THE STRONGHOLD OF THE GODLY: HUMILITY
Satan fears virtue. He is terrified of humility; he hates it. He sees a humble person and it sends chills down his back. His hair stands up when Christians kneel down, for humility is the surrender of the soul to God. The devil trembles before the meek because in the very areas where he once had access, there stands the Lord, and Satan is terrified of Jesus Christ.
Who Truly Are You Fighting?
You will remember that, at the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, the judgment of God against the devil was that he should “eat dust.” Remember also that God said of man, “dust thou art” (Gen. 3:14–19 kjv). The essence of our carnal nature—of all that is carnal in nature—is dust. We need to see the connection here: Satan feeds upon our earthly, carnal nature of “dust.” Satan dines on what we withhold from God.
Therefore, we need to recognize that the immediate source of many of our problems and oppressions is not demonic but fleshly in nature. We must contend with the fact that one aspect of our lives, our flesh nature, will always be targeted by the devil. These fleshly areas supply Satan with a ready avenue of access to undermine our prayers and neutralize our walk with God.
It is only our exaggerated sense of self-righteousness that prevents us from looking honestly at ourselves. We know who is in us, but we must also know what is in us if we will be successful in our war against the devil. Therefore, be specific when you submit yourself to God. Do not rationalize your sins and failures. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is a perfect shelter of grace enabling all men to look honestly at their needs. Accordingly, be honest with God. He will not be horrified or shocked by your sins. God loved you without restraint even when sin was rampant within you; how much more will He continue to love you as you seek His grace to be free from iniquity?
Before we launch out in aggressive warfare, we must realize that many of our battles are merely the consequences of our own actions. To war effectively, we must separate what is of the flesh from what is of the devil.
Allow me to give you an example. My wife and I once lived in an area where a beautiful red cardinal kept its nest. Cardinals are very territorial and will fight off intruding cardinals zealously. At that time, we owned a van which had large side mirrors and chrome bumpers. Occasionally, the cardinal would attack the bumpers or mirrors, thinking his reflection was another bird. One day, as I watched the cardinal assail the mirror, I thought, “What a foolish creature; his enemy is merely the reflection of himself.” Immediately the Lord spoke to my heart, “And so also are many of your enemies the reflection of yourself.”
Before we have any strategy for attacking Satan, we must make sure that the real enemy is not our own carnal nature. We must ask ourselves: are the things oppressing us today the harvest of what we planted yesterday?
Agree with Thine Adversary
You will remember that Jesus taught: “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” —Matthew 5:25–26 kjv
Jesus is speaking here of more than avoiding lawsuits. In fact, He speaks in such a way as to indicate that, in regards to this particular adversary and this particular judge, we will always lose our case and end up in prison.
This parable explains God’s view of human righteousness. In the narrative, the adversary is the devil and the Judge is God. Satan, as our adversary, stands as the accuser of the brethren before God, the Judge of all. The truth Christ wants us to see is that when we approach God on the basis of our own righteousness, the adversary will always have legal grounds to “cast [us] into prison,” for our righteousness is “as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6 kjv).
When Jesus says, “agree with thine adversary quickly,” He does not mean “obey” the devil. He is saying that when Satan accuses you of some sin or flaw, if the devil is even minutely right, it is to your advantage to agree with him about your unrighteousness. If he accuses you of being impure or not loving or praying enough, he is right. The key is not to argue with the devil about your own righteousness because, before God, your righteousness is unacceptable. No matter how much you defend or justify yourself, you know inwardly that often the accusations of the devil have morsels of truth in them.
Our salvation is not based upon what we do but upon who Jesus becomes to us. Christ Himself is our righteousness. We have been justified by faith; our peace with God comes through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). When Satan comes against you, he tries to deceive you by focusing your attention upon your own righteousness.
The more we recognize that Jesus alone is our righteousness, the less the adversary can assault us in the arena of our failings. When the accuser comes seeking to condemn you for not having enough love, your response should be, “That is true, I do not have enough love. But the Son of God died for all my sins, even the sin of imperfect love.” Step out from the shadow of satanic assault and stand in the brightness of your Father’s love. Submit yourself to God and ask for Christ’s love and forgiveness to replace your weak imperfect love.
When Satan seeks to condemn you for impatience, again your response should be, “Yes, in my flesh I am very impatient. But since I have been born again, Jesus is my righteousness and through His blood I am forgiven and cleansed.” Turn again to God. Use the accusation as a reminder that you are not standing before a throne of judgment but rather a throne of grace which enables you to boldly draw near to God for help (Heb. 4:16).
A vital key, therefore, to overcoming the devil is humility. To humble yourself is to refuse to defend your image: you are corrupt and full of sin in your old nature! Yet, we have a new nature which has been created in the likeness of Christ (Eph. 4:24), so we can agree with our adversary about the condition of our flesh!
But do not limit this principle of humbling yourself to only when you are involved in spiritual warfare. This precept is applicable in other situations as well. The strength of humility is that it builds a spiritual defense around your soul, prohibiting strife, competition, and many of life’s irritations from stealing your peace.
A wonderful place to practice this is in your family relationships. As a husband, your wife may criticize you for being insensitive. A fleshly response could easily escalate the conversation into a conflict. The alternative is to simply humble yourself and agree with your wife. You probably were insensitive. Then pray together and ask God for a more tender love.
As a wife, perhaps your husband accuses you of not understanding the pressures he has at work. More than likely he is right, you do not know the things he must face. Instead of responding with a counter-charge, humble yourself and agree with him. Pray together, asking God to give you an understanding heart. If we remain humble in heart, we will receive abundant grace from God; Satan will be disarmed on many fronts.
Remember, Satan fears virtue. He is terrified of humility; he hates it because humility is the surrender of the soul to the Lord, and the devil is terrified of Jesus Christ. — The Three Battlegrounds, Chap 2