When I was heading off to bed a couple nights back, I completely realized that I forgot to mention one other factor that plays into the role of a potential disciple's commitment to Christ. We looked at the flesh in Pt. 3, the world in Pt. 4, and I will touch on the devil in this part. Sorry, I did relay to you all at the end of my last Living Radically For Christ post that this would be the last post in this series, but unfortunately it is not. I will talk about the third condition of discipleship in Pt. 6 and, finally, answer the question that I posed in Pt. 4. However, we will begin treading through the nature of the devil in this post and what part he plays in keeping us from actively involving our whole lives for the cause of Christ and His Gospel.
Beginning in Luke 14:28-32 (click the reference in order to read the passage), we see and understand that a disciple must count the cost of what he/she is going up against to be able to figure out if he/she will persevere in the faith. Do not make a quick, transitional decision to follow Christ? First, count the costs to see if you have the ability to persevere in the faith or not, and then, you can make your decision. This leads us into the third and final component that we must "count the costs" for in order to endure and strive with all strength in the faith of our Lord Jesus. This component is the devil himself. Satan is his name.
Now, every Christian knows that Satan hates all people, since they are created in God's image. He yearns and takes pleasure in stealing, killing, and destroying marriages, families, livelihoods, churches, and what not. He hates you. I will be as honest as I can possibly be with you at this time. HE HATES YOU. Satan created the world system as enticing as he possibly could to dissuade you from following Christ on a regular basis, and the flesh is another way in which he uses to continually keep you as far away from seeking the truth as he possibly can. He uses any and every possible means. If that means keeping you away from the life God has planned for you or believing in some kooky, false belief system, so be it. One more win for him.
Folks, he hates you. He is a liar, he is a murderer, he is a slanderer, he is Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Once a nice, happy hobbit, Gollum was that he used to live normally, eat normally, etc., like other hobbits do. However, the ring possessed him and he transformed into this ugly, wretched, repugnant being. Satan was exactly like Gollum at one time. He was once the most beautiful angel in God's kingdom, and I bet he lived peacefully, normally, and happily in God's kingdom when he was subject to God's authority. However, his own pride possessed him in wanting to be like the Most High God, and God, in His holiness, struck Satan down to earth. Since his pride destroyed him, Satan transformed into this terrible wretched ugly being as well. Of course, the Bible calls Satan an "angel of light", but he is an angel of light on the outside. On the inside, you would find he is full of dirty rotten filth, a tomb of dead man's bones. He is rotten, wretched, and depraved; yet so subtlety cunning and enticing. He is alive and well, powerful enough to ultimately destroy you in a heartbeat. But, how do we combat his schemes?
Ephesians 6:10-13 points us in the right direction in this regard. It reads, "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. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm."
If you are a Christian, you have probably read these verses a good number of times, but have you ever let these verses sink deep into your heart. In these verses, Paul demands us to put on the whole armor of God, because we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Audience, listen to me right now. Satan is after you. 1 Peter 5 tells us that he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. We are battling, fighting with blood, sweat, and tears against this roaring lion. He will not give up on you. Satan never sleeps, so never let your guard down. He will do everything and anything he possibly can to destroy you. Never give in to his temptations. It is kind of like we are fighting against a ruler in a video game, who never dies. No matter how many times you pummel him, pierce him, crush him, bruise him; he always gets back up again. We need to learn a valuable lesson from our enemy. When we do fall, which is inevitable, do not throw a pity party and say poor me, poor me. Why does this always happen to me? Get back up again and throw another blow into his horrendous face. He hates you. You hate him back.
He is after us, but he is a defeated foe. Satan is defeated. The final war has already been won. When Christ died to redeem mankind, he disarmed the rulers and authorities (Col 2:15). Satan and his little demons cannot go before God's throne and accuse Christians anymore, because CHRIST HAS TRIUMPHED. He died to make our redemption possible and He rose from the dead to show Satan and his demonic forces that they are literally defeated. Death could not hold Jesus Christ. Because of this, Satan's stranglehold of death has been stripped out of his very hands. 1 Corinthians 15:54b-56 says, "'Death is swallowed up in victory.' 'O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Amen, brothers and sisters.
When Jesus was helplessly nailed to the cross, Satan thought he had Him, Satan thought he had God right where he wanted Him, Satan thought gladly of getting rid of the preeminent one. But, GOD HAD THE FINAL WORD. Satan was not going to thwart God's plan one way or the other. The Father knew the sacrifice of His Son had to be accomplished in order to bring His children, the ones whom He loves, back into the safety of His arms. He paid a horrible cost, but we are safe in the arms of our loving Father.
Since Satan's eternal destiny is sealed and He is a defeated foe, why are we so distraught when temptation disrupts us sometimes? Jesus overcame the evil one. Your Lord and Savior overcame Him. Call upon Him and He will answer you in your time of need. He will help you. He is always there, 24/7. When a potential disciple is "counting the costs" of either clinging to the evil one or holding fast to God Almighty, which one do you think he/she would choose? Weighing the scales does not seem fair in a sense, because Satan would lose big time. However, our own flesh is easily entranced by the world and the devil that the choice makes it all the more difficult. So, when a potential disciple comes your way, tell him/her to "count the costs". Do not make a hasty decision to follow Christ? Why? Because living "normally" for the Christian is living dangerously radical in their world.
Sola Deo Gloria!!!!