"It was a very real devil that came into the Garden of Eden to seduce Adam and Eve. It was a very real devil that tempted Jesus in the wilderness. He is still in business. He goes to church every Sunday. And if you don't know how to recognize him and take authority over him he'll destroy your life, your marriage, your children, your church, your hopes, your dreams. That's what I want them to take away," Cornerstone Church Pastor John Hagee said during a recent television discussion about his latest book.
Therein goes my peace.
Actually, that sort of talk doesn't turn me completely off. I believe, for what my beliefs are actually worth, that we have enough problems we create fully on our own that the devil doesn't need to do much to push us.
But I get it that he could if he wanted. My question is, though, since the devil is not omnipresent, how he makes his decisions on which church to attend. I suspect he goes to megachurches quite often, because over the years I've notice the devil doesn't pay attention when things are going poorly. Why waste the effort? But success is like a moth to a flame for the devil.
The question, then, becomes for each of us, for each church and its leaders, are we doing enough to attract the devil's attention?
It's a very real, and very terrifying question. Are we doing enough, working hard enough, giving enough, being the church enough to attract Satan or are we just fodder? I'm not saying we need to hope that he'll take enough interest to destroy our lives, our marriages, our children, our churches, our hopes, our dreams.
Hagee is too much out there for my tastes, but I suspect he's hit the nail on the head with these thoughts.
It's what we do about them that becomes the issue.
In Ephesians Paul writes: Put on the whole armor of God, that you might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
The Message paraphrases those verses from Ephesians 6: 11-12 this way: And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
This if for keeps. A life-or-death fight to the finish against the devil and his angels.
I find it instructive that Eugene Peterson translates that line and puts Devil in capital letters. One Devil. One master enemy. One liar. One fight to the finish.
So, how do we win?
Peterson uses the 13th verse of Ephesians through the 18th to tell us this: Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
In other words, stop worrying about the Devil. Instead, seek truth, righteousness, peace, faith and salvation through God's word and keep prayer at the forefront of our existence.
That'll get the Devil's attention, but it won't give him a way in.