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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Satan's Advantages From Christians' Infirmities (Part 1)

In two instalments I propose to repeat a well written article, under the same title of this blog, by Maurice Roberts in the May 1991 issue of The Banner of Truth Journal. I shall make my own concluding comments in Part 2.

"There must be something approaching to joy among the devils in hell just as there is joy among evil men in this world. The joy of angels and Christian persons arises from their receiving news of sinners repenting and turning to God. The joy (if we may call it by that name) of devils springs from their witnessing anything which appears to damage the cause of God or to wound and weaken the witness of his people upon earth.

We suppose that the devil and his angels find satisfaction through the triumphing of evil in the measure in which such evil is promoted by godly men. That evil should be advanced by faithless and ungodly men of this world, therefore, must afford to demons a satisfaction at the lower end of the scale. But when, through infirmity or prejudice, godly persons do Satan's work for him - this we may reasonably suppose - is the pinnacle and summit of Satan's joy.

There can be no doubt that Satan employs immense resources of time, skill and effort to win over persons with influence in God's kingdom to do him service. There is more evidence in the Bible for this than one might at first suppose. The general rule of operation used by Satan, it would appear, is the obvious one of striking against God by means of His closest friends and most honoured servants. In this way Satan endeavours to inflict as great a blow against heaven as possible and to
injure God's work from the least-expected quarter.

In all this, let it be said, we do not forget that God's purpose is eternal and inviolable. But we draw attention to the love of cunning and 'subtlety' (Gen. 3:1), the serpentine and crooked (Isa. 27:1) way in which Satan is fond of working. It is this 'cunning craftiness' (Eph. 4:14) which is the distinctive hallmark of all his age-old industry of duplicity against the people of God. Satan's joy, to put it plainly, is most seen in his using God's best instruments against Himself

The above observations are surely borne out by the evidence. When Satan would murder mankind at a stroke he employed as his best ally the wife of Adam, our covenant-head. Here was the world's first and purest lady and the mother of mankind. We all fell in Adam. But it was through the woman given to be his greatest earthly blessing that Adam was induced to murder all his posterity. What satisfaction it must have been to the tempter that he got 'the mother of all living' to be the first instrument in their death! No mother's love was so perfect as hers - and no temptation so deadly as hers.

We see the same dark hand at work as soon as God had formed Israel into a covenanted people to himself. Even while Moses is still on Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, Satan is busy fostering apostasy among the people. This he does, not by means of some outsider, but by the hand of Aaron, Moses' brother, on whose authority the golden calf is made. Could any craft have been more crafty or could any mischief have been more mischievous? While the one brother serves God on the holy mount, the other serves Satan beneath its shadow. Even as the finger of God graves the second commandment in letters of stone, the very brother of Moses himself is at work graving an idol to cause the people to break it! The subtlety is too great to emanate from any other mind than that of Satan. The irony in wickedness is stamped all over with the serpent's image.

The same pattern is visible in the career of Saul, the first king. Here is a man who receives his kingship very definitely from God himself (1 Sam. 10:lf). If any man in history could claim to sit on a throne by 'divine right' (to use a phrase much loved by Stuart Kings), it was Saul the son of Kish. How ironical then that such a king should be a disaster both to himself and to the people of God! What a joy there was in hell when Saul, the anointed of the Lord, consulted with the witch of Endor and, next day, died ignominiously on the field of battle! 'Tell it not in Gath' was David's mournful reaction. It was too tragic not to be one of Satan's special strategems.

We may well suppose that the crucifixion of Christ at the hands of his Jewish countrymen is the supreme irony ever fostered by the devil. It is history's perfect masterpiece of hellish subterfuge because it is history's greatest crime and it was committed - alas! alas! - by the most devout and religious people history had ever known up to that time That some hidden, and lurking power of spiritual wickedness lay behind the frenzied hatred of the Jews is plain to every reader of the Scriptures: 'This is your hour and the power of darkness' (Luke 22:53). Our instinctive love for the Jews as a people only imensifies our sadness, when we reflect on the awful fact that 'he came unto his own and his own received him not' (John 1:11). In Christian compassion we long for the day when their insensate cry of 'His blood be on us and on our children!' will cease to call down judgment upon them and they as a people will receive the 'Spirit of grace and supplications' and so will 'look on him whom they have pierced' (Zech. 12:10) in repentance and faith.

That Peter did the devil's work handsomely on one occasion is further evidence that Satan always seeks to use the friends closest to God to do his work for him. The lessons which flow to us from the words of Christ on the occasion in question are full of solemn instruction and warning to every minister, elder, church and Christian. Christ's 'Get thee behind me, Satan' (Matt. 16:23) leaves us in no doubt that the best of Christians, the best of preachers, the holiest of saints and the most intimate of Christ's friends may, all unwittingly, do the devil's work for him on occasion. That they do it unconsciously and with the purest of motives goes far to excuse them in our eyes. But this very sincerity makes their influence all the more likely to do harm where they are most convinced they are doing only good.

Final instalment in a few days.

Sam Drucker

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