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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Shacking Up With the Devil (Ephesians 4:27)

"And do not give the devil a foothold."

The devil isn't looking for a hotel room for an over-nighter (though he will take what he can get). He is looking for somewhere to rent, long term or to own.

"Do not give the devil a foothold." The Greek word topos, translated foothold here is the same word translated as room elsewhere in the New Testament. (See Luke 2:7; 4:31; 4:9; John 14:2-3)

When Paul tells followers of Jesus Christ not to give the devil a foothold, he is telling them they are not to give the devil any habitable space in their lives. Which leads to the question: How does a believer give the devil room in which to "shack up"?

The immediate context for Paul's instructions are believer's interactions with other believers. Sadly, believers spend far too much time struggling to get along with other followers of Jesus Christ and often see them as the enemy. No, they are not they enemy. In fact, our enemy wins his warfare against followers of Christ when they are offended, bitter, and unforgiving toward other Christ followers. Believers don't struggle against flesh and blood (people) but against the powers of this dark world. The enemy loves a good fight, especially between brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Conflict between believers often grows into sustained anger (which quickly becomes bitterness), fussing and bickering, slander and malice--all of which advertise, "For Rent". The enemy quickly pays rent and moves in. A rented room grants him access to the rest of the house.

People embroiled in diverse interpersonal conflict give the enemy access to other areas of their lives. People filled with the Spirit, however, have no space for rent. Therefore, Paul commanded believers, "Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body" (Eph. 4:25). 

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Ephesians 4:1-6:24
  • Why does Paul urge believers to protect "the unity of the Spirit" as we interact with one another?
  • What provision has God made to bring believers to full maturity?
  • Where does genuine change first take place and how does this change manifest itself in the Christian's life?
  • What is the context for the command "do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God"?
  • What does this tell you about how relationships affect your spiritual life?
  • How does "the filling of the Spirit" affect your relationship with others?
  • What is the prerequisite for submission in relationships?
  • What does spiritual warfare require of believers?
Turning truth into prayer:
Lord, I thank you for the spiritual weapons You have given me. I thank You that I don’t have to live in defeat but can stand in victory, not in my own strength but in Your power. I recognize that people are not my problem but that I have real enemy that I cannot see, but one who is seen by You.

Right now I assemble the armor you have given me.
I will not be led by my emotions but by Your word which is truth. I submit, therefore, my emotional life to You and to your truth.
I submit my heart to the righteousness of Jesus Christ and refuse to trust in myself for righteousness. All righteousness comes from You.

I confess all known sin that stands between You and me and between others and myself. Show me if there is anything unresolved remaining in my life that will prohibit me from being able a witness today both verbally and by lifestyle. I am Your ambassador as I enter all my activities today.

Faith in You is my protection; I take you as my shield of protection. You are between me and the enemy. Help me to recognize the origin of every thought that comes to me today. I choose to bring all my thoughts captive to Your thoughts.

I place Your helmet of salvation upon my head. I have been redeemed. I have been delivered from this present evil age and transferred into the Kingdom of the Son whom You love.
I take Your written Word and hide it in my heart. I yield my mind and my mouth to the Holy Spirit for Scripture recall and proclamation.

I yield my life to the filling of the Holy Spirit. Help me to walk on “high alert” to Your presence in my life today. In the Powerful Name of Jesus. Amen.