24 July 2011

The Devil- A Big, Bad...

I spent a great deal of my life at least nervous about, when not afraid of, the devil. Satan. The Accuser. The Evil One. Devourer of Souls. He was big and scary, probably the biggest, baddest, scariest guy around except God. Sometimes scarier than God.

My earliest, related memory is hearing Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" on the radio in El Paso when it first came out. We were in the family Ford station wagon (white, vinyl seats, no A/C, no seat belts), on our way to Church one Sunday morning. Being all of 7 years old, I had no idea what the song was about.

"I fell into a burning ring of fire! I went down, down, down and the flames went higher! And it burns, burns, burns, the Ring of Fire... The Ring of Fire" (Capitalization is how I heard it.)

That scared me. "Dad! Mom! We can't listen to this on Sunday on our way to Church! It's about going to Hell!" I'm not sure how Dad managed not to run off the road.

Over the years I grew in stature and (sometimes) wisdom. My interest in the devil and all things Hell waxed and waned with everything from my precarious spiritual balance (I flirted for a while with _The Satanic Bible_ in 1971) to comic books (Ghostrider debuted in 1972) to laughing at Satan to being really leery. Vampire movies probably didn't help.

When I was off in my hippie phase I tried not to think much about God or Satan. Except when I would have visions of Satan or Hell on acid. Then I'd cry out to God. Each time (I vividly recall two and believe there were a couple more) I was suddenly straight as could be, cool calm and unafraid. That should have been a clue on several levels. OK, it *was* a clue; I simply ignored it.)

When God finally really got hold of me, Satan didn't scare me at all. I mean, God had delivered me from every trap that stinker had set! But eventually some well-meaning fellow Christians convinced me that Satan was my worst enemy, maybe my worst nightmare. I wandered all over the map on that one, from fear to endless spiritual warfare to knowing the right formulas to follow. The latter didn't last long at all, since it was little different than sorcery (say the right incantation, perform the right rituals and the spirits must obey! It's the same thing, whether you're trying to get demons to obey or God. In fact, I believe the latter is worse.)

But eventually, between some awesome revivalists (I probably ought to write about that word some day for you), Bible study and basic revelation, I came back to where I'd been about 30 years before, when God turned my life right side up.

The army of Israel looked at Goliath, saw a fierce giant, and was terrified. David-- a shepherd, not a soldier-- looked at Goliath and saw some overgrown punk who liked to make a lot of noise and thought he was bigger and badder than anyone around, including the Living God. David got royally pissed off and kicked Goliath's butt. For good measure, he hacked off Goliath's head for good measure. With Goliath's own sword.[1]

Too much of the Church today looks at Satan the way Israel did. For unbelievers, he *is* big and scary (even if they don't realize it)[2]. For Christians? Jesus already kicked his butt for us. Every time we laugh at him, every time we turn our back on his boasting, every time we turn away from his noise back to Jesus, it just rubs salt in his wounds.

Poor baby.


Most times, that's how I deal with him, his temptations, his slander, his lies, his whatever. I laugh and ignore him.

"But he goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour!" OK, true enough, But he can't devour me. I belong to God. Jesus already won that battle. He can only devour me if I let him. In fact. I'd probably have to aid him, jump into his nasty ol mouth, unbrushed teeth, rotting sardine breath and all. No thanks!

Can he cause trouble? Sure, especially since people are willing to not only let him, but aid and abet him. But it's still up to me whether he wins or not. Hmmm. Which way should I go on that? As the commercial says, "That was easy."

Satan really only has two weapons against you-- lies and fear. In both cases, their opposite is both your defense and your offense, and those opposites always trump.

- Truth destroys lies.

- Love conquers fear.

Both of these are part of the very nature of God. We are made in God's image, and if we accept Christ, we accept that image, we are remade into it. Further, we have his Holy Spirit. If we have the living God in us, who else need we fear?

Earlier I mentioned some names for the devil. Nowadays I just think of him as "Ol' doo doo head". He's not worth my respect or time. You want to think of him as big and bad and scary, go right ahead. Give him all the honor and glory you want. Just remember, he doesn't reciprocate. He's a hungry lion, far more interested in who he can masticate.

Which isn't me.

Doo doo head.

[1] What an ignominious epitaph. "The fiercest giant in the land lost his head to his own sword in the hands of a child."
[2] Though I see God's grace protecting even unbelievers an awful lot.

No comments:

Post a Comment