Finish the quote.
I bet you probably can.
But just in case, and in the interest of time, here you go:
…was convincing the world he didn’t exist.
Though its origin isn’t from the movie The Usual Suspects, that film arguably solidified its inclusion in our culture and contemporary lexicon.
A few days ago, as I was contemplating my topic for the blog, this quote came to mind. As I now write this piece, it’s Halloween. I’ve already dipped into the candy purchased for the children trick-or-treating. And whether it’s part sugar rush or just a general Kat Controversy vibe kicking in, this quote seems more appropriate than ever.
In the last few weeks, we’ve been inundated with images of horrific attacks by terrorists on innocent Israeli civilians in the Middle East. Wars are raging around the world and our newsfeeds are bringing every brutal moment right to us in record time.
Some might say we in America are heading toward something akin to a civil war. Several years of extraordinary unrest and volatile polarization, fueled by powerful entities and an endless news cycle, are pitting friends and families against one another.
We’re constantly being told to pick a side. And it better be the right one.
But which is the right side? Who defines that? As we move from a system of universal truth to moral relativism, how can we agree on right or wrong?
There was a time when if a group of people invaded and attacked innocent civilians, they were by that very action in the wrong. They were the bad guys because they targeted everyday people rather than engaging in battles against armed opponents. If a woman, child, the elderly or infirmed were pursued and assaulted (or worse), we agreed the one who committed the assault was wrong. Their behavior was evil.
When did we change what a victim or an attacker is?
It hurts my heart to hear so many young people justifying the atrocities of terrorists. My heart hurts for Israelis and Palestinians caught in the crossfire. But there is no nuance, no spin to justify killing non-combatants. You can’t treat thousands of peoples’ lives as collateral damage.
Let me give you an example: a person breaks into a home to steal and kills the homeowner in the process. They broke in because they were desperate for money to feed their family. Does this fact somehow absolve the person from being held accountable for committing murder? Is it now society’s fault so any sentencing should be lenient? Or should the fact that an innocent life was taken unnecessarily be the principal factor?
I’m not suggesting there isn’t room for forgiveness and compassion, though I admit I would be hard pressed to extend that to anyone who hurt or killed someone I love. It would take a lot of prayer and relying on the Lord heavily to get me to that place, if I’m being honest.
The fact remains a crime was committed. The reasons behind it, the circumstances leading up to it, though compelling, do not change the reality: one person’s decision led to the death of another. There is no way to bring back the lost life, yet justice demands the one responsible needs to be held accountable.
What’s troubling me most is that as I’m writing what I know to be true, I realize there are so many who would argue with me over it. There are those who would debate me for days about how it was actually the homeowner’s fault, or society’s, or mine because of whatever. The constant deflection away from core principles of right and wrong is astounding. The blurring of the lines between good and evil, and in some cases, the outright switching of the two, is baffling.
Did the devil pull off the greatest trick?
Now I understand some of you may not believe in him. You may consider the Bible a work of fiction or fantasy. You’re entitled to your opinion, of course.
Can we perhaps find common ground that evil exists?
My position as a Christian is that the devil is real, and the Bible is the Word of God. Coming from this perspective, I believe the devil is the full embodiment of evil.
For those who may not know his origin story, the devil was originally the angel of music (Ezekiel 28:14) named Lucifer. All was well in heaven until he got a bit prideful and decided he would make himself as God. Big mistake. The Lord threw him and a third of the angels out (yup, one third of heaven also chose to defy God) and cast them into hell (Isaiah 14:12-15).
Ever since then, the devil has hated humanity because of God’s love for us. The devil can’t stand how the Lord actively desires to forgive and restore us. He also hates God, obviously. So, he spends his time attacking us and poisoning our minds so we will either turn away from God or never get to know Him. He attempts to exact his revenge against God on us. The devil knows he can’t hurt the Creator, so he goes after the Creation (us).
His time of influence is growing short, so his level of expression is increasing. What I mean is he knows better than many of us how God’s Word is true. His end will come. But he wants to bring as much suffering and destruction to our world before the day of Judgement.
He’s a master liar and manipulator.
(Any and all Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)
You would think because he’s a liar that we could recognize when he’s in operation, right? Lies are being told, he’s behind it. But it’s not that simple. He’s also manipulative and doesn’t show up with red horns, tail, or pitchfork.
And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)
Have you ever experienced a situation that initially seemed great, but over time you realized it wasn’t what it appeared to be? Something looked desirable and good for you, but with time the curtain was pulled back to uncover the truth. It wasn’t.
That’s how the devil (the enemy) works. He makes something or someone seem very attractive and appealing. If we’re not careful and prayerful, we can get lured in and fall into the trap. Next thing you know, we’re stuck somewhere God never wanted us to be.
It doesn’t mean we’re ruined necessarily, but sometimes we get off track and it takes time to restore us. We may have to live out some negative consequences or experience some sadness or pain.
The devil can be cunning and clever, but our God is greater. It is up to us to be mindful and watch out for the enemy.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
As I mentioned above, he’s on a full-time mission (along with that one-third of fallen angels) to destroy us because God loves us. Should we live in fear of him? Absolutely not. As always, the Lord gives us the blueprint for how to deal with him.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
We are called to submit ourselves to God. This means we must first believe that Jesus is the only Son of God who came to earth as the sacrifice for our sins. That his life, death, and resurrection were done to restore us to the Lord. He died on the cross for you and me.
Here’s a fun fact that may get overlooked. After Jesus died on the cross, he descended into hell and took the keys to hell, death, and the grave from guess who? The devil. (Revelation 1:17-18)
Once we believe, it is a constant decision to submit to the will of the Father. In all areas, at all times, we should position ourselves to do as God would want us to do. This most certainly means we should attempt to lead a life free from sin.
The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:8)
Wouldn’t be one of my blogs without at least one ouch verse. It stings to think that when we’re acting in ways God disapproves of, we’re aligned with the enemy. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us or that He’s done with us. In fact, Jesus came and sacrificed Himself, paying the price for our sins. Though our sins are covered, however, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to live Godly lives. We don’t get a free pass to keep sinning.
It’s comforting to know that though the enemy can make something seem so tempting and impossible to resist, the Lord has a strategy for us.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
When we’re being tempted, we are to look for the way out. God always provides a loophole, an escape route for those who believe. It doesn’t mean we’ll always take it. We are fallible. I know there have been times where I ignored my escape because in that moment my fleshly desire was greater than my obedience and submission.
But the Lord is the God of another chance. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Yes, I’ve had to live out negative consequences. There have been seasons of sadness and pain because of my wrong decisions. Yet the enemy was unable to devour me. He couldn’t take me out. And even in the lowest moments, God was still there, still loving, still pursuing my heart, still forgiving me.
I believe we’re living in a time where it’s getting more difficult to easily weed out the lies, to see the enemy manipulating and deceiving, to resist him. As the world abandons universal truths and embraces my truth, your truth, this truth and that truth, his influence grows. It is up to those of us who believe, who know Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life to stand up and speak out.
We must be the eyes for the blind until their vision is restored. We must be bold, wise, and gentle. We must be humble and cultivate intimate time with the Lord, reading His Word, worshipping, and praying.
We need not fear the enemy, because he’s already been defeated. Yet we should not dismiss or ignore him. He’s still on the prowl, still hunting. We need to pray so we don’t fall prey.
Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know. Stay alert.
Look forward to hearing from you.