Do We Forget Our Larger Enemy?
by Debbie Holloway
“Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light…” (2 Corinthians 11:14)
Have you ever suffered a crushing loss, only to have someone tell you, “Well, it’s all part of God’s plan”? Have you ever projected pure hate or bitterness toward a fellow human being because of violence or deceit displayed by his or her actions? Have you ever watched the news as innocent children die in war, and wondered how God could allow such things to happen?
I’ve been there. I can hazard a guess that we’ve all been there. It’s only natural to lash out at each other during tough times, and we’re also very quick to give God the responsibility for bad things when they happen. But it’s crucial that, when such times come, we mustn’t forget our larger enemy: Satan.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
It almost seems like a silly reminder, doesn’t it? So obvious! Of course Satan exists. References to him are peppered throughout Scripture, and in reading the Gospels we see Christ rise victorious over him once and for all. But unfortunately, Satan has a way of conning even the most steadfast Christians into temporarily forgetting about his existence. I believe we do this mainly in two ways.
Mistake #1: We direct our hate at suffering, injustice, and sorrow toward each other.
We are instruments in many ways, and many people choose to be instruments of darkness rather than of light. But should we truly speak curses on murderers, or should we pray for their repentance? Should we delight when a terrorist is given the death penalty, or should we hold firm in the faith that Christ’s love is strong enough to conquer any heart?
At the end of the day, we must remember that Satan and demonic forces are strong influences in this world, and we all fall prey to the temptation in different ways. The Bible verse that helps me remember not to direct my hate toward another person is Ephesians 6:12:
“For 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.”
Mistake #2: We direct our hate at suffering, injustice, and sorrow toward God himself.
Scripture tells us we are to praise God through all things. In no way does this signify that God is, himself, the cause of all things. This mindset can lead to dangerous and depressing ideas about our good Creator. Jesus told his followers,
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
In this, Jesus plainly rejects the notion that evil things (murder, destruction, and disorder) are the result of his will. Yes, God takes those things and repurposes them for good, but God’s will is for life, abundance, and wholeness. When chaos runs rampant, as it often will because of the freedom God gives us to make choices, we must remember that it’s a result of human choice and Satan’s influence – not the desires of God.
The grace and good news is that the Holy Spirit equips us, and we need have no mortal fear of Satan…so long as we remember that he’s still around! James writes,
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Intersecting Faith and Life: The next time you seek to place blame or anger at the doorstep of God or another person, remember the cosmic battle that even now God wages against the powers of darkness. Let us not forget our larger enemy!
The Characters of Christmas is a podcast created to help you take a fresh look at the Christmas story by getting to know the minor characters that played a part in Jesus’ birth. It is the companion to Dan Darling's book "The Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up in the Story of Jesus."