Friday, January 27, 2012

Giving The Devil His Due

15 You and this woman will hate each other; your descendants and hers will always be enemies. One of hers will strike you on the head, and you will strike him on the heel.”   —  Genesis 3:15 (CEV)

If you don't believe in God and the Devil, I wouldn't say you're crazy, but you're intellectually malnourished.  —U.S. author, Norman Mailer (1923–2007)

The little verse in Genesis, quoted above, serves as something of a springboard for the rest of the Bible.  It condenses the conflict between good and evil, between right and wrong, and provides a shot of encouragement that at some point, there would be an answer to it all.

If you are familiar with the fall of man, you’ll recall that it’s about Adam and Eve and their inability to keep a single, simple command.  “Don’t eat of that tree,” God said.  There were plenty of other trees from which to eat, but the one became the tool of the Devil, an instrument of temptation, and the mechanism by which sin entered into the world.  Make no mistake, we’re led to understand that without the Devil, Adam and Eve would likely have been happy to obey.  When the Devil comes onto the scene, bad things happen.

Read the book of Job.  You’ll meet God’s best man, whom God believed could stand up to the Devil’s test.  The first test was taking away all Job’s blessings.  Four messengers came in succession, bringing all the terrible news. In the second messenger’s report, there is something interesting.  He said that the fire of God fell from heaven and burned up sheep and servants.  It seems to me he implied that God did this terrible thing.  But God didn’t do it.  He surely allowed the Devil to act against Job, but he didn’t do it.  So often, we follow suit with this messenger and fail to give the Devil his due.  We blame God, but not Satan.

In fact, over the years, I’ve heard God blamed for more terrible, horrible, painful things that I’ve ever heard the Devil blamed for.  I just don’t hear a lot of people wondering, “Why did the Devil do this to me?”  You will hear, “Why did God do this to me?”  I have to wonder if we’ve got things backwards.

From the fall of man in the garden, right down to today, it is the Devil who is out to destroy us and keep us away from God.  God is the one out to save us, despite our sinful selves, and redeem us fallen creatures.  Life is complicated enough without mixing into it a faulty sort of theology that shifts the entire focus.  The Devil is your enemy, not God.  It is the Devil who will destroy you, not God.  Give the Devil his due.  You’ll run in the right direction.