Tearing his costume off!

costumeIt’s that time of year again… Halloween… with all the “Harvest Festivals” and “Trunk or Treat” alternatives.

But as Christians we have such a diversity of “views” regarding Satan, the Adversary, the Devil.

For some, there’s a casual nonchalance… like, “well, you know, life goes on and I don’t know how any of this religious stuff works so… whatever.” For others there’s a nearly unhealthy terror and fascination about darkness stuff, almost like the constant making of gestures to ward off the “evil eye” of the Enemy, lurking in every dark corner.

This Halloween, I just want to put something out there with which you are welcome to agree or disagree, embrace or cast away as you feel led…

If we accept that the scriptures of the Holy Bible are true, then we accept that “intelligent others” exist… including both angels and demons. We are told that Lucifer exists. We understand that creatures of darkness, demons, roam the world and seek our harm. All right then. That is a simple statement of fact, one fact of life, not to be focused upon to the exclusion of all else. In fact, a great deal of the impact of the Incarnation and coming of Jesus’ Kingdom has to do with His having freed us from that dominion and domination.

Nonetheless, we “deal with the devil” every day in some form or another. He seeks to rob us of our joy, our peace, our focus on love, light, and truth. THAT is his primary purpose. Not simply to “get us to do bad stuff of darkness”, but rather to “stop us from focus on light and good”.

I once had a pastor phone me and ask, “Is it necessary to name a demon in order to cast it out? Do you have to know its name?”

My immediate answer, thinking he was involved in some ministry of major occult deliverance, was, “Um, no. In fact, you seldom know the name, unless they reveal it. In general, we know the names of very few demons, and the studies needed to acquire that knowledge are not ones I recommend to anyone unless called to that type of ministry very specifically. Why do you ask? What is the need?”

And he went on, clarifying… He did not mean specific entity name, he meant things like,  lust, or greed, or covetousness, and so on.

Ah, I got it. Well, the answer, in my experience, was pretty much the same. When temptation is consistent and methodical, and a spirit is oppressing one’s soul, the real “power and authority” for its dismissal is that of Christ, of love, of light, and the power of the Cross. One releases one’s hold on the temptation, rebukes the darkness itself, and grasps Jesus instead. Often, one may not even recognize what the darkness was, until it is gone and light fills that part of the heart. There may simply be the sense of something being “off”… or the recognition that one’s heart and attitude is far from that of Christ within. Then, back away from that shadow, release it, rebuke it, and intentionally turn towards light, love, and Christ. When one is under the influence of the shadow itself, the discernment can be fuddled, and recognition impossible.

We deal with such mundane interactions with shadow all the time. We take them in stride.

But we seldom recognize them as “suits” or “costumes” worn by the Enemy, Satan, the Adversary, the Devil.

If we did, at least many of us, would run off screaming in terror. (Please note: the enemy certainly DOES do some more “dramatic manifestations”, especially when doors are opened through occult or arcane practices. Recommendation? Don’t do those things.)

But this Halloween I just wanted to take a moment and recognize that the pitchfork, horns, and pointy tail costume of the “scary Devil” is far less common than his ordinary business suit, flowered frock, or jeans and T-Shirt. We’re perfectly willing to recognize the Enemy in the dramatic, but far less likely to grant him the credit he deserves in the mundane. Even though it’s still well and truly him and his who are at work.

Here’s the Apostle Paul with some timely teaching to the Galatians…

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. [Galatians 5:13-26]

That’s not a bad list of “Devil Suits”. And we see them all the time, don’t we? In our homes, our communities, even our churches? Paul gives the antidote, even before naming the toxins…

Love your neighbor as yourself, and SERVE one another in that love. (Bear in mind, the Lord’s clarification of “who is my neighbor”.) Don’t freak out. Don’t get focused and fascinated. Just love, serve, and trust Jesus in both His authority and His love.

Let’s defrock the devil, and send him home!

Grace to you, Gentle Readers!

 

6 thoughts on “Tearing his costume off!

  1. Good, timely post. I agree and know that the Devil, or enemy does indeed bear costumes to deceive us. In fact, Paul wrote in 2 Cor 11:14 that he masquerades as an angel of light! This tells me at times he will use scripture to deceive us. Scripture, taken out of context, can be a deadly weapon to our souls. We must be well versed in scripture to catch these deceptions or we will fall short. I believe that is why many in the last days will cry “Lord, Lord”, but Jesus will say “I never knew you”. This group has most likely been deceived by the Devil posing as an angel of light. Let us study the scripture and know the Word so we will not be deceived.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Right you are, and thanks for commenting.

    Yes, I remember the depressing day that I became fully aware that no matter how hard I studied, how much scripture I memorized, or how many versions and translations of the Holy Bible I mastered… the Enemy has much greater command of the “words of God” contained therein. He dares bandy verses with Jesus Himself!

    But, on the other hand, the wondrous thing is… the Word of God is the Living, Breathing, Jesus Himself. Study the scripture (to show thyself approved to those who measure such things)… but KNOW the Word of God… have that intimate love relationship, closer than spouse or child, with the Person of God in Father, Son, and Spirit. (And what can be closer than to dwell within one another… you in Me, and I in you, and together we in the Father…?)

    Many will cry Lord, Lord… even demons know who He is. But without entering the trust of love relationship with Him, it’s all just words… black marks on a white page… data to be regugitated even by demons and devils. No matter how much of it is memorized or exegeted.

    Without love, it’s all just clanging cymbals.

    Grace to you! LM

    Like

  3. Good post!
    Jesus said ALL authority in heaven and earth was given to Him (Matt.28:18), which means Satan has no authority. So how does he get it? We give it to him! By the lies we believe about ourselves and God, through fear and ignorance.

    This is why I teach on identity before anything else when I disciple someone. When you know who you are in Christ, what authority you have, and where you are, seated with Christ in heavenly places (far above all principalities and powers – Eph.1:21-2:6), you automatically defang the devil. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant, but we should know who has authority and who doesn’t!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for saying this! I wish there were a “Like” button beyond “Like”!

      Jesus, Our Father, and the Spirit never intended us to walk around consumed by a spirit of fear. I don’t think that’s what Peter intended to instill with his letters either.

      Though I do find, to be honest, that there are always the “foolish”, (I tend to think of them as ‘young’, because most of those I’ve encountered really are… who, rather like Nadab and Abihu… think it is “cool” to experiment with stuff they have no need to mess with.) Here’s where things can sometimes go radically wrong.

      But it seems so easy for us to focus on the extraordinary and exotic, missing the implications of the everyday and mundane. Gotta love CS Lewis and the Screwtape Letters, when you look at darkness as the business of consistent distraction from the important and meaningful.

      Thanks for the comment! Grace to you — LM

      Liked by 1 person

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