Friday, March 13, 2020

The Devil's Short Fuse

Most of us know to steer clear of the devil. He's a rogue with a hot temper, a guy who thinks more highly of himself than he ought to, and he's a guy who doesn't care a whole lot about anybody but himself.

We give him a lot of credit in our world, much more than he's actually worth. We are quick to blame the devil for a lot of things that are really just our own failings, but hey, if they're his fault, then they can't be ours. But let's be real about who he is - he's a created being, just like we are, who strayed off God's path, just like we do. He just happens to be a different type of being than we are, and that gives him a little more power or authority or whatever you want to call it.

After all, if you can convince someone you're an angel of the Lord, then it's pretty easy to get them to do whatever you say. Much easier than if all you can say is that you're a human being.

But the devil, for all the authority he wants to claim for himself, is really not all that. Oh, he puts on a good show and tries to puff out his chest, but he knows - and God knows - and we ought to know - how limited he really is.

He's not like God; he can't be in more than one place at a time. He's not like God; he doesn't have power to condemn or redeem. He's not like God; he doesn't actually decide anything. All he can do is run his mouth and set a few trip wires and hope for the best. Or the worst, as it were.

It's not like any of this is news to the devil. It's not like he doesn't know it. The problem is that he doesn't want you to know it, and so he does everything in his power to make sure that you never hear this truth. (In fact, I'm mildly surprised my computer hasn't shorted out already in writing this post, but maybe he's occupied somewhere else at the moment. Again, he can't be in more than once place at a time.)

That's why when John writes about the devil being exposed in Revelation, he also talks about the devil getting angrier. When John writes about the redemption of the world that reminds the devil how powerless he always was, he writes about a devil who becomes more fierce. The closer God gets to destroying the lies the devil has spun, the more desperate the devil gets. Like us, the more desperate he gets, the more volatile (Revelation 12).

He doesn't like to be reminded that his time is short.

And you might be asking what that has to do with anything. We already know this is true; we don't have to be told it. But here's the thing - we are not so unlike this devil. Except that we have one ability that he doesn't: we can humble ourselves.

The devil, he's made such a show of it that he's taken his stance. He cannot humble himself. He cannot bow to anything but his own authority. He refuses to admit or accept that he is limited in nature. He knows that he is, but he'll never confess it because his entire game is getting you to give him more credit than he's worth. He knows it. God knows it. We know it.

The only thing that keeps us from becoming devils ourselves is that our arrogance is bounded. We have the ability to humble ourselves. We can take a step back and kneel down and confess our limitations. You see it all the time in those who can't - they truly become devils. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. When you can't humble yourself, you get out of control. You become a monster, an enemy of all the things you think you care about.

But you can humble yourself. You don't have to like it. You don't have to enjoy it. But you can do it. And that's what guards our hearts. That's what keeps us from becoming something we don't want to be. We humble ourselves, and that reminds us who we are, who we're not, and Who made us this way.

Just something I'm thinking about. 

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