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McMaster to NSA: a Lesson for Christians

Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster is President Trump’s choice for National Security Adviser. The president made his announcement yesterday afternoon, calling the general “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.”

Herbert Raymond McMaster is a 1984 graduate of West Point and holds Master of Arts and PhD degrees in American history. He taught military history at West Point; his book on American strategy during the Vietnam War is on the official Marine Corp reading list. In 2014, Time named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world and called him “the architect of the future U.S. Army.”

In a world filled with military conflict, having the best military strategy is vital. In a world filled with spiritual conflict, having the best spiritual strategy is even more urgent (Ephesians 6:12–13). Here’s the principle I’d like us to consider today: while God uses evil for good, Satan uses good for evil.

Our Lord redeems all he allows. As a result, he uses even our sins and broken world to advance his Kingdom purposes. Conversely, Satan often uses what seems good or pleasurable to tempt us. But as Erasmus observed, the devil hates nothing so much as that he should be used for good. He “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Therefore, the apparent good he offers must lead to even greater sin or he would not offer it to us.

Of course, Satan wants us to ignore this fact. He wants us to think that we can prevent the consequences of our sins, that we will not be caught or our sin exposed, that we are better at handling temptation than he is at tempting us.

This is folly.

Scripture warns us: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). God calls us to refuse “the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25), choosing instead to “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). This is because “here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). So “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2).

Gregory of Nyssa (AD 335–395): “As no darkness can be seen by anyone surrounded by light, so no trivialities can capture the attention of anyone who has his eyes on Christ. The man who keeps his eyes upon the head and origin of the whole universe has them on virtue in all its perfection; he has them on truth, on justice, on immortality and on everything else that is good, for Christ is goodness itself.” By contrast, “the fool gropes in darkness. No one who puts his lamp under a bed instead of on a lamp-stand will receive any light from it.”

Where are you being tempted today? Know that whatever apparent good you are being offered will result in much greater evil for you, those you love, and your witness for Christ. So focus on Jesus. Refuse anything he would refuse and do only what he would do.

Why is this strategy urgent for you right now?


Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Publication date: February 21, 2017


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