Updated: Nov 28, 2022
By Drew Zuverink
"Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "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."
Did you know that holding onto sin, instead of letting it go, gives the devil something that he can use to hurt you?
In Ephesians 4 Paul, concerned about the unity of the church, commands that people release their anger, because if they hold onto it they will give the devil a foothold and a place to stay. By holding onto the sin of anger they would be giving the devil something to work with, something to exploit. In the context of church unity, holding onto anger would give the devil something that he could use to tear apart Christ's body, thus, lessening their impact on the world around them. A win - win for satan.
The devil operates in the realm of sin and darkness not the realm of light or goodness. So when a believer is walking in righteousness, resisting temptation and following the holy spirit's guidance, the devil's power is very weak over that person. He simply does not have much sin to work with and so he cannot harm the individual. On the other hand, when a believer freely chooses to hold onto a certain sin, they are essentially welcoming the devil into their life and giving him exactly what he needs to hurt them.
This is why when people do things such as, holding onto a grudge, things often get worse for them. In a mysterious way, the grudge that they are holding, ends up impacting many areas of their life in a very negative way. The reason this happens is because they are giving the devil a place in their life that he is free to exploit. Sadly, most of us think that welcoming the devil into our life has to involve something like a Oujia board, but in reality, we welcome the devil into our life every time that we harbor sin in our hearts.
Why does this matter? Because the devil wants to harm us. He would enjoy nothing more than to see us sad, depressed, lonely, addicted, angry, miserable, suffering, in pain and even better - dead. Do you believe that? Do you truly believe that those are his goals? Then you need to realize that you invite that person, with those goals, into your life whenever you harbor sin in your heart. Just look around and you will see this happening all around us! How many people are addicted to drugs? It didn't start out as a full blown addiction, but dabbling in the dark realm of drugs gives sinister beings something that they can work with. The same goes for pornography, anger, greed, idolatry, selfishness, pride, gossip, envy and so on. Sin and the devil go hand in hand, we cannot expect to dabble with sin and not encounter a devil.
The application is clear; no one wants the devil to be powerfully involved in their life. He is the father of everything dark and deadly. The good news is that, as Christians, we have been given the Holy Spirit of power and are more than capable of resisting him. When we do resist him, it is effective. As James writes, "resist the devil and he will flee." But make no mistake, when we make the free choice to hold onto any kind of sin, we welcome the devil into our lives. The choice is yours, but you cannot welcome sin without also welcoming it's master.