August 18 • Sparkling Gems from the Greek, Volume I, by Rick Renner
You and I never need fall prey to the devil. If we shut every door, close every window, and seal every place in our lives through which the enemy would try to access us, we can prevent him from getting into the middle of our affairs.
One of the entry points the devil tries to use to enter our lives is relationships. If there is an unresolved issue or an ugly conflict with a loved one or friend, these conflict points often become entry points through which the devil can get a foothold in our relationships with those we love. Once the enemy slips in through one of these cracks and builds an offended place in our minds, then construction has already begun on a wall that will eventually separate us from the people we need and love the most.
In Ephesians 4:27, the apostle Paul writes, “Neither give place to the devil.” The word “place” is the Greek word topos. It refers to a specific, marked-off, geographical location. It carries the idea of a territory, province, region, zone, or geographical position. It is from this word that we get the word for a topographical map. Because the word “topos” depicts a geographical location, this lets us know that the devil is after every region and zone of our lives—money, health, marriage, relationship, employment, business, and ministry. He is so territorial that he wants it all. But to start his campaign to conquer those areas of our lives, he must first find an entry point from which he can begin unleashing his devilish destruction in our lives.
We often throw open the door to the devil ourselves when we:
Refuse to let go of old hurts and wounds.
Refuse to acknowledge what we did wrong.
Refuse to forgive others for what they did.
Refuse to stop judging others for their grievances.
Refuse to admit we were wrong too.
Refuse to apologize when we’re wrong.
Refuse to lay down our rights for others.
If we do any of these things, we leave a marked-off place through which the devil can enter to accuse others in our minds. But we don’t have to fall victim to the enemy’s tactics. We can say, “No, you’re not going to do this!”
We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ, so we don’t have to let the devil run all over us. The Bible boldly declares, “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4 KJV).
The apostle Paul told us, “Neither give place to the devil.” The Greek makes it clear that we must choose to give the devil no territory. You see, we have a choice: We can choose to give the enemy a place in our minds and emotions, or we can choose to walk in the Spirit. If we choose the lower road, we will end up doing and saying things we later regret. Those regretful things are usually what opens the door for the devil to wreak havoc in our relationships.
I’m thinking specifically of a day I got very upset with one of our employees. I received information about one department of our ministry that really upset me. What upset me even more was that I believed one of our employees had known about this problem but hadn’t conveyed the full truth to me about it. I scheduled a meeting to talk to that person the next morning to discuss the situation. That night as I lay in bed, I began to think about the problem we were facing. The longer I thought about it, the more angry I became that I hadn’t been fully informed about the details as I should have been. I felt a flash of heat pass through me as I pondered what to do next.
As I lay there in that bed, I began to take up an offense with this leader in our ministry. Once the devil got that foothold in my mind and emotions, it was as if a door had suddenly swung wide open for the devil to come in and begin accusing and slandering that precious employee to me. I tossed and turned all night long. I knew I could choose to lay this issue down and walk in peace, or I could let it build in my mind until I became a walking time bomb. I chose to hold on to it and let it fester through the night.
The next morning when our meeting began, I exploded! My thinking was so distorted by the devil’s ravings in my mind all night that I couldn’t hear anything being said. I was livid with this employee. She couldn’t say anything, as I never gave her even ten seconds to respond to my accusations.
Later when the whole ordeal was over, I discovered that every detail of the problem had already been fully communicated to me. But I had been so busy at the time that I didn’t remember the conversation. Others on the staff remembered it very well. It was my fault that I didn’t know and not hers.
I was so embarrassed that I had lost my temper. I asked my staff members for forgiveness, and they were spiritual enough to forgive me and allow me to be a man with real human frailties. Thank God, our long-term relationship and commitment to work as a team overrides moments of human weakness that all of us display at one time or another.
But there are many people who don’t know how to recover from conflicts such as this one. Rather than face the situation head-on and either apologize or openly forgive, they hold their failure or their offense in their hearts, never forgetting it and never getting beyond it.
On that day when I exploded in anger, I “gave place to the devil.” As I tossed and turned in my bed the night before, I knew I was making a choice. I had pondered the problem so long that I had let anger well up inside me and make my decision for me.
What about you? Have you ever given place to the devil by allowing anger, resentment, bitterness, or unforgiveness to have a place in you?
Let’s look at the word “devil” for a moment. The word comes from the Greek word diabolos, an old compound word that is made from the words dia and ballo. This name is used sixty-one times in the New Testament. The first part of the word is the prefix dia, which means through and often carries the idea of penetration. Because dia is used at the first of this word, it tells us that the devil wants to make some kind of penetration.
We’ve already seen that the devil is looking for an entry point. Once a point has been located through which he can secretly slip into people’s lives, he begins penetrating the mind and emotions to drive a wedge between those individuals and the other people in their lives. The enemy’s objective is to separate us from each other with his railing, accusing, slanderous accusations.
You’ll know when the accuser has gone to work in your mind, because your whole perspective about the person you are upset with suddenly changes. You become nit-picky, negative, and fault-finding. You used to have high regard for that person, but now you can’t see anything good about him at all. It’s as if you’ve put on a special set of eyeglasses that are designed to reveal all his wicked, ugly, horrid details. Even if you do see something good in him, all the bad you see outweighs the good.
This is clear evidence that the work of the accuser has found an entry point to penetrate your relationship with that other person. He is trying to disrupt what has been a pleasant and gratifying relationship in your life. Don’t allow that conflict, disagreement, or disappointment to cause you to pick up a wrong attitude that will ruin your relationship. That’s exactly what the devil wants you to do!
Rather than allow this to happen, stop and tell yourself, Okay, this isn’t as big a deal as I’m making it out to be. The devil is trying to find a place in my mind to get me to start mentally accusing that person, and I’m not going to let him do it.
Instead of meditating on all the bad points of that person, look in the mirror at yourself. Consider how many times you’ve let down other people, how many mistakes you’ve made in your relationships, and the times you should have been held accountable but instead were shown unbelievable mercy. Remembering these things has a way of making you look at an offensive situation a little more mercifully.
Ask the Holy Spirit to take the criticism out of your heart and to cause the love of God in you to flow toward that other person or group of people. Pray for an opportunity to strengthen that relationship so all the entry places to your life and to that relationship remain sealed. Stop the devil from worming his way into your relationships with people you need and love.
Photo by Nikko Macaspac