The Devil: You Can’t Be Serious

One of the things that I have struggled with in my own faith, and I know others struggle with in regards to my faith, is this thing of a being called the Devil, or Satan.

See what 1 John 3:8b says:
“The reason the Son of God (Jesus Christ) appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

It’s become helpful in understanding how the New Testament in particular deals with the devil. Firstly, the name “Satan” means “Accuser” — this is a first clue as to what “the devil” is about. He is “the accuser” who brings all sorts of accusations against us with regards to who we are, our identity, how guilty we are etc.

These ‘accusations’ don’t come from a little red man sitting on our shoulder, however, they come from the families, societies and systems of thought we find ourselves in. So “Satan” is not just a real being, but represents the accusations we find running through our lives and even in our own conscience.

And here’s how ‘the devil’ works, by implementing harmful systems and cycles and thinking patterns in our lives that cause us to think of ourselves in certain ways and act in certain ways.

I believe that “the demonic” is real because I’ve seen some crazy stuff happen. Guys doing crazy things that seem humanly impossible. I’ve seen stuff. I can’t deny there is something out there working against us because of what I’ve seen and experienced.

At the same time, I don’t believe there’s a devil sitting on our shoulder trying to get us to do naughty things or telling us how to think about ourselves. What ‘the devil’ and ‘the demonic’ have done is implement a wicked system in our world, through deceiving us in many ways, that runs its course unless God steps in to break it. This is what God did do in Jesus.

It’s helpful to understand how the New Testament talks about Jesus destroying the devil’s “works”. The book of Revelation shows how Jesus will eventually destroy the devil himself, but at the moment it’s his works that are destroyed and being destroyed.

Peter in Acts 10:38 says this:

“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and … he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power (or oppressed by) of the devil, because God was with him.”

And finally, Ephesians 6:12 says that our battle is not against “flesh and blood” but against “the authorities, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

So, Jesus came to destroy his ‘works’ — the cycles and systems we see working in our own thinking, in families, and in societies. As Christians we implement his victory over the devil and his works into all these aspects of living.

From a scientific point of view, I’ve found it interesting how many sceptics are happy to accept that intelligent life could exist out on other planets but are not happy to accept that angels and demons exist. Angels and demons are simply an intelligent life, although they are not visible to our eye directly. So? Why should we assume all intelligent life has to function in the same material sphere as we do?

I’ll expound on this later this week. I’ll also talk about some things I believe Jesus came to break, such as sickness, poverty etc.

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12 thoughts on “The Devil: You Can’t Be Serious”

  1. Hi there,

    “So “Satan” is not just a real being, but represents the accusations we find running through our lives and even in our own conscience.”

    Did Job bring physical ailment upon himself? Was Jesus tempted by His own conscience? If you make the Devil out to be a straw man could God be one too?

  2. Hi Mark, you must have misread. I’m talking about the devil’s ‘works’. I’m not denying there is a devil, but I’m denying he sits on our shoulder all the time telling us what to do. I’m saying he implements systems into our world — these are his ‘works’.

    “So “Satan” is not just a real being, but represents the accusations we find running through our lives and even in our own conscience.”

    The devil can only be at one place at a time. It’s logically impossible for him to be everywhere at once. He is not God; he is not omnipresent. So he cannot sit on your shoulder and my shoulder at the same time and tempt us. But he can put systems in place that do the job for him.

    One of these systems he put into place with Adam and Eve, re: a system of a ‘sinful nature’ in humans.

    Jesus was tempted by the devil directly, yes, but he was Jesus. Of course the devil’s going to try his hand with the Son of God, who is the Second Adam (Romans 5). And of course it had to happen — Whereas Adam was deceived, Jesus was not. His position as the Son of God is prophetically proved.

    I’m not setting the devil up as a straw-man, he’s not a front for something else. I’m setting him up as an implementer of wickedness, the back worker. A deceiver. But I’m trying to bring down the red-man-on-the-shoulder idea and being more practical about how Jesus defeated him on the cross.

    Either you’ve misread or I haven’t written it clearly. It might be more clear with tomorrow’s post.

  3. No problem, I think there’s also a way of writing it that can make things vague. I do need to improve as a writer.

    I’d be interested in hearing what you thought of my latest post with regards to this. Do you think one could use this in an apologetic scenario?

  4. You forgot demons and angels. 🙂 I minister in a multicultural congregation, and have enjoyed the “corrective” of cultures which have roots other than my own rationalistic, Western culture. Over the years, I have come to feel quite at home with talk of the devil and spiritual beings. It almost seems to me now that the rationalistic view is a strange, minority view!

  5. I read “Christian” newsgroups on Usenet, and it saddens me to see that probably about 70% of what is posted there consists mainly of accusations against other participants, accusing them of being heretics, perishing, satanic and all the rest. There’s one participant who even manages to turn “I’m praying for (name)” into a curse.

    And yet, if I understand the New Testament correctly, the most “satanic” activity of all is the making of accusations.

    The core message of the New Testmanet is that the accuser of our brethern has been cast out, and there is therefore no condemation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

    So why is it that so many of us want to accuse and condemn our brethren? Even though satan has been cast down, we seem determined to become his surrogates. And that, of course, is all part of his plan.

  6. You raise an excellent point there Steve.

    Sheez, as much as I love a lot of those theology forums / groups, the amount of nonsense I see people spewing at each other is very discouraging.

    Very good point, imo. While I think it’s fair to say “I disagree with you on this or that issue because of…” I think it’s satanic to say, “You must be satanic for even thinking that.”

    Although, I wonder to myself, is not me pointing fingers at people doing that sort of thing accusatory itself? That can sometimes be a bit of a conundrum 🙂

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