From the Preacher’s Pen ~

My wife is always on the lookout for interesting approaches to lessons for the young people that she teaches. Over the years this has been a blessing for schools where she has taught and many times for less experienced teachers. But above all, it has been a blessing for young people in the church because those are the most important lessons any of us will ever teach.

Recently we were discussing the Devil and lessons about him. At this time of year with so many thoughts beginning to converge on Thanksgiving I was reminded of an article written a few years back by an old friend and fellow teacher.

Obviously, the greatest enemy of God, His people and all his great blessings is Satan. The old Devil has constantly been the joy and thankfulness stealer from the beginning. If we recognize him then we can be ready to fight back against the things he tries to do to us.

So, just how do we recognize him? To answer that question, let’s consider this short article: In What Guise? His eyes glow. He comes in dreams and sits on your heart to crush the life out of you. He has the most evil grin. He is red, has a tail, and carries a pitchfork. These are various people’s depictions of Satan.

People ask if their dreams of terror were sent by the devil to intimidate Christians. They wonder if people may be Satan or his agents because of an evil look or a conversation that kept the person from reading about Jesus.

All of these things belie a misunderstanding of the truth about Satan. It must be understood that the devil has power. It must be understood that the devil wants as many souls to follow him as possible. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Nevertheless, Satan would not appear like those things described above. It must be also understood that the devil’s power is limited. “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him.” (Revelation 20:2)

Because he has been bound by the crucifixion of Jesus, the shedding of blood for sin, his power is limited. We are his masters, and he has to obey. If he comes to tempt us to sin, all we have to do is tell him to leave and he has to do so. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

Keeping those two points in mind, the devil would certainly not be seen as some portray him. Face the facts. If you could recognize the devil for who he is, would you follow him? If he had [a] red tail and carried a pitchfork, wouldn’t you know him and refuse to believe his lies? If he came to you in a dream and tried to smother you, would that induce you to follow him or to fight him?

I’m sure he would love for people to think that he appears in these ways, because then they will be off their guard when he does come before them. The evil or strange looking persona just works in his favor, because that is not how he really appears. “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14)

The greatest of all baseball musicals, Damn Yankees, came close to the truth. Satan looked like a player’s agent. (Of course, some owners might believe that Scott Boras is the devil personified during negotiations over multimillion dollar contracts.) Some Hollywood movies of the Fifties thought it might be interesting if the devil were portrayed as a businessman in a three-piece suit.

Little did they know how accurate they probably were! Satan is going to come to us in a guise that is pleasing and reassuring. He wants us to trust him, or at least not to reject him outright. After all, he wants us to do what he wants us to do. How will we do that if we are repulsed by him?

So how would we recognize him? Most often he comes to you looking like yourself. No, not in another body that looks like you, but in your own body. “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14-15)

He makes you think “it’s just natural,” or “I was born that way.” Sometimes he comes as our friends, exerting peer pressure. Even so, he isn’t hard to recognize, if you know what to look for. Just look for someone who wants you to follow them into sin.

Of course, that means you have to know what sin is; and for that you have to study the word of God. Only then can you recognize Satan and his ways. Then you will be ready for him. Ready to resist. — Tim O’Hearn via Minutes With Messiah

Every time someone or something leads you away from God, away from His truth, His love, His forgiveness, His worship, His service, we can be sure that it is Satan. If we, as Christians, are caught up by the Devil, it can only be because we let him do it to us! As Thanksgiving approaches and as our Christian thanksgivings continues, let’s remember to take even great care to watch out for the Devil. Let’s allow God to supply us with the greatest of all reasons for true, on-going thanksgiving. Let’s allow God to instill His true joy into our lives by resisting and rejecting Satan! Now that’s something to be thankful for and something worth sharing with one another to keep us truly encourage! Let’s join in God’s service the rest of this year, the year to come and every moment that our Lord gives us on this earth!

—Lester P. Bagley