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Monday, February 19, 2018

Do you believe in the devil?

Posted by Gary on January 30, 2015

“My Dear Wormwood,

I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and skeptics. At least, not yet…

…I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark. The fact that “devils” are predominately comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.”  (Demon Screwtape to his underling demon-nephew Wormwood in C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters”)

Thank you, brother Martin

Posted by Gary on September 14, 2011

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith…”

Words from Martin Luther’s Table Talk I read today. Read them. Ponder them. Believe them. Act on them.

When that envious, poisoned spirit, the devil, plagues and torments us, as is his custom, and speaks to us of our sins, intending to lead us into despair, we must meet him in this manner: “You deceitful and wicked spirit! How dare you presume to persuade me to such things? Do you not know that Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior, who crushed your head, has forbidden me to believe you, yes, even when you speak the truth, He says that you are a murderer, a liar, and the father, of lies!

I will not believe that I am your captive or shall be condemned to everlasting death and hellish torments, by reason of my sins, as you falsely suggest. But you on the contrary, long ago, through Christ my Savior were stripped, judged, and with everlasting bonds and chains of darkness, bound, cast down, and delivered to hell, reserved to the judgment of the great day, and finally, with all the ungodly, will be thrown into the bottomless pit of hell.

Further, I demand of you, by what authority you presume to exercise such power and right against me? You have given me neither life, wife, nor child; no, not the least thing that I have; neither are you my lord, much less the creator of my body and soul; neither have you made the members wherewith I have sinned. How, then, you wicked and false spirit, are you so insolent as to domineer over that which is mine, as if you were God Himself?” (From Luther’s “Table Talk” with some minor updates to modern English)

No sympathy for the Devil-Bob Dylan’s “Man of Peace”

Posted by Gary on June 20, 2011

2 Corinthians 11:13-14 “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

1 Peter 5:8 “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

While I do not advocate making Satan a regular focus in the music of the Christian faith, there are proper, notable references to the Adversary in Christian music. Certainly Martin Luther’s reference to the Devil in “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” comes to mind. Keith Green’s “No One Believes In Me Anymore” deserves a frequent listen, how accurately that song explains the Devil’s deceptive work.

Another song that I make time for that references the Devil is “Man of Peace” by Bob Dylan from his “Infidels” album. Man of Peace is not a hymn, the instrumentation of the song if heard on its own would never lead one to think it a song about Satan.

How foolish we are to think of the Devil in a red cape, with horns and pitchfork, that is far too obvious. The Devil is nearer to us than we know for he is subtle and crafty and he loves to be so. The devil is in a thousand things that you and I welcome into our lives telling ourselves that they are harmless and good.

Take a moment to read and ponder the lyrics of Man of Peace, then give it a listen. You can purchase it at ITunes here.

Man of Peace

Look out your window, baby, there’s a scene you’d like to catch
The band is playing “Dixie,” a man got his hand outstretched
Could be the Führer
Could be the local priest
You know sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

He got a sweet gift of gab, he got a harmonious tongue
He knows every song of love that ever has been sung
Good intentions can be evil
Both hands can be full of grease
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

Well, first he’s in the background, then he’s in the front
Both eyes are looking like they’re on a rabbit hunt
Nobody can see through him
No, not even the Chief of Police
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

Well, he catch you when you’re hoping for a glimpse of the sun
Catch you when your troubles feel like they weigh a ton
He could be standing next to you
The person that you’d notice least
I hear that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

Well, he can be fascinating, he can be dull
He can ride down Niagara Falls in the barrels of your skull
I can smell something cooking
I can tell there’s going to be a feast
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

He’s a great humanitarian, he’s a great philanthropist
He knows just where to touch you, honey, and how you like to be kissed
He’ll put both his arms around you
You can feel the tender touch of the beast
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

Well, the howling wolf will howl tonight, the king snake will crawl
Trees that’ve stood for a thousand years suddenly will fall
Wanna get married? Do it now
Tomorrow all activity will cease
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

Somewhere Mama’s weeping for her blue-eyed boy
She’s holding them little white shoes and that little broken toy
And he’s following a star
The same one them three men followed from the East
I hear that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

Bob Dylan