How do we give the devil a foothold?

footholdEphesians 4:26-27 says, ‘“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.’

The Devil

The word “devil” only occurs again in this letter in 6:11 in the context of spiritual warfare against the “powers”. Paul, the author of Ephesians, believed that the “powers” were closely associated with the “devil”. Although the believers had been raised with Christ and seated in the heavenlies (2:6) they were still engaged in a struggle with the “powers” (6:12). 4:26-27 provides an example of one of the devil’s strategies (6:11) and how this warfare was to be fought against by believers.

My anger

Uncontrolled anger could provide the devil with an opportunity to cause strife and disunity in the life of the believer or in the churches. Harold Hoehner shows that Paul identified the “devil” (4:27) with the “Satan” in Zechariah 3:1-2 because of the quotation from Zechariah 8:16 in Ephesians 4:25. In both Ephesians 4:27 and Zechariah 3:1-2, the devil seeks to create divisiveness amongst the people of God. In Ephesus and surrounds, uncontrolled anger would grant the devil this same opportunity. The devil’s strategies are not limited to the exploitation of uncontrolled anger, but also lying (4:25), stealing (4:28), and unwholesome talk (4:29), all of which appear in the exhortatory context of 4:25-31. What is interesting to note is that although the “powers” have been defeated on the cross and the believers have shared in that victory, the defeated enemy still exerted some power to subvert the purposes of God among the Ephesian believers. Thus the exhortations to “stand firm” against devil in Ephesians 6.

A foothold

Dear Christian, you may – by your uncontrolled anger, your seemingly innocent untruths, your less-than-praiseworthy speech and your enjoyable unrepentant sin– be giving Satan a foothold or traction in your life that will inevitably lead to him gaining an even stronger position and influence. Your indiscretion may end up causing shipwreck to your faith, strife in your family and disunity in your church. Do not give the devil a foothold. Do not sin in your anger. Be honest. Work hard. Say only that which is good and true. Flee from lust. Repent of sin.