When You Cry the Devil is Smiling
by Dr. Henderson Ward
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Why are so many believers disappointed, pained and distressed, pummelled to tears by the conditions existing in the present world? It is as if they thought that everything would be hunky-dory and look, on dear, things are now as soul-destroying as ever. As we shall see, failure to recognise the Devil's work is at the root of this unnecessary disenchantment.
Whatever talking heads may say, along with the constant noise from agnostics and contrarians, the truth is that there are just two ways open to any of us and Jesus Christ defined those ways as the strait gate and the wide gate (or the narrow way and the broad way). Here are the appropriate Bible verses:
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)
At an earlier time the iconic Moses spoke of these same alternatives, they are and remain just two, and he put it simply like this:
"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19) Moses was very clear that one way led to life and the other way led to death and each individual had to make a choice.
The Bible makes it clear that in God, "There is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5) and as a consequence you are either for God or against God, "He that is not with me is against me (Matthew 12:30) and by choice you are on one or the other of these two pathways previously mentioned.
There are no other ways but these two and no matter how many individual pathways humans might carve out and traverse eventually they all merge with one or the other of these two. When an individual defies all these trodden paths and chooses one he thinks is different, one he thinks is unique and efficacious, he sooner or later comes a cropper, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12)
Seeing that believers, who were once part of the over-crowded "broad way", and are now committed to their new-found position on the "narrow way" it is rather puzzling that they are shocked by the severity and magnitude of evils inflicting the world. Is it so puzzling that a mangy dog has fleas, or a politician tells lies, or a rich person cheat on his taxes? We would have to be blind, drunk and in a state of complete denial, worst we would have to be regressed to a state of infantile simplicity to be surprised at any of these things.
So why the great angst at the deplorable conditions existing in the present world?
Three reasons really, and they are not hard to find, for they are all the clever and scheming devices of the Devil. Failure to recognize who is doing what is the stamp of heedlessness and the Devil takes advantage of that.
First, recognize that it is the Devil who sows confusion
This is one of his most successful devices. In military warfare there are numerous confusing techniques and tactics used to sow confusion and sometimes the tactics are so successful that the enemy can end up killing each other.
When people are confused, their ability to make sound judgments is severely impaired.
The reason Gideon won that enormous victory against the Midianites, with just 300 soldiers, was because he confused them. When Gideon soldiers lit those torches and broke those pitchers and sounded the charge alarm, the Midianites woke up with foggy minds, disoriented and were fighting and killing their own comrades to escape what they thought was certain death. Were they not confused, the outcome might have been very different. The full account is given in Judges 7:1-25.
Jesus Christ, knowing how the Devil works, gave us a splendid example of this tactic when he told us the parable of the Wheat and the Tares. The full account is given in Matthew 13:24-30. We should note that when wheat and tares are growing together there is much confusion because tares are destructive weeds and during their early growth look just like wheat. In fact people of the Middle East were accustomed to calling tares "false wheat" and if you tried to pull up the tares, as you would other weeds, you ran the risk of destroying the wheat as well.
In this parable of the Wheat and the Tares the sower was vigilant and perceptive and could tell his workers this, "He said unto them, An enemy hath done this." (Matthew 13:28) and later he was even more specific, "The enemy that sowed them [tares] is the devil." (Matthew 13:39)
Believers everywhere need to understand that confusion is not of God and the entire blame for it should be placed where it firmly belongs - on the head of the Devil - and shrug off the false notion that God is in any way involved for, " ...God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." (1 Corinthians 14:33)
Second, acknowledge that it is the Devil that generates uncertainty
In most cases confusion works extremely well for the Devil but he is tremendously clever in generating uncertainty to add insult to injured souls. People usually have clear minds what they see, what they want and what they think even though they are undecided about some things at times. But what the Devil is good at is that he urges you to take your most profound certainties and mix them with doubt so that you end up saying, "Ah well I am not so sure" and when you do that he has you at his mercy.
When believers re-examine their certainties, and begin to question them, the result is ambivalence and uncertainty, and that is where the Devil wants you to be, so that he can chip away, until your doubts are firmly established.
No one falls away from the faith until he goes through the minefield of uncertainty.
Take for example the case of Eve's temptation as told to us in Genesis 3:1-6. God's instruction to Adam and Eve were crystal clear and there were no ambiguities or fogginess that permitted misunderstanding. God told them, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Genesis 2:17) When the Devil came along in the person of the serpent and spoke to Eve he cleverly added something new that God did not address, for the serpent said, "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods..." (Genesis 3:5)
Eve was now entertaining doubt as to what God said, and its meaning, and made herself a ripe target for persuasion. Eve could so easily have conferred with Adam and sorted out her uncertainty but she chose rather to believe a lie.
The Bible makes it clear the dangers of uncertainty with these words, "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." (James 1:8) This is where the Devil wants believers to be; unhinged, double-minded, uncertain and thus unstable so that with little effort he may knock them over whenever he wants.
Third, understand that it is the Devil that creates a crisis
Crisis is the murky cloud in which the Devil works most effectively to do the most harm to as many as he can day by day. The Devil and his cohorts are particularly good at creating crises, often from minor situations, to further his evil designs.
It was the Devil that created the crisis in heaven as he tried to assume the position of God and was completely repulsed. His shenanigans resulted in millions of misguided angels being deported from heaven, many being chained in profound darkness awaiting judgment, and the world plunged into a vortex of unbridled wickedness until the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.
It was the Devil that created the crisis that blossomed into two World Wars and if there is a third world war it will be the Devil and his cohorts at the root of it.
The unnecessary blood-spattered war in Iraq of recent vintage was a consequence of a crisis created by the Devil when evil people, masquerading under the banner of religion, attacked and killed innocent people during the September 11 attacks.
The Devil is still creating crises, still making mountains out of molehills, still urging nations to bury their commonalities and kill over their differences, still urging nations to bring as much pain and suffering of humanity as is possible. This is what the Devil is all about; it's his business.
For historical and spiritual reasons nobody knows the Devil better than Jesus Christ and this is unfailingly true because they both existed in the eternal realm prior to the creation of time. From the moment the Devil made himself the enemy of God, it was none other than Jesus Christ who set about the supreme task of restoration and healing and became the one whom the Devil most fears.
One cannot presently know what damage the Devil has done to the worlds and galaxies beyond our Solar System but it is evident that damage to our world is being contained, mitigated in some instances and alleviated in others by the person and ministry of Jesus Christ. Well said the beloved David, "The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." (Psalm 46:11)
Believers must realize that although crying may be for a good cause, even Jesus wept (John 11:35), the very act of crying is testimony that it has no place in God's eternal plans; for the Bible tells us this, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Revelation 21:4)
When believers cry the Devil is smiling but believers everywhere have a glorious consolation that is available neither to the Devil nor his cohorts for the Bible gives this blessed assurance to every believer, "... weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." (Psalm 30:5)
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