Friday, 17 January 2014

The Devil of Havoc

The Devil wreaks havoc. Jesus said the Devil came to steal, kill and destroy. The Apostle Paul said that there were occasions when his mission was hindered by the Devil. And the Apostle Peter warned believers to be on guard against the Devil who went about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. I guess these Scriptures give enough justification for some believers to blame the Devil whenever things go wrong in their lives - but I am wondering if the Devil is blamed for what seems to be quite avoidable havoc. As someone who has induced more than my fair share of havoc, I think I have grounds for my suspicions.
You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
Second Corinthians 1:11


You don't always need the Devil's help to wreak havoc in your life or the lives of others! Acting unwisely, uncaringly, or inconsiderately, will almost certainly cause a havoc that the Devil would be proud to put his name to. The husband who ignores his wife; the mother who unfairly scolds her child in public; the boss who demands of his employees that they give up their lunch hour for the good of the company; the pastor who only ever dishes up guilt and condemnation on his key leaders; the person who lives on a diet of soda, chocolate and pizza, are all sowing the seeds of havoc.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8


When things go wrong in your life, it could be Devil, but it may also be the consequences of our own unwise choices or the sovereignty of God! Scripture teaches that our purpose is to live to give and for God's glory, thus if we sense that the Devil is attacking us, it is always with the aim of diminishing our ability to give God glory through our worship. I know. I have, in times past, been too easily distracted from worshiping God due to some devilish distraction. But if my havoc is the result of my own unwise choices or conduct, I know that Scripture teaches me to humble myself, repent, and be reconciled with a view to me worshiping God unobstructively. But if my world is in havoc becuase of the sovereignty of God, as Job's world was, then Scripture calls me to trust God in the midst of my pain and continue to worship Him. Either of the three havoc-causes is ultimately resolved through right worship.

I must stress that I do not get, and have not always got, this right. Maybe this qualifies me to recognise when others are blaming the Devil so that they don't have to accept responsibility for their own lack of wisdom or consideration. If you sow rudeness it won't be the Devil who delivers dischord with others! If you sow neglect into your marriage the arrival of relationship strain is the natural consequence not a Satanic ploy to destroy your marriage. For pastors who only ever preach condemnation to their dwindling congregation, it is too lazy to blame the Devil for dwindling the church (or even worse, claiming that 'God is clearing out the dead wood').


The English word, "Devil", is from the Greek word, diabolos, and means enemy. It is a virtual synonym for Satan, which means accuser, adversary. 'The Devil' is a title more than it is a name, but like many titles which become so acquainted with a particular person, it has, like the term the Christ, become identified as a name. The Scriptures give sufficient but not exhaustive information about the Devil - after all, the record of Scripture is not so that we can plumb the knowable depths about Satan! What we might ascertain from the Biblical account is that Satan was present on earth shortly after the creation of mankind's parents and either possessed a snake or took on its form. We might surmise that Satan was once an angel with some authority in heaven who rebelled. We read in Job chapters one and two an interesting (and ancient) exchange between the LORD and Satan. It seems difficult if not utterly unreasonable to deny the personhood of Satan and reduce this term to merely an impersonal opposition to the purposes of God (as some now teach). Satan personally sought to tempt Jesus at the beginning of Christ's incarnate ministry (recorded in Matthew 4). It is just not reasonable to assert that this was not a personal evil being doing the tempting. After the Christ crushed the head of Satan on the Cross and destroyed the works of the Devil (1Jn. 3:8), it appears that Satan was granted (in a rather "Job" like manner) a short time in which to wreak havoc on the fledgling Church (Rev. 12:12). The was a gloriously divine risk. If Satan could destroy the entire Christian witness, this period between the Ascension and the Parousia of Christ's judgment on Jerusalem in 70AD, was the only practical and possible time that it could be done! If all Christians could be killed or silenced, there would be no further  continuation of God's redemptive plan. But he failed! With the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, the Temple was demolished; the levitical priesthood wiped out; and sacrifice and offering brought to a permanent end. When this happened, the Old Covenant officially ceased (note Hebrews 8:13 which foretold this) and Satan was then doomed to damnation which Revelation 20 metaphorically describes as being bound with a chain and was thrown into the abyss (Rev. 20:2-3, which the KJV renders as the bottomless pit). Thus, the time between the Ascension and Parousia is when Satan could roam about like "a roaring lion". While he is defeated and doomed, Revelation 20 tells us that he will be active near the time of Christ's return to culminate the plan of redemption. Understanding this makes it even more unreasonable to blame the devil and give Satan too much due for the various forms of havoc that happen in our lives.


The Scripture has good news for those acquainted with havoc: it can be redeemed. I have seen marriages on the brink of breaking-up healed and restored not because we "bound the Devil" but because the couple learned the rare art of apologizing and learning to communicate properly. I have see churches turned around and significantly grow because a pastor learned to love his people and lead them with great care and wisdom. I have seen parents and their children in relationship havoc brought together and restored because they learned to truly listen to each other. Havoc can be redeemed. Here's three things that I have found help to redeem havoc (even self-induced havoc).


The next time things go wrong in your world, before you think of the Devil too quickly, or too much - consider worshiping and adoring God. This is one of he main lessons from the story of Job.


One of my most frequent prayers in the midst of difficult and trying times is for God to teach me what I need to learn in the midst of my pain. The Psalms seem to state this over and over as well.


All too often I have sensed God saying to me to get my focus off myself (and my problems) and onto how I can be a blessing to others - particularly to those who might be going through what I am going through, and worship Him by pressing into His Word, singing more, and serving Him more sacrificially.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7
Havoc will come and go throughout your life. Sometimes it will be devilish, but generally it will not. Even when it is, worshiping, learning and blessing will thwart the Devil's schemes. More often than not, there is a tendency to blame others for inflicting havoc upon us. The neglectful husband blames his wife's hormones; the obese blame the fast-food stores for putting too much sugar in their food; the inconsiderate boss blames his lazy staff for his business failings. Of course, there is a lot of havoc that can be avoided - even in a world where the Devil seeks to steal, kill and destroy.

Ps. Andrew

No comments:

Post a Comment