Thursday, March 11, 2010

the devil is God's devil..

(ART BY nick griffin)
Reposting this item below from my blog post a few years ago...as this will be our hot topic this Sunday:








the devil is God's devil..
(excerpt from
this rant )

I occasionally enjoy playing devil's (uh, I should say "angel's") advocate when I preach and teach. I often ask a group "shock-value" questions as a wake-up and shake-up call to the necessity and validity of the vertiginous (yes, it's a word!) encounter; the test of temptation. In light of the fact that "sometimes we can't make it on our own, " and need to go with Jesus to hear, and experience, a challenging and dizzying "Sermon Way Up the Mount," disciples need to remember to remember that in those disequilibrating times when elevation gives birth to vertigo, let the Spirit be midwife, and what will mercifully be born again and again in you is untold freedom and hilarious strengthening. Here, then is the first question I might cast out: "How many ever pray the Lord's Prayer, including the line 'Lead us not into temptation?'"


And since all answers are a nodding "yes and amen," the subsequent question has earned a hearing: "Would, or could, GOD ever lead anyone, then, into temptation?; especially since we have been taught by Jesus Himself to pray it would never happen?" Since most have detected that, by my mischevious inflection and sly smile the expected right answer is "Of course!," it's an appropriate time to take holy advantage of the stunned to silence room and have them turn from their shock to either Matthew 4:1 or Luke 4:1. Either verse reads right on the lines that "God, the Holy Spirit" is without apology recognized; indicted as the Agent leading someone into a very real and literally demonic temptation. And just who that Someone is, is telling and is troublesome: "Then the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Granted, and important to highlight: God does not do the tempting; the tempter is clearly the devil, but in God's stunning sovereignty, he has personally arranged the time and place of the temptation; He Himself has set the boundaries and parameters of the boxing ring; He himself is out in front ushering Jesus..and often us..right into a head-on . What in heaven's name and hell's court is going on?

THE DEVIL IS GOD'S DEVIL

"The devil is God's devil!," a much better theologian than me, but one also famous/infamous for "shock value sound bytes" quipped a few hundred years ago. By that biting byte, Martin Luther has not more than he could chew in hand..er, mouth. He meant simply that God is so supernaturally and sovereignly 'in charge' that he is even in charge of, Superintendent of; in fact he created, "Ol' Scratch."..Satan himself. Which is why the Spirit can risk, allow, even set-up our wilderness temptations with Satan. He can trust, that like Jesus, who "at the end of this satanic temptation, came out of the wilderness stronger and more full of the power of the Spirit, and more prepared to minister than ever, " (Luke 4:13-14). We who follow in the footsteps of Christ, even and especially when they lead to the devil's door, we pass the test! And the joke is on the dumb devil, Ol Scratch scratching his damned head as we..the eternally undamned and newly undammed…come out stronger in Spirit. And if Romans 8:28's al- inclusive sweeping claim that "God works all things together for good for those who love God, and are the called according to his purpose" is taken at face and faith value, that "all things" includes "all" all things, including satanic temptation, and Satan himself. With that Romans verse in mind, a more modern theologian, one who is in league with Luther (and U2) in that she was also earthy in a heavenly way, one tested and tempted in the evil vileness and extreme vertigo of Ravenbsruck concentration camp, one Corrie Ten Boom, offered this prescription, "When the devil sticks his gun of accusation or condemnation in your face, just stuff Romans 8:28 in the barrel of that gun, and turn things around by stuffing it back in his face."

THE MOST SHOCKING SCRIPTURES IN THE BOOK

Let's take the test. Only two possible answers for each question below: A)God or B)Devil. Choose only one each time. Sounds easy, so take the test, without looking up the accompanying Scriptures until you have turned in your exam. (Number two pencil only, please):

1.)Who sent an evil spirit to terrorize Saul? (1 Sam. 16:14; 18:10)
2.)Who sent a deceiving and lying spirit? (1 Kings 22:22)
3)Who authorizes satanic harassment of Job (Job 1:12)
4)Who can destroy both body and soul in hell? (Matthew 10:28)
5)Who sent a deceiving influence, so that wicked people are damned? (2 Thess. 2:11)

How did you do? Isn't it obvious that the only correct answer to each of the above is..God!?
Huh? Is that the good news or the bad news, you ask? Whose side are you on, anyway? Cool down, mama! Now you can look up the Scriptures, and triple check that I am not just making this up, or nuts. I think the lesson, though so much more should be said to be sure our theology is biblical and balanced, is: God is so sovereign that he uses..and even though we are not as comfortable as these Scriptures sometimes are in saying so, He is some sense "sends"…. evil, and wrings good purposes out of them. He is not evil, nor the author of evil; and does not enjoy our suffering and evil; he does not want AIDS, cancer, rape, slavery, etc…...but the devil is God's devil. God is either good and sovereign or not. These Scriptures, stretching and shocking as they are, actually steer us towards his radical "in charge-ness," He is ridiculously sovereign. The devil is active, but he is on a leash…a long one, granted..but God's grabbing the other end.
OK, four more questions. Ready? Of course not! Same two possible answers, God or the devil, for these below:


1)Who sees to it that a sinner is saved? (1 Cor. 5:5)
2)Who is the god of this world? (2 Cor 4:4)
3)Who helps keep Paul humble? (2 Cor, 12:7)
4)Who teaches Paul not to blaspheme? (1 Tim 1:20)

All done? You got an "A" of course, if every answer above is, as verified by the verses, .the devil! Don't get me wrong, the devil ain't good, but he works for God at the end of the day. Church folks don't get this. Bono gets it. As much as he hates, and campaigns against the devil's evil (and he and we should) …God uses evil. He wins. Satan is trumped and checkmated in the End. This is the full-orbed gospel.
Yes, these are the other shocking questions I love to ask at church gatherings. Did they work?

HOLY LINGERING OR LUNCH WITH THE DEVIL: THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE

"This generation will be remembered for three things: the Internet, the war on terror, and how we let an entire continent go up in flames while we stood around with watering cans. Or not," Bono preached to evangelical congregations on his Africa awareness tour, hoping for crumbs from our generous spread and table. "Let me share with you a conviction," he often challenged a hushed church, " God is on his knees to the church on this one. God Almighty is on his knees to us, begging us to turn around the super tanker of indifference on the subject of AIDS."

He is right. Even though we can lean back on the lavish and wild sovereignty of God to work good out of evil, nowhere does that justify us doing nothing so that evil (temporarily) prevails because we know that it will (at the End) be vanquished. And there is enough evil and suffering in the world..and in us; we don't need to ask for any additional of either, even if we know they force us to grow....

DUELING DEMONIC DUALISM

C. S. Lewis, as previously mentioned, is such a lamppost...
Lewis was at his best at reminding us of eveything we should've known: there are not two gods, God and the devil, who have always existed and are opposites in the all-American "good guy, bad guy" scenario. This ridiculous theology, though, is often our default, unconscious understanding. Many evangelicals will actually suggest that the devil has always existed, and always been bad; forgetting that "Evil is only fallen good," and God made Lucifer; made him good; he simply chose to fall and attempt to claim God's throne.

That is Christianity; the "good and bad eternal opposite" jive is dualism, related to the hell of extreme Hellenism. But the radical monotheism of Christianity, by design is a one-God deal; and He so big that the buck stops with Him, meaning laments like "Jesus.. I know You're looking out for us..but "sometimes Your hands aren't free?" are doubts cased in honest faith, which can stand up in Gethsemane, Vertigo or hell-on-earth..(excerpt from this rant)


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