When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”– Mark 9, verses 25-29.
Yesterday I read an article from CNN that berated Pope Francis for talking too much about the devil. Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, whatever name he goes by: he’s so First Century. Here in our post-modern world, we’ve outgrown Satan. CNN is tired of hearing the pope talk about the prince of demons. For whatever reason, they claim, the pope should stick to helping the poor, attacking capitalism, scouring out pedophile priests and a bunch of other things. Satan is so yesterday, so pre-Internet and today’s techno-marvel world.
Dangerous, my friends: it’s dangerous to turn your back on Satan. It’s just what he wants us to do.
On the other hand, if you read a great many web sites or listen to many Biblical preachers today, you hear over and over that Satan is winning. These people think the exact opposite of CNN; they agree with Pope Francis that Satan is a very real being who is really, truly working against us in everything we do. According to this thinking, Satan is winning on homosexual marriage, appeasement of enemies, defining down pop culture, misuse of the law, misuse of the church, and a hundred other things. Varying degrees of concern are furthered even more by saying how these kinds of things are signs of the end times (and they are). Should we worry if we start seeing things like this happening, knowing that the end of the world may be nigh? Maybe…
…But first let’s step back from the tree and take a look at the forest; at this point, we need to.
In looking at this particular forest I would remind our friends at CNN that all of Scripture tells us how Satan is a real being. Il Papa is simply reiterating the Bible and we would do well to follow his lead, at least in this case. Satan isn’t a construct, and he isn’t a figure of a colorful imagination, and he isn’t anyone to be trifled with. Satan is real and really is up to no good.
Yet I would also reiterate to my doom-crying friends that Jesus commanded a spirit to come out of tortured child and it did. The fact is that Satan is already defeated. His imminent and eternal defeat won’t stop him from continuing to try to yank people away from faith in Jesus; sorry, y’all, but that’s our burden to bear. In bearing it, we would do well to remember that Jesus can drive out demons. Demons (and Satan) are terrified of Jesus because of what they’ve done. Even when we fail to drive them out, we should still cling to Jesus because in Him is found the power to make Satan cower as evidenced by what He did for this boy.
Lord, watch over me and protect me from the demons that cower before You. I believe You are more powerful.
Read Mark 9, verses 30-36.