Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Friday, July 8, 2016

No Friend of the Devil

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.  Little children, keep yourselves from idols. – 1 John 5:20-21

John’s letter comes to this point after telling us that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (v.19).  I want to be modern in some respects.  I don’t like believing in evil spirits.  Spiritual evil sounds less oogy-boogy.  Sometimes, though, evil seems too coordinated to be an “influence”.  It looks more like a conscious, plotting being is behind it all.  I don’t know exactly what the devil is.  I do know he is a reality.

I don’t fear the devil, but I do fear that I might be deceived by him.  That brings us to the point that Lewis made decades ago in the foreword to Screwtape.  We can make two mistakes with regard to the demonic.  We can get too obsessed by it, or we can decide it doesn’t exist at all.  The latter has been adopted by the average person in today’s society.  They do not at all believe in a devil.  Evil is a result of early childhood trauma, lack of education, poverty, maybe religious beliefs, and, certainly, easy access to firearms. 

(As an aside, I used to go to church with a couple who got into a fight one evening.  The husband called the pastor – still a good friend of mine – who arrived at the house and found the trouble was a "demonic-looking" replica wooden African mask they had hanging on the wall for a decoration.  Pastor told me later he couldn’t get the mask to burn even after pouring gasoline on it.  He should have tried diesel and some kindling.  Guns are the voodoo masks of the left in this country.

The devil deceives through religion, through philosophies, through pride, lust, greed, envy, jealousy, gluttony, sloth, and wrath.  He deceives through utopian schemes like socialism and communism.  He deceives us by encouraging us to place our trust in ourselves, experts, teachers, mentors, leaders, programs, governments, candidates, parties, Science!, money, possessions, etc. – anyone and anything  -- except the one Person who deserves and merits our trust. 

To keep ourselves from idols, as John admonishes, means to refuse to believe that our salvation, joy, and peace lie in any object, system, or person other than our Lord Jesus.  We have a real enemy who is actively and consciously working to deceive us.   But we also have a Savior, a Fortress, and a Deliverer in whom we may place our full faith and trust. 

The world doesn’t know why it exists.  We know the Way, the Truth and the Life.

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