69 - Understanding the Devil
|Written by Patrick Morley|
|Wednesday, December 10 2008 10:22|
If Jesus is real and tells the truth, then the devil is real and tells lies.
Here are two short articles about the devil from two very different angles. Since first reading The Screwtape Letters 20 years ago, I have played with two imaginary devils of my own. They're introduced in "The Memo." Let me know if you want to hear more about them.
The second article, "The Devil's Two Strategies," asks us to consider how an actual devil may work.
(Note to reader: I would not be surprised if Satan, like Jesus, sends out his disciples two by two. Sloth and disease-Slugbug and Ickgerm-were so sent. What follows is an imaginary castigation for poor performance and a few devilish instructions.)
THE DEVIL'S TWO STRATEGIES
The first activity of the devil is to persuade you that he doesn't actually exist. Even better if you don't believe in him but say you do. Failing that, he hopes you will find him to be a funny clown and, therefore, harmless. Or, that he has power you cannot resist.
This should come as no surprise, for the devil has two strategies for every situation. One is to keep you away from a thing and, if he cannot, the other is to ruin you with too little or too much of it.
Take prayer for daily bread. The first enticement is to keep you away from praying for today at all. The devil would rather have you pray (or grovel) about tomorrow, or wallow in self-pity about yesterday. Failing that, if you would pray for today, he will entice you to be monkish and deny yourself daily bread (in this way deceiving you to think yourself more spiritual than your neighbor). And if you won't fall for that one then he can always resort to the faithful standby-suggesting you pray for two loaves of bread, not one. Then when you wake up the next morning to bread spoiled by maggots he will cackle in delight.
Consider how we view others. Here again the devil has two great strategies. The first is to persuade you to despise Christians for fear you might become one. Failing that, if you should become one, his second strategy-his backup plan-is to persuade you to despise those who are not. And if you should not despise them, perhaps you will smother them with your favorite texts (too much). Or, feed them so much soup that you have no time to feed their soul (too little).
Take the subject of righteousness. The devil hates a righteous person just as much an as unrighteous one. The latter, of course, is his companion. But the former can often become an ally-a fifth columnist, if you please, to infiltrate the Christ Camp with smugness and pride.
Too little righteousness is a very good thing-to seduce a man to a moral failure will win accolades for ambitious young devils. But too much righteousness is even better. For unrighteous deeds alienate men from God, but self-righteous deeds not only alienate men from God but also from each other, spoiling the lovely little community of saints the devil so detests.
And now let's consider good works. The devil has two great strategies for good works. The first is to so preoccupy you with "self" that you would do nothing at all. But if you should come under the sway of a convicting sermon and want to do something, the devil will beguile you to want the minimum that will get by. Failing that, if you should actually sense an obligation or, worse, a joyful desire to do "any" good works, then he will lure you to feel responsible to do them "all." And nothing is more useful to him than for you to feel that your works are making you righteous before God.
What areas mentioned in these two articles do you need to pay attention to? Where is the devil attacking you? How can you better recognize and resist those attacks?
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley helps men to think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to be equipped for a larger impact on the world.