JRR Tolkien set the stage for the adventures of The Hobbit when he wrote, “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”
Don’t leave the devil out of your calculations. He’s very near with his well organized army of demons. He’s not imaginary. He’s not a fairy tale. He’s not a fictional character like Darth Vader.
Where did the devil come from?
The devil is an angel whom God himself created as holy, but who rebelled against God’s authority. So the devil has all the capabilities of an angel except for evil purposes. “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day” (Jude 6).
According to Revelation 12:9 he is “that ancient serpent, called the devil,” and 1 Peter 5:8,9 reveals his strategy, and ours: “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”
How does the devil operate?
The devil loves deception. Sneak attacks. Ambushes. He doesn’t come to you bearing his fangs, but works undercover, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
So the Bible urges us to take a spiritual strategy and not focus just on our physical, economical or people problems. Behind it all, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
What are the devil’s limits?
Here’s the good news. The devil is being “kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains” (Jude 6).
By the authority and promise of Jesus Christ, the devil is chained up and kept in the dog house. He growls. He can bite. But not if you respectfully keep your distance. So stand firm. Don’t believe the devil’s lies. And when he is tempting you, learn to say about him what Martin Luther said. More on that tomorrow …
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, Lord of all the powers of both good and evil, today I am going to be tempted. Today the devil wants to ruin me and rob my faith. Today, I need you, Lord Jesus. By your power, help me fight. In your mercy, forgive my lack of faith and give me the peace that doesn’t need what the devil suggests. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Respond to the devil like you respond to fire. It is something very powerful. Acknowledge it with a healthy respect that sets boundaries. How much is the devil part of your daily calculations? What happens if you pay him too much or too little attention?