“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” These are the words of Roger “Verbal” Clint in the movie, the Usual Suspects. This insightful line may well be an apt description of the Western World. Any talk of the devil and demons in our culture is usually relegated to the category of fantasy or myth.
Whilst most people would agree that our world is not okay, and that we see acts of violence, cruelty, greed, and racism all too often; the cause is rarely considered spiritual. We have a tendency to assume that such occurrences have a more natural explanation, whether that be psychological, biological or sociological, and therefore they have a natural solution.
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.Ephesians 6: 12
In Ephesians 6, Paul suggests that much, not all, but much of the evil we experience, and the struggle we have to pursue that which is noble, rather than that which is base, is because we have spiritual forces at work in our lives. Forces which seek to harm and lead us away from the life God intends for us.
If you find yourself in the struggle that Paul speaks of? The struggle to be the people we want to be, and to build a world which is fundamentally good, then what we understand the cause to be will influence our response. If everything has a natural explanation, then by all means pursue natural solutions. However, if we open ourselves up to the possibility that there is a spiritual aspect to life, if we allow for the idea that there is a conflict between spiritual forces of good and evil impacting our world, then we need to a spiritual solution.
Does a natural explanation account for the depth and pervasiveness of evil in the world? Do natural explanations account for the acts of terror, abuse, cruelty, greed that we see in our world?
The Bible gives an explanation of where evil came from, and answers the question of how to fight it.
Paul writes, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6: 10-11)
In short, Paul is reminding us that the “struggle” is not ours alone to fight. We can lean into the one who has rescued us on the cross, and the one who is all powerful, all present, and all knowing. When the devil tries to distort our understanding of God and ourselves. When he tries to convince us to think too highly of ourselves or too little of ourselves. The gospel reminds us that we are not perfect, but we are known and loved by God.
The armour God provides is essentially the gospel. The truth, the testimony, the confidence, the standing, and the peace with God because of the gospel protects us against the enemy’s schemes.
My hope is that you will allow the reality of what God has done for you to soak into the very core of who you are, so that anything the enemy throws at you will be blunted, and you will will know the joy of the life, purpose and identity which Jesus gives you.