One of the accounts of Jesus’ temptation by the devil in the wilderness is recorded in the gospel of Luke(see 4: 1-13). Verse 13 (NIV) says, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.” Synonyms for opportune are: fitting, appropriate, favorable, apt, right, suitable, and timely. The devil withdrew from Jesus after he had failed, but didn’t give up. He planned to return to try again when the time would hopefully be just right for him to succeed. It was so prideful of the devil to think that he could succeed in making Jesus disobey God. He must have miscalculated the distance Jesus was willing to go to please His Father! Jesus cannot sin! Amen!
What are opportune times? Opportune times are the instances when it is the easiest to achieve one’s goals, or when one’s efforts are most successful. For the devil, the enemy of our soul, those are the times when we Christians are at our weakest, when we let down our guard, not being watchful, when we are not praying or studying the Word or when we are not living according to the Word, or when we fail to set boundaries. We can set boundaries by deciding what our responses would be before we are ever in certain situations. Like Daniel who resolved not to defile himself with the Babylonian king’s meat and wine before it was ever offered to him (see Daniel 1:8). Can you think of an instance when you made a bad choice or decision because you hadn’t set any boundaries before hand?
The devil’s strategy of waiting for an opportune time wouldn’t have worked with Jesus any way, but how about us? Hasn’t that strategy worked repeatedly with us? Sadly, the answer is “Yes”. When the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (see 1 Peter 5:8), he is looking for an opportune time, and sad to say he finds it time and time again. The Word admonishes us to “Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV).
Although the devil flees when we resist him, he does return, with the hope of finding an opportune time. We need to be consistently submitted to God so that we can deny him those opportune times. That is why the Word warns us to “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Matthew 26:41 NIV); “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV). In the wilderness, Jesus was not faced with flesh and blood.
The key to denying the devil these opportune times is to “Put on the whole armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground” (Ephesians 6:14 NIV). Putting on the armor is only the beginning, but we have to keep it on day and night. Taking it off creates an opportune time for the devil, and before we know it, we have become victims instead of victors. The hymn writer admonishes us to gird our heavenly armor on, to wear it ever night and day, for ambush lies the evil one, so watch and pray, watch and pray.