Following Jesus 154

Following Jesus: The Progress of the Pilgrim.

“Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” - 2 Corinthians 11:14

Martin Luther said that Christians face three enemies: —the world, the flesh, and the devil. Obviously, these foes are interrelated.

First, our flesh—the remaining tendency in our lives to sin; Romans 7:13-25.

Second, the fallen world system that sets itself in opposition to Christ. In itself, the world was originally very good (Genesis 1), but in the fall of Adam, it was set against its Creator. It hates Jesus because of His testimony about its fallen system of pride and ungodliness, and thus it gains the capacity to hate all who are united to Christ (John 7:7; John 15:18-25; I John 2:15-17).

Thirdly, the devil himself.

Yet, while these three enemies are interrelated, we can still examine them separately. Today we are considering the opposition of the devil. Our battle to grow in holiness is a supernatural one, and it involves defeating the devil as well as the world and the flesh.

In the modern Western culture, the Devil or Satan is largely understood as a myth. Many people deny the existence of a personal being known as the devil, even many people who profess the name of Christ. It has not always been this way. Our forefathers in the faith were acutely aware of the power and presence of Satan.

Martin Luther, for example, spoke regularly of his encounters with the Prince of Lies. Luther struggled with bouts of extreme depression, and he even spoke of being able to see the devil and throw his inkpot at him. Today, people think the devil is little more than a historical curiosity, a being invented to explain certain phenomena and not a supernatural creature in his own right.

Luther was at the forefront of the greatest revival of truth since the apostolic age, so it is unsurprising that Satan might focus his attention on the great German Reformer. In the case of most of the rest of us, the devil likely has bigger fish to fry. We should not take that, however, to mean that we will not be called upon to defeat demonic forces as they wage war on our own lives. There is a legion of demons who exist to influence the world for ill and lead God’s people astray (Mark 5:1–20). Jesus Himself frequently dealt with evil spirits. To ignore them is to be unprepared for the spiritual battles that we must fight.

It is interesting to note that Martin Luther wrote one of the most enduring hymns of the church.

  1. A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
    Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
    For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
    His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
    On earth is not his equal.
  2. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
    Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
    Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
    Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
    And He must win the battle.
  3. And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
    We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
    The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
    His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
    One little word shall fell him.
  4. That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
    The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
    Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
    The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
    His kingdom is forever.

Fight the good fight of faith today (I timothy 6:12).

Soli deo Gloria!

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