It is one of the Bible’s many sweet and powerful promises: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The question is, though, how do we do this? In very practical ways, how do we resist the devil? In Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, Thomas Brooks offers a list of ten ways the Christian can resist Satan’s temptations.
1. Be Ruled by the Word. Make the Word of God your rule and authority and live in obedience to all it says. It will keep you walking straight and guard you from all manner of temptation. “When men throw off the Word, then God throws off them, and then Satan takes them by the hand, and leads them into snares at his pleasure.”
2. Beware of Grieving the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that gives the Christian the ability to discern Satan’s temptations and to see his hand in and behind life’s circumstances. If you grieve the Spirit, you drive off the one whose ministry involves guarding you against Satan’s attacks.
3. Labor for Wisdom. There is a great difference between knowledge and wisdom, between accumulating facts and applying Scripture to those facts so they become wisdom. It is not the Christian with the most knowledge, but the Christian with the most wisdom, who is equipped to battle Satan’s temptations.
4. Resist the First Stirring of Temptation. It is safe to resist temptation and dangerous to dabble in it. “He that will play with Satan’s bait, will quickly be taken with Satan’s hook.” God promises that we can resist temptation, not that we can resist sin once we have begun to dabble in that temptation.
5. Labor to Be Filled With the Spirit. The Spirit is a Spirit of light and power. The Spirit’s light shines bright against the darkness of sin and his power is sufficient to overcome all evil and temptation. When it comes to fighting Satan’s temptations, it is better to have a heart filled with the Spirit than a head filled with facts.
6. Keep Humble. A humble heart would rather lie in the dust than rise to prominence by sinful means; it would prefer to lose everything than to sin and be left with a guilty conscience. The humble person is neither drawn in by what Satan offers, nor terrified by his threats.
7. Be Constantly on Guard. A secure soul is a soul in a position to be led astray and ensnared. “That soul that will not watch against temptations, will certainly fall before the power of temptations.” Satan strengthens his assaults when the soul grows drowsy and careless. So be constantly on guard. “Watchfulness is nothing else but the soul running up and down, to and fro, busy everywhere; it is the heart busied and employed with diligent observation of what comes from within us, and of what comes from without us and into us.”
8. Continue Communing With God. It is as you join in communion with God that he gives you strength to resist Satan’s attacks. “A soul high in communion with God may be tempted, but will not easily be conquered. Such a soul will fight it out to the death.” Take full advantage of God’s means of grace.
9. Do Not Engage Satan In Your Own Strength. You need to draw the power, and even the desire, to resist sin from Jesus Christ and you need to do this every day. “Certainly that soul that engages against any old or new temptation without new strength, new influences from on high, will fall before the power of new temptation.” Commune with God, be on guard, be humble–do all of these things! But do not rely on them in the battle; instead, rely on Christ.
10. Pray Constantly. “Prayer is a shelter to the soul, a sacrifice to God and a scourge to the devil.” So pray and pray constantly. Tell God of your own inability to detect and respond to temptation; tell him that you are utterly dependent upon his grace; tell God that Christ’s blood has been applied to you; tell God that you are his child; ask God to deliver you from temptation for the glory of his name.