Geekdom of God: Satan's Tactics

Imagine you're Satan, fighting against God. Your goal is to make as much of God's creation His enemy as you can. You especially want to turn God's chosen people against Him. At first, you led His people Israel into idolatry, and that was going great (overall) until He punished them with the Babylonian Exile. They came back more dedicated to Him than ever, so it was time to change tactics by switching to Legalism. By getting them so caught up in the appearance of "holiness" (though it's really just a fabrication of your own design that you've convinced people is holiness, clever you), you fill them with self-righteousness and judgmentalism—the self-superior judging of others.

And then God sends His son, Jesus, to earth in the form of a human being. You don't want Him to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel, with Jesus sitting on David's throne, so you hatch a scheme to tempt Him, to make Him fall into sin. That plan fails, but it was always kind of a longshot. You'll keep trying of course, you're persistent like that, but you've also got a new plan: fill the religious leaders—who are already under your power—with envy of Jesus's popularity. And while you can't successfully tempt Jesus Himself, it would seem you've found a weakness: one of His hand-picked disciples, Judas Iscariot, is vulnerable to your wiles. You convince him to betray his master.

And so you've done it! You've gotten the religious leaders, who should've been celebrating Jesus's arrival, to kill Him instead! Oh, what a wonderfu—wait, what is this? God has resurrected Jesus from the dead? He's started a new religion based on grace and the forgiveness of sins—which are cruelty, unlove, and the abuse of God—that offers all humans (and not just Jews), which you've made into God's enemies, the opportunity to be reconciled to Him?

God has turned what you thought was your greatest triumph into His greatest victory.

At first, you're utterly bewildered. What can you do? People are turning to this new religion by the thousands! So you try persecution, but that goes about as well as throwing water on a grease fire, making it spread everywhere instead of being mostly contained.

At this point, it's clear that this new religion, called Christianity, can't be stopped. But perhaps it can be made ineffective; dilute and little different from any worldly organization. The old tactics of legalism and idolatry, as it turns out, still prove effective.

Wily, deceptive Satan wants to convince us Christians to trade grace for legalism and the power of God for worldly power—usually either political power or money, often both—so that he can make us impotent. If he can make us believe we save the world by enforcing our moral will upon it, rather than sharing God's mercy and love, we become ineffective. And if he can convince us that there is a Christian nation other than the Kingdom of God—which is a kingdom not of this world, as Jesus told Pilate in John 18:36—then he can blend worldly culture with Godly doctrine, diluting it and our congregations as goats—purely cultural Christians—get mixed in with the sheep.

This has most certainly happened to the church in the United States of America, as it has happened to churches throughout history.

Satan knows he cannot defeat Christianity. He knows he is doomed to destruction in the lake of burning sulfur. His desire is to drag as much of humanity into that second death with him as he can. To that end, he is persistent and cunning, always looking to prey on our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, to twist our God-given desires towards sin, and to replace the grace and power of God with legalism and idolatry.

Satan wants to trick us, to make us think that our battle is against our fellow humans instead of him; to cause us to forget that God's kindness is what leads to repentance, not man's condemnation; to believe we should meddle in the lives of others; and to make ourselves God by passing judgment on our fellow human beings.

Let us be wise to Satan's schemes, so that we do not lose sight of the mission Jesus entrusted to us: to seek and to save the lost; to execute faithfully the ministry of reconciliation.

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