The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. I John 3:8
When I first discovered this hymn, I was struck with how plainly the author deals with the issue of the devil, and the Christian’s response. In our modern churches, we tend not to sing hymns like this, but I urge you to carefully ponder its message. Watch, and pray, because Satan reaps his harvest while Christians “sleep.” Peter admonishes us the same way in his first letter.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5:8
As redeemed children of God, we need to have our senses trained so that we are able to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). Satan may not always appear evil: it is possible, and sometimes easy, to be tempted by something that we think is good, which is really the devil in disguise. Paul warns us about that in his second letter to the Corinthians:
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
II Cor. 11:13-15
The devil’s servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. As this hymn states, we must watch so that we are not charmed by faithless friends who seek to harm us. How do we do this? By walking in the Spirit, and not walking according to the world.
So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
Paul tells us that when we walk in this way, when we put on the new self, we won’t be giving the devil an opportunity. Satan gets his opportunity when we do not seek God first, and when we give in to our fleshly desires and whims – when we SIN. Satan wants to discredit God and see us live a life of sin instead of a life of righteousness. James tells us that we have a way to make the devil go away – we can resist him! We can submit to God and obey His word, and send Satan packing!
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:7-8
Finally, the strongest defense against the devil is knowing God’s word. In Matthew 4, we have the account of Jesus going to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. First, Jesus fasted for 40 days. FORTY DAYS. It clearly says in Matthew that “He then became hungry.” I would think that’s an understatement.
So Jesus, fully man, and made like His brethren, hasn’t eaten in forty days and now the devil is trying to get at him. And what does He do to answer the devil? He quotes the Word of God. Every time the devil approaches Him with some easy way out, He quotes scripture. And here’s where Satan, in this story, uses his trickery. He quotes scripture too!
Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, 'HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU'; and 'ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'" Matt. 4:5-6
But Jesus has an answer.
Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'" Matt. 4:7
It is imperative that we not only know God’s word and what it says, but that we know how to use it – that we are able to answer to the false teachers, to the devil, and to his servants who are disguised as servants of righteousness.
The last verse of this hymn gives great encouragement. The Lord will be your stay, and He is able to increase your faith and your strength. The devil is real, and he is at work in our world and in our lives. But we have God on our side, and when we are strong in the Lord, we can stand firm against the devil and his schemes.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12
Rise, My Soul to Watch and Pray
Words by Johann B. Freystein
Rise, my soul, to watch and pray, from thy sleep awaken;
Be not by the evil day unawares o’er taken.
For the foe, well we know, oft his harvest reapeth,
While the Christian sleepeth.
Watch against the devil’s snares lest asleep he find thee;
For indeed no pains he spares to deceive and blind thee.
Satan’s prey oft are they who secure are sleeping
And no watch are keeping.
Watch! Let not the wicked world with its power defeat thee.
Watch lest with her pomp unfurled she betray and cheat thee.
Watch and see lest there be faithless friends to charm thee,
Who but seek to harm thee.
Watch against thyself, my soul, lest with grace thou trifle;
Let not self thy thoughts control nor God’s mercy stifle.
Pride and sin lurk within all thy hopes to scatter;
Heed not when they flatter.
But while watching, also pray to the Lord unceasing,
He will free thee, be thy Stay, strength and faith increasing.
O Lord, bless in distress and let nothing swerve me
From the will to serve Thee.