Friday, February 27, 2015

And If the Devil Doesn't Like It...

Songs I really don't like right now:
It's All About the Bass - No.  It's all about hind-ends.
Take Me to Church - Um.  Don't bring that to MY church!
I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy -

You might be asking yourself what I could possibly have against that lovely little children's song-at least it's not sexually explicit!  But it does have that troubling last verse-

 If the devil doesn't like it he can sit on a tack.
 Ouch!
 Sit on a tack!
 Ouch!
 Sit on a tack!
 And if the devil doesn't like it, he can sit on a tack!
 Ouch!
 Sit on a tack to stay!
I taught a ladies Bible class recently on Satan and learned much I didn't know.  I hope over the next several posts to share some more insights from that lesson. Yet perhaps the most immediately applicable thing was the Biblical advice about the attitude we should have towards Satan. Trust me, that kids' song has got it wrong!

Jude, in his short epistle, encourages the Christians to avoid people who are turning God's grace into license.  He points out that they ignore proper authority, for instance "reviling angelic majesties."  At first glance we might take this as a warning to avoid making fun of angels but Jude's example is striking...
Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.  But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. Jude 1:8-9*
So if the archangel himself hesitated to speak scornfully but relied simply on God's power to rebuke, might we not feel more than a little uncomfortable asking our 6 year old to pretend that they can play a nasty practical joke on Satan?!
What attitude should we have towards Satan then?  Should we be fearful of him - cowering in the darkness, like foolish victims in a horror movie, waiting to be devoured?

No.  Nothing in the Bible suggests that fearing Satan is an appropriate response.  Now, God, him we are supposed to fear.  Remember those verses from Sunday school?  "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalms 111:10).  Or "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell"  (Matthew 10:28).  If you want a challenge try looking up all the passages that mention the fear of the Lord.  It's as if the Bible shouts "Fear the Lord" and on the subject of fearing Satan all we get is crickets!
So what is the Biblically appropriate attitude towards Satan?  Wariness.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
Lion courtesy of Doc at freeimages.comCan you imagine a man armed with a sword and shield walking alone in the African Savannah? When he hears a roar in the distance what should he do?  Should he laugh and make light of the lion?  That guy would be kitty kibble.  Would it be better to shake with terror? Nope. He'd be lion lunchmeat. The wise man keeps his head up and pays attention.  He may hate the lion and want to escape him but he is alert and serious.

The Savannah is a dangerous place to be but no more dangerous than our wide and tempting world.  We walk armed with the word of God and carrying our shield of faith with which we "will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Ephesians 6:15-17).
I won't be mad at you if you go on sing "he can sit on a tack, Ouch!"  But I really want to encourage you to think carefully about your attitude towards Satan.  Don't take him lightly - even the angels are afraid to do so (Jude1:8-9). Don't be a coward; remember we were not given a spirit of timidity (2 Timothy 1:7). Be sober.  Be alert.  Be ready - the lion is on the prowl.

Helene

*If you are wondering where in the Old Testament you will find the story of Michael arguing with the devil over the body of Moses, it's not there.  It was apparently an oral tradition (recorded in the document known as The Book of Enoch) that Jude references through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

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