“Resist the devil . . .” (James 4:7).

THE DEVIL MAY DEPRESS OUR EMOTIONS, BUT HE NEED NOT BREAK OUR WILL. We are not helpless victims of his, at the mercy of whatever he does. The devil can be resisted, and we surely need to do that more often, don’t we? When we’ve been discouraged by the apparent hopelessness of our situation, we need to stiffen our resolve and do what is right, if not out of hope then out of defiance.

It would help us greatly if we could learn to operate with whatever the highest motives are that we have at any given moment. Perhaps we’d like to be motivated always by the highest motives in the world, but frankly, the higher motives sometimes elude us — sometimes we just don’t feel like acting from those motives. But right conduct can’t wait for perfect motives. We need to be willing to do what is right for the highest reasons we can muster at that moment. Conscience should always be our guide, of course, but once conscience has determined the right thing to do, it needs some sort of motivation — and it’s willing to be motivated by a lesser motive until it can learn a higher one. So, for example, if we don’t desire heaven as strongly as we should, then the fear of hell is an acceptable substitute, if that’s the best we can do right then.

Now here is the application: if a pure love for the Lord is out of our reach in a moment of discouragement, then we may be saved by being just too “stubborn” to let the devil have the last say. When it comes down to it, we must want God with a passion that simply will not be denied. We must love Him with the kind of love that will not let go, period. He has loved us with that kind of love, and we owe Him a dedication that is no less persistent.

In the end, the victory will be won not by the noble “lords and ladies” but by the simple “peasants” who just refused to give up, those who simply kept going in the face of resistance. To do no more than keep going may seem like a small thing, but it is in fact one of the greatest deeds that any human being can do. So when we’re made blind to hope by the tears in our eyes, let’s summon enough stubbornness to defy the devil and put him on notice that we do not intend to quit. We intend to keep doing what is right.

“We conquer by continuing” (George Matheson).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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