And so what you and I try to do is the obvious, logical thing – we work away and work away and work away at being good.  And one day, after beating our heads up against that brick wall just one too many times, we come to the conclusion I’m losing the battle! It’s just not working! 

My hunch is that God let’s you and me do that – beat our head up against this brick wall – for one reason and one reason alone.  That way, we get to learn for ourselves it just doesn’t work that way!

Why? Well if you and I could defeat the devil on our own…who’d need Jesus? Why bother with the cross at all? Listen again to what Jesus said in sharp contrast to the thief... but I have come that you may have life in all it’s abundance. 

The abundant life comes through Jesus!

The Apostle Paul knew that. Have a read of the Romans 7:12-25 for yourself.  It goes something like this:

I don’t understand my own actions.  I don’t end up doing what I want, but instead I do the very thing I hate….I can will what’s right, I just can’t do it.…So I find it to be a law that whenever I want to do what’s good, evil lies close at hand. 

I love that!  Here’s the man who wrote almost half of the books in the New Testament telling us he has exactly the same problem as us.  Exactly! (God is such an encourager!)

And what’s his answer to the problem?

Wretched man that I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The answer is Jesus! And Paul goes on in the very next chapter – Chapter 8 of the Book of Romans – to explain. Go on, have a read for yourself. The abbreviated version goes something like this:

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (there’s no need for guilt) …you want life in all it’s abundance?  Set your mind on the things of the Spirit.  Walk in the Spirit.  You’re one of God’s own Children – don’t be afraid.  Cry out to Dad.  When you do that, the Spirit of God will tell you Himself – you are one of His children.  One of His heirs!

That’s God’s answer in a nutshell. Jesus. Hang close to Him. Abide in Him.

When we wander off and try to defeat the devil on our own – we’re going to lose every time. That’s how God planned it. But when we spend that time with the Lord each day, we start seeing the victory. When we humble ourselves at His feet. When we spend time in His Word. When we close the door, open the book and wait on Him…. His Spirit changes us on the inside. His Spirit witnesses to our spirit that we’re one of His children. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead brings that resurrection power to life in us! (Ephesians 1:19-21)

And as we just hang close with Jesus day after day, that hedge that the devil was talking about grows thicker and more impenetrable.  And then there are only a couple of ways that the devil can get in.  The first is if God give him permission – to test us and prune us and refine us.  The second is if we give him permission.  When we give him a foothold in our thoughts or our actions.

But can I tell you something – the more we dwell in the presence of the Almighty, the more we worship Him and desire Him and weep at the foot of the cross, the less we want of the devil. And little by little, we end up looking more like Jesus.

Theologians call it "sanctification." I think of it more as rehabilitation – being restored back into the image of God... to live life in all of its superabundance. It's a Jesus thing.