■ By Susan Beckett / Contributed
One of the big controversies in churches today is the hot potato issue over the devil. It’s “to be or not to be” with many people. Sadly, to most, Satan is just the little red costumed guy on the side of the Deviled Ham can in the grocery store or the child dressed up like him at Halloween. Nothing more.
Some people call him “Big Red” or the Bogeyman. But in 1 Peter 5:8 the Bible calls him your adversary, your great enemy. And more than that, we are told that he wants to devour us. That is probably why the verse says, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walks about, seeking whom he may devour.” That is pretty sobering.
With that said, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 2:11 to “not be ignorant of his (Satan’s) devices,” such as his schemes, tactics, methods, tricks, and his wiles. Sneaky guy that old satan – he’s been at it for a very long time! He’s had tons of practice and he’s good at what he does!
So often we think that if and when the devil shows up on our doorstep, it will be to deliver something really big. That it will come in the form of an earthquake, lightening, or loud, scary thunder! But so many constantly miss one of Satan’s most used ‘devices’, which comes in the form of something so simple, unnoticed, and overlooked that almost everyone totally misses it.
This ‘device’ is found in Daniel 7:25: “And he (Satan) shall defy the Most High God and shall wear down the saints…” Did you see it? He is working hard at wearing down God’s people. “Wear down” literally means to wear out, consume, or waste. It happens so slowly that a person hardly notices before it’s too late. The zeal for the Lord is gone, church attendance is minimal, and the family bible hasn’t been opened in years. But it happened so gradual, so slowly, that it was hardly noticed.
Again, that’s why Paul tells us to be aware of Satan’s devices! We all have a course to run and I personally want to have all the gusto, zest, joy, and purpose in my life as possible. I love this verse from 3 John 2: “I pray above all things that you would prosper and be in health as your soul prospers.” God wants people to have an amazing life! But how is this done?
The author of Hebrews gives us a big clue – one giant step forward in the board game of life! We are told in Hebrews 12:1 to “…run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” This Christian life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It requires faith, stamina, commitment, and discipline in order to finish well and stay in the race until the very end.
Years ago during my college days at Cal State Fullerton, I had a professor who was also the gymnastics coach. He taught a class for future teachers. At the end of one class he instructed us that the next time we met, we were to dress casually and meet out on the athletic field. So the following class there we were – ready for whatever he had in mind for class that day.
We were instructed to go around the field four times, exactly one mile. He told us we could run, jog, walk or crawl — just get our little selves around four times and when we were finished we could meet him in the middle of the grassy field. So, off we went. Everyone went around one time but then, little by little, people began to drop out and just stroll themselves over to where the coach was sitting on the grass. I kept looking over, with the few of us that were still going around the track, wondering why so many had stopped short. When the last of us were finally finished, we were instructed that class was over and he would see us next time in the classroom.
Fast forward to next week in the classroom: Boy oh boy, did we ever get the lecture! We were grown adults who all wanted to be teachers some day, yet most couldn’t even follow simple instructions to go around a track four times! Ouch! The lecture hurt, but the few of us who had finished sat up a little straighter and were pretty proud of the fact that we had completed our course! It had been worth it.
I think the apostle Paul would have fit nicely into that class back in 1971, as he wrote this straightforward verse at the end of his amazing life: “I have fought the good fight, I have stayed on course and finished the race,” says 2 Timothy 4:7.
Bob and Susan Beckett pastor The Dwelling Place City Church at 27100 Girard in Hemet. For more information you can visit their website at DPCityChurch.com