Wednesday, February 1, 2017

TWZ 3: the schemes of the Devil (and when his demons overplay their hands)

For the Christian, our three enemies are the Devil, the Flesh, and "the World". (Biblically, "the world" has three different meanings-- the earth; all people [as in Jn 3:16]; and "the World system" [as throughout I John]. So, I'm referring to the third use here!) As John describes, "the World (system)" opposes God. As Paul pounds in Romans, the Flesh (the "Sin Nature"-- or what Watchman Nee called our "sin factory") opposes the Spirit. And as is evident through the Gospels, the Devil opposes Jesus. 

Of course, the members of this evil trinity are in cahoots with one another. Even in Genesis 3, the Devil uses the World to appeal to the Flesh-- in tempting Adam and Eve.

In II Cor 2:11, Paul warns the Corinthians that the Devil "might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." Other passages present similar warnings. From Genesis and the deceptive temptations of the Devil as Serpent-- to Revelation and powerful intimidations of the Devil as Dragon-- Satan seeks to mess with us. But we can be aware of his schemes-- not freaking out or ignoring them, but being wary.

I think it's Neil Anderson who compares demons to germs. Take reasonable precautions but don't freak out. Recognize the possibilities but don't give them power over you. Don't imagine that you're immune or that they don't exist. C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters is a terrific (personal or small-group) resource on this-- in helping you imagine and even *see* what the demons are trying to do to you. 

More than 20 years ago, a good (and now, good-old) friend of mine and I had dinner. Among other things, we talked through his struggles in breaking up with a recent girlfriend. Then, we went to Wednesday PM worship at SE. We happened to sit down on the same row-- one section over-- from his previous girlfriend. (He looked over at one point and saw her.) If I remember correctly, his shoulders slumped a bit, but he got his head clear and moved on. A few minutes later, his most recent girlfriend came in and sat two rows, right in front of us. This time, he definitely sighed or slumped. I leaned over and said, "Hey, you're not going to fall for that, are you? That was too obvious!" He smiled and moved past the strategy of a demon which had overplayed its hand.

One area where I've noticed particularly strong temptations: when there seems to be much at stake. This shouldn't be a shocker. (Think about the supernatural attacks on the Jewish people. It takes too much faith to imagine that this is random!) When you're feeling extraordinary temptations to anger, lust, laziness, etc.-- ask yourself what might be at stake; ask God for help with the "spiritual warfare" aspect of the temptation; and pray for the strength to persevere in the Spirit.


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