I really wanted to try to get a post up every day in December. Looks like I made it, assuming I actually finish this post. I need to take a break and drive the rest of the way home from California. I’m in Fort Smith, Arkansas as I start this. With the RV, it will take about 8 hours to get back to Selmer.
I was singing a song as I drove yesterday, and I really like it. The chorus is worth recounting to you:
We’re the people of God
Called by his name
Called from the dark
And delivered from shame
One holy race
Saints every one
It’s because of the blood of Christ
Jesus the Son
The second verse, though, begins with, “Hear us, O spirits of darkness … ”
Some Christians like to talk to spirits of darkness. They like to rebuke the devil, and they like to do it as sharply as they please. We don’t think much about statements like Jude 9:
Michael the archangel, when he was disputing with the devil in contention over the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a railing accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you."
There’s something about respect, even when it’s given to a terrible and evil opponent like the devil.
Notice that it specifies what sort of accusation Michael was unwilling to bring. He wasn’t willing to descend into "railing." The picture I get is uncontrolled temper or insult.
Christians who get carried away with rebuking the devil often say whatever they want with no restraint.
I don’t believe they know what they’re getting into.
We love to do spiritual warfare. We love to rebuke the devil, and some of us are just looking for the opportunity to cast out a demon. We bind things, loose things, and claim the spiritual armor of protection. We plead the blood over ourselves …
And we miss the spiritual battles going on all around us.
We miss the little temptations. We miss the times when we’re blinded to the need around us. We miss the voice of the Lord trying to get us to go some other direction than our own.
We think we’re doing spiritual battle while we loudly insult the devil, but in the meantime his evil demons are leading us astray minute by minute.
The Devil’s Not Toothless
(Finishing this back home)
I’ve heard this ridiculous theory that the devil, who, according to 1 Pet. 5:8, walks around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, is toothless.
The devil devours Christians all the time. More than ever. Yes, even in the Charismatic churches, where they’re pronouncing that he doesn’t devour anyone.
The reason Christians can be foolish enough to think he’s toothless is that we’re so used to being scattered across the hillsides that it doesn’t bother us when members of the "flock"—or perhaps better said, the non-flock—go missing.
No one notices when Christians disappear. The good shepherd knows the name and condition of every one of his sheep. If one goes missing, then he leaves the 99 and goes to find that one.
Today, if one goes missing, no one notices.
I didn’t capitalize "good shepherd" a moment ago because when Jesus talks about his being the Good Shepherd, he contrasts it with hirelings who don’t care about the sheep. One of the main ways the Good and Great Shepherd shepherds the flock is through good shepherds who are not hirelings; who care about the flock.
Elders are told to shepherd the flock repeatedly (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2). We need not only the Good Shepherd in heaven, but the Good Shepherd using his body on earth. (Heads, you may realize, don’t shepherd very well without a body.)
Resist Him Steadfast in the Faith
We’re in a battle with a real enemy who not only fires arrows, but fires flaming arrows. He not only has teeth, but he has actually dragged off Christians and killed them (spiritually).
You can debate the theology of that all you want. My answer is, look around. I don’t care whether you think they lost their salvation when they were dragged off and left crippled in the world, I just care that we stop that from happening!
The devil is walking around looking for people to devour, and he is devouring them!
He’s devouring a lot of people who insult him and call him toothless.
Real warriors don’t spend their time insulting their opponents. They fight him.
We are called to resist the devil, standing strong in the faith. We are called to follow Michael’s example and avoid railing accusation. The weapons listed in Ephesians 6 do not include insult, boasting, or denouncing.
Rallying to the Battle
Sheep do better together with a shepherd watching over them. When they’re scattered on the hillside, God gets really mad (see Jer. 23).
In 2010, I got to hear about people–people in high places!–who were saying that and making it happen. They were actually preaching that Christians ought to obey Christ, not just get a free ticket to heaven, and they were calling them to do it together. How exciting!
In 2011, let’s jump on the bandwagon.
Now I’m actually going to say something really practical. If you don’t know how to do that, do this:
If you’re already part of a flock, you can use that resource for ideas for keeping tabs on one another. We all need it.
Oh, Yeah, About That Battle
Oh, and make sure you actually work on possessing those weapons listed in Ephesians 6—Faith, the Word of God, a Love for Truth, Salvation—because the devil, who’s not toothless, really doesn’t like Christians developing spiritual family relationships. It leads to real shepherds (rather than mere club presidents giving speeches every week) watching over a real flock.
And a real flock is a real force.