Friday, November 18, 2005

The Devil, You Say!

I believe in a real being with its own personality and program and whom we know as the Devil (among other names). I take the C.S. Lewis position that the two greatest mistakes we can make are to think that he doesn't exist, or that he DOES exist and that he is behind everything. We seem to be swinging away from a period in our history where we never discussed his work in the present age, on a personal level, to one where we blame him for everything.

Here's a clue: sometimes your roof leaks because it is twenty years old, not because the devil broke it. Sometimes your marriage breaks because you work too many hours away and are a real jerk when you get home, not because the devil jumped in and did something. Sometimes we don't need the devil's help to screw things up royally.

Know your enemy -- but take responsibility for the way you deal with life, including the warfare aspect of life.

Have cancer? I'm truly sorry. I thought I did once but it turned out to be a benign tumor and a couple of operations later I am as fine as I need to be. Was your cancer caused by the devil? I don't know. I do not doubt that the devil can create illness or direct the weather. He seemed to be able to do that, within limits, in Scripture and there is nothing to indicate that in his present, wounded, position he cannot maintain that level of malevolent interaction here. Yet, I believe that most of us get cancer because we live in a broken universe. I believe that we have tornadoes and hurricanes because we no longer live in a garden paradise but on a planet broken by sin and its consequences (including the Flood).

And if you break it, you buy it. All of it. Including the leftover pain of a slowly shredding genetic code that decreases in quality the further we are from the Garden.

We are to put to death the evil desires in our hearts and put to death the fleshly impulses that drive us to follow our lusts... and we are to flee the devil. Nowhere are we given permission to shrug and say "The devil made me do it." Nor are we asked to shake in fear at Satan's presence. Fear is not an option. We are children of the King of Kings. We bear some responsibility for putting this world right (remember invisiblechildren.com?).

A closing illustration: Flip Wilson made the catchphrase "The devil made me do it" popular. For him it was a fun phrase, but not one he accepted as theological truth. When his wife got tired of being married, she left him with the kids. He immediately quit show business so he could stay home and raise them full time. He did so honorably and very, very well. Later, he contracted cancer and died... never once complaining about it, acting helpless or fearful. He knew the devil would do what the devil would do. It was up to Flip to be honorable, good, and strong regardless of the situation in which he found himself.

Don't tell me what the devil is doing in your life. Tell me what you -- a child of the King -- are doing.

Live by faith. Walk on.

10 Comments:

At 11/18/2005 01:46:00 PM , Blogger David U said...

Back, back, back, and it's GONE! Patrick Mead hits another walk-off game winning home run!

Thanks for sharing your wisdom, brother!!

DU

 
At 11/18/2005 02:40:00 PM , Blogger Eric said...

Patrick,

Thank you for another incredible message. I really appreciate the C.S. Lewis position and how you have defined and explained it. I so wish I could live by the fear is not an option motto. Unfortunately, its medical issues, which usually send me reeling. I have allowed fear to manifest itself far too often in my life. Whether it is the devil or my own leaking roof, that is a very interesting question. Thanks for the inspiration and as usual thought provoking words of faith and wisdom. God Bless.

 
At 11/19/2005 09:25:00 AM , Blogger Scott Gampp said...

Although the devil certainly has a knack for temptation and was presnt in that garden, he cannot make our decisions for us - no more than God can make decisions for us.
The beauty of being man created in the likeness of God is that we have to decide for ourselves which we will serve.
One thing I've always noticed, no matter what Satan has thrown in our path, no matter how hurtful or evil, if we let him, God can turn it around and make a positive from it.

Thanks for the post Patrick.

 
At 11/19/2005 11:01:00 AM , Blogger Jason Coriell said...

Along with the tendency to blame the devil for all things bad is the tendency to see all bad as a sign of the impending second coming of Christ. I live in a small, relatively peaceful town. Everytime some consequence of evil makes the local headlines the Christian water coolers are abuzz. You hear, "That's got to be the last straw" or "God can't take much more", etc. Both tendencies render us inactive when in fact action is needed.

 
At 11/19/2005 11:40:00 AM , Blogger mike the eyeguy said...

Patrick--

Another nettlesome tendency that we sometimes demonstrate along with attributing every bad thing to Satan is crediting every good thing to God.

For instance, did God really open up that parking space near the front of the store? Did he really help you elude that final tackler to score the winning touchdown, resulting in a spontaneous praise and prayer service in the end zone? Is he really going to cause the opposing field goal kicker to go wide left as I'm sure some of those burly lineman holding hands on the sideline must be praying?

I know I'm treading on thin ice here--I'm not saying that God isn't interested in the details of our lives and might not have some interest in these matters at one time or another. But the fact that we just presume that he does and that everywhere we go we say, "The Lord did this" and "The Lord did that" to me turns into as much of a clanging gong as the tired refrain "the devil made it happen."

The effect of both of these extremes is that people may tune us out altogether.

 
At 11/19/2005 03:24:00 PM , Blogger Laurie said...

Thanks for the reminder; sometimes it is much easier to blame anything but one's self for the issues one is facing. I believe you are talking about personal responsibility, and sometimes it is very difficult to take that responsibility. Much of what happens in our lives can be attributed to bad decisions made by self or another. I figure it this way, if I manage to keep myself in trouble, why would satan or the devil have a need to do anything?

 
At 11/19/2005 04:32:00 PM , Blogger CrazyJo said...

Excellent post, Patrick. A good reminder.
Mike, I think there is a scripture that talks about every good and perfect gift coming from the Father. I for one would rather look at all good as coming from the One who is all good. I think he does care enough to help in the "little" areas of life.

 
At 11/21/2005 05:36:00 PM , Blogger eaglewood said...

Great post Patrick.
I too have a problem with people who assign blame to G_d or Lucifer and never look at the problem at hand. I do not doubt that Lucifer and his minions would have no problem taking advantage of our failings, but why try if he does not have to. We as fallen human beings are quite capable of making our own mischief and evil. While G_d will allow things to happen in our lives it always has a purpose and fits into His divine plan.

I was quite pleased when you stopped by my humble blog. I have been a lurker here and have been impressed with what you have said. Could you give me the biblical reference on what you left in my comments? I am quite intrigued by your comment and would like to know more.

God Bless.

 
At 11/21/2005 05:42:00 PM , Blogger PatrickMead said...

Look at 2 John 9-11, preferably in literal versions or the KJV for the thrust of the message. Thanks for your kind words.

 
At 11/26/2005 11:53:00 PM , Blogger Serena said...

I've been mulling a blogpost on pretty much the same subject. You did such an excellent job, that I could say I don't need to, but possibly what I'm meditating on will just add more to what you have written. That was excellent, Brother!
Love and shalom,
Serena

 

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