“But may it not be for me to boast if it is not in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”—Galatians 6:14
“The power of the devil, the power of evil, is so great that every human being ever born into the world has been defeated by it.” -D.M. Lloyd-Jones
I am sure that you have rented or watched movies before that were recommended to you by a friend, but once you watched them, you sat aghast, wondering why ever this friend would have suggested such a film. A few years ago, my wife and I rented one of “these” kinds of films. I don’t recall the title but the movie was basically a modern rendition of the Faust story, where a Lawyer makes a pact with the devil to get to the top of his profession. Sadly, as is the way with most contemporary films, the Devil was portrayed in a good light and the lawyer’s decision was shown as a noble one. There was one redeeming line within this movie. The main character and the Devil were discussing “means” and the Devil made this comment. “The best thing that I ever did was to convince mankind that I do not exist.” How true this statement is.
In The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis, Lewis develops much of the same idea. Wormwood is constantly urged by his Uncle Screwtape to manipulate things from the background. I know that as I read that book, I was convicted of many sins that I had never even thought were within my life. In his book, Out of the Silent Planet, Lewis describes fallen earth as a darkened place. The people in Malecandra (Mars) cannot peer into the affairs of men. Oh how we can say with the Apostle Paul that we see through a glass darkly in this world. Even the humanist, Mark Twain, understood this idea that our eyes are clouded to the truth when he misquoted Paul by saying, “we see through a glass eye darkly.” Of course, one sees nothing through a glass eye at all!
We are born into a mess of sin in our lives. There is nothing we can do about it. It is all around us and it is within us. It does not take very long before you realize, as a parent, that your little baby is quite sinful. In fact, I would argue that anyone who denies the doctrine of Original Sin could never have had children. We are born spiritually dead on arrival. Not only can we not get away from it on our own, but we cannot understand why we ought to get away from it on our own. Pelagius argued that if you ought to do something you are capable of doing it. Yet, sin blinds us even from understanding what we ought do. One of the themes of the Epistle of James is being a hearer and a doer of the word. You cannot be a doer if you have not heard, but you cannot even really hear without a movement of the Holy Spirit in your life enabling you to hear it and internalize it. Without the work of the Holy Spirit you can no more expect someone to act upon the preached Word of God than you can expect the stones of the Church’s foundation to act upon it.
And here is the triumph of the Cross! Satan may ”own” us at birth, but we, the elect, are more like prisoners of war that God will send, in his time, the special forces to rescue through the power of the Holy Spirit. We often do not think of ourselves as soldiers or that we are at war; this is Satan convincing us that he is not at work. But the teachers and preachers of the Word of God are in a sense the Special Operations team of the church. We are fully equipped through the power of the Holy Spirit, but we are operating deep in enemy territory to seek and save those captive souls for the Lord Jesus Christ. If that is the case, we, like the Special Forces, need to be about rigorous training throughout life. Our weapons are the sword of scripture and the rifle of prayer.
But the victory is not ours to claim. We are simply instruments, servants, working in our master’s household and for his glory. Christ was the ultimate Special Force, for it is he that faced the very wrath of God for the sins of his people. When we meditate on that it ought to make us rejoice and weep at the same time. It ought to make us rejoice for that battle has been won and we, who are believers in and on the Lord Jesus Christ have been saved. And it ought to make us weep, for it is because of our sin that the Lord Jesus had to suffer so. We ought to reflect on this always.