Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Dealing with the Dark Side

As I have grown to understand the ways of God, I’ve found that my greatest personal battles have been with Satan. I feel the warfare when I prepare a sermon. I feel the pressure when I pray or try to minister to someone. When I face spiritual vertigo, I engage in spiritual warfare. Satan is trying to throw me off my spiritual balance.

When we think of the devil, we often think of a little red man with horns and a pitchfork. Those of the Western world generally feel reluctant when they talk about evil and Satan. If a person’s head spins around and he vomits all over the place, we might say that it’s demonic. Otherwise, we find talk of demons and devils uncomfortable and, at times, offensive.

Mass murderers and terrorism are on the rise in the world. Most recently, the killing of 5 policemen in Dallas and the eighty-six killed in Nice. These attacks followed shootings in schools, movie theaters, and the Boston Marathon bombing. We usually place the blame on bad parenting, social rejection or mental illness.

In his book The Death of Satan, Andrew Delbanco—a secular liberal—states that our society hates the word “evil” because it places a value judgment on someone else. However, he says, a gulf is opening in our intellectual center enabling us to explain evil in emotional and sociological terms.

In the movie, Silence of the Lambs, Officer Clarice Starling meets serial killer Hannibal Lecter for the first time.

Starling: “I think you can provide some insight and advance this study.

Lecter: “And what possible reason could I have to do that? 
Starling: “Curiosity.”
Lecter: “About what?”

Starling: “About why you’re here. About what happened to you?”

Lecter: “Nothing happened to me, Officer Starling. I happened. You can’t reduce me to a set of influences. You’ve given up good and evil for behaviorism, Officer Starling. You’ve got everyone in moral dignity pants—nothing is ever anybody’s fault. Look at me, Officer Starling. Can you stand to say I’m evil? Am I evil, Officer Starling?”

Our society has difficulty answering the monster’s question. The challenge is to be consistent in our thinking. Do we believe in a supernatural God? If so, why can’t we, in turn, believe in a supernatural evil?

Spiritual warfare is not only real in the church and our personal lives, but also real on a national and world scale. Are the terrorists who attack us, or the criminals who kill us, any different than Hannibal Lecter? Terrorism and murder may be the face of evil, but the real evil is supernaturally lurking behind the door.

Satan attacks a nation in order to cripple any potential for spreading the gospel, and to promote the general misery of God’s creation. When a nation turns toward evil, the church instinctively pushes back. Often, as a consequent, Christians are portrayed as intolerant, phobic, and foolish. Satan tries to turn the tables on us, so that society looks at us as the problem, not the solution. This results in the proliferation of evil and the obstruction of the gospel message. 1 Peter 5:8 teaches, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

As believers, we must pray, knowing we are in a spiritual battle for our nation, the world, and more importantly, people’s souls.

For more study on this subject, check out my new book, Overcoming Spiritual Vertigo.”

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