Your World View, the Devil, and How You Start Your Day
After you’ve showered, dressed, and eaten breakfast in the morning, to what are you alerted or concerned with or watching for first of all? Or more simply, what’s the first thing you do as you begin your day? Continue reading . . .
After you’ve showered, dressed, and eaten breakfast in the morning, to what are you alerted or concerned with or watching for first of all? Or more simply, what’s the first thing you do as you begin your day?
Some of you probably open the newspaper to see how your stocks closed on the previous day. Others check the sports scores (guilty). Many will turn on the weather channel to find out what the day’s high temperature will be. A few might even turn on the radio to check on any potential traffic problems along the route you take to work. Probably quite a few of you with small children will issue a warning to your kids to be watchful for any strangers that might come their way. And I suppose there are quite a few other things to which you devote your attention or potential dangers that alert you or cause you to take special caution.
But how many of us wake up in the morning alerted first and foremost to the very real threat posed to us by the Devil? Listen to the apostle Peter’s exhortation:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:8-11).
“Be soberminded,” says Peter, “be watchful.” He could as easily have said, “Be on the alert!” Why? Because “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (v. 8). How many of us begin the morning praying for ourselves and our family members in view of the presence of a very real, insidious enemy, whom the Bible calls the Devil or Satan? How many of us are intentional and strategic in preparation for the spiritual battle with the principalities and powers and the invisible forces of darkness that we face every day? Probably not many.
I imagine a few of you are silently saying to yourselves, “Oh, come on Sam. This is the 21st century, for heaven’s sake. Talk about something realistic. Give me something I should really be concerned about. I mean, give me a break; it’s embarrassing to hear you talk about ‘The Devil’ as if you believed he literally exists. Any reasonably educated person should have abandoned belief in ‘Satan’ about the same time he gave up thinking there was a Santa Clause or an Easter Bunny!”
It’s amazing how far-reaching and pervasive the influence is in our lives of our world view. When I say “world view” I mean what we believe about ultimate reality. There are many features to a person’s world view, chief among which is whether or not you believe that matter or physical substance is all there is. The late and quite famous astronomer Carl Sagan was well known for saying, “The material cosmos is all there is, all there has been, and all there ever will be.” Such was his world view. He would certainly be among those who would scoff and laugh at the idea of a personal spiritual being called Satan.
Sagan was an outspoken advocate for a world view according to which every effect has a physical cause. If you can't see it, touch it, taste it, smell it, or hear it, it simply doesn't exist. All phenomena can or eventually will be explained or accounted for scientifically. Reality is material and mechanical and tangible.
Belief in Satan and demons, so Sagan and other metaphysical materialists would argue, is on a level with belief in the Loch Ness monster and the search for Bigfoot! This perspective is often reinforced by the ludicrous and comical way in which Satan and his demons are portrayed. It is difficult to get people to take the devil seriously when he is trivialized by both the church and modern society. In his famous treatise titled, The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis portrays one senior level demon named Screwtape giving advice to another, younger and less experienced demon, Wormwood:
"I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark. The fact that 'devils' are predominantly 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 . . . he therefore cannot believe in you."
The biblical world view, of course, is thoroughly supernatural. All physical phenomena, such as the weather and other events in nature are not the impersonal interaction of material particles or powers but are controlled by God. According to the biblical world view, holy angels do God’s bidding, while demons actively and energetically oppose his kingdom. In the biblical world view miracles, physical healing, together with gifts of the Holy Spirit are essential elements that constitute reality. Prayer is real. The spiritual realm is real. And Satan is real.
My purpose isn’t to convince you of the biblical perspective on reality. I am going to take for granted that you are not a metaphysical materialist or naturalist. I am going to assume that you believe there is a spiritual dimension to ultimate reality, a dimension that includes the existence of our great Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, together with holy angels and fallen, rebellious demons who are led by one known as the Devil.
Apart from that assumption, what Peter says in this text will make no sense to you. And what he says will be the focus of our next article.
To be continued . . .