The devil is still at work

Published 8:57 pm Friday, November 10, 2017

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

In Ephesians 2:1-3, the Apostle Paul writes the following words to a community of Christian believers: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

In these three verses, Paul speaks of all three enemies of our souls: The world, the flesh and the devil. Let’s think about them one by one.

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The world: By this Paul does not mean that God’s creation in general is an enemy of our souls. After all, God created a world that was good. But that world is now marred by sin, and, if we are not very careful, we can be sucked into its sinful ways.

The flesh: Paul is not saying that our bodies are bad. After all, God created our bodies. What he means by “the flesh” is our sinful nature. All of us were born with this sinful nature, a bent toward selfishness and sin.

The devil: The devil is not a cartoonish figure with horns and red tights and a pitchfork. He is, as Paul says here, a spirit that is very much at work in this fallen world.

We saw this on full display in a little town in Texas this past Sunday morning. As worshippers gathered at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Devin Kelley came in, dressed in black, with a military assault rifle, and murdered as many people as possible.

Details are still coming in about Kelley’s motivation, but it is perfectly clear that he was carrying out the devil’s bidding.

When one reads the four gospels of the New Testament — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — one sees Jesus encountering demon-possessed people on many occasions. It is clear from these encounters that Satan is all about destroying life.

As Jesus says of Satan in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.”

Sometimes after reading the four gospels, people ask, “Why do we not see people possessed by demons today?” To which I would say, “Look around.” Look at Sutherland Springs. Look at Las Vegas. Look at Newtown. Look at ISIS terror.

The enemy is very much at work. In fact, he is ramping up his activity, for he senses that the end is drawing near. He knows his fate is getting closer by the day, when Jesus Christ returns as King and destroys him and the evil havoc he wreaks on earth.

Until that day, we pray with Paul, “Our Lord, come!” (1 Corinthians 16:21). And until he comes, we gird ourselves for the spiritual warfare we face every day.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).

We cannot face the world, the flesh, and the devil on our own. We need God.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.