“Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only’” (Matthew 4:10).

Calvin Miller warns that the devil is the lord of “feel good,” and he will teach us the fun of license rather than the power of self-denial. He says Satan re-labels sinful acts as “gray.” Then the devil asks, “Have you sinned?” “Certainly not!” In our media-saturated world, we hear articulated back and forth everyone’s opinion about every moral dilemma and enticement. As we sample the smorgasbord of compelling images and impassioned arguments, the devil whispers that it’s all a muddle.“Don’t try to figure it out;just do what feels good.” Miller often counsels that he says he learned in the shadows: “Enjoy Christ. Bask in His love. Count His presence in your life the chief of all your joys. But never forget an opposite force is at work. The devil will circle you with gloom to obscure those moral values you learned from Christ.”

So what must we do? Scripture and the Holy Spirit help us to identify sin. When we do sin, we must not believe Satan’s lie that we are always doomed to failure. We must repent and seek God’s cleansing. When we consider the hatred and terror so evident around the world and the moral degradation so evident, it’s clear that evil has a powerful foothold. Scripture tells us that holy angels and wicked angels are at war—and we are right in the middle of it. To gain victory in the battle with Satan, we must first be indwelt by the fullness of Christ, in the person of his Spirit. We must clothe ourselves with his strength as described in Ephesians 6:11: “Put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against all the strategies of the devil.” Satan is smart, subtle, and wily. More often than we think, we need to call for spiritual reinforcements.

Adapted from One Year Book of Encouragement