One of the things that I have struggled with in my own faith, and I know others struggle with in regards to my faith, is this thing of a being called the Devil, or Satan.
See what 1 John 3:8b says:
“The reason the Son of God (Jesus Christ) appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
It’s become helpful in understanding how the New Testament in particular deals with the devil. Firstly, the name “Satan” means “Accuser” — this is a first clue as to what “the devil” is about. He is “the accuser” who brings all sorts of accusations against us with regards to who we are, our identity, how guilty we are etc.
These ‘accusations’ don’t come from a little red man sitting on our shoulder, however, they come from the families, societies and systems of thought we find ourselves in. So “Satan” is not just a real being, but represents the accusations we find running through our lives and even in our own conscience.
And here’s how ‘the devil’ works, by implementing harmful systems and cycles and thinking patterns in our lives that cause us to think of ourselves in certain ways and act in certain ways.
I believe that “the demonic” is real because I’ve seen some crazy stuff happen. Guys doing crazy things that seem humanly impossible. I’ve seen stuff. I can’t deny there is something out there working against us because of what I’ve seen and experienced.
At the same time, I don’t believe there’s a devil sitting on our shoulder trying to get us to do naughty things or telling us how to think about ourselves. What ‘the devil’ and ‘the demonic’ have done is implement a wicked system in our world, through deceiving us in many ways, that runs its course unless God steps in to break it. This is what God did do in Jesus.
It’s helpful to understand how the New Testament talks about Jesus destroying the devil’s “works”. The book of Revelation shows how Jesus will eventually destroy the devil himself, but at the moment it’s his works that are destroyed and being destroyed.
Peter in Acts 10:38 says this:
“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and … he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power (or oppressed by) of the devil, because God was with him.”
And finally, Ephesians 6:12 says that our battle is not against “flesh and blood” but against “the authorities, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
So, Jesus came to destroy his ‘works’ — the cycles and systems we see working in our own thinking, in families, and in societies. As Christians we implement his victory over the devil and his works into all these aspects of living.
From a scientific point of view, I’ve found it interesting how many sceptics are happy to accept that intelligent life could exist out on other planets but are not happy to accept that angels and demons exist. Angels and demons are simply an intelligent life, although they are not visible to our eye directly. So? Why should we assume all intelligent life has to function in the same material sphere as we do?
I’ll expound on this later this week. I’ll also talk about some things I believe Jesus came to break, such as sickness, poverty etc.