Wrestling With the Devil

          What image comes to mind when you think the devil and his evil? A little red guy on your shoulder with horns and a pitch fork? A person? The government, or society? This world? Ephesians 6:12 says, “For 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.” Evil’s original state is not tangible, but because we live in a physical world it will commonly be revealed as such. This is one potential reason why people created the phrase, “hate the sin not the sinner.” Combating evil will require us to see a person as more than just a sum of their sins. Following Christ doesn’t mean we excuse another’s sinful decisions, but it also entails that we have compassion for a heart that is struggling against its temptations.

            After the church of Corinth informed Paul of a member of their church who committed an offense against them, the apostle replied, “The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.”(2 Cor. 2:6-8) Paul continues in the next few verses to say that his reply was intended to reaffirm how the Christians in Corinth should conduct themselves when a person repents upon a mistake. Satan will use his lies to sway our emotional state and outwit us from obeying Christ’s teachings. (2 Cor. 2:11)

            When Paul was a practicing Pharisee, the devil preyed on his emotions to sway from God’s truth. In Acts 26:9-11 he wrote, “On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.” Regardless of the methodology the devil used to sway Paul, he must have been acting on his emotional state.

             One of the devil’s biggest lies is that he has a physical form. Humans are merely vessels, but unlike pots, we get to choose what we hold inside of us. The weapons used to defend our hearts and minds from the devil aren’t tangible because you can’t physically fight lies. You combat lies by using the truth. Satan’s lies are demolished when we uphold God’s loving truth above all else. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says, “ For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”