Have you ever asked yourself that question?  Why the Devil is there a Devil?  I have.  I deluxe-devil-maskmean, think about it.  Before God created anything, he knew that there would be a Devil.  In fact it was part of his plan.  In his omniscience he knew the Devil would tempt Eve, and that she would sin, and mankind would suffer pain and turmoil for a long, long time.

I have been reading Job for the last month, and page after page, chapter after chapter, I am confronted with his great trials, tribulation, and loss.  He wouldn’t have had to endure such great suffering if there was no devil.  Even worse, he would not have had to endure what he did if God had not allowed the Devil to do what he did.  We would not have to suffer if God had not allowed the Devil to exist.

So one thing we can be sure about, it is God’s fault!

And everyone said, “Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!”

Well, if you didn’t say it, you should have.  Why?  Because God does love us and does want us to be happy.  Our task is to figure out how having the Devil and his minions in the world can possibly be something to cheer about.

I have been thinking more intently about this because in our morning devotions at the home for needy children in Oaxaca,  Mexico, a brother was sharing about a mission trip he recently took, and how the Devil was opposing them.  He told some stories to indicate how the demonic forces were battling him and his good work.

My first thought was, when it comes to the Devil and his power, and God and his power, it’s like comparing a little kid with a squirt gun and the U S A with a thousand nuclear weapons.  So the question arises, why does God allow the puny, weak devil to hinder the work of the Gospel?  There are different Bible verses that indicate that God does indeed allow battles and struggles against the Devil, and that even tell us how to do battle against the Evil One.  Why?

In thinking about this, I at first chalked it up to one of those great mysteries that we will not be able to understand this side of Gloryland.  But then I got an idea of perhaps one reason why.  There might be a hundred reasons why, but I am thrilled if I can come up with even one reason that might be at least partially correct.

Here it is.  The Bible tells us, and Martin Luther emphasizes this, that we battle not only against the Devil, but also the world and the flesh.  In fact our greatest enemy is our flesh, meaning our evil desires.  The devil and the world just come along and encourage and direct and entice the flesh, the evil desires, to greater heights until we basically destroy ourselves and often times those around us.

Eve ‘s biggest combatant around the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was not Satan in snake clothes.  It was her flesh.  Why was she even close to the tree?  If God prohibited eating the fruit from that tree, then the best thing to do would have been to avoid it altogether.  But Eve, like most of us, is tempted with the idea, presented to us by the lust of the flesh, to get as close to sin as we can, without actually sinning.  The biggest part of the “flesh”, is pride.  We think we are strong enough to get close to sin, without actually sinning.

It all started with her pride.  Pride brought her close to the tree.  Pride caused her to listen to the serpent.  Pride caused her to consider Satan’s words.  Pride caused her to pick the fruit and pride caused her to take a bite, thus changing her future, and that of humanity forever, or what seems like forever.

John tells us that sin is caused by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  Paul says sin begins with an evil desire of the flesh, which conceives and gives birth to death.  Both of these Apostles didn’t need to look any farther than the example of Eve.

The Devil has been in the business of tempting people to sin for thousands of years and has gotten pretty good at it.  It isn’t really all that difficult for him, since the root of sin abides in each one of us.  Many Christian scholars say that humanity has a “bent” towards sin.  That is our default mode. The Devil just comes along to make the sin more approachable and more destructive, and the world is along for the ride, cheering us on every step of the way.

So back to the question, WHY the devil is there a Devil?  I think God allows the Devil, and the flesh for that matter, to exist to show us how weak we are without God in our lives.  Paul battled the Devil daily.  If that wasn’t enough of a struggle for him, he was also given a “thorn in the flesh” by God, no less.  Did he complain about the Devil and the flesh and the thorn?  No, he thanked God because those things reminded him of his weakness,  and staring his weaknesses in the face, reminded him of his great need and dependence on God.  They brought him closer to God.  They reminded him that God loved him and wanted him to be happy.  Paul knew that when he looked to God for help, that God was right there to strengthen him and help him overcome.  Paul concluded that when he was weak, he was strong.

So we thank God and rejoice that there is the Devil, in the sense that we recognize that he is incredibly weak compared to God, and that if we are for God, and God is for us, then who can be successfully against us?   Certainly not the Devil.  We can sing with Martin Luther the great hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God.

 

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

 

Advertisements