Monday, January 22, 2007

The Devil Made Me Do it?

It is reasonably common for Christians to blame the devil when a personal trial occurs, a corporate conflict arises, or some other "bad" thing happens. You will hear believer's say, "Satan is attacking me", or "The devil is trying to divide us." What are we to make of such claims? How often should we think the devil made me do it?

The bible is clear on this much- Satan is real and he prowls around seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Satan, on the creature level, is responsible for tempting Adam and Eve to sin (Genesis 3). That one act in the Garden of Eden has left a legacy of sin we deal with every second. That sin, in essence, created additional enemies- the world (made up of individual sinners), the flesh (our own fallen nature), and the Devil (the personal being who "got it all started" and continues to prowl). When a trial, hardship, or conflict occurs, shouldn't we consider how a sinful world and our fallen flesh contribute to the situation? Yet, often enough, we jump to thinking- the devil is behind this, by which we mean the Devil is somehow personally and immediately involved in our situation. Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

Make no mistake, Lucifer is a serious heavyweight. A.W. Tozer was right when he said, "the devil is a better theologian than any of us ." He is an angelic being who has had thousands of years, at least, to observe human activity, God and His workings. His experience coupled with his angelic intellect make him far craftier than any one or several of us fallen, relatively inexperienced, human beings. The recent "spiritual warfare" movement and it's common insistence that an individual believer should personally confront Satan or one of his demons is foolish if not downright dangerous. If the devil or one of his demons actually attacks you, call upon Christ, don't try to go toe to toe with the Devil- you'll get squashed.

Satan has more names than anyone else in Scripture. His multiple titles display his many approaches in attacking the Church of Christ. He is called Abaddon, the adversary, the angel of the bottomless pit, Apollyon, Beelzebub, Belial, The god of this age, a murderer, the prince of demons, the prince of the power of the air, ruler of darkness, ruler of this world, the serpent of old, the wicked one, the father of lies, an angel of light, Lucifer, the Devil, and of course, Satan, which means accuser.

Despite all this, in trying to assess the devil's personal involvement in our various situations, let us not forget Satan's key weaknesses. First, Satan is not omniscient like God. He does not know everything. There is no indication he can read a human beings mind. He can observe behavior and is very knowledgeable and cunning, but he doesn't know it all. Second, Satan is not omnipotent like God. He cannot do whatever he wishes to do (he had to seek God's permission to assail Job). Ultimately and mysteriously, the devil is under God's sovereign control and is even a tool of the Almighty to exact His purposes. I don't claim to understand this completely, only that Scripture is clear about the absolute sovereignty of God, therefore, even Satan is included. Thirdly, Satan is not omnipresent like God. He cannot be everywhere at once. As an angelic being I assume he can travel fast, but not fast enough to be personally oppressing a world leader in one hemisphere while tempting a televangelist somewhere else. His lack of omnipresence seriously lowers the possibility that he has spent much personal time oppressing me or my church. I can certainly see one of his thousands (if not more) of demons assailing various human beings, but the devil himself behind all the claims that are so commonly heard? I doubt it. Frankly, I'd be shocked to learn the devil has ever spent any personal time on me. His demons? Perhaps, but still not overly likely.

The devil has left his mark for sure. His legacy of sin assails us every day (the world and the flesh). I only ponder these things aloud so that we might be challenged to analyze all of our enemies when searching for why this or that happens. If the Devil were completely annihilated, I would still have to contend with his legacy in my life- my sinful flesh and this sinful world. Also, let's not make the devil's supposed involvement in a personal trial or corporate conflict an excuse for not repenting of sin we have committed. I wonder if the devil is amused by the amount of credit he gets?

1 comment:

Frontier Forest said...

Several years back, by providential involvement and good ole’ fashen’ Godly education, I got involved with a bunch of well meaning, Charismatic Crusaders who thought the antidote for all sinful behavior, wrong thoughts, bad business decisions, all sickness, and every form of evil was the direct result and personal involvement of what I know call “Satin’s personal “Fiery Dart” syndrome. As I look back at it now, I agree with Pastor Tony’s didactic observations, “I wonder if the devil is amused by the amount of credit he gets?”
I would never want to give credit, or think that in any way, Satin is possible of harmless humor. But I do think he is thoroughly amused at this kind of poor thinking theology. When I feel the presents of the enemy, all I need do is to stand on the Word, allow the Power of His Name, (not the representative), quoting, (out loud for my own benefit) , II Corinthians 10: 3-6!