s persistence at doing evil, misleading the people of Israel and threatening to take Elijah’s life got this great prophet to despair to the point that he sought God to take his life before Jezebel would (1 Kings 19:2-4). We will not forget Judas Iscariot, who fell to the devil’s persistent temptation to crave after ill-gotten wealth. He went from stealing from the disciples’ purse which he held to selling off his master, our Lord Jesus Christ for only thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14 – 16). These and many more examples are there to show just how persistently the devil stalks the people of God to cause their downfall.
Why do we have to take such a long time to bring up these examples, you may ask. It is for the sole purpose of bringing to our notice the nature of the foe we are up against as we seek to live for God in this world. God let us know the stories of these people so that we may learn to avoid their mistakes and to follow the path they trod to success. Jesus Christ, our Lord, has already won for us the battle against Satan, the enemy of our souls, but we have to live to defend that victory against a persistent foe who would not just admit defeat but fight on until the final day he is thrown into the bottomless pit. We must keep our armour on and be always ready for the fight of faith against this foe. Let us remember that until our last day in this world we are bound to be tempted. Let us never forget that our Lord Jesus Christ was also tempted by this persistent foe three times and more in the course of his life in this world, and because He overcame all of them, we shall also overcome.
I will not end this subject without drawing parallels between the situations we face today and the Biblical examples that has already been listed here. Never forget the story of Joseph and Mrs. Potiphar when your female secretary, male boss or colleague of the other gender in the workplace keeps edging closer and closer to you beyond the limit of formal conduct and balanced relationship. Remember then that they will persist in their bid to entangle you in sin, therefore be ready to resist the tempter with all your strength and run if you may. Remember that the nagging problems you may be facing now is after your faith, therefore resolve to reject all suggestions to seek solution away from God. You may have some close persons who will advise you to seek out a witch-doctor or sorcerer to get healing for your sickness. Understand that they will persist, but let your faith hold ever strongly in God and you will see His amazing wonder working power. You may get very persistent appeals to falsify official records, to marry an unbeliever because you are getting too old and they seem to be the only ones proposing to you, to quit being a Christian all together and join some of the eastern and western cults around, to do internet fraud because you have graduated and have not got a job many years after; but never forget who is behind all these life circumstances; a persistent devil aiming at destroying your faith in God, ruining your destiny and dragging you down the road of hell. I once watched a sketch of a Mount Zion films movie where a young and vibrant evangelist was the target of some demonic powers. They tried to get him to fall into fornication but could not. They tried to get him angry but could not. They tried to weaken his faith but could not, and then after many years had passed, they got him to become proud, such that he would no longer listen to God’s direction but do whatever he wanted, thus falling from grace. Dear minister of the Gospel, you are a terror to the kingdom of darkness, therefore understand that they will always be after you to cause your downfall. Never give place to the devil.
In conclusion, you need to understand and apply the very important key to overcoming the devil’s persistent attacks and temptations which is to resist him steadfastly. 1st Peter 5: 8-9 tells us this:“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” We must resist the devil and he will flee from us as James 4:7 tells us “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”, but we must do so steadfastly and at all times because he may persist. You have with you the great weapons that are mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, therefore use them effectively to fight off the devil. Pray ceaselessly and fervently. Use the word of God at all times to counter the devil’s suggestions or demands, and stand always upon the blood of Jesus Christ and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit upon your life to overcome this persistent devil. Fight to the end, and never succumb to the evil one. Finally watch as you pray, in order to detect immediately the strategy of the tempter and resist it before it goes any further (Matthew 26:41).
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