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Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Tragic Interlude # 2

For some time rationalism, liberal theology, psychology and certain philosophers ridiculed the existence of a personal devil, and what the Bible attributes to him was explained as just neuroses and complexes; that is, evil is not anything to do with evil spirits or a satan, it is nervous disorder, or at most good in the making. Demonology is only a form of mythology. So, satan played a master trick by persuading men to believe that he does not exist. But the world has had some shocks in recent history and there has been a positively terrible unmasking of the most awful malignity in this world and in human behavior. Not only in those realms which are called "savage," "uncivilized," and "backward", but for sheer devilry, wickedness and calculated cruelty, nothing has ever been worse than that among what have been thought to the "cultured" and 'advanced" peoples. Their very scientific "advancement" (?) has been employed for the most unspeakable horrors. We could write many pages on this line, but we refrain. The Bible is terribly vindicated as the course of this world proceeds, and not least in its unveiling of an evil personal power which is ill-disposed towards mankind and particularly to those who have allied themselves with God's Son. The battle for unity is a painful and heart-rending conflict. The disruption of nations proceeds apace, and among God's people there is nothing too sacred to escape this cosmic determination to disrupt the smallest approximation to Divine fellowship. Of course, there are many "societies" and "fraternities" which are left alone, but it is no compliment if satan is not disturbed. Let us make no mistake about this matter. The Bible leaves us in no doubt that, at the end of the age, every element in the universe will assume unmistakable features of intensification. This, of course, is only logical if the end is fullness in every connection. Whatever your interpretation of Revelation twelve may be, we have to note that satan's shortening tenure of power is marked by his coming down to earth with great wrath (Revelation 12:12).

But to return to "Ephesians," the great summary of spiritual history. We must note particularly that the Apostle brings out in full and definite statement that the Church - the Body of Christ - is involved in this war of the ages and all that he has written he heads up in this. It is as though he would say: "All that I have been saying regarding the eternal counsels of God; the place and purpose of the Elect - the Body of Christ; the redemption of that Body and its uniting with its Head; its life, character, walk, and work in this dispensation; and the great goal and established purpose of God to ultimately reunite all things in Christ is the object and occasion of an immense, untiring, and ever-intensifying cosmic conflict, in which unseen and countless evil forces are bitterly antagonizing the purpose and all related thereto." Paul says that it is because of the ministry committed to him to make all this known that he is in bonds and imprisonment. He shows that this antagonism of spiritual intelligences will be levelled at all that relates to that stewardship, and implies that if ministries are not just "departments" or aspects of Christianity, but all of a corporate whole, solidly bent upon a single object (Ephesians 4:13), this corporate character will constitute the most serious menace to that evil kingdom as to draw out its venomous and every-sided effort to break it up and neutralize it. The Apostle defines this opposition as "wiles of the devil." He then sets over against each other the armor of God and the wiles of the devil. it is God's provision for meeting satanic "wiles." By symbolic means he shows the nature of the "wiles." On the positive, Divine side the points of attack are shown to be "Truth," "Righteousness," "Peace," "Faith," "Salvation," "The Word of God." Against every form of subtle lying God provides the girding of the Spirit of Truth. Against accusations and condemnations of the heart, He provides "The Righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ." Against fear which makes the going, the feet, unsteady and unsure He provides "the Peace of God, which passeth all understanding." Against the suggestions, ideas, thoughts, imaginations and reasonings which assail the mind - the head, He provides Salvation by Grace. Against the attacks upon the trustworthiness of the promises of God He supplies the Holy Spirit to answer back and retaliate with the sure Word. "Over all," and related to all, He says "in all your taking, take the big shield of Faith." But note, God does not put all this provision on His people; He provides it and then says to them, "Take unto you." There must be an act on their part, for the element of passivity is not consistent with such warfare. Would to God that, when these fiery darts began to fly, we instinctively reached for the appropriate weapon of defence! Perhaps we ought consciously to have them always on.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

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