Originally published in Wondering Fair
“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell” ~ Oscar Wilde.
“If Satan wasn’t around, churches would go out of business” ~ Marilyn Manson.
The devil. It’s not someone you see many documentaries about on television. You can’t study courses on him at university and you can’t see him. So surely we shouldn’t believe in him at all?
Well, here’s where things get complicated if we don’t. You see we all want to believe that we’re basically quite good in society and there’s nothing really wrong. However, if that is the case and we’re basically quite good, why is life difficult? If there is no enemy and there’s nothing seriously wrong with us, why do we continue to fail to live up to our own standards we make for ourselves? It’s like we’re running 100m race against no-one else and we still fail to win! No, clearly our analysis can’t be right.
So perhaps at this point, we say, ok, I’m happy to admit there’s evil in the world but not a devil, there are evil forces that act on us like our backgrounds, our schooling but not an individual devil with his fancy pitchfork. But – and follow me closely here – I don’t think that makes enough sense of what we see in this world. You see, gravity and magnetism are impersonal forces that act on us but these don’t cause us to doubt or make us feel guilty when we’re subjected to them. If I fall out of a window because I was too close to it, I may feel stupid for my actions but I won’t feel guilty about it.
However, evil is different. It interacts with our intellect and our will and it attracts us to do even illogical things that we know we shouldn’t. And when we do these things, we then feel guilty because we know that in some way our reasoning has been tampered with. We have been persuaded to do something that we later regret. This type of effect in our lives does not come from forces like gravity, it comes from people. Friends, evil is not an abstract force, but a person who is attracting us and trying to influence our lives. I suggest to you, the devil exists.
This is a pretty scary thought. After all, believing there’s a power greater than us who has the ability to influence our reasoning is a frightening thing to admit. I believe, however, there is a greater power in this world – that of the living God. And the devil is subject to him. Whoever follows Christ can know this greater power – the Bible says that the reason Jesus appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. And so friends, whoever follows Christ need not be controlled or led by the devil but all can know freedom. Freedom from him and his control in your life. And not just freedom from, but freedom to. For when God promised the Holy Spirit, he promised a freedom and a new power to do right, a freedom and a power to exercise self-control, a freedom and a power to live life as it was meant to be. God’s energy runs in the veins of those who follow him, who live in harmony with him so that they are no longer subject to the devil and his whims.
Yes, the devil exists and is powerful. But God exists and He is more powerful.