Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fighting the Devil by Doing the Dishes

How do you imagine that the evil one will try to attack most Christians?

Most of us, when we think of spiritual warfare (if we think of spiritual warfare), probably think of some bizarre evil poltergeists of the ethereal world attacking missionaries on the front lines. Or perhaps you think of the blatant expressions of witchcraft, spiritism or paganism that exist here in the U.S. But according to Ephesians, we need to think a little closer to home.

Close to home, as in, in our homes. One of the classic Bible texts on the issue is the end of Ephesians 6. Paul says that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Spiritual warfare is in fact a true reality (as Schaeffer would say, a true truth) that believers in Christ have to deal with. And it is not something that only effects the mission field (where is that again?).

It would seem that the thing which led Paul to write Ephesians 6:10-20 was in fact Ephesians 5:1-6:9. Paul had just finished his instructions for family relationships defined by the kingdom of God. He had been talking about husbands loving their wives, and wives submitting to their husbands. He had been talking about parents loving their children and children obeying their parents. And it seems to me that it was talk about these most basic of human relationships that led Paul to reflect on the fact that we as believers are under attack, and need desperately to put on the full armor of God.

Or again, in Ephesians 4:26-27 Paul had said that if we let the sun go down on our anger, then we are giving opportunity to the devil!

It's easy for us to think that in our highly technologized, squeaky clean suburban environs that the devil is nowhere to be found. He certainly wouldn't shop at Barnes and Noble.

But more than likely, the devil won't try to get you to renounce Christ all in one fell swoop. Instead he'll try to get you to watch TV instead of doing the dishes. He'll get you to harbor pride and savor bitterness, to not love your wife sacrificially as Christ loved the church. As Paul has just explained, a fully functional marriage relationship is a picture of the gospel, what would the evil one like to ruin more than that? The schemes of the evil one are powerful, but they are subtle. In The Screwtape Letters, the senior devil advises his devil-in-training to work on the Christians, and get them to think about how much that one certain look their mate gives bothers them, and to really stew on it. Sometimes its the littlest things that can give a foothold to the devil.

These are his schemes, and we need to put on the whole armor of God, lest we give in to the temptation to give that look when asked to vacuum.

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