Surprised by Evil
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-13
None of those who study and believe the Bible should be surprised by what happened in Las Vegas because we should not be surprised by evil or the prince of this world. In our daily battle against evil, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, a Stephen Paddock, or whatever vessel of Satan; “we wrestle against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Did you think of this in your immediate response to Las Vegas? The law enforcement powers that are dealing with this human slaughter are looking for motive, for connections, for the “whys of this evil tragedy. Did he really convert to Islam and join ISIS, get buried in gambling debt, or suddenly turn psychopathic? What was it? These are truly irrelevant to the major impetus for this awful display of inhumanity: Satan at work in his present kingdom.
Media, law enforcement, bystanders, even Christian people do not put the burden of this on who it belongs. Satan, Lucifer, Leviathan, et al. is real! He is a factual entity which must be reckoned with, acknowledged, seen, felt as real as the air you breathe or the water you drink. But we too often feel we can deal easier with the physical world than we can with the spiritual. We can incarcerate or electrocute someone in the physical world and deal with it, but the evil deed will already be history; we do not prevent it. So how do we deal with Satan and his minions?
We can pass very strict gun laws to take guns off the street! How did that work for Chicago? If we could afford it, we could put police everywhere – every building, floor, and corner. Would we prevent mayhem from happening? How do you do anything to prevent Satan from doing what he does best: making sure evil prevails, evil destroys, evil kills, evil wins?
We must combat spiritual forces with spiritual defenses. We must use the spiritual tools God has directed to divert the arrows of the evil one. We must be encouraged by the promises of God to overcome his constant stalking rather than thinking nothing can be done. We must believe in Satan’s promised demise. Not everyone will be saved. But you can be. Your loved ones can be spared. Those you influence can be snatched from the path of the pestilence. Your example and voice can be truly life-saving. God promises the effectual impact of a righteous person and their tireless prayers, the heart penetration of steadily proclaiming Gospel truth, the abundant harvest of always planting spiritual seeds in other lives.
Faith sees the success God says will be a reality to believers. Faith does not waver or concede defeat. Its vision of the battlefield is the same as God’s. It does not give in to the defeatism Satan seeks to sow in every mind that has not yet capitulated to his control. It grasps hold of God’s Word, hides it in its heart, brings it always to mind, and never gives the devil one little foothold. Faith practices Ephesians 6 by putting on the armor of God upon waking every morning, before going out the door, before ever facing the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Faith sees the whole world of reality – the physical and the spiritual. It is not concerned with the first death; it is only concerned to avoid the second death. It recognizes that believers need not be fearful of dying or seeing their loved ones pass into eternity. You may grieve for their temporary loss, but not as the unbelieving world grieves. You understand their location and their reality in the presence of Jesus. This is so if Stephen Paddock’s and Satan’s bullets took the life of your believing loved one. Satan has no control over the firm security of believers. There will be more Stephen Paddocks, there will be more Las Vegas incidents, there will be more tragic occurrences engineered by Satan and his evil cosmic forces. The Bible promises them. But it also promises the eternal safety and security of the believer. Their God and Savior ensures their eternal home and continuous fellowship with all the saints. If you are in Jesus Christ by your faith and your election, the Las Vegas incidents will never separate you from His love nor from your place in His home. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you!
“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control: that Christ has regarded my helpless estate and has shed His own blood for my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul, with my soul. It is well, it is well with my soul.
(2nd verse of Horatio Spafford’s hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul, 1873)
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