Paul gave these instructions to the church at Ephesus: “‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27). The first statement—“Be angry, and do not sin”—comes from Psalm 4:4 and indicates that it is possible to have anger and not be sinning. Jesus Himself demonstrated a righteous anger at times. However, anger that is left unchecked can become sin, which in turn can give “place to the devil.”
Paul was issuing a warning to the believers in Ephesus—and to us today—that we must not give any place to the devil in our lives. The New International Version of the Bible says, “Do not give the devil a foothold.” The New American Standard Version says, “Do not give the devil an opportunity.”
It is clear that Satan is seeking a place in the lives of believers. He is looking for a foothold; something that he can grab onto in our lives in order to bring us down. He is seeking an opportunity to fulfill his plans to steal, kill, and destroy.
Being a believer in Jesus does not automatically make us immune to the devil. Paul is indicating that there are certain things we can do that grant Satan access to our lives. If we give the devil a place, you can be sure that he will take it. If we open the door, he will certainly come in.
What are some of the ways that believers can give the devil a place? In the passage above, it is through unchecked emotion turning into unrepentant sin. When a person embraces sin, they are coming into agreement with the devil. If the devil can get a person to come into agreement with him in a certain area, that agreement creates a point of access for him; he now has a foothold in the person’s life.
If we justify and hide sin instead of walking in the light and living in repentance, we are walking on dangerous grounds. The longer we walk in this way, the more opportunity we give to the enemy. Ongoing, unrepentant sin gives the enemy an entrance point into our lives. Evil spirits can take advantage of this agreement and enslave a person in sin.
There are other ways that we can give the devil a place, and I will cover them in future articles. But for now, let’s remember the words of Peter: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9).