My heart is saddened in the wake of what we’re doing to one another. But I cannot say that I’m surprised. You see, we’re deeply rooted in sin and ignoring our Lord — and that’s nothing new. We’re impulsively believing and blindly following lies. We’re not valuing life as we’ve been commanded. We’re seeing those who are different from us as enemies.
And that’s what’s wrong: We’re ignoring the real enemy. We’re blindly believing that “they” are the problem.
But there is an enemy much greater than those who differ from us racially, sexually, economically, religiously, or politically. It’s not a matter of “an” enemy — it’s THE enemy — singular. Satan, Hebrew for “the accuser,” has managed to speak lies into our lives — and we’re believing them.
Lie #1: Satan Isn’t Real
Satan’s greatest advantage in this world = people don’t believe he exists. Over the centuries, we’ve conjured up caricature-like images of a horned, spiky-tailed, pitchfork-wielding devil that we see at Halloween — all inaccurate according to scripture. We see Satan as a mythical creature that may as well be thrown in with Bigfoot and UFO’s. But, when we fail to acknowledge that Satan is an active and powerful force of this world, how are we to combat his lies or evil? God’s Word doesn’t hesitate to warn us about the dangers:
The Bible’s description of Satan: Adversary (1 Peter 5:8), enemy (Matthew 13:39), disguiser (2 Corinthians 11:14), accuser (Revelation 12:10), murderer and father of lies (John 8:44), thief (John 10:10), cunning (2 Corinthians 11:3), god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), ruler of this world (John 12:31), lawless one (2 Thessalonians 2:9), enemy of all righteousness (Acts 13:10), tempter (Luke 4:1), angel of the bottomless pit (Revelation 9:11), evil one (Matthew 13:30), prince of demons (Matthew 12:24), harasser (2 Corinthians 12:7), hindrance to God (Matthew 16:23), and crafty (Genesis 3:1).
How Satan operates: Prowls seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), no truth in him (John 8:44), comes to steal and destroy (John 10:10), lead thoughts astray from sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3), comes in great wrath (Revelation 12:12), blinds unbelievers’ minds to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4), full of deceit and villainy (Acts 13:10), snares and captures (2 Timothy 2:26), outwits (2 Corinthians 2:11), keeps in eternal chains under gloomy darkness (Jude 1:6), takes away the word sown into people (Mark 4:15), makes straight paths crooked (Acts 13:10), and fills hearts to lie (Acts 5:3).
We need to begin taking Satan’s power seriously. Though it is limited and Christ has ultimately defeated him, he still has a powerful influence. By uniting as Believers, fully aware of sin and its consequences, we have the ability to move towards true godly heart transformation. But, “If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:14).
Lie #2: People Are Inherently Good
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
Our culture has branded words like “sin,” “evil,” and “repentance” as stale and legalistic, intended only by religion to shame and condemn others. But that’s not the intended case. We’re forgetting (or perhaps more accurately: ignoring) that we are all sinful by nature. So, if we don’t believe that Satan is real and an effective manipulator, we cannot possibly change. If we believe that everyone is inherently good, that people have “good hearts,” we cannot overcome the reality of evil.
Friend, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no such thing as a “good” person. One human’s idea of “good” varies from the individual sitting next to them. Why are we basing our lives on others’ “goodness” or “badness” and ignoring the Lord’s truth about our human condition?
One of the strangest things that people say is, “I’m a good person.” I am always amazed when people claim to know that about themselves … History demonstrates, repeatedly, that if enough people begin to define themselves as “good” in contrast to others who are “bad,” those others come to be seen as less than human. — Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace
Paul recognized it in his own heart in Romans 7:21: “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members … So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Even in 57 A.D., Paul confirmed what we know in 2016: #thestruggleisreal.
Humanity is alike, no one is perfect, and no one actively seeks God. That’s why we need our Savior Jesus Christ. In His perfect sacrifice, we are covered by our great defender. Because we carry His name, we have been given grace, redemption, and freedom even in our sinful weakness. Because there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation or God’s approval, we can only rejoice gladly that Christ has taken the burden from us and for us! HE, and HE ALONE, is good!
Lie #3: Life Isn’t Valuable
Are you aware of how little value life has today?
Society is so confused and indifferent to the sanctity and gift of life, and the Enemy has managed to deceive us. On one hand, we believe that it’s okay (and even celebrated) for unborn babies to be cut off from a chance at life. Even more confusing are the conditions we place on our acceptance or rejection of this: If the baby has abnormalities: yes/no; if the baby was conceived at an inopportune time: yes/no; if the baby is a product of a crime: yes/no; if the baby will be a burden socially or financially: yes/no; if the baby’s disease will be too much to handle: yes/no; if it would be too hard to give it up for adoption: yes/no. Don’t forget: We demand that our chickens to be cageless and free, or we protest when a gorilla gets shot at the zoo — but then we have little issue approving of killing inmates on death row. We stick to the ideas that make us comfortable, in control, and unaccountable — but that’s not how we are to live.
So then, where do we draw the line for valuing life if we are not following God and His provisions for humanity? Can you imagine the change we’d see in society if we celebrated each and every life, regardless of it’s ethnicity, genetic makeup, or method of conception? That the moment we’d hear of a pregnancy, the world would rejoice as the Lord does? But we don’t. We’ve placed too many conditions on what a worthy life means.
Lie #4: You Do You, Boo
We’re living for our own approval. We love ourselves deeply into consequences of selfishness, pride, greed, and self-centeredness. We ignore Christ’s command spelled out twice in John 15 (among other scriptures): “Love each other as I have loved you” (v. 12) …. “This is my command: Love each other” (v. 17). He didn’t say, “Love yourself, put yourself first, tend to your own needs, do your own thing.”
Because we are living for individual self, it’s natural that our inward focus blots out the pressing needs of others. If we’re continually centered on our own needs, our own desires, and our own preferences, it will be challenging to have a heart — and time — for the rest of humanity. The truth is: God isn’t intending our lives to be lived based on how we feel, but how we act. And though we can’t necessarily feel love for everyone, we can live out this command for humanity through our actions.
As Christ commanded His followers, we are to tend to the needs of the poor, seek justice, care for the widow, reach out to the neglected and lost. We aren’t serving others because the world tells us to serve ourselves! Jesus made it clear through His ministry that He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). If we are to follow Christ’s example, we are not to aim to be served, but to serve.
Truth Among the Lies
The prevalence of evil, sin, and Satan’s schemes feels heavy and hopeless. But, the enemy is a defeated enemy. Jesus has “disarmed the powers and authorities” and has “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). If we are walking with Christ, we have the authority to overcome all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19) and the forces of an evil society (Ephesians 6:13). When we submit to the Lord and resist Satan, we have nothing to fear. We will only be in this sin-laden world for a short time.
“The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
So, America. Are you willing to stand against our Enemy? Are you willing to see your depravity, sinfulness, and need for a Savior? Are you going to choose to value all life? I pray you do, America.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves … Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil … Live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath … Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21)