The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil- 1stJohn 3:8 NASB
Last week in an interview with an Italian magazine Fr. Arturo Sosa stated the following:
“The devil is not a person,” but is instead “a way of acting evil…It is a way of evil to be present in human life.” Sosa went on to say, “Symbols are part of reality, and the devil exists as a symbolic reality, not as a personal reality.”
Okay, so, Fr. Arturo Sosa, is the Superior General of the Jesuit priests and a very big deal in the Catholic church. His declaration directly contradicts Catholic doctrine and the Bible. When I heard of this development, I did what I do when I hear something shocking. I searched google to find out how many other people think the same way. I quickly learned that a whopping eighty-three percent of Catholics and fifty-five percent of Evangelical Protestants agree with Fr. Sosa that Satan is nothing but a figment of fevered imaginations.
With all due respect to Fr. Sosa and every other Christian who does not believe in the devil.
You got it wrong.
Satan is real. He is a powerful being who was created by God. He eventually became filled with pride, turned against God and embraced evil (Isaiah 14:11-13, Luke 10:18). The words devil and Satan are used interchangeably a total of eighty-two times in the Bible. Most describe the devil and his exploits (Luke 13:16, Mark 4:15, Luke 22:3, John 8:44, 1stThessalonians 2:18). The other passages are mostly just warnings to be on guard against the devil (Ephesians 4:26-28, James 4:7, 1stPeter 5:8). It would be strange for God to describe something or someone that does not exist. It would be stranger still for God to warn people about something that does not exist.
Ephesians 6:11-17 depicts Satan as a schemer. Satan is always looking for an opening so he can hurt individuals, ruin relationships, turn people away from God and basically just wreak havoc on the human race. The Greek word for scheme in Ephesians 6:11 is a compound word. The first part of the word means “to study” and the second part means to “run over”. What this word tells us about Satan is that he carefully studies people and situations looking for ways to run people over so that he can derail them from God’s purposes for their life.
We are responsible for our own choices. No one gets to lay all their bad behavior at the feet of the devil. That being said, Satan’s fingerprints are all over some of the greatest evils of our time. He does his best work when he plants ideas in our minds that appeal to our sinful tendencies and self-centeredness. Unless we are spiritually aware and walking in the Spirit (John 16:13, Galatians 5:16-17) we tend to run with whatever questionable ideas have been planted in our heads. There are fewer and fewer people who are consciously choosing to walk in the Spirit. Therefore it is easy for Satan to introduce lies that turn people against each other and cripple the work of the church.
Satan’s most successful schemes are the ones he uses to drive wedges between people, spread deception and destroy the work of the church.
Racism is one of those schemes.
Racism is not new, nor is it strictly an American problem. Although, for the record, American racism has had some exceptionally ugly characteristics that put it in a class all its own. The ancient world was rife with racism. Although racist attitudes in the ancient world were based less on skin color and more on achievement, political power and military might. Greeks were the pretentious eggheads of the ancient world, they believed they were superior to any race who lacked art or a written language of their own. Romans supposed they were better than any race of people they could conquer militarily. Jews took their title as God’s chosen people pretty seriously and believed they were the only race God loved. This led them to believe they were superior to everyone.
Jesus came to change all that. His coming was intended to eliminate racism from the heart of anyone who truly believes in Him. The Bible is clear that Jesus died for everyone and there is no race is superior to any other (Galatians 3:27-29, Colossians 3:11, Ephesians 2:15-17). Sadly, Satan has managed to use pride and human stupidity to convince some people (sometimes even God’s people) that they are somehow better than other people based on the color of their skin or country of origin.
Well-meaning people have endeavored to eliminate the evils of racism by highlighting any attitude or action that they feel is even vaguely racist. Unfortunately, their definition of racism is so broad that our society has come to a place where literally everything is racist. Satan has cleverly made racism seem less horrible than it really is by calling everything racist. When everything is racist nothing is racist and the real racists get away with truly racist behavior.
This is a place where Christians can bring much-needed balance to the table. We do that by loving and respecting everyone regardless of color or nationality and by understanding that there is absolutely no room for racist thinking anywhere in the body of Christ.