"Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7
We are all familiar with that verse from the New Testament. But I have gained a new insight from Satan's playbook by watching our Sharp-shinned hawk who loves to visit our bird feeder these days, looking for prey. Here he is, atop the tree and the feeders are near the base of the tree. Not so subtle, huh? He is there and every bird knows it, so the birds have been staying away lately.
Sometimes it is obvious that evil is afoot--we say, "Oh, I can't do that" or "I will not go there." We know that sin is present, and seeking to lure us in. Satan's form doesn't blend into the landscape at all. He as big as life and twice as ugly. We know he's there, just waiting for us, and even though visiting the "feeder" is tempting, we resist, going elsewhere and leaving him well enough alone.
Now, our hawk decided to up the ante, and approach the tree in a more stealthy fashion. I am assuming his meals staying away disturbed him. A predator's gotta eat, right? So, here he is a week later:
Now, this gets interesting. He is in the tree--right smack dab in the middle of it. Actually, if hawks could spit, he's spitting distance from the feeders. He sat there for a long time, waiting and watching, hoping that the gnarled arms of the branches would obscure his form and leave him invisible.
Hmmm...not too dissimilar from Satan's tactics. If he can't get us at the obvious level of temptation, he "flutters" off--there is always another day.
The birds returned once the hawk left, feeling it was safe to return. So, he again shows up, more hidden, more blended in to the landscape. We return, avoiding the obvious dangers and succumbing to the idea that if we can't see sin and its nasty form, it isn't there and we are safe. No, not so. Satan has just blended in a lot better, so we feel we are safe, and go back to our feeder (our daily lives) blissfully unaware he is there.
Was Jesus tempted again by Satan, after His ordeal in the desert before He began His ministry? Look what the Gospel of Luke says, "When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time." (4:13) So, once the hoopla was over, can't you just picture Satan "flying" away, landing on a distant tree branch, watching and waiting until a time when he can either subtly go after Jesus--in Peter's words as he tried to dissuade Jesus from going to Jerusalem to be crucified--or more overtly, as when the crowd was screaming at Pilate to crucify Him? On the tree or in the tree, Satan never let up on Jesus.
We are no different: "All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Matthew 10:22) It's a simple truth: Satan is always restless, always on the hunt. But we can resist him. Take a page out of Jesus' playbook: use the Word and Satan will flee. Truth is the greatest weapon against his wiles.
Prayer: Precious Jesus: I don't want to walk around always fearful of Satan--that is a kind of bondage that he loves. But Your Word says that "perfect [mature] love drives out all fear." My greatest weapon is growing in the knowledge of Your truth and being obedient to Your ways. Thank you for walking with me! In Your mighty Name. amen.