One of my dad’s most memorable sermons, which he preached in more than one location, was actually a two-parter. The first part was preached Sunday morning. Dad warned that he was going to identify the source of the problems in the congregation. He used a wipe board or chalkboard, and only put the first initial of each one up there as he preached. He said that everyone should come back that night and he would disclose the full names that went with the initials. At one congregation, after the morning sermon, a large number of people came forward in response to the invitation. Sure enough, that evening dad put the full names next to the initials:
- Accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10)
- Adversary (1 Pet. 5:8)
- Beelzebub (Mat. 12:24)
- Belial (2 Cor. 6:15)
- Devil (Heb. 2:14)
- Enemy (Mat. 13:39)
- Father of lies (John 8:44)
- God of this world (2 Cor. 4:4)
- Prince… (Eph. 2:2; John 12:31)
- Roaring Lion (1 Pet. 5:8)
- Satan (Mat. 4:10)
- Spirit that works in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2)
- Tempter (Mat. 4:3)
Now, in no way am I discounting the free will choices people make. James 1:13-15 very clearly places the blame of sin on the individuals choosing to act on their lusts and desires. One is not possessed or overtaken by the devil to do his will any more than a person is overtaken by God and made to do what’s right. But Jesus calls the devil the “father” of sinful behavior (John 8:44). John tells us that the one who practices sin is “of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:8). Those who sin are doing his will (2 Tim. 2:26).
Satan is at the heart of national, congregation, familial, and individual sin. We’re told to resist him (Jas. 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:9). The hopeful fact is that, with God’s help, we can always successfully do so. Let’s be aware that the devil does not want God’s children or His work to succeed. If he can thwart our efforts as a church to be united, faithful to God’s Word, evangelistic, and productive, he will do so. Knowing this, we should be more determined not to let him win!
If you are plugged in to just about any sort of media, you have likely heard news reports about the looming birth of Prince William and Duchess Kate’s baby. The whole of the United Kingdom seem to be waiting with bated breath, if what is being written and said is to be believed. Certainly, to call this event “hyped” is not an exaggeration. Given that the monarchy in the U.K. is a symbolic figurehead rather than the seat of any real power today, such fascination and, in some corners, obsession is curious. But that it exists cannot be denied.
What a contrast this birth and so many like it in palaces and kingdoms all around the world throughout human history are to the events surrounding the One born in Bethlehem two millennia ago. With absolutely no fanfare, advance notice, or even slightest curiosity, Jesus Christ was born in obscurity and poverty. While prophesy foresaw that moment (Micah 5:2), not even those who ran the local inn in that tiny village recognized the magnitude of that coming moment (Luke 2:7). The Savior of the whole world made His entrance virtually without notice.
Certainly that is no criticism of the abundant fascination of many around the world at the birth of the British babe. But, no birth affected mankind like that unheralded moment in Israel 2,000 years ago. John introduces Him, saying, “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:9-11).
Thank God for His saving plan, executed with the wisdom only Deity could conceive. The nature of the birth of Christ shows the Divine emphasis of the spiritual over the material. Paul says it this way, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). He came by way of the manger that we may inherit the riches of heaven! That is news worthy of spreading every way we can.