Saturday, April 13, 2013

No safe life

3:23 p.m. Today's project is to attend a Broadway production, "The Screwtape Letters," with my daughter Heidi and her husband Pavel, for his birthday present. We'll be traveling to Glendale by way of Pasadena, in order to treat ourselves to incredible hamburgers at the famous eatery The Counter. It promises to be a wonderful evening.

This play, from the novel by C.S. Lewis, the famous atheist-turned -Christian-apologist of the last century, concerns a demon named Wormwood, writing to his apprentice Screwtape, schooling him in ways to harass, ridicule, discourage, frighten and finally try to persuade a new Christian to defect from the faith. I read this novel over twenty years ago, and found it quite realistic and well in line with scripture, particularly I Peter 5:8:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Verse 9 tells us what believers are to do:

Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

This process of resistance is known as "spiritual warfare," which Christians of all maturity levels are involved in, whether they know it or not, and whether they desire to engage in it or not. Just moseying along keeping your nose clean and your profile low is not enough, I assure you because, Ephesians 6:12 tells us,

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Let's consider some obvious examples concerning church:

  • Do you feel extra sleepy on Sunday morning, a little cold coming on, and are the kids unruly and cranky, making you and/or your spouse want to throw up your hands and not make it to church?
  • Do you think obnoxious thoughts when you are attempting to pray?
  • Does your mind wander seriously during the singing part of the worship service?
  • Do you "turn off" all possibility of learning if you've heard a chapter of the Bible taught before?
  • Do you experience an argument in the car on the way to church, and let it keep you from listening to the Word as you play the "who's right?" arguments in your head?
  • Do you consistently nod off, though you've had enough sleep?
  • Do you decide not to go at all--though you aren't ill--choosing rather to just watch online or on TV, rather than participate in fellowship with other believers as commanded in scripture?
The last one is more subtle, because you can talk yourself in to thinking, "Well, it's the same service!" But you and I both know that at your house there's no way to truly concentrate unless we take a laptop into a dark closet--too many undone chores and distractions abound!

About your personal devotional life:

  • Do you plod along each day, praying only "as necessary," and only opening your Bible on Sunday?
  • Do you wonder what fellow believers are talking about when they mention that the Lord showed them what to do or say in a situation?
  • Do you get angry at God when daily events just don't go your way?
  • Do you lose your temper with others in un-Christlike, un-righteous, self-centered anger?
  • Do you set up schemes and action plans to solve your problems as your first automatic response?
  • Do you lack an uplifted, joyful, hopeful and infectious attitude that draws others to you-- "charisma?"
  • Do you avoid reading instructive or devotional Christian books or biographies by inspiring authors?
  • Do you confess your sin to God and ask His forgiveness? 
Witnessing to others:

  • Do you look for conversational openings to share your testimony with others?
  • Do school or work colleagues even know you're a Christian?
  • Do you bring the Lord into your daily remarks wherever you go in a natural, appropriate way?
  • Does your work ethic reflect the character of Christ, being honorable and helpful to everyone?
  • Do you sincerely cheer others on who move ahead of you in your profession, determining to contin- uously improve your own performance, whether you get a raise or not?
I think we can note behaviors, or lack thereof, which will make the lazy, complacent backslidden Christian an easy mark for the devil. The listless Christian barely requires any effort at all on the demons' part, because he or she is already doing an evil work: giving our faith a bad name, or making it of no consequence in our lives or lifestyle. The "hear-no-evil, see no evil" believer has checked out. And with no strengthening protection from the Word of God, and a thriving, intimate personal relationship with Christ, they just let the enemy devour them. With no recourse to deal effectively with life's trials, the inert believer becomes bitter, avoids other Christians, won't pray or ask for prayer, and soon finds themselves on the outside looking in. Playing it safe will prove spiritually fatal if sin goes unconfessed. And the devil had very little work to do to accomplish this, sadly!

What of the believer who decides to "fling it all out there onto God," as I like to think of it? To go all out, to seek Jesus diligently, to confess sin immediately, to praise and worship God as a daily lifestyle? What of the believer who pores through God's word in a systematic manner, gleaning solid life instruction for his or her conduct in this world? Will the devil and his demons leave them alone? Absolutely not, as we read in I Peter.

But here is the difference. When ungodly thoughts and worldly schemes come into your mind from the devil, the person armed with scripture through regular and deliberate study (Ephesians 6:17), continuously praying, filled with the Holy Spirit, and thus led by the Lord constantly, will have the means to resist the devil in the name of Jesus! As we trust Jesus to bring us through, seek Him daily in good times and bad, we learn to deal in a godly manner when vicious attacks from the enemy come. We won't buckle. We power through by the power of our Lord Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit and end up victorious in battle, though bloodied, we stand against the wiles of the devil, and live to fight another day!

No "safe life" for me! It's when the conniving enemy comes in his strength, that the almighty strength of my Lord Jesus proves again and again, what He told his disciples in John 16:33:



  1. Well we didn't go to church last Sunday because hubby had been in the hospital Saturday. My pastor texted me that I could do church on Skype, but I was asleep. Getting behind here in reading blogs because of so much happening in my life right now. The LORD remains ever faithful.

    Hugs and prayers,

  2. Hi Carol, what happened to DH? Praying for you both, Dana

  3. Two hospital trips and hubby almost ended up in a nursing home. Doctor faxed them the papers. But all is back to the new normal now. Danny, a volunteer Christian caregiver, is here for hubby today and I am going back to substitute teaching having canceled all jobs recently.

    By the way, did Steve ever have an UTI?