When I was a kid, there was a children’s church song that I loved to sing. It went like this:
“The Devil is a sly old fox; if I could catch him, I’d put him in a box. Lock the lid and throw away the key for all those tricks he’s played on me. Second verse – same as the first – but a little bit louder and a little bit worse!”
We would then repeat the words, getting louder and rowdier with every cycle, until the song ended with shouts and giggles.
It was funny in a “Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote” sense, just like “The Devil and Tom Walker” short story I taught in my 11th grade English classes through the years. In these depictions, the Devil is sneaky and ornery, but seemingly cheerful and certainly overcome-able.
I think representing Satan like this is one way we trick ourselves into not taking him seriously.
One thing I’ve really learned this year is that Satan is more cruel than any human being can fathom. Sometimes he tempts us with the beautiful, fun things of this life, but sometimes – when those tricks don’t work – his ways become dark and relentless.
Take the story of Job, for example. God allowed Satan to tempt Job, and how did Satan attack? Killed everyone in Job’s family except his wife. Took away all of Job’s health, sparing his life only. Turned Job’s closest friends against him. Left him completely destitute.
And when Jesus was fasting in the wilderness? Satan tempted Him, among other ways, with food and drink after 40 days and 40 nights of fasting. I can now tell you, as a human being who has experienced real starvation before, that would be devastatingly difficult to resist.
The Devil is vicious. He is cruel. Sometimes he might use complacency or little tricks to trip us up, but more likely, he will do more than we can even imagine to rip us (and our faith) to shreds. As 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for something to devour.” He’s going to come at us hard and strong and mean, y’all, especially when our faith grows.
But I don’t come bearing all bad news, my friends. The exact opposite actually.
See, God knows that we aren’t up against a Wile E. Coyote – we are up against a roaring lion. And He gives us a full set of armor to defend ourselves:
A belt of truth around the waist. (Ephesians 6:14)
A breastplate of righteousness. (Ephesians 6:14)
Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15)
A shield of faith to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)
The helmet of salvation. (Ephesians 6:17)
And the sword of the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:17)
God gives us everything we need – He gives us Himself – to protect us from Satan.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so you can take your stand against the Devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-13)
Isn’t that a beautiful image? After all is said and done, after we “have done everything”, we’ll still be able to stand.
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)